Cobra Trike


Tom Cunningham NY wrote on: 02/24/2016
2008 Honday GL1800

I had my gold wing made into a trike with the adventure kit from Motortrike. At approx.16,500 miles I was looking for a front tire that would give me a great ride & mileage and I found it in your AV71 Cobra Trike tire at 37,964 miles I took a round trip out to the west coast & back to NY State (8,300 miles) with 2 up and towing a trailer The tire is still in great shape at 10,500 miles I think I should be able to get at least 18,000 miles out of it. I will be buying a new one sometime this summer – One great tire


Max Jones, UK wrote on: 5/2/2014
2002 Honda GL1800 Trike

2002 A2 model GL1800, registered 2003, with Champion Trikes kit, independent rear suspension, Variable SwayControl and EZ-Steer fork modification.

The Avon team on the old section of runway with the main runway ‘test area’ in the background.

A ‘solo’ tyre does not have a very large contact area, although even the ‘solo’ Cobra improved the handling.

The Trike Cobra shows a much wider, flatter, contact area and this was very obvious in the feel of the steering.

Just being able to watch the wheel and tyre being changed was educational.

The disused section of runway on which we parked and the main runway used for the testing.
In the distance, top right, is the fire engine beyond which Richard could not ride as there was an active runway being used by light aircraft. But he still got it up to three figure speeds!
Trying to get a photograph of Richard, at speed, on a mobile phone, was not easy!

Finding a Front Tyre for my Honda GL1800 Trike

As some of you will know, back in August 2013 my wife and I spent time on the Isle of Man at the Classic TT and Manx GP races. Due to the arthritis in my lower back I can no longer tour on a bike so we had taken the car.
After a week of complaints from my wife, “it’s just not the same in a car”, her final words on the subject were “I want a Goldwing trike”. I know my place!

Research on the Internet found us a 2003 registered A2 model GL1800, with 20,000 miles and good photographs, inCannon Motorcycles, a BMW dealership many miles away in Essex. After more photos and long chats with them, they delivered the bike and it was as good as they said.

Finding The Trike Shop in Cardiff and having them carry out the conversion using a Champion Trikes kit from the USA was a bonus as they were close enough to visit, drink their tea and see the trike developing as it was bolted together.
So, we have a 2002 A2 model GL1800, registered 2003, with Champion Trikes kit, independent rear suspension, Variable SwayControl and EZ-Steer fork modification. The ABS is disconnected as it will not work on the new rear brake system.There are other modifications available, but these are probably the most common with this kit.

Delivered in time for Christmas it was a dream. All the comfort of a Wing and no worries about my back giving out trying to hold it up! Plus, my wife will let me ride on the back with her up front, which she will never again let me do on a solo!

As a retired police officer, with a bit of a thing for safety having attended quite a few ‘accidents’, I had wondered about the suitability of a front tyre from a solo machine being fitted on a trike. They are after all very different machines and corner in very different ways. The contact patch of rubber with road is very small with the front wheel upright and the thought of that small area being responsible for turning three quarters of a ton, fully loaded, on a wet road, did not inspire confidence.

Searching the Internet again, advice was limited. Lower the tyre pressure to give more contact area was one idea, but how would that effect the security of the tyre on the wheel rim? Using a wider rear tyre on the front, with rotation arrow backwards was another idea, but how would the insurance company (or the law) react to such use of tyres in a way that they were clearly not designed for?

Knowing that Avon Tyres make tyres for sidecars I sent an email to ask if they had a tyre in the size for the front of my Goldwing Trike. Now I have known large companies who fail to respond to speculative emails from individual members of the public but Avon were different. The reply I got came straight from Ashley Vowles, the motorcycle tyre design engineer for Avon Tyres. Now to me, as a retired police officer, this felt like a member of the public telephoning the local police station and having it answered by the Divisional Commander!

Ashley informed me that he was working on a tyre in the size, 130/70R18, that would fit a Goldwing trike. Great. When can I get one? Probably the second quarter of 2014. Just in time then for my trip to the Isle of Man in July for the Southern 100’s races.

Time passed and early in April 2014 I sent off another email to Ashley asking how things were coming along. Now for the best bit, Ashley was looking for a trike to road test the new front tyre on.
Fast forward to April 25th at Haverfordwest Airport where, at 10.00am, I meet Ashley, Richard Dobson the Avon test rider and . . . . . the mechanic.

Their first step was to check the tyre pressures on my trike and then ride it through their test programme as it stood on its half worn Bridgestone front tyre. Rears are Dunlop as it was built in December 2013 and have done only a couple of thousand miles. The trike is showing just over 23,600 miles at the test, so although a recent conversion, it’s based on a well run-in solo and not a ‘factory fresh’, straight from the showroom, model of perfection.To me, that makes the result more realistic.

Richard runs through his tests, some hands off, some hands on, some handling and swerving, some high speed. I never thought it could accelerate like that! Or brake like that either! In fact it was a pleasure to watch a professional rider put the trike through a series of manoeuvres to test the tyre’s reaction to various stresses.

Richard reports no handling issues other than the usual natural and induced ‘shimmy’. Now I know that Goldwing’s have a natural shimmy, hands off, at some speeds and my trike will shake the bars on poor road surfaces, which can be annoying. I wonder what the new tyres will do.

The next series of runs is on a new standard solo Avon Cobra front tyre. Richard reports a big improvement and no ‘shimmy’.

Then comes the new, Cobra based, trike tyre. This is a modified profile based on the original Cobra and is designed to provide a wider, flatter, contact patch on the road surface. Ashley designed this tyre and I can see he is concerned. It probably does not help when I point out that the worst that can happen is that Richard comes back and says, “Rubbish!”

In fact, Richard returns smiling and reports ‘no issues’, so all is fine and Ashley can breathe again.

The tests are run at various tyre pressures. My Goldwing handbook recommends 36psi for the front tyre, but Avon recommends 41psi for their Cobra front tyre on a solo machine. The tests were run with both these pressures and Richard reports that the new trike tyre works best at 36psi, at which pressure there is less tendency to lift a rear wheel in a sharp turn.

Time is getting on and I know they have a long drive home so when I’m asked if I would like a test ride down the runway I decline. Now, don’t get the wrong idea, I’m not all heart. The fact is I already know I’m going to be riding home with that new front tyre on my trike and Ashley will be following me to drop off a couple of new spares as a ‘thank you’ for the loan of the trike. He also wants to get some ‘owner feedback’ after the ten mile run home.

So it’s my turn and, starting from the bit of old, disused and broken runway we have been using as ‘base camp’, I can already feel the improvement. Just getting on the trike I can feel the increased tyre / road contact area resisting my attempt to turn the bars. Not something I would normally do as it’s not good to put such stress on the steering when stationary. Those who are old enough to remember cars without power steering will know that even the slightest vehicle movement makes steering much easier and removes much of the stress. Such is the case with the trike now and just starting to slip the clutch allows the steering free movement.
The rough bit of old runway on which we are parked completely fails to disturb the steering, which pleases me no end as, with the original tyre, it would have been shaking a bit even at slow speed. Entering the very smooth main runway the improved ride and feel are immediately obvious to me. The trike feels ‘planted’ and secure on the road.

Getting out onto the main road and heading for home I’m looking for problems and finding none. Riding over white lines, manhole covers, repaired surfaces, all feels fine and much better than the original Bridgestone. (To be fair, it was a worn ‘solo’)
I can choose to ride through Haverfordwest town or around the bypass, where there are more roundabouts. I take the bypass to experience the feel on the roundabouts. It feels ‘right’. It’s that feeling of confidence you get when the car, bike or in this case trike, just follows the instruction you give it. I admit I’m not pushing it but the steering is just so positive it makes me feel confident.
On the A477 towards JohnstonI take the opportunity to make an overtake just to see how the steering reacts to me ‘making progress’. It feels fine.
After Johnston I take a very much secondary road towards Waterston which I know tends to shake the trike’s steering a bit. No trouble this time. At just under the 60 limit the trike is solid on the road and doing just what I want it to do.
Turning for my home I run through some nice tight bends I know well and keep my speed reasonable as I know there are car driver in this area who do not understand what white lines are for!
Nevertheless, I can feel an obvious improvement in the ride, directional stability and general feel of the steering, particularly as I approach a mini roundabout where they have put a ‘rumble strip’ speed reminder to slow vehicles down.

In short, I am seriously pleased with this tyre which has given me much better stability and general feel. I now want to try it in the wet which, this being Wales, should not take too long!