Honda gl1100 Trike

Published on 12 January 2023 at 13:03
Honda GL1100 trike

This was another one of those projects that I never asked for, never wanted but somehow ended up with. Once again it was a customer coming round pretending he wanted to buy parts when all along the cunning plan was to tempt me in to spending my hard earned cash. This one had been in hos garage for 8 years, he had purchased it from the owner's widow to help her out and it had just kind of festered there. He offered it to me at a bargain price so I thought why the hell not, I will just paint it in my business colours, add some logos and that will be job done. As usual it turned out to be a hell  of a lot more than that with a fair bit of fabricating and improving being required before I felt it was mot ready.


The rear needed a lot of strengthening - it had thin aluminium strips as supports so they came off and much stronger steel items were fabricated and welded in place. The handbrake mechanism needed a lot off strengthening too - I can't see how it would have aver passed an MoT as it was. Besides the painting the rest was just the normal fettling you would expect from an unused vehicle although I was surprised how good the tyres were. It's got a lot of good stuff on it - the rear end is Sierra Cosworth front diff with Gaz shocks soaking up the bumps.The biggest problem was pretty obvious the first time I tried to ride it. I was just getting over Covid at the time and was feeling hopelessly weak but at the same time desperate too do something - I had spent best part of a week doing little more than sleeping.

Anyways, I hopped on, fired her up and tootled off down the road, it was when I got to the first corner that I realised there was a fairly significant problem - I couldn't steer it. I had to stand on the brakes to avoid the ditch looming rapidly in front of me and pulled with all my might on the left handlebar to avoid the pending impact. Fortunately I just managed to avoid said ditch and got the thing turned round so I could go back home to sulk and wonder how things could have gone so terribly wrong.

It's all to do with something called trail - it's like caster angle in a car or supermarket trolley. Motorcycles are designed to be stable at speed and be leant in to corners. To ensure stability the spindle of the front wheel is mounted in such a position that it is always trying to straighten itself, the effect is much greater at high speed. If you draw a line down headstock to the floor and then draw another line perpendicular to the spindle you will usually see a distance of about 4 - 5 inches / 100 to 125mm - this is the trail. Thing is, you don't want that on a trike as it makes it nigh on impossible to steer.

The way I  fixed it was to make two plates that bolted on to the forks where the calipers usually go. I them made some blocks in which to locate the spindle - I did it so they were 4 1/2 inches in front of the original location - this changed the trail from 5 inches to about 1/2 an inch, just enough to give me some centering effort but not so much that I couldn't steer it.


I have to say it worked an absolute treat and it went from being a nightmare to ride to being really quite good fun. I use it now for the post office runs if the weather isn't too bad, it does about 3 times as many miles per gallon as my ancient Porsche, it holds plenty of parcels for my motorcycle parts business and it draws attention too.

I would never have built it but I do rather like owning it, which I will do until somebody offers me an unreasonable amount of money for it.


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