Buying a trike motorcycle

Buying a trike motorcycle is an option for riders who are looking for greater stability, storage space, and comfort when compared to a traditional two-wheel motorcycle. You can buy a new or used trike motorcycle or convert a two-wheel motorcycle into a trike with a trike kit.

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What is a trike motorcycle?

A trike is a type of motorcycle built on a chassis with three wheels. The standard trike has one wheel in front and two in the back. A reverse trike has two wheels in the front and one wheel in the back. Trikes started as aftermarket customizations of standard motorcycles. Many new models blur the line between motorcycle and car.

Trike vs. motorcycle

The most obvious difference between a trike and a traditional motorcycle is the number of wheels. A trike has three wheels, while a traditional motorcycle has two wheels. The three wheels of a trike give it greater stability on the road than a two-wheel motorcycle, but a trike is often slower in speed and unable to maneuver in tight spaces as easily as a traditional motorcycle.

Tips for buying a trike motorcycle

  1. Decide which features are most important

    Trikes include similar features to traditional motorcycles, but trikes tend to emphasize safety and comfort more heavily. If you're buying a trike for these reasons, be on the lookout for features like storage space, anti-lock brakes, traction control, an independent rear suspension, and a properly installed triple tree for easier steering. If you plan to ride with a passenger, consider seating space.

  2. Consider a new, used, or a converted trike motorcycle

    You can buy a new or used trike motorcycle, or you can convert a traditional motorcycle into a trike. A conversion requires buying a trike kit and could be an option for riders who already own a motorcycle. New trikes offer the most up-to-date safety features but are often more expensive than buying a used trike. Buying used is an option if you have a smaller budget or want to gain experience on a trike before upgrading. It's a good idea to test ride a new, used, or converted trike if possible.

  3. Finance your trike motorcycle

    Unless you have cash on hand to buy a trike, you'll likely need to finance your purchase. Financing is available through banks, credit unions, and dealerships. You may need to make a down payment and your monthly payments are typically determined by your credit score, interest rate, and the total price of the trike.

Pros and cons of trike motorcycles

Trike motorcycle pros

  • Stability: Trike motorcycles are more stable and resist tipping over. Depending on the axle's width between the paired wheels, they can stand up independently.
  • Storage space: Due to their larger size, trikes typically have more storage space than a comparable two-wheeler.
  • Comfort: They are less tiring to ride than standard motorcycles since they don't require as much — or in many cases, any — work to balance.

Trike motorcycle cons

  • Price: Trike motorcycles often cost more than a comparable two-wheeled motorcycle.
  • Maneuverability: The larger size of trikes makes them more difficult to park and maneuver through traffic.
  • Learning curve: The biggest drawback for motorcycle enthusiasts is that they feel different than riding a two-wheeler. Reverse trike models now exist with tilting wheels in the front, allowing the rider to lean more as they would with a typical motorcycle.

Is a trike safer than a motorcycle?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), two-wheeled motorcycles accounted for 91 percent of all motorcycles involved in fatal crashes in 2019. However, two-wheeled motorcycles are still much more common than trikes, so it's hard to say definitively.

Trikes certainly reduce some of the risks of riding a motorcycle. For example, a trike is harder to drop or roll than a motorcycle, especially for trikes with a two-in-front configuration. That increased stability can make navigating bad weather or uneven road surfaces easier. Because of their more prominent profile, trikes can be more visible, which can also improve safety.

Should I buy a trike or a traditional motorcycle?

Trikes initially gained popularity as a way for bikers who could no longer manage a traditional motorcycle to keep riding. They're still a great fit for seniors, veterans with chronic injuries, disabled riders, or anyone afraid of falling on a two-wheeled motorcycle but wanting to ride.

For touring long distances, a trike's extra storage capacity and low-fatigue riding style make them a great option. For bikers who like having a distinctive ride, trikes are eye-catching and look like custom bikes. Some conversion kits allow you to change your bike to a trike set-up without making permanent changes (like drilling holes), so you can switch back.

How to insure a trike motorcycle

Motorcycle insurance is required in nearly every state, so be sure to check the minimum required motorcycle insurance coverage for your state before you hit the road. Most states won’t issue registration or a license plate without motorcycle liability coverage.

You can insure your trike against theft, damage, and loss with motorcycle comprehensive coverage and motorcycle collision coverage.

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