There are 9 different types of trikes. The problem is, there has not been an unanimous agreement about what we should call them. I suggest we all agree on the following types. Reverse Trike, Delta Trike, Reverse Motortrike, Delta Motortrike, Reverse Pedaltrike, Delta Pedaltrike, Pedal Drift Trike, Motorized Drift Trike and Child's Tricycle. If everyone calls them the same thing, then when people search for what they want, they will be able to find it!
Just recently though, there has been a resurgence of the trike. A small loophole opened up in American road registration laws that allowed a car with less than 4 wheels (touching the ground) to be classified as a motorbike. That allowed potential vehicle manufacturers to avoid the very stringent (and expensive) car crash tests and instead, design vehicles that were based on a motorbike's level of safety. This is of course is far less expensive and allows the new vehicle the chance to get started without large amounts of funding.
What has happened is a mixed fair. In some cases the trike has been a laughing stock, something to be ridiculed but in others, such as Campagna from Canada, or Morgan from the UK or even Polaris and Vanderhall from the USA, we have seen stunning vehicles that deliver stomach churning performance combined with high levels of refinement. I also think it is fair to say that in all cases the enclosed trikes are safer than a motorbike.
So what are these categories?
In the above right picture we have a Huffy's Green Machine. The Green Machine was the first drift trike that started a whole new category in fun toys for adults.
Suffice to say that this was an absolutely top notch fun machine. As such it has been copied into the adult world and there is a range of adult sized drift trikes available. If you want one of these for you or your kids, you can check out the Huffy Drift Trike here on amazon.
The Pedal Trikes also come without all the shrouding. Just open to the air to allow the breeze through your hair and to be closer to nature. The biggest trouble with open trikes is that they have shocking drag coefficients. By adding the shroud (or body) you are able to reduce the drag down substantially, which mean longer distances, faster speeds, for less effort.
Excellent for fitness or just for a bit of fun, the Pedal Trike can cover longer distances and higher speeds and in more comfort than a conventional pushbike can. Everyone should have one of these to cruise around the neighbourhood in.
The best way to explain a Motortrike is that unlike a normal trike, you ride the Motortrike. A normal trike you sit inside a frame which gives added protection. The Motortrike is basically a motorbike with three wheels.
The second reason Reverse trikes are safer than their Delta siblings is that the shape is more prone to skid sideways when the rubber lets go rather than flip sideways as a delta configuration wants to do. These two reasons help the Reverse trike come out on top when it comes to safety. Now you can engineer out some of these quirks if you really want a Delta but I would ask why? Just use the shape that works better naturally.
The Trivette Delta Trike was actually sold as a car and broke several records. It was also fast and handled beautifully. You can read about that HERE. Other designers have had a shot at the delta but no major manufacturers have adopted the platform. The Delta configuration seems to work best as a Motortrike.
From building your own like Dick Kincheloe above to using a Porsche/Harley Davidson engine like the Campagna, the reverse trike is going to be around for a long time.
I hope we can agree on the naming. I am happy to take feedback and adjust this article as the thoughts come through.
Thanks for reading.
Hello, I am Jonathan, a lover of vehicles that spark the imagination, make your blood boil and take you to a place where time stops and the moment is everything. Hence my love of trikes.