Thunder Tower Harley-Davidson®
190 Pontiac Business Center Drive, Columbia, SC 29045

(803) 461-1121

Getting Used to your Trike

May 25, 2018

Getting Used to your Trike

More control and increased power— the qualities that make a three-wheeled motorcycle an exceptional piece of equipment for racing and road-cruising.

Trikes have a reputation for both extra sportiness and comfort. You get better performance because of the third wheel, but before you can consider getting on the road with one of these, you’ll have to learn how it differs from a two-wheeled motorcycle. This brief guide will give you some advice for adapting to your new Tri Glide®, Freewheeler®, or other trikes from Harley-Davidson®, so after reading about how to adapt to one of these motorcycles, come take one for a test drive at Thunder Tower Harley-Davidson! Our dealership is located in Columbia, near Aiken, Rock Hill, and Charleston, Myrtle Beach, and Greenville, SC.


The very first thing to do before even taking off in your trike is to familiarize yourself with the controls. You need to make sure you can quickly find every signal, button, and lever while driving. A 2WMC’s layout is much different from a car or two-wheeler, so set the location of the turn signals, horn, fuel gauge, and speedometer to memory. You’ll also probably have to make changes so you can reach everything properly. If you have to stretch just to engage the pedals or other controls, adjust your seat so everything’s at a comfortable distance.


There are two major aspects you’ll have to account for when steering a Tri Glide or any other trike: a wider wheelbase and “direct steering.” If you’re used to a two-wheeler, remember that the extra wheel on a three-wheeled motorcycle adds quite a bit of width. This means that you need to account for that space while turning, and you can estimate your width by extending your arms while seated. This will give you an idea of how much to compensate for when making tight corners or turning into a narrow parking lot.

Direct steering is much different from the counter steering you would do on a regular motorcycle, but much more effective after you get used to it. To perform a sharp turn, first, slow down coming into the corner, like you would in a car. Then while turning, point your front tire in the direction you’re turning, lock your elbows so you hold that direction, and increase the throttle as you turn. This actually transfers much more controlled power through the turn than you could on a two-wheeler, which makes for more intense turning abilities. Remember not to make sudden movements though! The handles are touchy, so try to only move them smoothly.

Starting and Shifting Gears

If you’ve never driven any kind of motorcycle before, starting and shifting is going to take some getting used to. And if you’ve never driven with a manual transmission at all, you’ll definitely need some practice before getting on the road. Either way, you should spend some time in an empty parking lot figuring out how the clutch and gear shifter respond on your trike. Even if you’re used to motorcycle riding, a three wheeled motorcycle is a little heavier, so it can take a little more torque to get moving forward. As usual, practice until you can consistently find that happy medium between stalling and overrevving the engine.


The last thing to consider is stopping. Your brakes are different on a trike than on any other type of vehicle because there’s two wheels in the back, meaning twice the stopping power than you have in the front. Make sure you always apply both front and rear brakes at the same time, and remember that the extra wheel will mean you’ll come to a stop much quicker than you do on a two-wheeler. Also, if you’re used to riding other motorcycles, never put your foot down on a trike. You might be tempted to, but the third wheel holds it steady while parked, and you could run your foot over if you put it down on the road.

Riding a trike is pretty easy, but there are still a few things you have to get used to before riding. Whether you drive a Tri Glide, Freewheeler, or any other Harley-Davidson model, take the time to adapt before actually getting out on the road. You’ll be riding like a pro in no time! If you still don’t have your three-wheeled motorcycle yet, come on into Thunder Tower Harley-Davidson in Columbia, SC. We serve customers from Lexington, Irmo, Sumter, West Columbia, forest Acres, and Greenwood, SC, as well as Augusta and Savannah, GA.