My Trike Project

Page 1, build the frame.

In 2011, I decided to build a 3 wheeled motorcycle, The word trike is biker language for a 3 wheeled motorcycle. In the Philippines, where my EX wife is from, a 3 wheeled Motorcycle are called a Tricycle,

The above photo is of a typical Philippino Tricycle, a small motorcycle with a sidecar made for public transportation service .

Harley & Honda make factory symmetrical trike's, but Hondas start at $20,000 & Harley's go for more then $32,000 for their base model and none of those models have room for my family. Most custom symmetrical Trike's are made from a Volkswagen drive train package married to a motorcycle front end. A few custom trike's use a Chevy V8, which give you awesome power, but they are hard to steer because of their heavy cast iron engine which is close to the front forks. Also, the driver's seating position leaves a lot to be desired, because either you will have a hot engine between your legs, or you set further back, you will need very long handlebars to steer it. If you go to Ebay and type in VW Trike, you will most likely see several Tikes made from Volkswagen drive train package married to a motorcycle front end. I like this type of trike, but I want to use an American drivetrain package, preferably a Chevy. After looking at some of the on line Auto actions, such as Copart, I soon found the type of car that I was looking for. I bought a 2003 Chevrolet Malibu with 62K miles for $1250. This car had been whacked pretty good in the drivers side front, but there was no damage to the engine or front suspension.

After removing the powertrain package from the Malibu body, this is what you get. A 3.1 Liter V6 Fuel injected computer controlled mostly aluminum engine, a 4 speed automatic transmission with overdrive & lockup converter, CV joint Axles, Mc Pherson Strut (Spring over shock) suspension, disk brakes with aluminum calipers, spindles & wheels. A small, light weight steel frame sits under this assembly. The real challenge to using any front wheel drive power plant is how to support the Struts. The top of the struts were originally held in position by the car's body. Now they must somehow connected to the cradle. So, first I made 2 custom 7" diameter rings from ¼" steel, and bolted them on to the top of the struts. Then I welded a piece of 2" steel channel between those 2 rings to maintain 43 7/8", the original center to center distance between the Struts. Next, I bolted a piece of 2" steel channel to the cradle, close to the struts (1 for each side). Then I took a piece of 3/4" steel tubing, (bright silver looking) flattened both ends and bolted one end to the cradle (lower end) & to the vertical 2" channel. This makes a triangle, and makes my strut mounts VERY strong and stiff, but light.

In this photo, you can see more of the strut supports that I have fabricated. This is just the start, as the final height will be adjusted, and more bracing will be added to the steel disks supporting the top of the struts. The left side of this power plant package was the firewall side, but it now will be the back of the Trike. The right side (which was originally the front part of the car) will be bolted to (See next Photo below)

This steel tubing frame. This is the start of the front part of my trike. It is made from 2" square .187 wall steel tubing. That will make a very strong frame. In the front end is a 1981 Honda CB900. I welded the Honda neck to a specially made pivoting (adjustable rake) front end.

Here is a close up of the pivoting (adjustable rake) front end. This took many hours to conceive and build. By loosening the 2, 3/8" bolts, the front end rake can be adjusted from 24° to 50°. Most stock motorcycles use 26°, so I can run this at a stock angle, or for looks, run it to the other end for a very raked look.

In this photo, you can see that I have mounted the motorcycle front end and connected the rear of the frame to the powertrain cradle. My next step is to add "wings" or sides to the frame, to make the rear part of the frame as wide as the tires. Click on the "next page" below to see more progress.

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Jerry