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Sunday Edition


TRIKE REVIEW: Motor Trike Adventure

GL1800 Gold Wing conversion

By Steve Lita, Photos by Bob Feather
6/26/2013


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Editor's Note: As of this posting, Motor Trike just released its conversion of the 2012 Gold Wing, a newly redesigned Gold Wing. Motor Trike's current Gold Wing conversion, the Adventure, is based on the 2010 model, the current Gold Wing model up to this point. This what is tested here. Look for a review on the 2012 Gold Wing conversion in the near future.

Last year, I planned an adventure for my inbound trip to Daytona Bike Week. I didn’t want to start in the frigid temps of New England, and I didn’t have enough time in my schedule for a complete cross-country journey from one of the motorcycle manufacturer’s home bases on the West Coast. A start point halfway across the country would do just fine. I placed a call to Motor Trike. The company's location in a town called Troup in eastern Texas seemed the perfect place to set out from. And because Motor Trike had just released a new line of independent rear suspension trikes based on a Gold Wing chassis, it had the right equipment for the journey. The new model is aptly named the Adventure. Motor Trike Owners Jeff and Diane Vey were more than happy to outfit me with a demo unit for my trip. 

Steve rides the 2010 Adventure, Motor Trike’s conversion of a Honda Gold Wing.
Steve rides the 2010 Adventure, Motor Trike’s conversion of a Honda Gold Wing.
Just released! The 2012 model of the Motor Trike Adventure, a conversion of the newly designed 2012 Honda Gold Wing.
Just released! The 2012 model of the Motor Trike Adventure, a conversion of the newly designed 2012 Honda Gold Wing.
During the planning stages, my commitment to ride a trike over this long distance left me a bit apprehensive. Though I’d ridden several professionally built trikes in the past, some did not strike me as all-day friendly. Because some trikes exhibit heavy steering and an uncooperative steering head wiggle, I was not sure what to expect from the Motor Trike Adventure. I had just signed up for a 1,000-mile drive. While preparing for my trip, I thought, “What have I done?” Little did I know that I’d probably made the best decision of my life.

With its 50,000-square-foot facility situated on 70 acres of land, the Motor Trike/Thoroughbred factory and showroom (Thoroughbred is the sister company that makes the three-wheeled Stallion powered by a Ford engine) is an impressive motoring campus. Engineering, research and development, fabrication, manufacturing, painting, and assembly are all done in-house. After a short factory tour, I was ready to hit the road. It was such a shame that I had to depart Motor Trike headquarters in the rain. I was a mere 100 yards down the wet road, and my beautifully finished red roadster was filthy. 

My three-day journey took me through east Texas to Louisiana, where I detoured to ride the Longleaf Trail Scenic Byway and stop at Avery Island to visit the home of my favorite condiment, Tabasco-brand pepper sauce. I rode across Alabama with an obligatory stop at the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park floating museum, through the panhandle of Florida, and finally, south to Daytona Beach. This trip allowed more than enough time and tarmac to get acquainted with my new friend, the Adventure trike. 

The Adventure proved to be a luxury limo for Steve’s trip, as it's equipped with the usual array of Honda Gold Wing accoutrements plus the powerful standard flat 6 power plant. Steve says, “I didn’t give up the trike easily once I arrived in Daytona. I rode it most of the week.”
The Adventure proved to be a luxury limo for Steve’s trip, as it's equipped with the usual array of Honda Gold Wing accoutrements plus the powerful standard flat 6 power plant. Steve says, “I didn’t give up the trike easily once I arrived in Daytona. I rode it most of the week.”
The Adventure allowed me to relax a bit and take in the ride without having to put a foot down. The Adventure kit adds approximately 300 pounds to the motorcycle—not much considering all the extra hardware. And trust me, the 1800cc base mill is more than up to the task. I had a blast gunning the throttle down highway on-ramps only to find I was traveling faster than traffic and would have to decelerate to blend in. The Motor Trike Adventure cruises fast and smooth. The wheelbase is 68.5 inches, longer than the standard Gold Wing wheelbase of 66.5 inches. Ride quality is luxurious. Granted, I was riding solo with a trunk and topcase full of gear, but I have no doubt that the air-adjustable rear suspension (tunable with onboard air compressor) could have easily accommodated a passenger and added cargo.

Motor Trike added independent rear suspension to the Adventure to improve ride and handling quality. The company’s take on this is to have soft springs at the rear with plenty of suspension travel. The Adventure has 4 inches of rear-wheel travel and a lowered spring rate, and therefore the natural frequency of the rear is lowered, adding to the rider’s comfort. This is only possible with soft springs and enough travel. 

An inside view of the independent rear suspension.
An inside view of the independent rear suspension.
The Adventure will accommodate large load variances (much like a truck). All Motor Trike kits use air ride suspension with a separate shock absorber. Air bags adjust the spring rate and ride height, and the shocks control and dampen sudden jolts. After riding the machine, I can attest to the plush ride with no wavering in the steering head. I felt no evidence of steering headshake. And my trike didn’t even have the optional 4-degree raked front end.

The Adventure shown with the optional fender bra.
The Adventure shown with the optional fender bra.
The rear differential is mounted with rubber bushings, as are all the suspension components, including the anti-roll bar, shocks and suspension arms. Roll stiffness comes into play in a trike rear end. Too stiff a setting ruins ride quality but makes the trike corner flat. Too soft, and the trike feels like it wants to tip over. The Adventure offers stability during cornering with little roll. A low roll center height (RCH) makes the trike feel safer, too. The anti-roll bar of the Adventure is designed to work with the trike’s RCH. Motor Trike has built the rear with all the heaviest components as low as possible, which reduces load transfer to the outside tire on cornering and helps keep the inside tire on the ground.

All of Motor Trike’s trike kits have the same three-year, 60,000-mile warranty.
All of Motor Trike’s trike kits have the same three-year, 60,000-mile warranty.
The differential housing (center section) of the rear is specifically designed and manufactured for the Adventure. However, it does use Ford’s 7.5-inch differential parts, which are used in a number of Ford vehicles, including the Ford Ranger. New gears, bearings, seals and brakes are used. Motor Trike has the half shafts and CV joints manufactured by a supplier that specializes in building drivetrain components. The rear brakes are specifically designed for the Adventure. The trike uses a three-piston caliper on each wheel, which retains the linked braking system found on the GL1800 Gold Wing. The brake rotors are 12 inches in diameter.

The Adventure’s fiberglass body is hand-laid for weight savings and strength. The 4.6-foot trunk’s door opening is larger than on previous models.
The Adventure’s fiberglass body is hand-laid for weight savings and strength. The 4.6-foot trunk’s door opening is larger than on previous models.
One minor nitpick Steve had with the Aqua Shield running boards was that his toe sometimes pushed down on the fiberglass running board before pushing down on the shifter and brake pedal. Proper foot positioning is a must.
One minor nitpick Steve had with the Aqua Shield running boards was that his toe sometimes pushed down on the fiberglass running board before pushing down on the shifter and brake pedal. Proper foot positioning is a must.
All in all, my 1,000-mile trike trek was pure pleasure aboard the Adventure. Though I’m a two-wheel rider at heart who’s never owned a trike before, I’m glad I had the opportunity to spend some time on the Adventure and see how the other half lives. 

Specs At A Glance: 2010 and 2012 Motor Trike Adventure 
Displacement: 1,832cc liquid-cooled horizontally opposed six-cylinder
Seat Height: 29.1 inches
Fuel Capacity: 6.6 gallons
Curb Weight: 2010 Gold Wing is 895-928 pounds depending on options; 2012 Gold Wing is 904-933 pounds. Add 300 pounds for conversion.
Price: 2010 Adventure kit base price: $7,950 unpainted; 2012 kit base price: $8,395 unpainted. A single-tone, factory-color-matched paint is an additional $900.

Additional Options and Costs
Matching front wheel: $840
Aqua Shield Running Boards: $925 (for painted, add $375)
Chrome rear nerf bar: $250
Trailer hitch: $139.99
Color-matched embroidered fender bras: $150
Onboard air compressor: This is normally a $350 option, but all Adventures and Gladiators include this as a standard feature.
4-degree raked front end: This option adds an additional $850, but Steve’s tester didn’t have this and (in his opinion) didn’t need it. 
Installation: A Motor Trike authorized dealer will charge approximately $1,000-$1,400 to install the Adventure kit on a Gold Wing (this is a rough estimate—consult your local dealer for quote).

TRN Recommendation
There are several Honda Gold Wing conversions available. This is one of the few available with independent rear suspension, and it’s worth checking out if that’s something that interests you. Motor Trike is one of the oldest trike companies and has a longstanding reputation for quality. The Adventure is one worth taking out for a test ride. 


About the author:
Steve Lita is the editor of RoadBike magazine and is based in Stamford, Conn.

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