A Trike That Doesn’t Suck
(This story comes to us from PipeBurn.com)
by Zack K
The only trikes that were ever cool were BigWheels and the off-road kind. BigWheels are cool because they have the grip and stability of a KY wrestling match on ice and off-road trikes are cool because they’re fucking dangerous. I got to spend a day riding one up near Humboldt (I was 12 so no, I wasn’t high), and it’s an interesting exercise in planning. You have to plan when you will turn, to make sure you’ve slowed to the necessary 4MPH to prevent flipping it. The big, 1970s balloon tires floated over rocks and holes just fine, but it essentially had the ability of a drag bike: Forward is good, turning is bad.
The only trikes you see now are the ones we all hate. Sold with the line, “Do you want to ride a motorcycle, but lack the physical ability to lean? Do you sit on your couch holding home-made handlebars fashioned from pipe cleaners, making exhaust noises and watching old episodes of Renegade? Have we got the vehicle for you!” they’re outdoor patio benches with an engine. I saw two (riding together, of course) cruising through Malibu on our Mulsanne shoot. The consensus from all 8 of us was canyon-shaking laughter. They are motorcycles for the lazy. They’re cars without any of the benefits. Trikes, no one likes you.
Except this one, the “Bonneville Spirit.” It was built in France by Francis Bouillet, inspired by Bonneville and in my (and Thad’s) opinion, it is the king of trikes. Jump to read more.
If you want to read the full article with interview, click here, but I will give you the short version. After 18 years in the French Air Force, Francis retired and signed up for the Espera Sbarro school of design. For a final project, instead of building a 1/16th scale vehicle, he just built the one above. The movie “The World’s Fastest Indian” was playing at the time, and planted Bonneville in his mind. He got to work piecing it together, and “piecing” is the correct term. The frame is from a Harley Sportster. The front clip is from a French car built in 1902. Parts of the front control arms are from a Sikorsky S-55 Chickasaw helicopter and the foot pegs are from an airplane. This is like Orange County Choppers, with the tattoos, spider web fenders and bullshit.
The result is a trike that looks fast standing still, with beautiful tear-drop fenders all around and a blue frame that jumps off the screen. He’s been contacted to bring it to Bonneville Speed Week, but shipping that far is costly. Hopefully someone hooks him up with a free flight. I’m curious to know how fast it can run. Even if it’s nothing too exciting, seeing it run, and sitting on that gorgeous salt, would be quite a scene. I love this bike for its originality, its motivation and the fact it’s Francis’ first project. What a way to start.