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What's New


December 1997


Me mate Reiner's a six foot plus German biker who's been belting around the traps on motorsickles for as long as I have. I dunno if they kicked him out of Germany all those years ago or he just left `cos the snow fucked up his riding time, but whatever, he's a radical dude. So when he asked if I'd like try out one of these new Bon-Trikes I kind a jumped at the chance.

The Bon-Trike is now being manufactured and sold by another radical GLTRSideView.jpg erman called Karsten who's based down in Blacktown, Sydney. Karsten was a trike nut back in the Motherland and he had to fight like hell and high water to get the Bon-Trikes past all the red tape so they could be registered here in Australia. But he did it and now they're available so I figured I'd better pass on what they're like to our LTR readers.

The Bon-Trike is like something Big Daddy Ed Roth did to a poor little Volkswagon about thirty years ago. But in Germany, home of the mighty Wobbly and trick engineering, the three wheeled Volksy really got developed to the max.

I know what your thinking because it was pretty much my first thought too. "Fuck that looks weird" followed closely by "I bet it ain't much use on the road".

Well, my first ride was on the picture here, a 1200 cc version fitted with ladder bars up each side. The thing's pretty much like a car with handle bars. There's a hand change - three forward gears (first is blocked off `cos you don't need it) and reverse - left foot clutch, right foot brake (front and rear are linked) and a fist throttle on the right hand side handlebar. Now I stayed straight all morning before trying it out because I figured it'd take a bit of getting used to. Bullshit, the first big surprise was how easy it is to ride. As long as you remember it's as wide as a small car and don't go lane splitting the rest is damned easy.

LTROnRoad.jpg How easy? We'll, the missus got the hang of it after five minutes in the local Coles carpark. Her mum, who's never been on a bike and only driven an automatic car, was popping wheelies outside the football club after just one lesson. And she meant to do some of them too!

See, the whole thing about the Bon-Trike is that the weight is so low - crankshaft height on a standard flat four - that you can't tip the bloody thing over. Combine that with long wheelbase so the steering is one finger light and a bunch of low revving torque and you've got something anyone can learn to operate.

And what makes it really safe is that when you hit the brakes it pulls up quick and dead straight too. They might only be drum brakes on the independents sprung rear wheels, but they were designed to stop a car load of Krauts loaded with sausages and beer. They weigh bugger all so hitting the pedal means drilling the whole low slung platform into the ground, stopping faster than any bike or car ever could.

That easy to handle huh? Yep, sorry, but it is. The Bon-Trike is like nothing on two wheels or four in ease of operation department. Once you get used to it it's piss easy to lift the front wheel on demand, gun through wet corners or flit around trucks out on the highway. Trying is believing but it's easy to see why people feel safe renting these trikes out to anyone with a licence. They're that easy to handle you'll be pulling u-turns with one hand on the gear shift within the first few minutes.

From the beetle back axle/transmission and engine there's a cross braced square tube steel frame that runs about three feet to a massive steering head. The front end is very solid stainless steel girder design, German built for this specific purpose. The bodywork is one piece fibreglass available in some radical colours and all featuring heavy metalflake that'll have yer uncle figuring he's having flashbacks again. It hides the petrol tank and the battery and provides support for two of the most comfortable seats outside of a Ferrari. Not that I've ever been in a Ferrari, but what the fuck…

I'd expected the performance to be pretty flash seeing as the power to weight ratio is crash hot but the 1200 Veedub motor managed to hold itself back no matter what. Sure, it'll pull from the lights and go hard down low, but once out on the open road the motor is limited by what it is - a chaff cutter with a real low state of tune. Cruising speed is about 120km/h. Top speed about 130 with a tail wind…Mind you, we're talking the bog stock 1200cc job here, there's a 1600 Bon-Trike available that munches tar and there's no limit to the amount of hot up clobber available for wobbies. Tripling the horsepower, pretty easy given where you're starting from, oughta pop a few eyeballs along with some mega wheelies.

So I've been hooning around for a week or more when Reiner and me plan to attack aLTRDrinkStop.jpg rally down in the police state. It seemed like a good chance to try out the trike on a range of different roads and maybe different mindframes too. Like bent, hungover, dead tired etc etc.

It was a fantastic fun dirt, even better on the beach and had every bird in the place knotting her knickers waiting for a ride. I hauled my swag and a couple of cartons and still had room to bring back a box load of old bike bits strapped to the ladder bars running down each side. But the thing that really blew me away was the trip home. After a big night - just yer average rum and coke overload and everything else in sight until the sun came up - the run home was just too easy. I was so comfortable the only stopping I did was for fuel every three hours or so. Err, except for a chunder just the other side of Inverell anyway…

The suspension is first rate and that seat gives you complete back support. If nothing else, the Bon-Trike would be a fantastic way for someone with a dicky back to keep that wind in the face feeling.

There you go. Dead easy to work on, cheap parts available anywhere, dirt cheap to run and more fun than Amsterdam on a Friday Night. The initial ask is the other side of twenty grand for all new clobber but I can see a whole lot of people getting hooked once they've had a go.

Sure, a nice Natli Harley-based trike offers a whole lot more style, but you couldn't let your mother in law ride it could ya? Maybe a bloke could buy the missus one instead of a car, so she can pi ck up the kids up and do the shopping and still not feel out of place carting the tools and the keg on weekends.