Harley-Davidson® Trike Riding Tips

October 16th, 2018 by

While many riders choose Harley trikes specifically for their ease of use and stability compared to other motorcycles, there are a few tricks to getting the most out of the experience. For one, riding a trike is inherently different than other motorcycles, and many states even require special driving certifications for three-wheeled motorcycles. Fortunately it’s not too hard to catch up on the differences and get out there to enjoy the freedom of the open road!

At Harley-Davidson of Yuba City, our mission is to provide the best Harley motorcycles and gear to our customers. We also like to help riders get accustomed to riding their new bikes whether they have two wheels or three. Read on for some information about riding your Harley trike or head into our location in Yuba City, California, where we proudly serve Lincoln, Rocklin, and Sacramento.

How to Turn

Most motorcycles use counter steering where riders have to lean into turns to counter centrifugal forces. This prevents them from tipping over on turns. However, trikes use direct steering. You can’t exactly lean on three wheels, so trikes utilize this method that makes them easier to steer, like a car or truck. But instead of turning a steering wheel in the direction you want the trike to go, you instead tilt the handlebars in that direction.

When approaching a turn on your trike, you’ll want to start slowing as you approach and maintain speed through the turn. Do not accelerate until the turn is complete. You’ll need the extra boost to pull out of the turn and back to the routine driving. Aim for a smooth turn. Jerky turns can make you lose control.

Also keep in mind that your trike is going to be wider than a motorcycle, and due to its size, you might have to take turns at different angles than you would on a bike. Sharp turns still have the chance of causing your trike to lose traction or balance.

Starting and Shifting

Your Harley trike won’t let you off too easily, since you’ll still need to know how to manually shift gears. This also makes starting the engine a bit more complicated as well. Start with the brakes engaged, then as the engine turns over hit the clutch and shift into first gear. Let go of the brakes and release the clutch as you turn the throttle, and that’s how it’s done!

Shifting gears is similar to how it’s done in a car or truck. Release the throttle, engage the clutch, shift gears, and then let the clutch out again. The only different is you’ll be using hand controls rather than your feet. Correctly shifting gears will be a smooth action, while a bad shift will give you an appropriate jerky feedback. It can take some practice, especially if you’re not used to manual transmissions in other vehicles you’ve driven. Just be mindful when starting out and always try to shift gears while traveling in a straight line.


Stopping on a motorcycle isn’t just more difficult, but it’s also more important. It’s not like you have a seat belt to help when you have to come to a sudden stop while traveling at high speeds! Trikes are heavier and bigger than other motorcycles, so it takes extra space and time to come to a complete stop. Brake as far in advance as you’re able to, and don’t brake too hard or else the wheels could lock and cause you to lose control.

Many trikes have brakes up front and in the back. Feel free to engage both when attempting to stop. Engaging both brakes will give you more braking power, but make sure to use both at the same time and not stagger them. However, if you only use one, use the back brakes. While your trike is more stable than a bike, you could still end up spilling over the bars if you only use the front brake at high speed.

Practice makes perfect, so get out there and try some of these techniques in an empty parking lot or the open road. Just keep focused on the road ahead of you until you have the skills and confidence needed to crank it up to highway speeds. If you’re after more trike riding tips, or you just want to check out the best new and used Harley trikes around, head into Harley-Davidson of Yuba City. We proudly serve Lincoln, Rocklin, and Sacramento, California. Come in today and let our team of Harley experts answer your questions and help you find the trike of your dreams.

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