The word “trike” conjures up an image of a three-wheeled bicycle that many people rode as children to the uninitiated. The three-wheeled motorcycles referred to more commonly as trikes are much more substantial than the child's version. They do, however, offer a similar level of stability which is popular among riders concerned about safety while riding a motorcycle. This article looks at the origins of the trike, the considerations for riding a motorcycle, and how the trike attracts riders among other things.

Trike Origins

trike origins

Image via Flickr by ronsaunders47

Trikes first came to prominence in the motorcycle world during the 1970s. They started out as a mutant variation of a motorcycle with elements of a dune buggy added into it. At that time, motorcycle platforms served as the base for building the trike along with a Beetle axle and fiberglass kit parts. These DIY vehicles were rough in appearance and nowhere near as popular as they are today.

Over time though, independent manufacturers began producing their own trike conversion kits for purchase combining the custom, DIY design of early trikes with the benefits of manufactured parts. Trikes hit the mainstream in 2008 when Harley-Davidson announced its Astro Glide Trike. Since then more people have begun to make the switch to trikes, and in many cases, the bikes have attracted first-time riders who have never ridden a motorcycle much less a trike.

Motorcycle Considerations

Motorcycles are fun to ride. But a lot of effort goes into the ride too. Every bike handles and responds differently. Seasoned riders understand how to deal with these variations thanks in part to their experience with riding bikes. For those wanting to ride for the first time or who come back to riding after a long absence, riding requires an effort.

Before taking a motorcycle out on the road, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recommends owners take safety precautions. These include practical tips like riding the bike in a controlled environment before taking it into traffic. There are also on-road factors to consider like traffic, potholes in the road, and how having another passenger on the back of the bike impacts the way you ride.

There's also the issue of awareness. Motorcyclists must exercise more caution than they might when driving a car because vehicle drivers sometimes miss motorcycles altogether, leading to accidents. With experience, these concerns become second nature. However, riding a motorcycle also requires an able body. People, who experience illness or injuries that affect their ability to ride, see the trike as an option to enjoy riding despite limitations they have.

Trike Advantages

Trikes are generally easier to ride than the average motorcycle for several reasons. For one, trikes distribute weight more evenly than a motorcycle does, using two points instead of three. This means that the driver does not need to focus on keeping their bike upright compared to a two-wheeled vehicle. It also handles better when turning the corner, accelerating, and applying the brakes. Turning is easier on a trike because it turns similar to a car rather than a bike.

Second, a trike is more stable, so it does not require the driver to lean into a curve or use their legs and knees to keep the bike steady at a stoplight. Knee and leg pain are common issues for motorcycle riders looking to get back into riding. Owning a trike is one way to ride without exacerbating existing health issues. Finally, trikes more easily accommodate a second person and allow them to ride in comfort.

While major motorcycle manufacturers make trikes as part of their lineup, it is very common for people to actually pay to transform a motorcycle into a trike. The cost of doing so is less than buying a trike outright, and it gets bikes back out on the road.

New Riders

Riding a motorcycle takes both education and skill. This may deter new riders if they have trouble mastering either one. Other people find themselves uninterested in riding a motorcycle because they don't want to learn these skills. Trikes and now autocycles are generally easier to operate, similar to driving a Sea-Doo. This means that a whole other segment of riders are appearing that wouldn't otherwise ride.

Women are also getting into riding trikes either alone or with a significant other. While there is a debate about whether or not trikes are safer than motorcycles, they appeal to women for their stability. Women point out how problematic the wind is when riding a motorcycle and how concerned they are about riding into ongoing traffic. The trike does not have the same issue and is good for long-haul trips.

Motorcycle Riding

There's no question that trikes are increasing in popularity. But there's still something about riding a motorcycle that cannot be beaten. While it does take knowledge and skill, riding a motorcycle provides a certain sense of freedom that cannot be substituted by anything else.

The phrase “Just you and the open road,” is an often-used one when riding a motorcycle. The world is busier now than ever before. But because riding a motorcycle does require a lot of consideration and focus, it also brings the peace that you may not otherwise experience in other aspects of your life.

Motorcycles are also still very much mechanical pieces of transportation in a world where technology has taken over so much. So not only does a rider need their skills to ride a bike, but they also need good repair shops.

Motorcycles and trikes are much more than just the number of wheels each of them has. They appeal to a variety of people, some of whom might never have considered riding if not for a trike. Motorcycles were for certain types of riders until the trike came along. The trike helped open motorcycle riding to a larger group of people. Whether you prefer to ride a motorcycle or a trike comes down to personal preference. The most important part is that you get to ride, no matter how many wheels you use.

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