They say that everything comes full circle. Old becomes new again and fads come and go. I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s and I will tell you there are certain parts of that era I really don’t want to see again. Hair styles and leisure suites, bell bottoms and fringed jackets, I can live without. But there are many things that I miss as well. Three-wheelers! I had several in the 80’s and even raced them competitively. They were a great source of fun and as far as I was concerned, safe. At least as safe as the person riding it.
I never felt out of control or in “danger” at any time, and I don’t think the evil three-wheeler had it out for us. Looking back I think they were a very neccessary part of our lives and was just a step to the four-wheeler we love today. An absolute hoot to ride and race, it’s weird that future generations will have to look at them from a history perspective.
Countless hours of play riding in all kinds of weather, all year round. Water, snow and mud were just a normal day and you could ride wheelies FOREVER!
Sure, you had to ride them differently than anything else. Steering with the rear wheels, sliding around corners, transferring your weight to stay on it was a workout. A solid rear axle made it interesting and unless you picked up the inside wheel as you were turning, it wanted to go straight. The first time I rode one was a 1980 Yamaha Tri-Moto 125. A friend and I were riding out in the country North of White City and happened along a farmer friend of ours that was using his Tri-Moto for checking on fences. We stopped and talked to him and it was really the first up-close encounter I ever had. Beautiful yellow plastic, big balloon tires and a freakish long saddle. With no suspension, a guy like me had to wonder how it handled.
The next thing I know, I’m being offered the opportunity to ride it back to his house about a half mile away. I jumped at the chance and Grady and Mike took off on the dirt bikes and left me to figure it out! Rope start, semi-automatic transmission and no instructions on how to turn it. Couldn’t be that hard! It started easy enough, with one pull of the rope. Great! I clicked it into gear and turned the grip. But the grip didn’t turn. Thumb throttle. OK, so maybe it’s a little different than what I’m used to. I give it some gas and run right into the barb wire fence. Grady and Mike are long gone and I’m in some episode of the “Twilight Zone”. Nothing is what it seems and Rod Serling is standing just behind me with a suite and thin black tie on (didn’t that come back into style?) smoking a cigarette saying “Jeff, just when he thinks he knows it all…he enters the Twilight Zone”. I back up a little give it some gas and once again, right into the fence. After a few minutes I get it going and for a half of mile I never felt sure of what would happen next.
It didn’t take me long to figure it out and of course, I had to have one of these things. So after owning several and racing a few and many, many hours of fun, they were gone. I actually remember when Suzuki came out with the first four-wheeler. I drove an hour to a Suzuki shop to see it in person. I really didn’t think at the time anyone would want a “four-wheeler” because three wheels had to be better. I also made the same assumption when cassette tapes first came out and Beta versus VHS. Don’t ask me about stuff like that. I still have a closet of stuff waiting for old to become new again.