Trikes – the next chapter

The First Chapter was me riding my Virago 250 to work.
I would modify the bike (under my “Minimalist Virago 250” theme), then test the change as I rode it to work (94 miles round trip), them photograph and write about it on virago250street.com. I learned a lot about the bike and how to say alive driving in heavy traffic on I95.

Second Chapter
Near the end of the Virago 250 commutes, I started doing the same thing with my Honda CM400 twin.
At that point in time, the Virago 250 was better suited for the commute. But after a few mods ( “delete scavenger/collector chamber”, rubber engine mounts, 18/35 sprockets, GM coil upgrade, increased fairing storage) the CM400 was like having a new bike – smoother, less vibration, and better on the highway.
(if interested, please see http://honda400twin.wordpress.com)

Third chapter
Due to family medical issues, in 2013 I stopped riding motorcycles to work. This was three hobbies in one for me (do mods, test mods while riding to work, discuss mods on website) – so I was “lost” for a few days. Then I decided I would do the same thing to my car – a 2005 Honda Accord LX 4 cylinder with 5 speed manual transmission. I put on a thicker rear sway bar, increased tire pressures, removed the intake resonator, baffled my loud muffler to increase torque, removed back seat and spare tire, and added alloy wheels from a 1995 Mazda 626. The improvement in handling and acceleration was incredible.
(if interested, please see http://hondaaccord4mt.wordpress.com)

Fourth chapter
In 2013 I wrote an article, “My wife won’t let me buy a motorcycle” (virago250street.com).
The last part of the article was about trikes, so I had to research them in order to write about them. I found that trikes have more advantages over 2-wheeled motorcycles than I originally thought:
1) Safety, Stability (curves, braking, less chance of falls and hitting the pavement)
2) Stopping distance
3) Less stressful, especially in traffic
4) Handling in rain/bad weather.
So I figured when I got old, I would switch to trikes.
With my recent interest in more safety (not driving bikes to work), I found myself thinking about trikes, at a way earlier age than I ever expected.
So the “Minimalist Trike” website is in the works…….

It is going to take a while, though. Most trike prices are way out of my league.

Some trikes like Goldwing don’t meet the “Minimalist” theme (too many gadgets).
My favorites are the factory-made trikes – like Lehman – the back has a body sort of like a car and actually has some storage.
My preference is a 3-wheeled trike, but since price is important, I would not rule out the outrigger trikes. Some 2-wheeler people laugh at them, some people own outrigger trikes and love them – so who is right and who is wrong ? Maybe it’s just different opinions, different experiences.

I was never able to make something to improve riding in the rain.
I think I might could do it with a trike.
Basically it’s a windshield with a laminar lip to direct some of the rain over your head, and a canopy angled lower in front so it will not cause aerodynamic issues. You will still get wet, but not as much – plus trikes are much better in the rain than 2-wheeled motorcycles.

Virago 250 trike with rain shield

Virago 250 trike with rain shield

I could trike my Virago 250, but it would have to be 3-wheel – it could not handle the weight of the outrigger type (170 lbs or more). The picture below is a Virago 250 trike by Garage ELF in Japan. It weighs 408 lbs wet, so the trike kit adds around 100 lbs. The rear tires are 235/60R15 but I would use skinnier tires than that. For the Virago 250 trike, you need an aluminum differential , alloy wheels, narrow tires (lightweight like Kenda), and no fenders. A heavy trike kit would just suck the life out of the bike.  Later it would be cool to have a very lightweight plastic body (the Lehman look) including fenders.
And that would be the “Minimalist Virago 250 trike” – sort of like deju vu all over again.

by Garage ELf in Japan-Trike kit for Virago 250

The single most important factor in triking a Virago 250 is to get the lightest tires and wheels possible.  Wide tires look great on a trike, but would be the “kiss of death” to a 250cc trike.  If I trike mine, I will just use wheels from my car to test it and to figure the best gearing.  Ideally it would good if the optimum size ends up being 165/70-13.  My car wheel + tire is 32.5 lbs.  For the bike, the new wheels + tires should weigh 23 to 30 lbs each My Virago 250 wheel + 130 tire weighs 30.7 lbs

I could just get the same wheels I just put on my 2005 Accord – wheels from a 1995 Mazda 626.  They weight 12.8 lbs –  a 195/60-15 tire is about 17 or 18 lbs.  So the total weight for the wheel and tire would be 29.8 to 30.8 lbs. When I rotate my Accord tires, I could include my trike rear wheels in the rotation – I would be the world’s only person to do this.

For wheels I am thinking of these two possibilites:
1) 15×3.5 inch (drag racing style) wheels plus 125R15 tires — weight of wheel + tire about 20 lbs each
2) 1995 Mazda 626 15×6 wheels lightened by about 1.5 lbs plus 175/65R15 used tires (or shaved new ones) — weight of wheel + tire about 25 lbs each.

Small trikes are not too common in the U.S.

Here are the ones I like, in order.

 #1) Trike based on Yamaha Virago 535 v-twin (popular in the UK, none in the US)

#2) Trike based on Yamaha Virago 250

#3) Trike based on Hyosung GV250 v-twin

#4) Trike based on Kymco Venox 250 water-cooled v-twin

#5) Trike based on Honda 250 Rebel (a little low on power, but I might could remove the trike kit and put it on my Virago 250)

#6) Trike based on Kawasaki 125 Eliminator (Top speed of the stock 2-wheeler is 63 mph, rejet/air filter/exhaust will get you to about 67-68 mph, and the 175cc big bore kit from Norway might get you to 75 mph or higher.  As a trike these 3 top speeds would drop to maybe 55 mph, 59 mph, and 65 mph expectedly. Also, I might could remove the trike kit and put it on my Virago 250.)

Yamaha Virago 535  – 46 hp

Kymco Venox 250  – 28 hp

Hyosung GV250  – 24 hp

Yamaha Virago 250 – 21 hp

Honda 250 Rebel – 18 hp

Suzukie TU250 – 16 hp

Kawasaki 125 Eliminator – 12 hp

to be continued……….

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