Black Trike

Trikes are converted bikes that have a single front wheel and an axle on the rear side similar to that of an automobile. Most of the motorcycle enthusiasts are crazy about them. If you want it for the fun, you can buy one that’s ready to ride, or you can either choose to build your own trike if you’re sure about having the tools, the know-how and the equipments required.

Before you jump into it with both feet, you should know that many people before you have found building a trike can be more than they bargained for and had ended up by pulling the plug on the project or taking the less difficult route of converting an old Volkswagen car into a trike.  This method has a few certain advantages; as far as performance is concerned as well as being a way of recycling a junk car  that would have otherwise wound up in a salvage yard .  You get a custom VW trike and do a little something to save the environment at the same time!

Red Custom Trike


To get started on your project , you should have a motorcycle, few tools, a welder, metal working machines and at times an extra set of hands. Equipment common to a welding and/or machine shop is necessary to the building process and once you have the motorcycle together, it’s will be needing a paint job to look best if you added fenders.

Here is a basic list  of tools, parts and equipments that you will need to build a trike in addition to the usual sets of wrenches and screwdrivers found in most of the toolboxes.

A welding machine, welding supplies and welding equipments.

A pair of Floor Jacks.

A metal lathe.

Sheet metal and Sheet metal stock.

A set of trailer wheels and tires.

If you add fenders, you will need a paint booth, paint and painting supplies.


Position your motorcycle on the jack stands, loose the nuts on the sides of the rear axle.  Slide the rear tire towards the front of the bike  while sliding the chain off of the sprocket allowing you to remove the wheel off the swing arm.

Now make a decision on how wide you want your trike. You can make your axle as wide or as narrow as you want it but standard width is usually 38 ½ inches from drum to drum.  Although I’ve heard of widths as wide as 45 ½ inches and as narrow as 35 inches. Let’s assume that you want to build a trike that is half as wide as its total length.


Determine how long the rear axle should be according to these measurements and then subtract the length of the axle that is in place from that number. Divide this number by two and you’ll have the measurement of the axle that you will have to weld to each side of the existing rear axle .

Use the metal lathe to turn some of your metal to make it equal to the thickness of the existing rear axle. Weld your axle extensions to each end of the existing axle being absolutely certain that you’re welding them squarely .


You are now ready to start welding the wheel hubs onto the ends of your modified axle and to put the new axle in place on the swing arm.  Snug the nuts and replace the motorcycle’s chain on the sprocket. Mount the trailer wheels and tires onto the ends of the extended axle and tight up the nuts.

At this point in the building project , you have the option of adding fenders (which which you will probably want to paint ) or just taking your new baby out for a ride and proving to your biker friends that you know a thing or two about how to build a trike motorcycle.


Novices might think that the title of this article should be  “How to Build a Trike in Three Easy Steps” because well…I condensed the instructions into three steps that may actually be easy for the experienced motorcycle mechanics.  But the facts are that building a trike  takes more than a little welding and metal working skills. For instance, if the axle is not welded perfectly square your trike is going to shake like crazy on the road creating a very dangerous situation that could cause a horrible accident  with possible casualties and that’s just one of the number of other things that can happen if you mess up .

If you have any doubts  that you possess the necessary skills, do yourself (and everybody on the road ) a favor and take a look in the motorcycle classifieds section of your local paper  for a good used trike for sale or ask an experienced friend to help you learn how to build a trike before you get in way over your head .

Building Up Your Own Trike