Just when you think you have seen everything under the sun, something new comes rolling down the road. A few weeks ago I was headed to my car after a day at work when I spotted a very strange motorcycle in the parking lot. After asking around I found out it belonged to a co-worker named Bart. I took a quick look at the vehicle and headed home. But the more I thought about what I had seen the more interested I became. So I called up Bart and I went over to his house and spent an hour talking with him about his vehicle. Here is what I learned.
It is legally considered a motorcycle, it was hand made,and it is the only one in the world. It is registered here in Oregon as a 1997 Assembled. It was designed and built by a guy named George. George built three other trike motorcycles before he built this one. The first two were powered by VW engines, the third one was powered by a Corvair engine.
And then George had the brilliant idea to power this one with a Chevy V-8 engine. (Because as we all know you can’t have too much horsepower.) George drove it for 15 years, and he and his wife Betty took it from the West Coast to the East Coast and back, twice, all the while pulling a small trailer. George ended up putting 20 ,000 miles on it.
Then about 3 years ago George’s wife passed away and he parked the trike. Well, it sat for a year and then George decided to sell it. Bart heard about it from a friend, he went to check it out, and he fell in love with it at first sight. George was asking $10,000 for it, but Bart was able to cut a deal with George and purchase it for less than that amount. Bart has a motorcycle endorsement on his drivers license, and he wears a helmet when he is riding his trike.
Starting at the front end, the front wheel and forks are off of a 1986 Honda Gold Wing 1200.
The engine is a 1978 Chevrolet 305 ci (5.0L) V-8. It has a GM Turbo 350 automatic transmission. And the rear axle is out of a 1987 IROC Z-28 Camaro. The Trike weighs 2,200 lbs, and 800 of those pounds are on the front wheel. So steering it can be a workout on a twisty road. Bart is going to experiment with some new front end components to try and get the steering effort down a bit.
The brakes are interesting. There are 2 disc brakes on the front wheel, and they are applied by using the master cylinder on the right hand handle bar, just like on a two wheel motorcycle. The rear brakes, which are discs, are applied using the foot pedal on the floor. Bart always uses the two braking systems together. One system is enough to stop the trike, but it is easier to use two. There is no vacuum assist on the rear disc brakes, so it takes some serious effort to really apply them.
Bart took me for a ride around the neighborhood. My overwhelming impression was that this is a unique vehicle. People stop what they are doing and watch it go by. They wave and smile and give a thumbs up. Bart told me that is what happens all day long when he and his wife take the trike out on a trip.
It is quipped with glasspack mufflers, and it was not as loud as I thought it might be. He has taken the bike up to 80 mph. It is equipped with seat belts. The fuel tank holds 22 gallons, and the bike gets 13 mpg. Bart used to ride a Honda Goldwing. He is still friends with his motorcycle riding buddies, and he and his wife go on runs with them whenever they can.
Bart has put 6,000 miles on the trike in the two years that he has owned it.Bart is thinking about adding electrically heated seats. He took it out for a ride back in January of this year, on a Polar Bear Run. It was 36 (F) out, and by the end of the run Bart and his wife were very very cold.
The bike has a surprisingly large cargo compartment in the back. George had a local sheet metal company make the rear bodywork, and they did a very nice job.
I think that this vehicle is proof of what a person can do with enough talent, time and tools.