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Trike Comfort - Or, when do you know it's time?

10955 Views 67 Replies 17 Participants Last post by  Throttle Fiend
I'll try and keep this quick and dirty because I'm usually longwinded. Just turned 51 last week. I AM able to ride my 2022 FXLRST, but I've recently started considering 3 wheels for the following reasons (When I say 3 wheels, I specifically mean a TGU. Like the Road Glide 3, but want storage and a proper throne for my queen to sit on while traveling):

  • Multiple health issues (most tied to military/Persian Gulf service) that are troubling (eyesight/tinnitus-hearing loss/arthritis in both wrists and hands/minor balance issues (not while riding) and may get worse in a hurry
  • I want to start laying down serious miles. Have a goal of 20K this year regardless of bike, so I need something comfortable.
  • Bought the wife her first big bike, a Rebel 1100. If we travel together long distances, we'll either be trailering or riding on 3 (she refuses 2-up on 2 wheels)
  • Part of me says it's better to cut to the chase now. I know it may be a few years (minimum) before I need a trike, but the logical side says just switch to a TGU and deal with the fact that I'm not the badass I used to be
More specifically, for those who came from touring models or cruisers that were set up specifically so they could do touring:

  • Is the trike more comfortable than say, a Road Glide Special or Limited or a Street Glide Special or Ultra?
  • Was the transition difficult?
  • Did you have any regrets - thinking you switched too early and should've held out on twos longer?
I typically don't care what other people think, but for anyone who switched to 3 prior to age 60:
  • How was your reception by other bikers? Did you deal with a lot of crap?
  • Are you glad you did it when you did?

Thanks in advance for any advice. I'm really struggling with this so info from those who know would be great. My heart says fight it as long as I can, but my head says sometimes it's better to admit you ain't got it anymore and move on with what works best.
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FUK what anyone thinks!!!!! You do what you need to do! And git what you want!
Thanks for the reply, Top! It isn't so much what everyone else thinks, it's more the fact of me actually admitting that this is likely my future, even if I delay it a little more.
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When do you know it's time?
When you start falling over. And you are not drunk.

Seriously. When the mind starts doubting in the bodies ability.......it's time.
Otherwise the enjoyment, love of the road is gone. Replaced with the doubt and concern for your own as well as any passengers health and well-being.

Sorry about the dumbest gif. Was a boo-boo and can not get it to delete.
Well, I can still ride without falling over, and I don't drink. ;)

That's something I've really been thinking about. Regardless of how many miles I do this year, I'm definitely going on a Route 66 trip, so I have to get from Western NY to Illinois, and then on to CA, and from CA back to NY - so I'm looking at around ~7K miles for that trip alone, no matter how you slice it. Last thing I want to have happen is be 3 days into the trip and realize in the middle of MO (or something like that) that I can't continue.

No worries, point still well taken, sir. 😎
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Last September I went from an Electra Glide to a Freewheeler for two up riding. Ive got about 5600 miles on mine. My bad knees made this the right move for me. Being 67, I knew a change was needed.. The Freewheeler is a little different than the Tri Glide, but definitely close enough for comparison.

A lot of people say the trikes steer very heavy, while it does take some added input from a bike, to me, it's not that bad at all. Does take some reflex training not to counter steer. I also have a metric cruiser for one up riding and swap between bike and trike without an issue.

Watch the wider rear, especially pulling up to fuel pump and curbs on tight turns. You don't have to swing super wide, just by aware. Also remember front tire needs to be in middle of lane so rear tires aren't in ditch or other lane.

Don't put your feet down, a broken ankle is just waiting for you. Always set the foot brake. It's been an easy habit for me, it's right where a bike's kickstand is.

Brakes are good, ABS and integrated. I'm still getting used to the brakes some. You will feel a very slight pulse on the front brake lever that corresponds to you pushing on rear brake. I've talked to several trike owners and dealer, they say it's normal, but still fells weird.

Steering is of course different, you turn the direction you want to go. Slower speeds takes a different amount of turning than higher speeds. At higher speeds the steering can be a little twitchy, think a true sport car twitchy, not a dangerous twitchy. I've found it's much easier for a relaxed straight line riding if you place front tire a few inches from center. Most roads have a crown in the middle and front tire will want to wonder some. Yours has a 16 inch front tires while the Freewheeler has a 19 inch, so might not be an issue for you.

Set up rear suspension to your weight. There's an adjustment knob under seat that goes from 0 to 50. After several adjustments I found 7 to be about right for my wife's and my combined weight of about 300 pounds.

The 114 motor is a blast. I went from an 88 on my old EG so the 114 even with the extra trikes weight, it's a hot rod.

My wife loves the ride. Her main comment has been the centrifugal force pushing her to outside of corner is taking some getting used to. She was used to leaning with bike and on the trike there isn't any leaning. She laughs at me at times as I still lean time to time.

I feel like I just wrote a book. But just getting my trike and still having a bike, I can relate to the differences. Any questions, just ask away. Here's mine.
First off, beautiful bike! I love that color!

Stability/balance/etc. aside, do you feel that on long rides the Freewheeler is more comfortable than your Electra Glide was?

That's the one thing about any trike that concerns me - I have arthritic wrists and hands. I did test ride a Ryker 900 for my wife in June of 2021 (right before my 2020 Low Rider S was totaled out) and the steering didn't bother me (other than feeling really weird), but that was on a ~10 mile test ride and my first time on 3 wheels ever. Add in that my right wrist now has a plate and 11 screws in it (cager pulled out in front of me), and it's also something to consider. That may be the one thing where it's easier to be able to lean or just push, rather than steer.

I guess that as with anything, if you want to make something work, you'll find a way.

Yeah the 114 I had in my Low Rider S was more than I ever needed. Sure, I hit triple digits on some straight highways with no traffic on them, but I never felt like I was lacking for power. I don't even know what I'll do with the 117 I have in the EL Diablo.

We're doing pretty well, but if I want to switch to a trike, the EL Diablo will have to go. I think that's what is bothering me the most. I just got it in late October (after not being able to ride for ~16 months for a variety of reasons), and only had a chance to ride it a few times before I had to put her away for the season. It has less than 100 miles on it. I'm sure I might look for a smaller cruiser for around town riding as long as I feel I can continue to do so safely.

Point blank - I know I can ride a 2 wheeled bike still. I just don't know for how long that'll be. Could be 2 months, could be 12 years. I really love the EL Diablo and don't want to get rid of it, but I also don't want to keep it out of pigheadedness and end up dropping it or worse. First world problem for sure, but it's driving me crazy and I have to make a decision very soon.

Feel free to write as much as you want, I appreciate you sharing your expertise!
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Thanks for the POV videos, Les! Also, that's a gorgeous Mustang you have there! I used to drag race my Foxbodies at tracks back in the day, but got out of it and into motorcycles because I thought racing Mustangs was too expensive. Boy was I in for a rude awakening! :LOL: Also, I subbed to your channel. Thanks for the information and help! I still have a lot to think about and some time to do so since it won't be decent enough here to ride until at least mid-March. :(
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Hopefully the videos showed that the wind is the wind, 2 or 3 wheels and the trike is simple, enjoyable and just down right fun.

Thanks for the Mustang compliment. My mother bought it new, I inherited when she passed. Will always be in the family.
Agreed. Same thing with SCUBA. I'm a certified Divemaster, and people always ask me "You ever been to (inset depth here)?" I always respond with "If there's something I want to see that happens to be at that depth, I'll go. I'm not going to go to 200' just to say I've been there. Water looks the same at 200' as it does at 20'." :LOL:

That's so cool. Sorry to hear of mom passing, but that's a great family heirloom. Dad bought one of the new BOSS 302s when Ford brought them back in 2012 (2013?) and has put about 3K miles on it since. I wanna cry every time I think about it. He's already talked about selling it. I'd consider it, but living in the NE, I already have one expensive hobby I can only do 6 months of the year. :LOL::cry:
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I switched to 3 wheels because of health problems and with hindsight I could have stayed on 2 wheels longer but staying on 2 wheels too long could be painful and costly if it all goes wrong especially if you're along way from home. Switching too early is far better than switching to late as older bodies don't bounce down the road as well as younger ones.

Took me a few hours to adapt to the trike and a lot longer for it be second nature and not have to fight 40+ years of 2 wheeled reactions to the unexpected.

I find the stock riding position and seat very comfortable and on a par with a goldwing and have done +4000 mile trips without any problems.

The TG does have it's problems the biggest being the rear shocks although some people seem happy with them. I guess it comes down to where and how you ride and maybe what you're used to,

Even if you're happy with the standard shocks a lift kit is the best $200 you'll spend on the trike as it makes a big difference to the steering.
That's my biggest head-scratcher. I know I can ride on twos still. The problem becomes, how much longer? I mean it literally could be 2 months or 20 years (assuming I live that long :LOL:). My ailments are many and varied, but like you said, better switch early rather than late. As someone who's last ride on their previous bike ended with me flying over the handlebars because a driver REFUSED to look both ways, I'm definitely not looking forward to a repeat performance.

All bikes have their issues. If I keep my current ride, I definitely will need risers and mini floorboards at a minimum. I have heard grumblings about the rear suspension, but I've talked to people who've kept it stock and they loves it.
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Good replies above, especially lesblanks. I know many riders that made the switch from 2 > 3 wheels. Just like everything else (best oil, most comfortable seat, best tires, etc.) opinions vary a lot. Some of the new trikes stayed parked more than ridden, some got more yearly miles than their 2-wheel predecessors. Good luck with your decision, it's a big one. P.S. don't forget to consider where it will live at home. One acquaintance got huge grief because his wife's car lost the coveted garage parking spot.
That's definitely a positive for me with the trike - it'll extend my riding season as I won't have to worry as much when we get snow/ice. I've seen some trikes for sale and they have like 3k miles on them - obviously everyone's situation is different, but I'd ride the hell out of mine.

Already got that one discussed. We don't have a garage, but we have a 10x10 shed. I have the Low Rider S and the wife has a Rebel 1100. Already told her we have to build a bigger shed. Forget the fact that I said we should build a 20x20 one back last summer, but nobody ever listens to me. :LOL:
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Stop the soul searching Troop and get a trike. After the V.A. worked thire magic on my knee and ankle its extremely painful to hold up my 2 wheelers. Best thing I ever did. For me the transition was easy- I drove 97 foot combinations coast to coast so these little tri- cycles are nothing. Comfort? Thats subjective, HD solid axles and its suspension can be improved. DK Custom has what you need. Never cared what others thought no how. Like Sonny said: "everybody is a tough guy until they run into one."
Yeah, the VA and I have history, but that's another story for another day - I'll just say that most of my health issues are from working for our good 'ol Uncle.

I don't care about what others say. I caught all kinds of shit for my first bike being an Iron 883. I just want to make sure it's really time before I make the switch. Hell yeah! RIP Mr. Barger. (y)
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Thanks everyone for the great feedback and advice. Here's a question though - with the introduction of the Road Glide 3 and a fixed fairing (less mass to move when turning), my arthritic wrists/hands are really digging it. My question is this - is there a way to add a seat to it for the pillion like the one the TGU has? I don't care about the tour pack, I just know the wife would like something more than a sissy bar and pad back there when we're going on long trips.

Thanks again!
PERFECT, thanks!
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Thanks for your input, sir! Still mulling things over. Have to sell the EL Diablo first before I can consider anything else, but I've got a number of interested parties.
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Thanks for the advice and information all. After much soul searching and being honest with myself, I put a deposit down on a 2023 Road Glide 3.

Now I just need to figure out what accessories/modifications I want to make once I get it home.
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No pics, dealer hasn't finished doing final assembly yet - I got there literally 20 minutes after it was taken off the truck. Black on black on black. I'd have preferred that blue color, but I'm happy with it. Black's one of my favorite colors, it's just so dang hard to keep clean. Besides, getting it painted will only run $2K if the color starts to annoy me that much (not likely, that's $2K that can go into mods ;))

Right now, planned mods are:
Saddlemen seat - have to see if they make one to fit the freewheeler, website doesn't specifically say so.
Highway pegs
Sissy bar and backrest for my queen
Driver and passenger drink holders (a definite must!)
Risers and/or taller handlebars (for comfort and place to mount camera and phone)
Heated grips (I do live in Western NY)
Klockwerks windshield
Heat shields and oil cooler cover (thanks for that tip lesblank!)
Luggage rack

Possible Stage I or Stage II. This is my forever bike now, going to treat it as such. I'll likely buy another cruiser for around town stuff when the wife wants to ride her own (Rebel 1100), but the RG3 is my endgame. Maybe if they put the Sharknose on the TGU at some point I might consider the upgrade, but I'm happy with what I have.
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Sounds like you have a great plan. I actually found the stock seat is very comfortable. I've gone on several 400 and 600 mile trips and seat did well. You will find you are limited on passenger arm rests if you want them. FYI, mine is Stage 1 and runs great. But I had an 88 in an EG before that so big jump to the 114.
I'll probably run the stock seat for a bit as I was heartbroken to find out that Saddlemen doesn't make seats to fit either the Freewheeler or RG3 (which is basically a blacked-out Freewheeler with the Sharknose fairing). My local dealership participates in seat demos, so I may look into that. My biggest concern is that my seat has to have a backrest. Sissy bar with back pad will be good for the wife for now. I figure the aftermarket or HD will come out with something soon enough for armrests.

I had a Stage I 114 in my 2020 FXLRS and it was definitely more than adequate. I don't need all kinds of power, I just don't know what I have in the 114 with a trike. I mean, the RG and SG are about ~300 pounds lighter than the RG3, and they scoot real well with the stock 114.

Right now, comfort mods are more important than mechanical ones. As long as I can do 80 on the super slab and have a little fun in the twisties, I'll be more than happy. My plan is for this to not be my last bike, this is my "I'm going to see where my health is in 12-18 months and go from there" bike. In a perfect world, I'd have a cruiser or something for local/local-ish rides, and the RG3 for those long and multi-day or 2-up rides.
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My wife has "matured" over the years.

When riding two up I just use her as my backrest, works great.
Both my queen and I have "matured" as well. :LOL:

We tried the HD Sundowner seat. It fits the bike perfectly and is 1,000,000x better than the stock one and close to what my old Saddlemen was. I had the same thought - riding solo, I'll use a backrest. Riding 2-up, I'll throw it in the trunk and use her as my backrest. ;)

Go back on Wednesday AM to test ride and sign the paperwork. I'm not paying for it all in cash - most of it is, but it'll be paid off in 12 months at the latest. I wouldn't mind financing long term if I had to (I know it's a reality for most riders - especially us Americans), but we're looking to move in the near future and I don't want any debt showing except the usual monthly stuff like mobile plan, internet, utilities, etc.
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So had the test ride. It was 'interesting'...Kept trying to instinctively counter-steer, which led to some hilarious results. After a bit, I got more comfortable and feel like it's the right move - I just need some serious parking lot practice.

On a side note, I'm diabetic and they changed the dose of my Ozempic insulin. I've been dealing with ping-ponging blood sugar levels for a week now - all the more reason that making the move to 3 makes sense.

Dealer was able to snag a built but not already allocated Billiard Blue w/ black trim RG3. Should be delivered by next Tuesday or the Tuesday after that. Going with some comfort/utility upgrades - Sundowner seat, driver/passenger backrests, luggage rack, taller bars, heated grips, mid-frame wind/heat deflectors, heel/toe shifter, small engine guard and highway pegs. Doing a Stage II upgrade with the torque cam and some Cobra Neighbor Haters exhaust as well.

I'll post pics as soon as it gets to the dealer, but I can't wait for all the (comfortable and stable) adventures that are coming my way! Thanks all for the advice and information, I appreciate it!
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Freewheeler is a ton of fun. It didn't take me long to get used to it. Steering in curves easy; a little more effort is needed when going slow in traffic.

The nice thing about 3 wheels is that it is more stable in bad weather and on loose road surfaces. I kinda had mine "off road" a few times. I bought mine for the fun of it; my wife because of a bad knee. We added highway peg mounts from CIRO for added comfort.

A luggage rack and windshield is a must. The trunk of a Freewheeler holds quite a bit.
I'm having the HD Fuse Tall bars installed so they'll be more in line with my shoulders and wider to allow for better "torque" on turns. Both of which will help a lot with my wrist.

That's something I've been thinking about a lot lately. Living in WNY, my riding season is short enough as it is. Even if I do get strong enough to own another 2 wheeled motorcycle, having the trike will basically allow me to ride year-round, with the only factor being if it gets too cold out. Plus it's going to allow me to take many more long distance trips in much more comfort than any other bike I've owned, so I'm super excited for that.

I'm leaving the stock Road Glide windshield on for a few weeks to see how I like it. I can get a larger one if need be, but that sharknose fairing will make a huge difference. Biggest fairing I've ever had on a long ride was the HD 1/4 fairing on my 2020 Low Rider S. It left a lot to be desired. Don't know how the one on the EL Diablo would've done, never took it on a long enough ride to find out.

Luggage rack and sissy bar with passenger backrest are being installed. Between that and the cavernous trunk, I think we'll have more than enough room.

Still waiting on word from the dealer. I misunderstood. The trike wasn't built yet when my sales guy allocated it, so it's either in the finishing stages or is already done and awaiting transport. After that, it's just waiting on a few parts to arrive and get installed, and then I'm on the road!

Here's the final breakdown of bike/parts:

Road Glide 3 in Billiard Blue with black accents
Sundowner seat with adjustable rider backrest
Sissy bar with passenger backrest
Heel shifter
Engine guard
Highway pegs
Fuse Tall bars
Kahuna Heated grips
Swap out rear turn lights with Custom Dynamics LEDs (reusing the CD LED fronts from the EL Diablo)
Cobra Neighbor Haters exhaust
Ventilator Air Cleaner
SE Pro Street Tuner
And most importantly, Stage II upgrade with torque cam
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She came in on Friday and I found out on Saturday! Still waiting on parts to arrive, but can't wait to get it out and start crushing some miles! Thanks again for all the advice, kind words, and occasional kicks to the arse to get me to wise up and set aside my pride for a minute and realize that this was the best move for me, even if only for the short term.

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That stage 2 torque cam is the way to go with keeping the warranty.
That's what I was thinking. Might even consider an extended warranty as I know nothing about trikes and would rather be covered.
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