For many, a trike offers all the disadvantages of a car with all the disadvantages of a motorcycle: you can’t filter through traffic, and you’ll get wet and cold! But, there are a lot of people who ride a trike for practical reasons, and not only that but there is a whole new generation of three-wheeled motorcycles that are forcing us to completely revise our opinion of trikes.
There are several configurations of three-wheel motorcycles: the traditional one-wheel-in-the-front, two-wheels-in-the-back as epitomized by the Harley-Davidson Servicar, and, more recently, by the Freewheeler from the same company. Then there is the reverse solution, as epitomized by Can-Am, a trike motorcycle with two wheels in the front. There is a new generation of three-wheelers, however, with two wheels mounted closely side-by-side in the front, making the bike no wider than a traditional two-wheeler but offering vastly improved grip and stability, even if it is at the expense of increased complexity and weight.
Updated April 2023: Manufactures are introducing new three-wheel options into the motorcycle world every year. They’re also bringing many new advancements to their existing models. As such, in order to keep our readers up to speed on all these new developments, this article will periodically be updated.
10 Harley-Davidson Freewheeler
Press photo of a 2023 Harley-Davidson Freewheeler
There is a real reason behind why Harley-Davidson got into the three-wheel business. They, like all the other manufacturers, want to get as many people on their bikes as possible. For Harley, that also includes riders who are slowly aging out of two wheels, those with disabilities that prevent them from using standard motorcycles and general people who aren’t interested in two wheels in the first place.
A trike like the Harley-Davidson Freewheeler widens the inclusivity of the brand. Especially since this is no handyman special of a bike. The cheapest out of Harley’s three-wheel options, the Freewheeler is objectively the coolest. Its minimalist styling, classic v-twin powertrain and upright ergonomics gives the non-traditional rider the Harley they’ve always wanted. It’s balanced, powerful and comfortable for long tours, as well as simple commuting around town.
9 Can-Am Spyder RT
Green Can am spyder parked in lot with lake mountains in background and two people sitting on it.
The Can-Am Spyder RT is the reverse Harley Freewheeler, if you like, with two wheels at the front but with the same all-day touring comfort and practicality. The 998cc BRP-Rotax V-twin engine produces 106 horsepower, but it does have to pull along the same amount of weight as the Harley, driving through a six-speed manual. Strangely, the twin front wheels reduce the effort needed to steer the Can-Am compared to the Harley and the comfort is just as supreme, while costing half as much as the barn and shield trike.
8 Yamaha Niken
Three wheel motorcycle, racing to the left.
The Yamaha Niken is the bike that really set the cat among the pigeons in motorcycling. Here was the first ‘sports three-wheeler’, as opposed to a bloated touring trike or scooter. The Yamaha Niken is basically an MT-09 naked sports bike with a complex (and heavy) twin-front-wheel set-up that allows the bike to lean in corners. The front suspension arrangement is similar to that of the Kymco CV3 (see below) in that there are two fork legs per wheel, which gives the Niken a very heavy front-end look, although the wheels are set apart no wider than the handlebars.
Astonishing grip from the front wheels, especially when braking on loose or slippery surfaces, and the clever suspension has enough travel to lean the bike over in the corners, allowing the rider to easily get his or her knee down. A brilliant motorcycle looking for a market. Alas, that market may no longer be in the US, as the model has since disappeared from Yamaha’s US page. However, it is still available for purchase in Europe.
7 Can-Am Spyder F3
A F3 Limited standing still with white background
If the Can-Am Spyder RT is just too big, then there is also the Can Am Spyder F3-T, which is a much more sporting proposition. Not a huge amount lighter than the Spyder RT, it looks a whole lot smaller due to not being the full touring model. The F3-T features a three-cylinder, 1330cc engine producing 115 horsepower.
Can-Am also threw in ABS, traction control, a semi-automatic six-speed gearbox, adjustable rear air suspension, stability control, and panniers for a modicum of practicality. Good wind protection from the small screen and, while it’s not the prettiest trike out there, it is certainly distinctive, with a much more modern appearance than the Harley Freewheeler, not to mention better performance.
6 Polaris Slingshot Roush Edition
Polaris Slingshot Roush edition in action around the city
If any trike comes close to being the actual Batmobile, it’s the Polaris Slingshot. It’s even more true when it’s painted in a flat black paint. But the biggest stunner in the Slingshot lineup is the Roush Edition. This high-performance, 203 hp roadster comes equipped with all the best features and tech Polaris has to offer. It has the Excursion Top, Brembo brakes, a 305 mm rear tire and distinctive styling. You can also get it in automatic or manual.
The 1,997-cc Prostar 4-cylinder engine that powers this beauty can get the Slingshot from 0-60 in 4.9 seconds. It has 144 ft-lbs of torque and can hit a top speed of 125 mph. All the lights on the Slingshot are LED, including gauges, interior accent lights, brakes and headlights. It also has an infotainment in a large 7″ display and comes with a standard 2-year, unlimited miles warranty.
5 Kymco CV3
Three wheel scooter riding to the right.
Ultra-stylish and powerful, the Kymco CV3 features a parallel twin, 550cc engine for impressive performance in and out of the city. The front suspension allows the CV3 to lean but looks heavy with its four fork legs – two per wheel. On the road, however, it proves to be a fine-handling bike, with the added security and stability offered by the twin front wheels. Kymco is a Taiwanese manufacturer and enjoys a very good reputation for the quality of the engineering and the fit and finish of their products.
4 Can Am Ryker
A rider on a Ryker with yellow wall in background
Firmly aimed at the younger end of the market, the Can-Am Ryker is the smallest model in the Can-Am range but by no means the least exciting. A whole lot lighter and more agile than the Spyder models, it can still thrill with its choice of twin-cylinder 600cc (50 horsepower) or three-cylinder 900cc (82 horsepower) engine driving through a stepless CVT transmission. Starkly simple, with no frills: just jump on and ride, making the Ryker perfect for the younger or less experienced rider. You can even change the body panels to change the color and performing back tire-screeching take-offs from the lights just puts a huge grin on your face.
3 Ural Gear Up
Side Car Motorcycle facing right at campsite.
The Ural Gear Up is not your typical trike. It doesn’t have two side by side wheels in the front or back. It’s the world’s only major manufacturer that provides a motorcycle with a side-car straight from the factory. And, arguably, it’s the three-wheel bike that all the cool kids will want to get, as they’re frequently seen at the global Distinguished Gentleman rides or hauling your favorite four legged companions.
Behind the sheen of coolness is a motorcycle that has been largely unchanged for decades, which is part of what makes this bike so charming. It has a boxer twin, much like the BMWs it was originally inspired by, which produces 41 hp and 42 lbs of torque. Nothing that’s going to win you any races, but that’s not why you ride the Ural anyway.
2 Piaggio MP3 500
Piaggio MP3 500 in bronze, facing left
From the makers of the Vespa comes the Piaggio MP3 500. As the name suggests, it is powered by a 500cc single-cylinder engine, producing 40 horsepower, and boasts both ABS and traction control alongside the independently sprung front wheels to allow it to lean in the corners.
As with all Piaggio products, the MP3 500 is beautifully built and fast, with excellent ergonomics, even if this does mean the price will be on the high side for a scooter. It comes with some great features, however, including a 7″ TFT display, USB socket under the windshield and smartphone connectivity. It also has some nifty safety additions to the ABS and ASR features already mentioned, with the inclusion of the BLIS system, which can detect hidden vehicles in the MP3 blind spots.
1 Campagna Motors T-Rex RR
Three wheel racer standing in hanger, to the left.
If by some chance you didn’t think the Slingshot was sexy enough, then let us introduce you to the T-Rex RR. Produced by Campagna Motors, the T-Rex is one gorgeous piece of three-wheel engineering. It comes with tons of premium technology, ten different color options (matte or gloss) and a ridiculous amount of customization of the wheels, seat belts, chassis and seats.
All of that is packaged in a 1098 lb shell which is equipped with traction control, ABS and Kawasaki’s 1441-cc inline 4-cylinder engine, which produces 208 hp and 117 lbs of torque. Befitting such a beast of a trike, it also comes with plenty of safety features, such as 3 point safety belts, reinforced tubular chassis with roll cage and the aforementioned ABS. But you better really want this beauty, because the price for it is a staggering $68,999.
Q: How much does a trike motorcycle cost?
You can buy a three-wheeled motorcycle for as little as a few thousand dollars right up to the Harley Davidson CVO TriGlide at $50,000
Q: Is a trike safer than a motorcycle?
They are certainly much more stable and offer better cornering and braking grip but, on the other hand, aren’t as maneuverable as normal two-wheelers, although the new breed of narrow-track trikes are just as good as two-wheeled motorcycles.
Q: Which motorcycle trike is best?
That depends on what you want to do with it. Commuting or riding in the city? Then one of the scooter trikes is best but if you’re heading out onto the open road, a Harley, Can Am, or Polaris would be best.
Q: Is it hard to ride a trike motorcycle?
Absolutely not. All the scooters are twist-and-go, while the Can Am Ryker has an automatic gearbox. Also, you don’t have to learn to balance on a trike!
Q: Can I drive a trike on a full car Licence?
Yes, you can drive a trike on a full car licence.