Bob Mighell of Stanwood, WA set out to build a machine safer than a two wheeler that could still carve the turns like a bike. He rolls out his latest version at the Cycle World show in Seattle on November 30.
After years of trials with an ‘underpowered’ proof of concept machine, a three-wheeled Honda Rebel 250, Mighell (pronounced ‘mile’) has solved his power problem with a tilting three-wheeled V-Max. He replaced the fork with his own two-wheeled double wishbone suspension that tilts and banks through corners with the feel of a single wheel. But in poor traction it has not one front contact patch to rely on, but two.
A veteran rider (his garage houses a late model BMW GS and an R100 RS, plus a dirt bike), Mighell knows how quickly a patch of sand or oil under a bike’s front wheel can turn a pleasant ride into a lowside. He wanted three wheels for stability, but without the severe side forces of flat cornering on a typical three wheeler. So five years ago he put the old Honda under the torch, adding a tilting front end with sliding plunger suspension. In five thousand miles of testing he proved the tilting concept would work. Tilting Motor Works was born.
Finished just this month (November 2007), the V-Max trike moves Mighell’s concept way ahead. The entire front end is bolted to stock mounting points, with all stresses carried into the lower frame tubes and engine mounts. Front tread measures 37 inches, with wheelbase a stock 62 inches.
New fork tubes slip into the stock V-Max triple clamps, but they’re used solely to deliver inputs to the steering linkage. Bars and master cylinder are stock. Front wheels from a Yamaha GTS 1000 provide the proper offset. Mighell welded an aluminum disk carrier to each rim and attached his own Buell-style floating perimeter disk. Buell six-piston calipers do the clamping. Custom shocks from Works Performance handle damping. Except for the calipers and rims, it’s all custom made. Mighell is seeking patents on his design.
Craftsmanship is impeccable, not surprising when you know that Mighell makes his living repairing surgical equipment.
Though there’s much testing ahead, Mighell has ridden the V-Max and says it handles like a bike. The trike front end is heavier, so wheelies are probably out. Heavy application of the front brakes will slide the front wheels — it seems stoppies are out too. Mighell credits that to the low V-Max center of gravity, plus the fact that all braking forces are fed into the frame very low, instead of through the steering head.
At rest, the trike acts just like a two wheeler: it’ll fall over unless the center stand, side stand or the rider’s feet are down. Mighell hopes to develop a speed-sensitive pivot lock to kick in as the machine comes to rest and enable the rider to keep feet on the pegs. Also in the future, he’s considering models for other popular models like Harley-Davidson Dynas and Honda Gold Wings.
Link: Tilting Motor Works