There’s a new health craze in town. All the kids are doing it: Tri-Adventure racing. It’s kind of like a triathalon, but not as “easy.” It seems the participants jog, run, trek, or hike a distance, then they canoe or kayak a bit farther, and finally ride a bicycle or mountainbike some ungodly length of time over not-the-flattest of terrain. Sounds tiring. I wonder if they have break stations for chili cheeseburgers. Not exactly my idea of a Tri-Adventure outing. I can think of better ways to cover long distances.
This past spring, I planned an adventure for my inbound trip to Daytona Bike week. I didn’t want to start in the frigid temps of New England. Go ahead, call me a wimp like my colleagues. And I didn’t have enough time in my schedule for a complete cross-country journey from one of the motorcycle manufacturer’s home bases on the West Coast. A start point halfway across the country would do just fine. I placed a call to longtime RoadBike-supporter Motor Trike. Located in Troup, in eastern Texas, it seemed the perfect place to set out. And having just released its new line of independent, rear-suspension trikes based on a Gold Wing chassis, it had the right equipment for the journey. The model is aptly named Adventure. Owners Jeff and Diane Vey were more than happy to outfit me with a demo unit for my trip.
During the planning stages, my commitment to ride a trike over this long distance left me a bit apprehensive. While I’ve ridden several professionally built trikes in the past, some did not impress me as all-day friendly. While some trikes exhibit heavy steering and an uncooperative steering head wiggle, I was not sure what to expect from the MT Adventure. I had just signed up for a 1,000-mile drive. While preparing for my trip, I thought to myself, what have I done? Little did I know that I’d probably made the best decision of my life.
Situated in a 50,000 sq.-ft. facility on 70 acres of land, the Motor Trike/Thoroughbred factory and showroom is an impressive motoring campus. Engineering, research and development, fabrication, manufacturing, painting, and assembly are all done in house. After a short factory tour, I was ready to hit the road. It was such a shame that I had to depart Motor Trike headquarters in the rain. I was a mere 100 yards down the wet road, and my beautifully finished red roadster was filthy.
My three-day journey took me through east Texas to Louisiana, where I detoured to ride The Longleaf Trail Scenic Byway and stopped at Avery Island to visit the home of my favorite condiment, Tabasco Pepper Sauce. I rode across Alabama with an obligatory stop at the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park floating museum, through the panhandle of Florida, and, finally, south to Daytona Beach. This trip allowed more than enough time and tarmac to get acquainted with my new friend, the Adventure trike. I didn’t give up the trike easily once I had arrived in Daytona. I rode it most of the week.
Equipped with the usual array of Honda Gold Wing accoutrements, plus the powerful standard flat 6 power plant, the Adventure proved to be a luxury limo for my trip. It allowed me to relax a bit and take in the ride without having to put a foot down. The Adventure kit adds approximately 300 pounds to the motorcycle. Not much, considering all the extra hardware. And trust me, the 1800cc base mill is more than up to the task. I had a blast gunning the throttle up highway on-ramps only to find I was travelling faster than moving traffic and had to decelerate to blend in. The Motor Trike Adventure cruises fast and smooth. The wheelbase is 68-1/2″, longer than the base Gold Wing wheelbase of 66-1/2″. Ride quality was luxurious. Granted, I was riding solo with a trunk and topcase full of gear. I have no doubt that the air-adjustable rear suspension (tunable with on board air compressor) could easily have accommodated a passenger and added cargo.
Motor Trike’s incentive for adding independent rear suspension is to improve ride and handling quality. The company’s take on this is to have soft springs at the rear with plenty of suspension travel. The Adventure has 4″ of rear-wheel travel, with a lowered spring rate, and therefore the natural frequency of the rear was lowered, adding to comfort. This is only possible with soft springs and enough travel. The Adventure will accommodate large load variances (much like a truck). All Motor trike kits use air ride suspension with a separate shock absorber. Air bags adjust the spring rate and ride height, and the shocks control and dampen sudden jolts. After riding the machine, I can attest to the plush ride with no wavering in the steering head. I felt no evidence of steering head shake. And my trike didn’t even have the optional 4-degree raked front end.
The rear differential is mounted with rubber bushings as are all the suspension components like the anti-roll bar, shocks, and suspension arms. Roll stiffness comes into play in a trike rear end. Too stiff a setting ruins ride quality but makes the trike corner flat. Too soft, and the trike feels like it wants to tip over. The Adventure offers stability during cornering with little roll. A low roll center height (RCH) makes the trike feel safer, too. The antiroll bar of the Adventure is designed to work with the trike’s RCH. Motor Trike has built the rear with all the heaviest components as low as possible, which reduces load transfer to the outside tire on cornering and helps keep the inside tire on the ground.
The differential housing (center section) of the rear is specifically designed and manufactured for the Adventure. However, it does utilize Ford 7-1/2″ differential parts, which are utilized in a number of Ford vehicles like the Ford Ranger. New gears, bearings, seals, and brakes are used. The half shafts and CV joints are manufactured for Motor Trike by a supplier that specializes in building drivetrain components. The rear brakes are specifically designed for the Adventure. It utilizes a three-piston caliper on each wheel which retains the linked braking system found on the GL1800 Gold Wing. The brake rotors are 12″ in diameter.
The Adventure’s fiberglass body is hand-laid for weight savings and strength and features a 4.6′ trunk with a trunk door opening that’s larger than on previous models. All of Motor Trike’s trike kits have the same 3-year/60,000-mile warranty.
All in all, my 1,000-mile trike trek was pure pleasure aboard the Adventure. While a two-wheel rider at heart, and having never owned a trike before, I’m glad I had the opportunity to spend some time on the Adventure seeing how the other half lives. And I don’t know what all the sweating is about: this Tri-Adventure is a no-exertion experience.
This just in: Motor Trike now has an independent rear trike kit available for Harley-Davidson Electra Glide and Road King models. Called the Gladiator, this trike kit retains the factory style belt drive and keeps the half shafts parallel to the ground for less strain on the CV joints and less maintenance. As on the Adventure, air- adjustable rear suspension is standard.
By Steve Lita, Photos by Bob Feather
The Adventure base price is $7,950 (unpainted).
A single-tone, factory color-matched paint is an additional $900.
My Adventure had some options:
Matching front wheel $840.
Aqua Shield Running Boards $925 (and for painted add $375).
Chrome rear nerf bar $250.
Trailer hitch $139.99.
Color-matched embroidered fender bras $150.
Onboard air compressor is normally a $350 option, but this is a standard feature on all Adventures and Gladiators.
A 4-degree raked front end would add $850 to the option list. But as stated earlier, my tester didn’t have it and in my opinion, didn’t need it.
A Motor Trike authorized dealer will charge approximately $1,000 – $1,400 to install the Adventure kit on a customer’s Gold Wing (rough estimate, consult your local dealer for quote).