Archive for the ‘custom motorcycles’ Category

A Harley Three-Wheeler That Leans

Thursday, March 9th, 2017
Tilting motorcycle

This is a photo Bob Mighell sent me to go with my Examiner article.

I’ve ridden motorcycle trikes a number of times, both those with two wheels up front and one in back and those with one wheel up front and two in back. I haven’t liked any of them because they drive too much like a car. The one exception is the Piaggio MP3 scooter that has two tilting wheels up front. That one handles like a real motorcycle.

That’s what’s really key: the ability to lean into a curve. And that brings me to Tilting Motor Works.

Several years ago I did an article about this company for I’m going to quote a little from that article:

Motorcycle trikes are getting more and more popular, but at what cost? Sure, you’re on a “bike” and out in the elements, but the dang thing steers like a car. Certainly it is still more fun than a car but is this the best there is?

In a word: No.

Enter Tilting Motor Works, and Bob Mighell.

Bob Mighell is an engineer and a motorcyclist, as well as a sportscar enthuiast. Unlike most of us, when he decided he wanted something better, he was in a position to do something about it.

“I run around on these backcountry roads and I compare how fast I can take the cars through the corners and the bikes through the corners and I thought that the drawback to motorcycles, the limiting factor, is that one single front tire. So whereas I can drift my Porsche 911 around the corners, you don’t want to be drifting motorcycles because if you lose that traction on that front tire she’s all done. And so I thought well, wouldn’t that be cool if I could add another front wheel to a motorcycle and yet still make it handle like a motorcycle.”

And that’s exactly what he did.

What the company offers is a conversion kit to turn a bike–mostly Harleys–into three-wheelers that–I’ve got to say it–tilt. Or lean. Just like on a regular motorcycle. From the website, here’s which bikes you can get this kit for:

The current production unit is designed to fit all models in Harley-Davidson’s Touring line including the Road King, Road Glide, Street Glide and Electra Glide models. We are now also equipped to handle Softails, Dynas, and V-Rods such as the Heritage Softail Classic, the Softail Deluxe, the Fat Boy, and the Super Glide. We can’t yet convert a Tri Glide or a Spyder! :-)

In addition, TMW can now convert the Honda Gold Wing GL1800 and F6B.

So anyway, a few years went by and I didn’t think much about them again until late last year I got a couple promotional emails. One was promoting a “Black Friday Flash Sale” offering five converted bikes at a $10,000 discount if you bought all five.

Then nearer Christmas there was another announcing four dealerships, in Snohomish, WA; Nashua, NH; Springfield, MO; and Greer, SC.

The first email suggested to me they’re not doing so well in the business but the second suggests the opposite. So I decided then that I wanted to put something up here about them because it seems like a really cool product, if you’ve got the cash. And make no mistake, these things aren’t cheap.

So if you’re getting on in years and thinking about hanging up the riding gear, this might be the thing to keep you on the road. I’m just passing the word along.

Biker Quote for Today

Life is a road, the soul is a motorcycle.

Morgan 3 Wheeler Is Oddest Encounter On OFMC Trip

Thursday, August 6th, 2015
A Morgan 3 Wheeler

A Morgan 3 Wheeler.

There’s a lot of talk these days about what really is or is not a motorcycle. Most of this talk centers around the proliferation of three-wheeled “bikes” that many riders would argue are not motorcycles at all. In addition to the conversions, where someone has taken an actual two-wheeled motorcycle and added a third wheel, these primarily include the Can-Am Spyder and the very new Polaris Slingshot.

Of course the big issue is really in what safety organizations classify as motorcycles because the data they collect are used to establish various legal requirements and if three-wheeler stats influence overall motorcycle stats that does a disservice to everyone. They really need a new vehicle classification and that seems to be in the works, though how soon we’ll see something like that in use is anyone’s guess.

With that too-long lead-in, I want to mention a three-wheeler that I don’t think anyone would call a motorcycle (though I could be wrong about that, state classifications being what they are). This is the Morgan 3 Wheeler.

If you’re like me, you’ve never even heard of this vehicle. But at the place we stayed two nights in Gunnison on this last OFMC trip there were three guys also staying there, one on a Harley, one on one of the new Honda Valkyries, and one in (key word: in) a Morgan 3 Wheeler. They were using Gunnison as their base and taking day rides. And man, was that Morgan an interesting hybrid.

For starters, that is a motorcycle engine sitting right up front. It’s a 1989cc S&S v-twin. Beyond that, though, it looks like an old style Indy race car from the 1930s, except it only has one wheel in the rear. It’s very light and has a lot of power and is supposed to be a lot of fun to drive. But it is emphatically not a motorcycle.

Speaking of the Slingshot, by the way, we saw a couple of those on this trip as well. Because you sit in them, very much like a dune buggy, I would have a hard time considering them motorcycles either. But we did note that, because it’s just body, chassis, and engine, there is no storage space, so those folks had their bags bungeed on the back just like we do on motorcycles.

I welcome this proliferation of new designs. Now it’s up to the regulators to move into the current century and figure out a legitimate way to classify them.

Biker Quote for Today

Nothing like trikes and even less like three-wheeled automobiles, sidecars accentuate the balance and ineffable grace of a single-tracker in approximately the manner and degree that crutches improve the performance of steeplechasers. — Jack Lewis

You Meet The Nicest People On A Motorcycle

Monday, June 22nd, 2015
A Harley covered in pennies and nickels

We met the fellow on this penny and nickel Harley in Oregon.

Everyone who travels on their motorcycle knows you inevitably end up striking up conversations with other bikers along the way, and people not on bikes also talk to you. It works the other way as well. When you ride, but you’re not on your bike just now, you still end up speaking with other riders. At least I do.

This was demonstrated time and again on this recent car trip to Oregon that Judy and I just did.

I’ve already mentioned Sharon, who we met at Crater Lake in Oregon. And we saw her again in Loveland at the Steel Horse Sisterhood event. I have also already mentioned the three young guys who were riding Sportsters from Green Bay out on old Route 66, to San Francisco, to Las Vegas, and were headed home.

There were others.

For instance, we were stopped at the visitor center for John Day Fossil Beds National Monument and there was a singular Harley parked there. That’s it in the photo above. This guy has done up the entire bike in pennies and nickels.

I spoke with him about the bike and he said he wanted something unique. He wanted something no one else had ever done. So he repainted the entire body portions of the bike either a silver or copper color and then coated them with epoxy. Next he epoxyed the coin and stuck them onto the body parts. Then he put a couple more coats of epoxy over it all for good measure.

This is definitely a unique bike. He also made note that every time he rides it at least a few of the coins fall off so he is constantly putting more on to fill the gaps. Anyone ever seen something like that before?

Then there was Bruno from Belgium.

We were heading east out of Nevada and stopped for the night at a motel in Salina, Utah. The motel offered a light breakfast in the morning so we were hanging out around the office eating fruit, yogurt, rolls and coffee. I very thin young guy came walking up barefoot and while I was refilling my coffee he struck up a conversation with Judy. I came back and joined the conversation and it turned out he had ridden in on a BMW. He was from Belgium and was seeing the western U.S.

We talked about where he had been and where he intended to go, we gave him some suggestions from our own experience, and I pointed him to this website because he was heading to Colorado soon. We also told him if he needed a place to stay when he got to Denver we’d be happy to have him.

What was especially interesting about what he was doing was how he came to be on this BMW. Bruno is living at this time in Hong Kong. He has a friend who was riding his BMW all over the U.S. and had left the bike in Austin, Texas, to come to Hong Kong–not sure why. Anyway, Bruno has a little 250cc bike he rides around Hong Kong. He told his friend he could use the 250 around Hong Kong and in exchange he would fly into Austin and pick up the BMW and ride around the U.S. Then he’ll just leave the beemer wherever he ends up when he needs to go back to Hong Kong and the friend can fly back to that spot and resume his own travels.

We met others on bikes but these four were the most interesting encounters. You do meet the nicest people on motorcycles.

Biker Quote for Today

Why are motorcycle dealers closed on Sunday? Because Sunday is for worship . . . Catholics go to church, motorcyclists go ride.

Vintage Motorcycle Show Will Be June 7

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

by Matt Wessels

The Vintage movement is in full force and old motorcycles are finding their way back to daylight and backroads in record numbers. This year will mark the 5th annual Vintage Motorcycle Show in Golden, Colorado.

Heritage Square will host the event one last time before they close their doors at the end of 2015, and all of their facilities will be operational for the show. Those facilities include bathrooms, restaurants, and a bar.

Erico Motorsports, GrandPrix Motorsports Indian and Foothills Triumph/BMW will be there showcasing some of the factory retro motos. Last year they had a half-million dollar Vincent show up, by the name of the Black Prince. It might make a re-appearance at this year’s show.

The show (Sunday, June 7) is open to anybody with a vintage motorcycle following the structure of a controlled open floor. To enter, respond to the evite and drop a comment so that Bob can get an idea of how many bikes there will be. Being a part of the show is just as free as attending it. They are taking donations for Hospice care, so bring some stray bills to support a good cause!

Much like the show being a celebration of all that was good and right in the motorcycle world, the Hospice donations are a celebration of good people who make it their life’s work to increase the quality of life for those who can not completely provide it for themselves. The idea was started when a friend was immensely impressed with the Hospice workers who take care of his mom, and wanted to give back.

The VJMC is also giving back by footing the bill for the event and wants all motorcycles from all backgrounds, manufacturers, and styles to attend. This isn’t a profitable endeavor, this is simply two enthusiasts who want to bring like-minded people together and celebrate good bikes, good food, good talk, and good experiences.

If you missed the link up above, go HERE to register for attendance. IT’S FREE!

For any other questions or comments, please reach out to Bob @

Many of the same folks meet at the GB Fish and Chips on the first Thursday of every month for Old Bike Night. There are a few other Old Bike Night meetups around the front range area, but not all necessarily connected with this one.

Look at Bikes, See ‘Why We Ride’

Monday, January 6th, 2014
Erico is showing "Why We Ride"

Erico is showing "Why We Ride"

There’s a lot of discussion on the Web lately about “Why We Ride,” a film that is basically explained by the title. Or we can go with the synopsis: Why We Ride is a story about who we are. Individuals with a desire to dream, discover and explore. Seeking a life outside our daily confinements and sharing those moments together. It’s a story about the journey, not the destination. Motorcycles represent the milestones of our lives. From a kid’s dream come true, to a retiree’s return to freedom. From a family riding together on the sand dunes, to hundreds of choppers carving through the canyons – the bond is the same. It’s about the passion of the riders and the soul of their machines. Your senses will heighten as the world rushes in, your heart will beat to the pulse of the engine, your mind will race and set you free. Once you let a motorcycle into your life, it will change you forever.”

Anyway, this film has been getting shown in a lot of places and usually with an admission fee. I figured you might appreciate it if I passed along a note that just came to me, where you can see the film (in Denver) at no charge.

The place to be is Erico Motorsports on January 9 (Thursday) at 6 p.m. I wasn’t aware of this but apparently Erico builds custom bikes and they’re having the unveiling of their latest. As an extra attraction they just happen to be screening “Why We Ride,” and at least from the email they sent there does not seem to be an admission fee.

If you’re interested they would like you to RSVP so they’ll know how many to plan for. RSVP at Plans also include “sharing a few beers and a few laughs.”

This film has been getting a lot of buzz, at least in the motorcycling community, so it’s apparently pretty good. I can’t say personally because I haven’t seen it yet. And unfortunately, making it to downtown Denver at 6 p.m. on a weekday is not very likely in my agenda. But maybe for you it does. Now you know.

Biker Quote for Today

… grease, grit, and mud are runnin’ in my blood.

Side Stand by Hand?

Monday, July 1st, 2013
custom motorcycle

This custom bike has the side stand right about where you would expect it to be.

I just have to remark about something I saw this weekend. Maybe this is totally common and I’ve just never seen it. Maybe not. Maybe you know.

We were up in Cheyenne on Saturday where my nephew and his new wife were having a party for friends and relatives. They got married in an extremely small, private affair so this was their wedding party.

We were out in back and across the alley a guy rolled up on a custom bike. Sorry, I didn’t have time to get a photo. Anyway, he needed to get off the bike to open his garage door so once he was stopped he reached back with his hand and flipped the side stand down. I was like, what!?

He got the door up, remounted, and then reached back by hand and flipped the side stand up and rolled into the garage. What?

OK, I mean, considering the location of the side stand it would be pretty hard to reach it with your foot. And sitting so low and leaned back it was totally reachable with his hand. But I’ve never seen a bike with the side stand way the heck back there. Is this common for custom bikes?

I went digging through my pictures of custom bikes and came up with the one above, as an example. As you can see, this one has the side stand right by the foot peg. Normal. Move that thing back behind the belt, practically hanging off that rear fender, and that’s where this bike I saw had its stand.

Not a big deal, but worth a remark, I thought. Like I said, maybe it’s common on those sorts of bikes, and maybe I’ve just never paid attention. But it sure got my attention on Saturday.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Only a biker knows . . .: Motorcycle wit and wisdom, #27

Biker Quote for Today

You don’t have to go fast, you just have to go.