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 German
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? 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 a
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.