Trikes: A Popular Alternative to Motorcycles

Trikes, the shortened term for three-wheeled motorcycles, are unique and eye-catching vehicles that offer the thrill of common two-wheeled motorcycles while adding a level of safety and security that the additional stability of a third wheel has to offer. Interestingly, motorcycles with sidecars are not generally considered to be trikes.

Three-wheeled motorcycles considered to be trikes are engineered in one of two different wheel configurations. Delta trikes have one wheel in the front and two wheels in the back. Tadpole trikes have two wheels in the front and one wheel in the back which, of course, gives the trike a tadpole-like design. A unique rear-wheel steering system is sometimes used in trikes. While gaining familiarity with a rear-wheel steering system can be easier than one might think – it is much like operating a car in reverse – the turning radius and overall handling tend to suffer when compared to traditional front-wheel steering systems.

Trikes utilizing the tadpole configuration are usually more stable than those using the delta configuration, especially during braking. When the brakes are applied a delta-configured trike the possibility of tipping forward to the left or forward to the right can be relatively high, depending upon the trike’s design, if the trike is not held almost perfectly straight for the duration of the brake’s application. Understeer and oversteer affect the tadpole and the delta configurations respectively, due to the nature of the trike’s design.

Trikes have a history of being custom-built for their owners and, thus, are considered to be high-end recreational vehicles. Automobile manufacturers are increasingly offering their own lines of manufactured trikes. For example, companies such as Honda, Harley Davidson, Victory, Triumph and Kawasaki all offer their own models of trikes. Factory-manufactured trikes are frequently designed in the delta configuration, with the delta’s stability during braking greatly improved by the engineer’s contemporary designs.

Trikes are becoming increasingly more attractive alternatives to motorcycles. Their unique designs and improved safety make them fantastic vehicles for recreational rides, and we can certainly expect to see more and more trikes on the roads in the years to come.

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