Gertie is my Kawasaki GT550 trike. She's always been called Gertie. In fact ever since she was Gertie the bike. Her first 5 years were on the marine camp in Poole, teaching marines to ride. Then she was bought by one of the marines, who later sold her to his brother who works where I do. He had her for about a year and sold her to the Mad Postman of Swanage and I bought her from him in 2000 when my Honda Superdream died.
I went to Normandy on her a few days after buying her, I’ve done the Round Britain
Rally several times, the National once, and in 2003 Gertie and I went to the Isle of Man TT and rode the mountain course on Mad Sunday, and we’ve done lots of rallies together.
In 2003 I was thinking about parting with Gertie and buying something lighter as the arthritis in my hands was beginning to be a problem, but I just couldn’t find anything that would suit me as well for the kind of traveling I wanted to do. Then in October '03 with the bike fully laden I dropped her on my leg on a grassy hillside –
unfortunately I ended on the downhill side with the bike on top of me! While in hospital in Abergavenny I met another biker who lent me some custom bike magazines and the trikes in the mags got me thinking. Once home and hobbling about on crutches, someone suggested I should contact Bruce Burrows the local trike builder. I didn’t think I could afford to have her converted, but Bruce came along to have a look and agreed to do it for a sum I could just about afford -and the rest is history! I was very lucky as this was the last trike Bruce built in his garage before moving to a proper industrial unit which of course meant putting his prices up.
I left it very much to Bruce to decide how to do the job –he’d built lots of trikes and I knew nothing! All I specified was that I wanted it to have suspension as I knew it would be more comfortable than a hard-tail, and I wanted a sizeable luggage rack as I like my comforts when camping!
The bike was ideal for triking as it was a shaft drive anyway, so Bruce modified the swing-arm to mate up to the Reliant axle, (Rialto I think), which he shortened to keep the proportions right and so that the bike shaft
lined up with the diff. He used the original twin shocks from the bike, and everyone who looks at it says it’s a really clever bit of engineering because it’s so simple! Nothing else to say about it really, cos that’s it, apart from the rack which is very tidy and finishes the rear end off a treat and carries loads of stuff. The rear mudguards are typical Bruce jobs – we think he has a secret source cos they appear on quite a lot of his earlier trikes! The rear lights were just lying around his garage. No-one liked them cos they had no chrome, so they were ideal for the GT!  They sit on top of the mudguards, white to the front and red to rear, and the original bike tail-light does the brake light bit.
I added some bolt-on cruising pegs to the engine bars which I had asked Bruce to leave on for that purpose, and a cheap King and Queen seat from M&P as I thought it would be better for triking than the original dual seat.
The trike's only about 6 inches longer than when it was a bike, and with the shortened axle the proportions are just right. More than one person has commented that it looks as if it had always been a trike!
The gearing of the axle seems to suit the engine – top end speed is lower but I’ve had her up to 85 which is good enough for me, and the 6th is now a perfectly usable top gear instead of being a motorway overdrive gear and she’s still got lots of acceleration in the lower gears, which is great.
Just a footnote about the steering – the front end is totally original and unmodified. As a result she tends to shake her head a bit at very low speed, up to about 25.  When I first rode her I went once round our estate and thought ‘I can’t do this’ – but I knew she was rideable as I’d seen Bruce arrive on her! So I tried again and after
fiddling with the tyre pressures and letting most of the air out of the forks, either the handling improved or I just got used to it. Anyway I don’t know what the problem was now!
After further problems with my leg I found it impossible to use the standard gearchange lever, so I’ve jubilee clipped a golf club to the lever as a hand gear change – it may be temporary or it may become permanent, in which case I’ll probably get it properly done with something a little posher than jubilee clips and duct tape!