photography by Bill Stermer and Mark Tuttle[This 2011 Lehman Storm Road Test was originally published in the December 2011 issue of Rider magazine]
Lehman’s trike conversions have been around since 1985, and its Harley-Davidson and Honda Gold Wing conversions have been a staple on American roads for years. In 2009, Lehman decided to add a lighter, less expensive model to its line, and now offers a conversion of Kawasaki’s 900 Vulcan Classic SE cruiser, which it calls the Storm. Rather than starting with a motorcycle that already weighed nearly 900 pounds, the stock Kawi goes about 620, and Lehman claims that the Storm, in full trike livery, weighs 834 pounds.
The Vulcan 900 is powered by a liquid-cooled, 903cc V-twin engine with four valves per cylinder and a five-speed transmission. The conversion takes place in Lehman’s Spearfish, South Dakota, factory. There it leaves the front portion of the motorcycle largely stock except for the addition of a steering damper; there are no motor or gearing changes. The two-wheel trike assembly is a complete bolt-on starting with the swingarm. While the stock shock absorber is retained, an air bag is added to provide additional suspension support and adjustability. The rear axle is a solid piece with a differential in the middle that contains spider gears running in extreme-pressure grease within a sealed unit. It connects directly to the bike’s belt final drive and works quite well. When the fiberglass body is mounted to the frame the conversion is complete.
The first thing the rider notices is that the Storm is wide, at 4 feet, 6 inches. And that’s OK, as that width helps to stabilize it in turns. With the added weight and friction of the trike setup, including a pair of rear tires each 7 inches wide, I expected the Storm as “only” a 900 to feel lethargic. Instead, it felt sprightly and competent, though certainly not a terror off the line. There is no reverse gear, but the Storm is easy to push out of parking spaces.
Because the rear axle is a solid piece, when either rear tire drops or raises for a bump or pothole it imparts a twisting force to the frame, which is felt as headshake at the steering stem. This is particularly noticeable at lower speeds and conveys a feeling of instability to the fork, though it is limited by the steering damper and diminishes as speed increases and is not a problem.
As with any trike, steering is rather heavy and requires some force on the bars with some accompanying body English as the rider leans into the turns. The Storm retains the Kawasaki’s standard front disc brake, and adds a pair of discs to the rear. Those, coupled with the 205/60-15 rear tires, produce a strong braking force.
The Storm’s carpeted trunk is accessed through a pivoting 11- x 14-inch locking door on the right side. While the access door is small, the trunk area extends all the way across the bodywork, and will accept a good amount of luggage—so long as you don’t mind having to dig for it.
Once the rider becomes acclimated to it, riding the Storm is a pleasure. Because of a trike’s tendency to lean to the outside in turns, a firm suspension is necessary to prevent the bike from slopping around and producing uncertain handling characteristics. Adjust the suspension for a fairly firm ride and you’ll be just fine.
Seating is upright with a slight forward lean, the feet on floorboards and the grips widely spaced. My only complaint was with the seat—the stock Kawasaki unit—which I found too soft and lacking in support; aftermarket seats are readily available.
Despite the Storm’s weight and the additional friction from those wide rear tires, it delivered an acceptable 40 mpg from its 5.3-gallon tank. This is very comparable to a standard motorcycle in its weight class.
Suggested retail price for the 2011 Storm in black as based upon the Vulcan 900 Classic is $16,195. The windscreen shown is the only accessory on our test bike, a Kawasaki item that retails for an additional $407.95.
Contact Lehman at (888) 394-3357
2011 Lehman Storm
Base Price: $16,195
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse, SOHC V-twin, 4 valves per cyl.
Bore x Stroke: 88.0 x 74.2mm
Transmission: 5-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: Belt
Wheelbase: 66.5 in.
Rake/Trail: 32 degrees/6.3 in.
Seat Height: 26.8 in.
Claimed Dry Weight: 834 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 5.3 gals.
Average mpg: 40.0