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 Differences Motorcycle vs. Trike
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Male Advanced Member
896 Posts

Copperas Cove, Texas


2006 GL1800 Trike

Posted - 11/14/2009 :  8:27 PM                       Like       
I am seriously thinking of buying a trike once I get cleared to ride. Been doing a bit of reading and the two biggest differences I have found are that on a trike one does not counter steer but to go right you pull on the right grip and push on the left grip. Vice-versa to go left. The second difference is do not put your feet down as you will probably run it/them over with your back wheels.

Those familiar with trikes please discuss other differences.


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Advanced Member
1719 Posts

Stratford, CT



Peer Review: Blocked

Posted - 11/14/2009 :  9:48 PM   Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
The steering is direct, not countersteering, that's correct. Which also means, they don't lean to turn. Although, like a car they'll lean some in a corner.

Another important issue is the 3 tracks. On a bike you can navigate around most obstacles and potholes. On a trike, the 3 tracks make it near impossible to avoid them. Of course you also have the extra width, nearly that of a small car as well.

I'd prefer 2 wheels in front, if I were in the market for a trike. I don't know the dynamics, but think back to the practical banning of the 3 wheel atv's because of injuries and deaths. Have you looked at CanAm Spyders? They come with traction control, ABS brakes, and stability control. Reverse gear must be nice too. An automatic version is available as well, if you like. I believe they cost about 1/2 what a Harley version goes for.

Piaggio (sp?) has a 3 wheel scooter with a narrow track 2 wheels in front. It leans in corners like a motorcycle, but has a mechanism to hold itself upright at a stop.

The 3 wheeler I would like is this one, but too rich for my blood.
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Male Advanced Member
1117 Posts

Jacksonville, NC

Moto Guzzi

2007 Breva V750 ie

Posted - 11/15/2009 :  3:12 AM
I have tried a trike, a Can-Am Spyder, and a Piaggio MP3 scooter (the kind with two wheels in front).

The main thing about the trike and the Spyder is that they do not lean, so you must. Inertia gives your body a strong outward push (centrifugal force, so called) as you go around corners. Since you are not strapped in by a seat belt as you would be in a car, you must counteract that force by bracing yourself, leaning against the force, and pushing back. A good seat is essential to help you maintain your position behind the controls. This force can be lessened by (1) decreasing speed in sharp turns, or (2) making very wide, sweeping turns, or (3) both.

On a trike, the inside wheel tends to lift on a sharp turn. It does so, but to a lesser degree, on the Spyder, which has stability control to help counteract the lifting. It is this tendency for the inside wheel to lift that led to the banning of three-wheel off-roaders, because they tended to flip so easily on uneven terrain. On-road trikes do not face quite so much danger of flipping, but they are far less stable than cars.

The MP3 does not have that problem, because the way the wheels are mounted, they lean together into the turn, so they ride just like a two-wheeled motorcycle or scooter. As a previous poster noted, they have a lever that allows you to lock the wheels when you wish to dismount.

There are four-wheeled motorcycles, road-legal open four-wheelers with handlebar steering. They are more stable that 3-wheelers. In many jurisdictions, however, they are classified and licensed as cars.

There are motorcycle conversion kits which allow you to add two unpowered outrigger wheels on either side of the back wheel. This will lift its outside wheel like a trike in hard cornering, but since only the central wheel is powered, as soon as that central wheel lifts off the ground, the bike loses forward power and slows down. The resulting power-on, power-off situation can affect steering.

If the time comes when I need to have a vehicle that stands up by itself when I dismount, I will go with the MP3 or a similar vehicle, but that is my personal preference.

I urge you to try both the Spyder and the MP3 before you buy a trike, so that you can make a decision that best fits your personal situation.

A typical motorcycle trike.

The Can-Am Spyder. It has less tendency to lift its inside wheel than the trike.

The Piaggio MP3. It does not lift its inside wheel, but leans like a motorcycle.

A four-wheeled motorcycle. In my state, you would have to license this as a car.

A conversion kit that adds two wheels on the back. Again, in some states, if it has 4 wheels, it would be licensed as a car.

Edited for typos.

Edited by - radan2 on 11/15/2009 3:23 AM
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Night Train
Male Advanced Member
1668 Posts

Sydney, Nova Scotia


2006 VN900

Posted - 11/15/2009 :  7:41 AM   Join poster on Facebook as Friend  

I just sold my 03 Ultraclassic with the Motor Trike Conversion. I rode it for two years and put about 30,000 miles on it. It certainly does take some getting used to. First of all as mentioned earlier, you don't countersteer, you steer as you would a car only you are using handlebars. That takes some adjustment but with practice it becomes quite natural. Also as you mentioned, you don't put your feet down but then you have no reason to unless you are stopped and you need to move the trike with your legs. Reverse gear is a wonderful option. However, it takes some serious concentration to overcome the natural reaction to put your feet down at stop signs and red lights for the first while.

I found the front end to be wobbly at very low speeds unless I was on very level ground. Your tracking is much different than on a motorcycle and of course your rear is wider than most bikes. Some trike conversions such as the California Sidecar are almost as wide as small car and take up a whole lane. My trike had the same wheel base as the stock bike and wasn't overly wide. I could still ride staggered or if riding solo could move within my lane.

The trike had a modified Mustang II rear end and 60 series tires. Braking was phenomenal and as far as cornering goes, I could actually take turns faster on the trike than I could on two wheels once I got comfortable with it. I experienced no rear wheel lift whatsoever on any turn that I took.

The rear suspension was shocks and air bags. For two up riding it was extremely comfortable. For solo riding it was a pig. The suspension seemed to require the weight of a passenger to make it work properly regardless of how much or little air you had in the air bags or how low I adjusted the shocks. When riding on pot hole infested roads, of which we have quite a number in my area, it is almost impossible to miss them. What you don't hit with your front tire you are guaranteed to hit with one of the rears.

Even after two years of riding the trike I felt like I should be fastening a seatbelt every time I got on it.

Trikes are also attention getters. Wherever you stop they seem to draw a crowd of bikers and non bikers alike. Some days that's pleasurable, other days it's an annoyance.

I was never able to achieve that feeling of oneness with the Trike that I feel when riding a bike and I could never get over not having the enjoyment of leaning into the turns.

In your collision with the deer, I honestly can't say whether you would have been in better stead with a trike as opposed to your bike.

Taking a bike for a test ride can quickly and readily give you an inclination of whether or not it suits you but having never ridden a trike, a test ride is next to useless as it takes some time to get used to it and you can't judge by first impressions. You pretty much have to retrain yourself to accomodate the peculiarities of the Trike.

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(Deleted or Lost)

Posted - 11/15/2009 :  9:59 PM
There are also some add-on kits that deploy outrigger wheels only at slow speeds (say under 15-20 mph) They are, I think only available on relatively few bikes, Gold Wings, some of the large Harleys that I know of for sure. They essentailly retain all the characteristics of the motorcycle, but allow people who cannot hold up the bike at slow speed or a standstill to continue to ride safely.
When that time comes for me, that's what I'll get...

Edited to add reference...


Edited by - The Meromorph on 11/15/2009 10:06 PM
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Male Advanced Member
896 Posts

Copperas Cove, Texas


2006 GL1800 Trike

Posted - 11/22/2009 :  10:45 AM
I am trying to convince myself that the new bike for me is the Goldwing 1800 Hanigan Trike conversion. I am looking at this as it's probably the most stable of all trikes on the market. Some are more sporty and have the leaning excitement of a bike, but I want something heavier, and more suitable for touring. If I get this, I plan to do a lot of PLP before ever straying out on the streets or highways.

A couple of members in our SCRC group love theirs and had ridden on two wheels for years before opting for the 3d wheel. They say they would never go back.

Anyone that rides a trike have comments pro or con on my tenative choice?

Nighttrain has already given a great response.
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Posted - 11/22/2009 :  11:20 AM
I don't think it should be our objective to persuade you one way or the other.

If this is the bike that moves you my friend, ride it!
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(Deleted or Lost)

Posted - 11/26/2009 :  7:48 PM
Errm, Might this be the machine that would satisfy your soul...


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Posted - 11/26/2009 :  8:53 PM
Originally posted by The Meromorph

Errm, Might this be the machine that would satisfy your soul...


Not sure I'd want to own it. But I'd love to take it on that run up the coast.
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Male New Member
12 Posts

Anaheim, Ca



Posted - 05/09/2012 :  1:27 PM
Personally I don't see the advantage of 3 wheels.

You have all the negativity of a bike - rain, wind, heat, noise, fumes, bugs, must act like a car and drive like a car, etc. and none of the advantages of one. You can't even get the same "feel".

It also would be cheaper to buy a small sports car and just put the top down, then up when needed. If you buy an old sports car, MG, Triumph, etc, they are fun to drive and you have to tinker to own (not a lot but some).

Just putting in my two cents - as I've thought about this and that is the conclusion I've come up with.
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