The original reason for designing the Tilting Motor Works’ TRiO front end was to build a faster and safer motorcycle. I was looking for a way to improve a motorcycle’s braking and traction while cornering. I knew under heavy braking that 70-80% of the vehicle’s weight is transferred to the front. If I could put another wheel on the front of the motorcycle and get it to steer, lean and handle like a motorcycle, I knew that a three wheeled motorcycle could have significantly improved braking compared to a two wheeled motorcycle.
I also knew that while riding a two-wheeled motorcycle that I could loose traction with my rear tire and still remain in control but if I lost traction with the front by hitting a gravel or oil patch, I would most likely drop the bike. Putting another wheel in the front would allow me to drift one of my front wheels through a slippery patch and, as long as the other front wheel remained on good pavement, I could remain in control.
Most of the trikes on the road have the third wheel in the rear and they don’t lean. It just didn’t make sense to me. I decided to design and build my own tilting three-wheeler with two wheels in the front.
The original donor bike was a Honda 250 Rebel that I took a Sawzall to and started to cut and weld. There is not a single drawing that exists for this original prototype. If it didn’t work, we cut it off and tried again. I refer to this bike as my “Bitsa Bike” as it is made of a bits of this and a bits of that. The front wheels are dually truck rims machined down and riveted to some Honda rims so I could get the proper offset I needed. The hub and spindle are from a Honda 400EX quad. My suspension consists of Chevy valve springs. My main bottom pivot is from a Jeep rear axel and part of my steering uses the stem from a Schwinn bicycle.
I also was playing around with lowering the center of gravity. I moved the rider back and down by extending the rear swing arm back by two feet and I made my own fuel cell which I located under seat.
I had modified the original Rebel so much that I had to take the bike to my local state patrol to get it inspected and, after scratching their heads a bit, they signed off on it. One of the officers asked me if I knew the reason I had to get the bike inspected and I responded that I thought it was because I added the third wheel. He then told me that a motorcycle was classified as having two or three wheels. I was there because I had cut and welded onto the original frame. He told me that as long as I didn’t cut, weld or drill into the original frame I was free to add a third wheel. That discussion led to the current design of the TRiO bolt on front end!
The bike was a real riot to ride, and it did steer and countersteer just like a motorcycle. I had full lean until I was dragging my pipes. Max speed was about 75mph downhill with the wind and the original suspension really sucked! But it proved out the concept!