The Minimalist Trike

I first wrote about trikes in 2013. Finally in 2019 I replaced my 2 wheel motorcycle with a trike.

I have a 2009 Suzuki C50 Boulevard Lehman trike.

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So far, I have done a few things:

Adjusted tire inflation to 32.5 Front and 19.5 Rear (PSI). (Was 23.5 Front and 29 Rear)
Replaced the battery. (Old battery was 5 1/2 years old – dated March 2014)
Angled the handlebars up about 2 inches. (Bolts were almost seized.)
Tightened rear muffler mount bolt and repaired one of the large hose clamps holding the mufflers.
Gas tank is too slippery to get a grip when riding, so I ordered tank grip pads.
Washed and waxed.
Removed rear top case (dimensions: 14″W x 7.5″ D x 12″ H)
Added Rifle Sport fairing that I took off my Honda CM400 that I sold a few years ago. (removed Sportech windshield that came on the trike – way too much wind came from underneath the windshield).
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Observations after my first 200 miles:

Performance
Trike seems faster than I expected.
Trike is more stable and takes corners better than I expected.

Safety
Trike is more stable and takes corners better than I expected.
In traffic, other drivers seem to notice the trike more than a motorcycle.
Even without ABS, the emergency braking seems safer and less stressful compared to a motorcycle.
Hitting a small amount of gravel in a corner is no big deal.
Even before I have added any lights, trike seems very well lit at night. (Currently trike does not have driving lights like some trikes have.)

Negatives
Off-camber curves are pretty scary.
With three wheels, you hit more bumps and sometimes it moves the trike around a lot.
The front brake requires very little pressure, but the back brakes require a lot of pressure. It still stops very well, though. You can lock the back brakes up, but it takes a lot of pressure, so it’s a little like having ABS.
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Thinking ahead…
I will try to not add too much stuff to this trike.

Need to reduce vibration issue with mirrors. (maybe spring shock absorbers?)
Grease rear u-joint (jack up right wheel and put in neutral)
Check adj of rear shock – 1 is softest, 7 is stiffest, 4 is factory. (remove left side cover and tool box.)
Add small hood to top of instrument panel to reflect turn signal indicators better.
Net or plastic wire tray (full width) for front fairing.
Right passenger step – bolt to frame is loose.

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WHEELS and TIRES
Even though it is a trike, it is a mid-size trike and weight is important.
Possible weight saving if I replaced the wire front wheel with a mag wheel ?
(Steel wire wheels are heavy.)

Possible weight saving if I replaced the rear wheels with lighter wheels ?

Possible weight and gearing improvements if I replaced the 205/60R15 tires (date code Feb 2010) with something like 175/65-15 – gearing reduction of 2.953%.
Width would go from 8.1″ to 6.9″ – but I am not a wide-tires-on-trikes kind of person anyway. (Stock front tire is 6.7″ wide.)

The tire change only could reduce weight by 9.8 lbs for both tires.
Changing the wheel and tire could reduce weight by 22.7 lbs for both.

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WHEELS and TIRES information
Rear wheels: 7J x 15 H2 / 4 lugs, spacing 4.25 inches
model # L1570
date code (?) 09DK16 — my guess: 09 (September) – D (not sure) – K (VIN code for year 2009) – 16 (day of month) — note: does not match wheel cap date.
made in England
rim width 7 inches (measured outside rim width is 8.5 inches)
wheel + tire weight = 39.075 lbs

38.8125 wheel + tire
0.2625 wheel cap (dated 2008-09-16)
39.075 total

19.165 lbs est – wheel
19.91 lbs est – tire 205
39.075 total

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The Suzuki C50 motorcycle weighs 611 lbs and the trike weighs 780 lbs – so the trike adds 169 lbs.

My trike’s 205/60R15 tires reduce the gearing by about 4%. This gearing reduction adds back some of the performance lost due to the weight of the trike.

So my trike accelerates about the same as a Suzuki C50 motorcycle carrying a 144.6 lb passenger.


maximun HP is at 6,000 RPM
maximum RPM is 6,500 to 6,800
torque curve is between 3,000 and 4,000 RPM

Mine looks like this:
Suzuki C50 trike 1
Suzuki C50 trike 2

 

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