What is a trike motorcycle?

Adventure 2 min read

Give it two wheels or get it out.

That’s a biker mantra if there ever was one. They’re purists. But now trikes, custom motorcycles, three-wheel motorcycles, car/motorcycle hybrids and autocycles are bringing their special brand of thunder to the highway.

The rise of the trike

Most trikes (three-wheeled vehicles) are still classified as motorcycles (technically anything with fewer than four wheels is a motorcycle). But to many bikers, trikes have a different story.

The surge in trikes started as DIY projects, with indie companies offering trike kits so bikers could convert motorcycles into trikes.

Aging bikers—suffering from aching knees, joints and muscles—hopped on the trend and built super-steady and safer machines. For some, it was easy riding or no riding. Many shops even joined the trend, offering motorcycle-to-trike conversions for about $15,000 to $18,000.

Then, in 2009 trikes got the official stamp of approval from the largest voice in the biking community, Harley-Davidson, when it introduced its trike, the Tri Glide®.

Creating a whole new category: autocycles

Today, more manufacturers are joining the fray, basically blowing up the category and creating autocycles that look more like science-fiction machines than actual bikes.

These enclosed, three-wheeled motorcycles with steering wheels and seating don’t require a rider to straddle the vehicle (think bucket or bench seating instead).

Some autocycles, like the Polaris Slingshot®, a reverse trike with two wheels in the front, one in the back and a steering wheel, actually drive more like a car than a motorcycle.

“I’m a traditional motorcycle guy,” said Jim Burgett, Motorcycle Underwriter at Progressive. “But, the Slingshot is completely unique. There’s just nothing like it. It just took me and the entire industry by surprise.”

Bikes for the non-bikers

Trikes and autocycles are reaching a whole new market: non-bikers. The steadier bikes drop the intimidation factor of learning to ride, mastering the lean of a curve and stabilizing a 500-plus pound machine.

Some even serve a more functional purpose.

“Practicality is a whole new angle to consider with this category,” said Doug Quinn, Motorcycle Underwriter at Progressive. “The Can-Am Spyder, for example, is much simpler to ride than any other type of motorcycle. Almost anyone can ride it. It has a semi-automatic transmission and two wheels in the front. All you have to do is throttle and use foot brakes. It’s like a Sea-Doo but with wheels.”

If it’s cool enough to ride, it’s cool enough to insure

Progressive doesn’t speak for the entire biker community, but as the #1 motorcycle insurer, we consider ourselves a strong voice. We’re insuring more types of motorcycles than anyone else.

And we believe the best motorcycle insurance expands the definition of what a motorcycle is. So we offer insurance for trikes, autocycles, dirt bikes, custom motorcycles, converted trikes, other three-wheel motorcycles, car/motorcycle hybrids and even insurance for electric bikes. In fact, we’ll insure about 99% of all vehicles in the category.

“We’re definitely the early adopters and take a very proactive approach. We’re open to insuring just about anything in the category,” said Burgett.

“Basically, we just want to make sure the motorcycle is from a legit company, has a big dealer network with repair shops and parts readily available. That way we can be sure we can fix your bike and get you back on the road.”

In the market for trike insurance? Find out how motorcycle insurance has you covered

Photo courtesy of Harley-Davidson

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