It was 2004 and I had finished work, unexpectedly, in 2000, so being mid-winter I was idly ‘channel surfing’ one dark and miserable afternoon, when I came across a programme on building trikes. Now although a motorcyclist all my life the three wheeled concept had never really appealed to me, since the time as a 16 year old I demolished a roundabout full of Council flowers, on a borrowed 16H Norton outfit with wooden box as a sidecar, but that’s another story! Ho hum.
Well after the initial enthusiasm of purchase, the strip-down revealed the reality of an old Honda that had been used as a courier bike, then left out in the rain for a number of years. Still it met one criteria -it was cheap!
I managed to salvage the frame after extensive re-plating and re-tubing, as it was in a sorry state -well I did say it was cheap!
Once cleaned up, the Reliant axle looked pretty good -some 6” narrower than standard after I'd reduced both sides by the same amount for “aesthetics” and hopefully to allow for easier filtering in traffic. I attached it to the repaired main frame using a swinging arm I'd manufactured from 40mm box section, complete with Ford Transit grade silent bloc void bushes for the rear end to pivot on.
The original mono-shock unit has now been replaced by a much more functional Honda CBX 750 unit I procured, as the first one leaked incessantly! I then re-bushed the shock absorber suspension linkages, replacing all the original fixings with Allen bolts.
I decided on a remote mounted fuel tank and was able to get my hands on a redundant, ex-US Air force stainless steel fire extinguisher to modify. I used a Spitfire filler cap I found on a shelf in the workshop and sundry stainless steel fittings. Due to its small capacity -about 2.6 gallons, I actually ran out of fuel for the first time in many years, (honest!), on only my second jaunt on the finished trike. So now I've made a one gallon auxiliary tank, which is mounted under the seat, along with the SU float chamber that I use as a Wier tank for the fuel being pumped up from the rear mounted tank by a Facet solid state electric pump.
So after making and fitting the multitude of bits required to actually finish a project of this type I was almost there. The sheet alloy top frame cover is in lieu of the original fuel tank, which leaked like a sieve! I cobbled the prop' shaft together from half the Honda shaft married to an industrial line drive Cardan shaft. After much "painting and decorating" and the passage of 3 years, in which time I acquired my Jack Russell, Buddy, who took and still takes, a great deal of my time with his requirements and is most of the reason for the delayed time-frame, (but he’s the best!), I was done.
With the engine back in, it ran as sweet as a nut, so that was a huge relief! On with the Mk3 Ford Escort alloys I picked up from a mate's son and redrilled to the Reliant axle's 4” pcd. The wheels were shod with fresh rubber, then covered with trailer mudguards, with a 3” strip inserted in them for the correct width, backed up with basic trailer rear lights.
So in May 2007, MOT day finally came and it flew through the test -no MSVA being required because I’d retained sufficient of the original bike. So I was all set for the open road.
Once I’d remembered to stop putting my foot down at every halt and then of course running said foot over with the back wheel when I moved off, things became easier. Except for mini-roundabouts, which seemed to draw me almost magnetically through the middle of them -until I realised you couldn’t “crank” these things over like a bike. Anyway, with those teething problems sussed, I’m now a trike riding God! Yeah right! The forks you see in the earlier pics were the original Honda Silverwing items, but were so troublesome, leak wise, that after a second set of seals, I changed them for a set of CBX 750 forks and a 16” front wheel that came from the same scrapped Honda that supplied my rear damper unit. With a little machining, they fitted nicely, so I made an alloy fork brace and fettled and polished the legs, before topping off the revised front end with specially made clamp type handlebars.
After 18 months of use I’m well pleased with the results. It pulls like a train. Maybe it could benefit from 15” rear wheels to raise the overall final drive ratio a tad, but it's not really important as it'll hit 70mph or so if required. The steering damper I fitted as a result of the dire warnings from "aficionados" of three wheels regarding "headshake" is not needed and remains wound right off, so well does the plot handle. The low level rear view mirror you can see in some of the photos has proved invaluable in today's traffic, as are the 3 brake lights!