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SpiT-Fire Trike

The Rest of the Story


Here is the Trike story from the beginning to the end:

 For me, the Trike saga began at the end of summer  2001.  I found myself passing an very interesting "Guy Stuff" yard sale full of tools and motorcycles and interesting trikes in different stages of assembly. 

I did come home with one of the three unfinished trike projects from that garage sale.   The original trike design was published in the late '70's thru '80's in several car, motorcycle, hot rod, and other motor vehicle magazines. 
The trike parts I took were NOT yet attached to a motorcycle .  All I got was the VW axle with some home made Framework & a piece of very rough unfinished fiberglass bodywork - I needed to fabricate the rest.  I had 2 pictures - No "instruction book", no plans, no diagrams - only some verbal direction and visual concepts.

  The trike fella had several trike front end accessories in different stages of finish.  Pretty cool concept 3 wheel Trike; only one unit was all painted up but they all looked real fun.  Irresistible - nearly finished projects. They drive like a car, but use a VW front axle up front Bolted to the front of a motorcycle.  My, oh my, what have I gotten myself into ;)  It sure looked fun, but could I get it put together and working - that was the challenge.

(2001)  I bought the unfinished front end frame & bodywork and hauled it home.   I knew I couldn't work on it for awhile.  The motorcycle  attaches to the trike right at the neck. 
These accessory front end units attach to a normal motorcycle @ 3 attachment points basically mating the frames and connected to the front fork mounts.   As a bolt on accessory - the motorcycle is not permanently altered - therefore it can be licensed as a motorcycle.

Two arms on the lower part attach to either a one inch tube (in the case of most Hondas) or the peg attach points. The upper steering head attaches at the front triple tree.
No permanent modification is done to the cycle. The throttle and clutch are simply moved forward to mount on the trike (the throttle and the clutch levers are not disconnected.  

The idea: Remove the trike section from the motorcycle  - put the front forks back on, relocate the essentials, and "Presto" you are back to a standard motorcycle.

Reverse Trike is what these 2 wheels up front with 1 wheel behind designs are called.  You can read more about 2front 1rear wheel trikes at http://www.reversetrike.com


February of 2002 - about 6 months later I found a Moto Guzzi Lario.  I got things about 80% sorted out and ready to bolt on.  I had the front end of the Lario removed and made mounts for the bike to the trike section.  I even had the shift rod designed and fabricated and working to shift with.  The only things left was wiring and extending controls over to the trike section.  This pic shows the trike front end bolted up to the Moto Guzzi Lario - NOT the Honda ST1100 that is currently in use.

However, 2 things happened to put a real stall in the Trike project:  My wife bit the bullet and decided that although she liked the trike idea, she wanted to learn how to ride a motorcycle after all. 

We bought her a Virago and we started riding together.  I really enjoyed motorcycle riding with Dulane, but that added hobby riding together used up my extra time which would have been used working on the trike.  Not that I am really complaining, I enjoyed the shared motorcycle adventures with Dulane more than ever.  But, you can only do so much with the time you have.

Then - motorcycling became an All in the Family affair.  Daughter Sonya learned how to ride and got a little starter bike - and by spring of 2003 my son also decided he really wanted to ride a motorcycle (a Moto Guzzi to be exact), but he couldn't afford one.  He eventually talking me out of the Lario motorcycle.   So, I let my son take the Lario and I began the search for a motorcycle all over again.  Now I was out of a motorcycle for the trike power unit! The trike project took a few major steps backwards rather than forwards. 


Summer 2003 I found a real gem - A '93 ST1100 with a slightly wrecked front end.  Only had 26,000 miles on it.  It was a perfect donor bike because it had the front end fairing body work was totally damaged.  The front forks were Not tweaked, but that expensive fairing was toast.  It needed gauges, radiator fix, and a few other things to operate.  It was easy to source parts for.  I knew this bike because I  happen to ride a Honda ST1100 for my daily rider named STeamer #9.  These are awesome machines and I know it will make a very stable, strong power source for the trike.

End of 2003.  The Trike project languished, and too much time has gone by without concentrating on it.  In fact, several other projects have been started and finished during the Trike project.  I suppose it is a matter of priorities.  I was able to source the parts needed to get the ST1100 re-registered and re-titled.  I had to get things like a working front end, the brain box and a tank cover.  I didn't need the fairing to get it street legal again, so my costs were minimal. 

In 2003 I started my house building project which took precedence over all projects.   I pretty much had to put the whole trike business on hold - again - from 2003 to 2006 while I built a house. 


01/12/04   I got a few Trike things accomplished despite the house building project.  I sourced parts for the ST1100 (Ebay), so I had done a little bit of work on the project.  I gathered all the parts needed to get it inspected and re-titled.  I took the donor ST1100 all fixed to legal specs (had No fairing body parts - which is not required.  but I had to bungy on the headlight and duct tape on the dashboard:), to the DMV for inspection and took the front end Trike body & axle accessory with me. Lights work, clock, turn signals in front & rear, rear tail light, front/rear brakes - all works. NO fairing on the motorcycle, but it has all the running parts and it is drivable.   Because the trike front axle unit is a bolt on - it was considered an accessory and the inspector said it would not change the licensing or registration.  It would still be a motorcycle - with an accessory front end.  The inspector said it would be just fine to bolt it up and ride.  Had it been welded it would have been a permanent change to the motorcycle and would need to meet a whole different set of specifications.   Inspected 01/12/04 Passed  Washington state inspection to be a motorcycle with or without the bolt on front end accessory.

Getting parts and registering the ST1100 was about the only thing I did to the trike project all year, but it was actually a major hurdle.

In addition to starting the house building project in '03, I also got very active in bio fuels.  In mid '03 I found myself spending all my free time developing a bio-fuels vehicle project.  The Bio fuels hobby also lead me from one facet of the "brew your own fuel" concept to another.  Today I am driving my commuter car on straight waste vegetable oil and also use biodiesel.   I even run a website for it at:  http://www.grease4fuel.com  This was also a great project but it stole time from the trike, which sat un a heap of parts under a tarp. 


2006 soon came around the corner and the Trike project had languishing terribly.  The Trike would run, but it looked really, really ugly without the paint job and needed lots of refinements before you could say it was road worthy.  I was still doing lots of little jobs to finish some facets of the new house and the acre of landscaping that goes with it.  In addition was the continuation of the Grease 4 Fuel hobby/project which also sucked lots of time.  On top of that is my wife's Cob guest house project.  The cob guest house project took all of my wife's extra time and more of my time than anticipated.  Too many projects, too little time. 

It is apparent that I had lost momentum and probably lost that driving interest in the trike project.  I thought about it, and even dreamed about it often, and I really wish I could just finish the project.  I'd had the trike for 5 1/2 yrs and it was still not done.  I decided I'd pay to get the last bit done.
I really did like the trike concept and I especially liked the 2F-1R wheel concept.  I just couldn't seem to make it happen.  I found DauntlessMotors Sidecar company and They took the bike and trike from where I left off and got things engineered, attached and running.   They took my plan and extended all the electrical that needed to be done, extended cables and made the integrated braking work.  I had quite a few items already done, but DauntlessMotors assembled it and really beefed up the framework.  Double gusset 1 1/2" square tube framework, beefed up triangular triple tree section and much more.  They did a wonderful job, made it safer and stronger.

December 29th 2007 A cold day in Seattle Man, it needed paint really, really badly.  So ugly I didn't want to show only a few pics before it was painted.  I put on the license plates with current tabs and drove it home from Dauntless Motors Co. on a dry - Cold December day. 
Whooooo Hoooo, is this puppy is fast and smooth!!  Although there are some ergonomic changes I would like make and little details to finish, it really is a BLAST to drive.  On the way home that day, I drove by 2 different police officers patrolling the roads on the way home and I really expected to get pulled over for curiosity sake, but I didn't.  I've read on many trike reports that they routinely get pulled over from "Curious cops".  Not a big deal.  They usually just need to check and make sure it is registered and licensed to drive on the road, oh, and see if you have a motorcycle trike/sidecar 3rd wheel drivers endorsement

The bike section runs absolutely great! Solid, fast, and smooth, just like a dependable ST1100 should.  In fact if you look at the ST1100 web site you can find all the impressive aspects of Honda's best kept secret - the ST1100 Sport Touring Machine.  Currently lots of police are issued ST1100 and ST1300 motorcycles.





With a vehicle creation like a Trike or any custom vehicle; you will be able to find Lots of things you can personalize or customize.  Often they become a fun ongoing project getting updates, modifications and changes - essentially evolving over time. 

  • Re-fabricated belly pan in sheet metal using the existing belly pan as an easy instance template.  (I'd also close up the front cabin foot section.)

  • I'd like a CD player, glove box, grab handles, and god knows what else you could come up with.

  • New "half round" racing steering wheel that pops on and off and set closer to the instrument panel - oh, and a nice wood dash panel would be cool. 

  • Course I'd like a more comfy seat too ;) But these items are mostly personal preferences.

NOTE: The saddlebags and tail trunk are NOT for sale with the trike.  They belong to my commuter ST1100. 
You can purchase them separately. 

Here it is - Old pic from New Years day - 2008
Nearly 7 years since I first bought some of the kit at that yard sale!

My Grandson had a fun ride with me even though the front end paint job wasn't quite finished yet.

The Trike is really a blast to drive.

On a trip in up by SandPoint Idaho I glimpsed a trike exactly like this one.  It was painted all black and looked pretty cool blacked out!  I think it used a Honda Saber motorcycle.
It got away before I could go back and find him, but the sighting was encouraging.
Then again, driving around Monroe WA in 2005 I saw another one!  I was able to turn around and go chase him down.  We talked for a while to discover this fella bought one from the same guy I did.  He put the front fiberglass body on piano hinges so the front end lifted up like a car hood.  Underneath he had a camp stove and storage boxes, and fresh water container.  It was set up for camping!  It was real cute, and shows you can customize this to do just about what ever you want.
We exchanged phone numbers but his number has since been disconnected and he has disappeared. 

My biggest problem now is a covered place to keep this 11' long trike. 

Operating the clutch was difficult at first, but giving it some practice I did get learn how clutch smoothly.  Remember when you tried to work the clutch for the first time on a car.  This used the VW pedals and the VW clutch pedal but it had no feed back feeling and was really hard to use.  I had to re-engineer this clutch.  S0, I moved the clutch lever onto the shifter rod.  That way it maintains the actual feel and function of the hydraulic motorcycle clutch and all clutch/shift actions are done with one hand.  Squeeze the clutch lever and push forward or pull backward to change gears.  Makes the shifting so much easier.  The foot pedal didn't have any "feel" to work with, and at first I killed the engine a few times or over revved it easily, but I've added a tension devise to the pedal and now you can feel it, and can operate it perfectly. 

Since the time of finding this kit (2001), I've found plenty of Internet information and one particular web site dedicated to "Reverse Trikes" or 2f1r - which is 2 wheels front - 1 wheel rear.  Not only are there plenty of  trikes using exactly the same concept of a motorcycle behind VW front axle with all sorts of fiberglass body designs, but the 2 wheels front has been found to be much preferred over 1 wheel front designs for stability and performance.   

I have sure enjoyed this experience.  I feel fortunate to have been able to do something as unique as this trike and have it all work out so well.  I hope your adventures are as successful and fun as this has been.

Here we are now into 2010 with spring riding season beckoning.  I have taken SpiTfire out for rides throughout the winter during sunny days.  I've had a blast and I sorta look forward to some more rides this summer.  However, I have 3 other motorcycles, and a couple diesel cars I drive on free WVO fuel.  It is hard to make time to drive all these vehicles.  I only take the trike out maybe 6 times a year and for real short rides to boot.  My 6'1" frame doesn't fit well in the trike.  I found my gas pedal leg cramping up  after about 20 miles.  I don't think I could make it on a whole days ride.  So, lots of little reasons to go ahead and sell the trike. 

  See Ya,   Roy Harvey