As part of our continuing effort to bring readers the information they need, we'll be answering trike-related technical questions on an ongoing basis. Please email your questions to TRN Editor Genevieve Schmitt at firstname.lastname@example.org or post them below in the comments section. If we can't answer a question, we'll find an expert who can. Stay tuned for regular updates to this section.
Q: Can you recommend a front tire for my 2005 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Roadsmith conversion?
A: Doug Lindholm, owner of Roadsmith Trikes, says that the company prefers and has had good luck with the stock Dunlops that come on the bike. They’re hard enough to wear well but soft enough to be responsive.
Q: As you know, most trikes do not lean in turns, so why do we still run a standard motorcycle tire on the front? I have noticed my front tire only rides and wears on the center of the tread and not on either side, so why don’t we run a automotive type tire on the front for more grip in turns?
A: A motorcycle tire needs that curved shape in order to allow the various forces (well, accelerations, actually) of gravity and inertia to interact with the motorcycle’s chassis in a turn. Just like Mr. Hayden, pictured on the right.
On a trike, there’s no need to create lean in order to turn, so why not utilize a flatter tire? It basically comes down to cost and availability. A typical motorcycle front rim requires a large-diameter, very narrow tire compared to any automotive application. And there simply aren’t many options for alternatives. Furthermore, most trikes rely upon motorcycle suspension systems, which are designed to work with the geometry and characteristics of motorcycle tires.
With the continual development of new trike-specific suspension systems, we may yet see a new front-end design, but until then, it’s simply easier to use what works. A common workaround is to mount a motorcycle rear tire of similar size as a front tire. A rear tire typically offers a slightly flatter profile and longer wear, making it a common trike option.
Legal eagle bit:
Of course, always consult your original trike kit manufacturer before making any changes that may affect the safety of your vehicle.