imgtrike kit001iThe Sportster Trike

By Dave Brackett

This trike kit for the Harley Sportster was created to be a complete bolt-on assembly that could be switched back-and-forth between a trike and a two-wheeler with nothing but hand tools.

     In late 1969 I had finished designing bolt-on and weld-on hardtail sections at AEE Choppers.  They fit many different bikes and AEE was selling lots of them.  There had always been interest in three wheeled bikes, but the most common choice was the old Harley 45 servi-cars.  The motors were not that great and the brakes left a lot to be desired.  They were also very heavy and very ugly if you stripped them down.  Sportsters were fast becoming the bike of choice, so Tom and I decided to build a bolt-on three-wheel kit for kick-start and electric start Sportsters.  I got a ‘66 Sportster out of our bike stock, and removed all the rear parts.

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The fully assembled kit shown here has the backing plates and brake drums in place.  Large car wheels and tires bolt to the ’63 Pontiac Tempest brake assembly

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No modifications are required when bolting the frame assembly to the Sportster frame

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Once the axle assembly is installed the backing plates can be bolted in place.  Car brake assembly is used in stock configuration

     I designed a tubular frame from 1-inch tubing that bolted to the Sportster frame.  The axle was mounted on two flanged self-aligning bearings that bolted to the frame in slots, to adjust the chain tension.  The kit was designed to reuse the Sportster parts as much as possible.  I found aftermarket hubs that fit ‘61 to ‘63 Pontiac Tempest brakes; not included with the kit.  I added a ‘58 or later Harley master cylinder.  The stock mechanical brake lever connected to the master cylinder.  Hydraulic lines were added and the brakes bled.  The stock chain was used, but lengthened several inches.

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Small keyed wheel flanges are then bolted in place to accept the brake drums and wheels

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A sissy bar bolts to the trike frame assembly to provide a mounting place for the seat

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An extra length of chain is added to connect the output sprocket to the trike drive axle.  Brake arm and supplied rod plus the stock exhaust are also shown here

     I mounted a seat and made a sissy bar to fit the frame.  Rear light and license plate were attached to the rear of the sissy bar.  Any wheels that fit the Pontiac Tempest bolt pattern would fit.  Stock Sportster exhaust fit fine, but most custom exhaust will fit as well.  Other bolt-on accessories were added, foot pegs for a passenger, custom handlebars, extended front forks and some chrome goodies to give it that chopper look.

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Taillight and plate mount to the sissy bar.  A custom cover could be fashioned if the end looks to stark for your tastes

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View directly from the rear shows how it would look to those following the bike down the road.  Smaller tires would soften the look if it looks too massive for your tastes

     Since this was only a bike to show and test the three-wheel kit, it was not finished like our normal show bikes.  I finished with black paint on all the components.  I only did modest customizing, but the sky would be the limit for making it your own.  Custom fenders, different seat configurations and different sissy bar styles would be easy to do.  I even did one for a 750 Honda that had a little Model T pick-up bed on the back.
     After proper testing, I made the jigs adaptable to build kits for Sportster, Harley 74s that had swing arm rear suspension, and Triumphs.  Tom rode the bike for several months to show it off, then it was torn apart for other projects.  It did offer an alternative to the Harley 45 trikes, and gave many customers the chance to build that custom trike they wanted at an affordable price.  I think the kit sold for about $350.00, including seat and sissy bar.  The customer added junkyard brakes and any custom wheels and tires they desired.
      One neat thing about the kit, since it was a complete bolt-on setup, you could change back and forth between three-wheeler and two-wheeler with only several hours of work.  It would be like having two different bikes, but only owning one.

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