I'd been dreaming for nearly 2 years of getting my deadweight ass onto a trike. One and a half years in hospital and 6 months 'adjusting' to the real world, after a bike accident. I’d been looking for a few weeks, once I had realised that I was physically able to handle one okay, when one new post on Ebay just 'hit that spot'. I had a few phone chats with the friendly owner, Andy, who was moving and didn’t have the room anymore. He was in Barry in South Wales and seeing as my name's Barry, well, how could I ignore such a cosmic coincidence..? A fair deal was struck, considering it'd been sitting a while and had no MOT and the back brakes needed attention. I was going to have to work on the back brakes anyhow, to get them to work from the handlebars - my legs don’t move as I’m now a paraplegic. The MOT would have been a waste anyway seeing that it would be off-road while it was 'adjusted' for my needs. I went for a car based trike as it was the easiest solution to get an automatic gearbox with a reverse gear. I fell in love with the few pictures that were on the auction site, highlighting its low, squat stance. The seat height being level with my wheelchair would make it easier to 'transfer' onto it.
The first things that grabbed my attention were the 4 enormous Webber carbs sticking out either side. 48mm twin chokes to be precise.. and the nitrous oxide bottle on the back stuck out a mile! The combination of Rover V8 with the twin sprung LSD Jag back axle suggested that this was a thoroughbred. Someone totally focused on performance had built this and it reeled me in. My good friend Gazza jumped into his recovery truck with my cash in his pocket and zoomed off to Barry, from South London. He gave it a look-over and took it for a quick spin and called me, telling me it was a good buy. The fella selling it was a bit worried that I was disabled and was asking Gazza if I would be okay with it...HA, HA, HA!!!! Once it was home I sat on it for the first time and started making notes of all the work that needed doing.
Another good mate, Kieran, took the trike to his house as he had a double garage, (warmer than my car-port) and some spare time. He got his mate, Dave, to knock up some longer handlebars in stainless and some foot boards in mild steel and aluminium. The Kawasaki ZX fairing and instrument panel had to go...I hate fairings. On went a bottom mount Bates headlamp. Off came the back brake master cylinder/lever and on went an AP Lockheed racing master cylinder, on the left handlebar. Which not only has an adjuster for the lever distance but also an adjuster for the lever pivot-point, adjusting the leverage. I can’t stand K+Ns as they change the carburetion with the weather, and the ones on the trike were square..!!!! YUK!!!!!Square just isn’t right on a bike. Its gotta be round and curvy. So off they went and some 3" stainless bell mouths were fitted.
Off went the knackered front 16" tyre and on went the tyre from Kieran’s Harley. The front wheel is a 16" CMA with 4 bearings for extra strength held by Kawasaki GPZ1000RX forks and brakes. The yokes are billet one-offs. Kieran rewired the whole front end and handlebar switches using the connectors and left-hand switchgear from the wrecked TDM 900 that I broke my back on. He also fitted a fire extinguisher for me, cos I can’t get off as quick as might be needed one day. Kieran also got the dummy Harley tank and rear aluminium petrol tank re-sprayed in gloss black, (unusual for me as I’m more of a matt blacker). The dummy tank also got a beautiful engraved nameplate with "Monster Inc" on it, coz everyone who first looks at it normally says, "What an effing Monster!!!"
The day came to give it a try, so some insurance was arranged and a testing we did go... This event is on YouTube, called; "First Tester ride, (not finished)". I bungeed my feet on and rode up and down the road a few times with Kieran on the back. Twas a good feeling, to have some bars in my hands and to be moving as pilot in control. The next steps were noted and 'Monster' was taken home again.
The carbs had been playing up, leaking fuel at a standstill and tickover and it had also been eating sparkplugs. Also the gearlever had been slopping about loosely so much that at one point it decided to reverse while Gazza's brother Paul was standing next to it revving the motor..!!!! It went backwards through my back garden fence narrowly missing several people..!! So...a V8 expert was found in a car shop down in Woking, who identified the motor and box and ancillaries. Even though I bought it as a 3.5, I had receipts from when it was built (in Salisbury) for a 4.6 motor. It was decided between me and the car shop that it must have had the carbs set up on it for the bigger motor... 48mm being a bit too big for a 3.5 (the 4.6 must have died at some point and been replaced). The detent system was fixed in the gearbox selector mechanism and the carbs were supposedly set up as good as was possible. It had a full engine service, oil filter and all the rest. While it was in there I had them fit an inline servo assist system for the rear brakes as they weren’t quite as sharp as I wanted, (my left hand is weak and has metalwork in it after 2 ops). The vacuum from such a mad carb set up isn’t strong enough though, so I got a pressure sensitive 12v vacuum pump from the USA. The back brake is now excellent. BUT...Not only did the car shop take far too long, charge too much and do unauthorised work, but they down-sized the main jets instead of the idle/slow running jets!!!!!! So for those reasons they get no mention. It took me many stress-filled runs, with misfires and dead sparkplugs to work out what the f**k heads had done to the carbs. It only almost ran okay on minimal throttle. At this point a couple of videos were put on YouTube again as; "V8 Trike. Back on the road, (at last) and “V8 Trike excursions “Just keeping it local as I hadn’t figured out the carbs or how to fix my chair on yet.
After researching Webber carbs on the web, I was confident enough to tackle them myself. I bought a selection of jets off the web and spent 2 days with my mate 'Edd the Wrecker' tweaking. Twas good fun but I don’t think the neighbours would agree. Edd rode the trike around the block every time I changed a set of jets. 8 bloody jets each time. I slowly went back up with the mains while going down with the idle jets...We went past the optimum, and then back one, adjusting the idle screws as we went. The screws don’t adjust the ratio of the mixture at idle, just the amount. With no chokes fitted it's a bit of a pig to start and to keep idling at first now... pump the throttle 3 times before starting and hold the throttle gently for a few minutes before setting off. It was set by the shop to idle on its own, straight away, which meant as it warmed up it became far too rich to run properly. I also fitted the aluminium 6" polished bell mouths that I found on a USA drag race website, which come in useful as a leg rest as I’m getting on and off. Once I had the jets as near as I could get, I put it into 'Southern Carbs' in South Wimbledon for a final check and balance. Really helpful and cheerful chappies. They adjusted the timing and reset the idle screws after finding the jets to be correct before balancing them all. Runs much sweeter now, but it's still a little over-carbed. Apparently my DCOE carbs are sought after by classic racers and are worth upwards of £400 each, so maybe one day I shall Ebay them and buy me some brand new 45mm's. That is, if I don’t find a 4.6 lump, to go with the carbs, first. Ever since first buying it, I had so many different ideas for ways of carrying my wheelchair. It’s an aluminium 'lightweight rigid’, which means its lighter cos it doesn’t fold up. In the end I bought a 4-bike cycle carrier that fits onto a car, behind a bolt-on tow ball, meaning to adapt it, but it needed no adapting...I use it exactly as is !!! I also had many ideas for holding my feet still -ski straps and allsorts. In the end I used a pair of 'Heel-ers', which are like the back half of a pair of old fashioned roller skates. I took the wheels off and cut away excess stuff and used the 2 adjusting bolts to fix them to my foot boards. At this point a sweet and trouble free run to Boxhill and another video on YouTube; "Mad world run”.
At some point, during an evening's blat around South London, unbeknown to me, my right leg was resting on the engine. I found a big 2" round burn hole in my shin as I removed my trousers at the end of the day..!!! They say 'no sense no feeling'..? So, I had to have the seat re-shaped to allow me to sit further back and at the same time decided to raise the passenger seat to give me a small back-rest. This was done using special foam from a pressure relieving wheelchair cushion, wrapped up in a waterproof, very rough and grippy covering, (to stop me sliding off round bends). Just recently I’ve brought it up to date with a fog lamp and a hazard light system. I have a higher set of pull-back risers waiting to go on that will allow me to raise the front of the tank by 2" - 3" which I think will give it that 'just right' look. There’s also a pair of 15"x13" wheels in the back garden awaiting my attention.
I’m now really happy with how it goes and looks. I use a small board to help me get on/off and once on I feel totally planted. With the bars in my hands I feel very stable and safe. It’s an absolute pleasure to ride, feeling like it's stuck to the road. No wobbles or shakes. Hats off to the original builder as it does what it's meant to do. Total "Monster Inc". Its great fun catching sight of peoples' faces as I come into view. Mainly its huge smiles, sometimes even cheers. A total look of befuddlement and non belief makes me laugh, as they quickly try to fathom it all out before I’m out of sight again. I enjoy being a bit out of the ordinary once more. The best bit of all is having my face in the wind again. Who would guess that such a simple sensation could be so pleasurable and powerful? And as for no helmet… Hahahahahahahahaha………….what a buzz!!
It’s been about a year and a half since I first got my paws on it and have just about finally finished it. It’s been a bit frustrating at times, not being able to physically do some stuff that I could do myself, if I wasn’t in a chair. But I guess that’s what friends are for. Before my accident I rode allsorts of bikes as main transport, from the age of 16, working as a courier many times, doing street class drag meets, track days, going to bike shows, touring abroad, mechanic-ing in bike shops and courier companies, building race-reps, drag bikes, outfits, turbo rat-chops, one being a bike called 'the Changeling' which is now owned by Nick at 100% Biker and can be found on Ratbike.org, (put "the changeling" into the search box). Because of my accident, I've not only lost all feeling and movement from my chest down, (T5), but I've also, more importantly, lost my 'thermostat' function and I take on my surrounding temperature, like a reptile, (funnily enough I'm a 'Snake' in Chinese astrology), which means I heat up real quick and get cold real quick, to the point of hypothermia and death. Now I have to use a car for day to day transport. I use my trike whenever the weather looks 'safe'. I’m looking into the small 'teardrop' caravans to tow behind the trike to get to a bike show for a weekend. So come say hello if you see me out and about.
I'd really like to express my gratitude and thanks to all my friends. Especially Kieran, Helloner, Dave, (Kieran's mate), Gazza for moving the trike around everywhere and other stuff. Edd for carb tuning and JD drinking, Lucia for being my inspiration and right-hand woman, (and apprentice mechanic), right through the whole project. If anyone wants to say hello or has any questions about what I’ve been doing with this Monster then Email me at; email@example.com and to see any of my videos, (including my 5yr daughter and 86 year old Nanna on the trike), then put "basketcase3" into the search box on the YouTube website.
All the best and ride free