L & J Trike Engineering Corp.

We not only ride trikes, we build them

Thinking about building a Trike

The Unwritten Trike Builders Book Of Trikes Vol.1

Not written yet by JustJohn

Chapter One

Every Trike rider I met on the road has his idea on what a trike should be. Every trike builder I met on the road stated " that the next one I build will be a little different". ( Note: " a little different," in the Unwritten Trike Builders Book Of Trikes Vol.2, which means," The next one will be right, easyer to build, easyer to ride, different paint job, many other things ), and if you look around you will see the trikes built by astute creative artists. These trikes are the, roll in and the Trkes becomes the center of attraction type trikes.The builders become magical barker, with all due pride in their creation of artistic product," My Trike ".

The other day I was talking to a group of people, whom wanted to build their own trikes to ride in the spring. After going over all the in's and out's of trike building, I figured I would write down everything I knew about trikes in gerenal, about building, about kits, somethings us Trikers take for fact and fiction. I am editing this webpage and started writing. I'm calling it ( The Unwritten Trike Builders Book Of Trikes ), I am hoping that I can share somethings with people and I am hoping some people can share what they know back. mrjustjohn@ljtrikes.com    I will be adding more as time is available.   

Building a trike is nothing less than a undertaking of a desire to ride what you build. I am going to try to give those who have this desire some help in thinking about a few things before you start.

1. What should it look like:

  Everyone has a different perception of what a trike should look like. There is disembarrassment, when it comes to trikes. The art form created by the trike builder is not only a precursor to the next project, but a statement of creativity.

2.What is needed:

  Depending on what you are building for a trike.

    a. Parts



          *Wheels and their sizes





          *Wiring & Lights

   b. Frame

   c. Body

   d. Time

Good rule you should follow is: everything you get for your Trike, should be possible to buy, repair, and buy spare parts in the area that you live. Normally with the internet parts are just a click away. Sometimes it takes time to receive the parts you need, when you want them. While your thinking there are alway a lot of parts you could use that you normally don't relate to triking. Use your imagination, Staying in a good mood helps Don't loose your happiness about your trike. You also are going to need a awful lot of patience. Building a trike is hard to do in one day and you will also need space. You might have to walk away from building your trike when nothing is going right and what you need did not get here yet. Just remember your trike is there waiting for you to finish it. Decide the equipment you will need first before you start building. Draw out your own design and follow it. The smallest change in building can prevent further building if the change is in the wrong place. Then to start over not only costs money, but really sucks. Another point is use some rustproofing durning the building. When you finish welding, grind the spot. Don't wait until last thing you do is grind your welds. The idea is to have a real good finish. Use good anticorrosive paint and move on to the next spot. If your going to build a trike, build it good. Check out the new trikes, most welds are not grinded at all and does not look good. Have pride in what you are biuilding. I have heard it many times, ("No one is going to see it"), so I am not going to worry about it.

Frame design: Your frame design and materials will be the most important part of your trike. There is no over kill when it comes to building a trike. Safety is most important part of triking.The gussets or crossmembers for reinforcements of your front boom, neck tube, and all the way back to the other end, should be of good materials. Strenght is the name of the game, when building a frame. Gather all your materials and lay them out, before you start to build your frame. Check your drawings and think about what you are about to do. Measure the distances and angles, begin at one end and start building till you get to the other end. Take your time and do a good job, most of all enjoyment is what you are doing after you get done building and go for that first ride.

 Below is a general idea on how to layout and start your own trike building project. When you get to that "I'm stuck part", by all means, ask question from someone who knows trike building. Do it right the first time.

After you have your layout, to what you want, tack everything in place. Look at it again, if it looks good welder up. Next you might want to think about your drive train next. Note: There is two different VW transaxles, and two different VW mountings for the transaxle. IRS and Swing Axles. S

Most used axles you find at a junk yard look like this. A new Transaxle can also be used, at a little more money and a lot less work, never can tell what kind of a life was for that used transaxle, but it can be made like new again.

After a little clean up place the transaxle into postion and bolt it in and run your shifter rod forward.

Next: Front pedals, can be mounted from the top, or off a tee bar. This is a hydo-system, no need for cables for the clutch, just fluid lines to run.

Next: Mounting brakets for the rear

When you get to this point, you should have the frame on three wheels, either in your shop or living room, where you are building your trike.

A little further down the road you will have most of the hard work done,maybe.

Now the wiring, lots of people forget the importance the wiring can be. If you knew nothing about wiring, at least make it pretty. If it looks pretty, no one will ever question your ablity. It should work also, that helps.

The trike should be ready for the motor, or close to it, and it might look like this, or not.

Time for a motor, VW has a few choices of motors, New is the way to go, Rebuilt, then used. It all depends what you need.

After the motor is in, due your final checks

Check all you lights, fire it up, and turn it around

Take a look at it, get on it and ride.

Your VW Chopper Trike, or what you built may not look like this, but I know you can do it. What ever Style Trike you build the basics' are about the same. Check with your local chapter of trike riders, ask questions, take pictures, or Email me here.

These pictures were provided by "Douglas Kustoms".

Front End Design: There are many many Front ends a person can use. Springer is a good front end, shows well, but for me I feel the road a little to much. It is a stifter, but has provided a very safe record of perforance. I like the Hydrauic type front ends, smoother over the bumps, softer in the corners.

Engines: A engine is the heart and soul of the trike. Many different engines that can be used on a trike. The engine you is a choice thing. 1600 VW to 2000+ VW is most commonly used. Part are easy to get, and the engine is pretty easy to work on. It also works well with the VW Transaxles.


Stock VW 1600 cc

VW 2275 cc


Now if I stop here, there would be a lack of information. The VW transaxle can be used with many different engines. Kenndy makes conversions for doing just that. The only problem is that you have to make sure the motor you hang on the back of your trike, does not weight too much. It can be adjusted some with weighting down the front, but you have to watch your overall weight of the trike. Doing so makes it look like you had a after thought. Mid-engine trikes really do not have the same problem, as the weight will pass over the entire frame, just adding total weight to the trike. Subaru has RPM's, CC's, Power, and is pretty close to a VW engine in weight. Not the six banger, it is a little heavy. The only draw back is it is water cooled, so a little more engineering is needed to make it work.


There is a lot of informaon on Trikes: If you feel the need to read it, most is really boring stuff, but so important to know about like: steering Geometry, Lenght, weight, width of rear wheels, frame deflection,, disadvantages for 2 wheels in front and one in  the rear, disavantages of one wheel in front and two in the rear. Recommended that you join a trike club and nag the members to boredom about the information you lack before you start to build your trike. Another thing is to find a triker that has already built a trike, ask for some tips, drawings, guidance. This way the trike is already tested and you get fewer mistakes when you build your trike.

Chapter Two

A chapter of it's own: If your going to build a trike out of a 2-wheeler motorcycle, build a good looking trike. Let's check, Ok for right now there a few really good trike kit conversions available, some can be done in your spare time, if you have spare time. Some tike conversions can only be done by Authorized trike conversion dealers, or they would like to just sell you a new converted trike upfront instead.Kits costs a bit more than building a regular trike, but for those who love their Fat-Boy, it's the way to get the task done.

There is a lot of information to read on Motorcycle to trike. Kits are the in-thing right now, as there is not a better way yet. The nice thing is that imagination plays a big roll in trike building. No matter what you build for a trike, use some rust proofing.


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GeneralTrike Information

The Shop

The birth Place of L & J Trike Engineering,

Princeton, Minnesota

Call: 763-856-7846

Where the Musis is always on,

and the Coffee is always is hot.





Gerenal Trike Information

Did you Know that the

 Code of Federal Regulations:

 Title 40,Vol.16,Part 205: States

 "that a trike/motorcycle can not be licensed 

 as a motorcycle, if it weights over

1499 pounds with a 176 pound Driver".



Thoughts to get you through any Crises


My Desk to you


1. Indecision is the

    Key to Flexibility.

2. There is absolutely

    no substitute

    for a genuine

    lack of preparation.

3. Everything should be

     made simple

     as possible, 

     but no simpler.

4. If you think there

    is good in everybody,

    then you haven't

    met everybody

5. If you smile when

    things go wrong,

    you have someone

    in mind to blame.

6. Not one shed of evidence


     the notion

     that life is serious.

7. Someone who thinks

    logically is

    a nice contrast

    to the real world.

8. The trouble with life

     is,Your halfway

     through it

     before you


"It's a do-it-yourself"


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