Har­ley dou­ble their trike op­tions with the cus­tom-style Freewheeler

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Phil West MCN GUEST TESTER

Har­ley-david­son are no new­com­ers to trikes. In fact, with their util­ity Ser­vicar in pro­duc­tion be­tween 1932 and 1975, fol­lowed by the lux­u­ri­ous Triglide Ul­tra Clas­sic from 2009 (ba­si­cally an Elec­traglide with an ex­tra wheel), the Amer­i­can mar­que have more three-wheeler ex­pe­ri­ence than any other main­stream man­u­fac­turer. Which is one rea­son why this lat­est of­fer­ing is worth a look.

The idea, Har­ley say, is to put stripped-down cus­tom style on to a three-wheeler plat­form. Although us­ing the same ba­sic me­chan­i­cals as the Triglide, the Freewheeler does with­out the full-dresser’s big fair­ing, bulky pil­lion throne and top­box, not to men­tion most of its fancy in­stru­men­ta­tion and en­ter­tain­ment sys­tem.

In their place the Freewheeler has a clas­sic, clean, wind-in-your-face Har­ley front-end com­plete with mini Ape­hang­ers, tank-mounted chromed clocks and 19-inch Street Glide-style front wheel (the Triglide has a fat 16-incher). While at the rear, in­stead of the Glide’s tour­ing top­box and pil­lion clut­ter are sim­ple, smooth flanks dom­i­nated by ma­cho cast wheels which match the spoke de­sign of the front, proper rear fend­ers (mud­guards to you and me) as on clas­sic cruis­ers such as the Fat Bob, and a con­ven­tional, slim­line cus­tom dou­ble seat.

In terms of style it all works bril­liantly well, too. Where the Triglide looks enor­mous, like a Win­nebago with han­dle­bars and with the £30k+ price to match, the Freewheeler – slightly cringey name aside – is lean, mean and ev­ery inch some kind of Socal dude ma­chine – like it should be in a Ba­nana Splits or Mon­kees video.

The rid­ing is just as much fun. OK, so the Freewheeler (or any trike) hasn’t the lean­ing dy­namism or traf­fic-split­ting prac­ti­cal­ity of a two-wheeler; while wrench­ing it around spir­ited turns re­quires con­sid­er­able ef­fort. But that’s miss­ing the point. The vast ma­jor­ity of trike buy­ers, for phys­i­cal or other rea­sons, can no longer ride or man­age mo­tor­cy­cles, and for them this is the next best thing.

Although as rigidly planted as any other trike, with steer­ing that gives fore­arms a good work­out and a breadth you con­stantly have to re­mind your­self of, once the roads open up, the windin-your-hair sen­sa­tion (like with all trikes, hel­mets aren’t com­pul­sory, but rec­om­mended) is a hoot. The perk­i­ness from the new-for-2017 (and now 87bhp) Mil­wau­kee-eight V-twin is en­ter­tain­ing and en­gag­ing; the com­fort is de­cent, although pil­lions don’t get much to harp on about, and the head-turn­ing abil­ity im­mense. The Freewheeler’s also beau­ti­fully fin­ished and, with an elec­tric re­verse gear and de­cent boot (large enough for two full-face lids) it’s rea­son­ably prac­ti­cal – although I wouldn’t fancy long dis­tances on it.

Ad­mit­tedly, a three-wheeler wouldn’t be my choice – but some aren’t so lucky. If that’s you and you have a full (pre-2013) car or bike li­cence (oth­er­wise you have to do a ded­i­cated test), a trike has never been so cool.

‘The mo­tor is en­ter­tain­ing, the head-turn­ing abil­ity im­mense’

Few ma­chines have as much road pres­ence as the Freewheeler

Vast cast rear wheels mimic the front 19-incher

Tank-mounted clock = airy cock­pit

Six-pot stop­pers slow 492kg of trike

There’s enough room for two lids here

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