Charlies Trikes 1 & 2

Charlie’s hand built trike & trailer

Ok, here is something special: an owner hand build automotive powered trike with a kneeling trailer!

Charlie, a diesel mechanic with three kids, obviously handy with the tools, evolved this Toyota powered trike after previous experience with a Harley powered home built outfit.

Although a C6 quad, Charlie has a good left hand and some leg function so he could get by with a manual gearbox with hand shifter mod on the Harley trike. However his experience was that “getting by” didn’t really cut it and reduced the enjoyment of riding. Juggling clutch, brake, and throttle on a hill start with the kids on the back came to be the stuff of nightmares, and Charlies home town of Brisbane has its fair share of hills.

For the new trike, the first problem was sourcing an engine.  Automatic bike engine options are limited, scooter CVT transmissions are mostly less than 650cc, and the auto transmission for Harley’s evolution engine built by Walters Engineering in the States (discussed elsewhere on 3wheels,.org) is not seen (much, at all?) in Australia. Conversely car sourced auto engines are plentiful and Charlie picked up a low millage 1300cc engine and auto transmission that originally powered a Toyota Echo.

Power plant sorted, Charlie decided to build on his knowledge gained from the previous trike and stay with the same configuration. Rider and passengers sit over the engine requiring the rider to transfer, something Charlie can do relatively easy. His chair carrier for a folding Quickie GPV is located behind the passenger seat and to mount or unload the chair, Charlie makes use of the grab rails to gimp himself around or, preferably, one of the three munchkins or wife Donna.

The shortened half-shafts from the transmission are independently sprung with a pair of coil-over shocks and trailing arms. Compared with a solid axle this gives some movement during hard-cornering, a compromise Charlie is happy to accept for increased compliance. Like most Quads with compromised balance, these days Charlie is more a cruiser rather than a large-nut boy-racer!

Front end, the steering head, triple trees and telescopic suspension all appear normal however the resultant wheel trail is reduced to lighten the steering weight in the upright trike layout. Charlie could achieve this since he built all the frame back from the steering head and therefore could determine the resultant steering geometry. The amount of trail Charlie aimed for, and achieved, was 40-50mm with the 5 degree aftermarket Harley triple Trees and a 35deg steering head angle. Compared to a leading link setup to achieve the same steering weight, Charlie’s front end is neater and more “normal” looking; the disadvantage is that once welded, there is no easy adjustment as is provided by LL’s.

Brakes are discs on each corner, balanced front-to-back, vacuum boosted and linked to the one lever on Charlie’s good LH side. Throttle is “normal” RH twist grip. Charlie uses a “throttle rocker” to give better purchase on the twist grip.

The build quality and attention to detail is only partially evident in the photo’s, this trike is a work-of-art!

The following series of photo’s show a chair to trike transfer with additional details of the controls.

Chair to trike transfer, backrest removed.

Transfering onto the trike, using the additional height of the passengers seat to get the leg over.

Transferring onto the trike, feet on the boards, arse coming down from the passengers seat to the riders seat. A good shot of the transmission shifter, easy at hand.

Final step is inserting the backrest. Chair is loaded by Charlies son.

In Part 2, the earlier trike and kneeling trailer.

6 thoughts on “Charlies Trikes 1 & 2

  1. Hi Charlie
    I first seen your trike at the Gatton Swap a couple of years back, just picked up an old cruiser mag and found your name etc
    I would like to build the same trike could you give me a ring to discuss what i have to do etc
    Thanks Ron Wilson STANTHORPE Qld phone 0408757656

  2. Hi Charley….just saw your trike after googling “toyota echo engine, harley front end”….this is what came up.
    Good on ya bro! I also am a school bus certified ASE mechanic, with a mobile mechanic business now 35years here in Santa Cruz Cal.
    My youngest daughter wrecked her 2002 Echo…tee boned by an F 150 Ford….only 110k on the odometer!! so I have this great little engine and auto tranny sitting waiting for inspiration. My wife and neighbors made me get rid of the body and wheels, so I am starting out missing a lot of pieces that would sure be nice to have right now!!! …
    I wanted to put a little 6’mini truck bed on the back, and have the unit a bit longer than yours…..with the 1.5 litre vvt engine.
    I want to work out of it….for smaller local jobs….I want the bed to be light, diamond plate aluminum with it tilting to load my heavier floor jack tool box on access the motor….also to keep wheelies down to a minimum!!
    Would you “friend” me so I can borrow good ideas from you Charley???
    Sincerely, Marty Mechanic

  3. G,day I was given this link by lee , I have been riding a Golding tyke for the past 15 years and it has been a BLAST. Unfortunately I am looking to seek it and would love to see it go to a fellow wheel or someone that requires modifications to be able to ride.
    You have done a great JOB WITH YOUR TRYKE
    Regards Phillip

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