Riding a motorcycle requires juggling multiple skills; eye-hand coordination, manual shifting, defensive driving, presence, awareness, focus, attention to detail, physical strength and endurance, and balance.
Trikes have become increasingly popular over the past few decades, particularly among riders with physical limitations that hinder the balance and strength required to operate a two-wheeled motored vehicle safely.
But large-displacement touring trikes present their list of risks and challenges, leaving newcomers in the moto market asking themselves, are trikes easier to ride than motorcycles?
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Here’s the Answer to Are Trikes Easier to Ride Than Motorcycles:
Trikes are more accessible to ride than motorcycles in balance and stability, as they remove the obstacle of maintaining balance while riding and therefore are less physically taxing for the rider. That said, trikes are harder to ride concerning cornering, turning, and sharp, technical curves.
Here are a few ways that trikes are easier to ride than a motorcycle:
Trikes Are More Stable to Ride Than Motorcycles
If for no other reason, trikes are more straightforward to ride than a motorcycle simply because they’re more stable.
There’s the apparent increase in stability the third wheel brings into the equation; most trikes are in a Y formation with two wheels in the back and one up front.
Furthermore, trikes are more rugged than motorcycles with weight and frame durability, making them hard to tip over, particularly at slow speeds and when stationary.
- The increase in stability the heavyweight Y-frame brings to the fundamental design of the trike makes it a more than adequate cross-country tour vehicle.
- It also lends itself naturally to an increase in storage capacity.
- Not only is there more room for trunks and hard cases, but the extra weight also makes carrying a passenger less intrusive on a trike than on a motorcycle.
The increased three-wheel stability also handles easier on gravel and dirt roads and grooved pavement and metal grates.
So is riding a trike easier than riding a motorcycle?
Yes, at slow speeds and under heavy weight. Trikes are prone to top siding when ridden fast around sharp curves, corners, and turns.
Trike riders are cautioned to slow down considerably before entering a curve or before turning, almost to the point of taking the turn from a stationary point, at least while learning.
Therefore, riders looking for more high-speed technical riding may find a motorcycle easier to ride than a trike.
Trikes Are More Comfortable to Ride Than Motorcycles
Trikes are more comfortable to ride than motorcycles thanks to a more grounded and ergonomic riding position, more luxurious and roomier seats, and better wind resistance and weather protection. However, the rider is still just exposed to the open air.
The increase in comfort makes the trike a viable touring option for older riders and riders with physical limitations.
The less tiring trike-riding experience allows some riders to cover more distance than they would on two wheels. The physically demanding nature of balancing and steering with your hips and back wears one’s endurance.
Trikes Allow Better Visibility Than Motorcycles
The lifted trike suspension and ergonomic seating position on trikes give riders an increase in visibility, another factor that makes trikes a more effortless riding experience in some situations.
The more precise view of traffic trikes also increases the rider’s sense of security, which relaxes them into focusing more on enjoying the ride.
The larger body of a trike is more visible to other drivers on the road, too.
There’s no doubt about it; thanks to the broader trike-style frame, motorcycles are harder to see from a car driver’s perspective than a trike.
Trike riders should be just as vigilant about driving defensively; trikes are still less visible than cars or trucks.
Not to mention, in the off chance a trike rider does get hit, you’re just as exposed to the road as a motorcycle rider is—trikes might be more accessible to the rider but still be sure to gear up!
How Hard Is It To Learn To Ride a Trike Motorcycle?
Learning to ride a trike motorcycle is a unique experience, different from learning to ride either a bike or a car.
While the hand and foot controls, namely the clutch, shifter, and brakes, are similar between a trike and a motorcycle, the unique riding position and ergonomics, increased frame size, and three-wheel physics all take getting used to regardless of how much experience you have driving other vehicles.
Trikes are so distinct from motorcycles that some states require a different licensing process—more on that in a minute.
For now, let’s focus on some things to keep in mind that will make riding a trike easier:
How to Make Steering Easier on a Trike
Trikes are steered via a method we call “direct steering,” which doesn’t call for the rider to lean or use their hips, back, and body weight to manipulate the vehicle.
The direct steering employed by trike motorcycles is as simple as turning the handlebars towards the direction you want to turn, the way you would in a car. That said, slowing down before you turn makes it a little easier.
Maintain your new speed throughout the turn until you get to the apex, at which point boosting the throttle will pull you through the curve and straighten your trike out naturally.
Suppose you’re coming from a motorcycle background. In that case, this will feel unintuitive for a while, as you’re likely used to “countersteering” with your body and not dramatically steering your handlebars—learning to turn on a trike is its own experience.
How to Make Shifting Easier on a Trike
Most trikes use manual transmissions, like a motorcycle, and shifting should be done the same way.
Engage your front and rear breaks with equal pressure.
Next, pull your clutch lever (left-hand lever, on most trikes.) This will disengage your clutch and prepare your transmission for the gear shifting process. Shift from neutral down to first gear and take off!
TO shift gears, drop your throttle, disengage your clutch by pulling in the lever, shift up or down into the required gear, then release the clutch and hit the throttle!
A few things to keep in mind:
- Mind the friction zone, the point where the clutch engages, and the throttle actuates—the friction zone is different on all trikes, as are the clutch and throttle response, based on individual tuning.
- Take care to RPM match with the gear you want to shift into before shifting; this is model specific.
- We suggest mastering the shifting of your particular trike model while riding straight before attempting to shift up and down in the middle of turning. The info can be found in your owner’s manual.
How to Make Stopping Easier on a Trike
Trikes are often heavyweight vehicles with large displacement, power-packed motors in them.
Once you get your tirke in motion, the physics and engine power make it light, so you don’t really feel all that weight.
That said, once you bring the roaring trike to a halt, you’ll notice the weight immediately as the inertia of the bike’s motions comes crashing against the brake/clutch resistance.
We suggest you give yourself plenty of time and distance to stop your trike while you’re getting used to the extra weight. This ensures you’ll stop in time not to hit the cart in front of you and won’t lock up the wheels by slamming your brakes on too soon.
Also, don’t forget to use your clutch’s friction zone as an engine brake to take some of the pressure off your pads and rotors.
Do You Have to Ride Motorcycles Before Choosing a Trike?
You don’t need to know how to ride a motorcycle to learn to ride a trike, as riding a trike is different in multiple ways.
The frame of a trike feels more like an ATV than a motorcycle since you’ve got three wheels on the ground stabilizing you; Turning a trike is more like turning a four-wheeler than a two-wheeler.
These days, most trikes come stock with a reverse gear, some of which feature tilting wheels for incline reversals.
There are a variety of types of trikes, with varying frame concepts and wheel arrangements.
Not only are these trikes very different from one another, but they’re also different from motorcycles in terms of riding position, wheel arrangement, and rider input and physics.
Is Learning to Ride a Trike Harder Than Learning on a Motorcycle?
Learning on a trike is easier if you aim to continue riding trikes, as the unique skills required can’t be learned from the two-wheel riding experience. Tricks are considered easier thanks to stability and riding position.
That said, if you plan on switching to motorcycles eventually, or vice versa, you should learn to ride on the vehicle you aim to stick with long term, so you don’t have to start from scratch when you finally make the switch.
What Type of License Do You Need for a Trike Motorcycle?
The license requirements for operating a trike vary from state to state.
In some states, a Class M Motorcycle license is enough to operate a Trike of any kind.
Conversely, other states require a separate Three-Wheel Vehicle license.
We suggest you dig up the specific laws for the state or province you reside in, as well as for any territories you plan on riding through when traveling.
How Do Trike Motorcycles Handle Turns?
Trike motorcycles handle completely differently than two-wheeled motorcycles do, as the three-wheel design constitutes “direct steering” rather than leaning and counter-steering with your body.
Steering a trike through a curve, turn, or technical road at high speeds can be dangerous, as the riding position and wide frame can cause tipping if the inertia on the rider is strong enough.
Therefore, the protocol for turning a trike is to downshift and slow down as you approach the turn.
Then, enter the turn, maintaining a reasonable speed.
Finally, hit the throttle and boost your speed just as you’re out of the apex of the curve to help straighten out the vehicle.
Are Trikes a Good Choice for Complete Beginners?
Trikes are a fine choice for beginners, as learning to ride a trike is a task all of its own. Prior knowledge of motorcycle or car riding doesn’t give much of an advantage, as far as physics and handling go, since riding position and input on a trike are unique.
Trikes provide more comfort and stability than two-wheeled motorcycles, meaning a beginner won’t have to worry about balance or being uncomfortable while learning the fundamentals of trike operation.