Due to its touring prowess, the Honda GL1800 Gold Wing has long been a popular platform for trike conversions. The GL1800’s engine and drivetrain were not updated for 2012, but it got all-new bodywork, so trike builders had to integrate the styling changes into their own designs. During the Americade rally in Lake George, New York, in June, I had a chance to test ride a beautifully built 2012 Gold Wing trike conversion from Hannigan Motorsports.
Based in southwestern Kentucky, Hannigan has been building three-wheelers since 1983. It’s a family business; run by David Hannigan, a former vintage racer, and his wife Ruth Anne. Their son Andrew is also actively involved in designing and building sidecars and trikes. In addition to Gold Wings, Hannigan offers trike conversions for Harley FLHs and V-Rods, BMW K 1200 LTs, Star Royal Star Ventures, Kawasaki Vulcans and Indian Chiefs, as well as sidecars and trailers.
Hannigan’s 2012 Gold Wing trike is a stunning machine. The one I tested had a two-tone black/silver paint scheme, the silver carried over to the optional, weight-bearing, sub-framed foot fairings. About the only things not retained on the trike conversion are the saddlebags, swingarm and rear wheel/tire. In addition to the Wing’s 65-liter top trunk, there’s a massive lower trunk with 9 cubic feet of storage (254 liters, compared to 87 liters in the saddlebags). Hannigan has meticulously incorporated the new Wing’s taillight/turn signal assembly and rear bodywork into the internally hinged trunk lid. Though spacious inside, the trunk lid opens only part way. You’ll need to carry soft luggage, and boxy, rigid items like coolers are unlikely to fit in the narrow opening.
The Hannigan Gold Wing trike is a long, wide vehicle. Wheelbase is 77 inches, compared to 66.5 inches on a two-wheeled GL1800. Following sports car design principles, the trike’s wide stance and low center of gravity help it stay planted in corners, particularly at speed. It also features a rigid rear chassis, anti-sway bar and independent suspension with twin trailing arms that move up and away from bumps, damped by Progressive IAS gas shocks. The Gold Wing’s drive shaft is retained in its original position, and it is mated to a 7.5-inch Ford Thunderbird differential with the same final drive ratio. The OEM front tire, exhaust system and Honda’s Combined ABS have also been retained; out back are 16-inch wheels shod with all-season radials.
On the road, the Hannigan GL1800 trike runs smoothly and quietly, just like a stock 2012 Gold Wing. I was ever mindful of the 61.5-inch beam of the trike’s rear wheels as I pulled away from stops, turned corners and navigated a gas station’s entrance and pumps. All trikes require muscle to steer through curves, but Hannigan minimizes effort with its optional Steer-Lite Kit, which reduces steering angle and trail. Hustling around some of the curvy, mountainous roads surrounding Lake George, the Hannigan GL1800 held a line well and felt glued to the pavement. Hitting bumps introduced some headshake, but the front wheel got back on line quickly; the well-damped rear suspension was unflappable.
Hannigan claims its trike conversions add about 320 pounds to a stock Gold Wing, and the heavily optioned model I rode certainly adds more. All that extra weight means that acceleration suffers, but it wasn’t pokey. In fact, I surprised a few Harley riders when I passed them on a long straight!
The Hannigan Motorsports 2012 Gold Wing trike conversion has a base price of $8,595, and installation is another $1,595. Start adding options, of course, and the ready-to-ride price climbs quickly. The trike I tested, with heavy fork springs, foot fairings, LED spoiler, Steer-Lite Kit and premium Performance Machine wheels, including installation and the cost of the donor GL1800, tops out at $43,900. An auxiliary 4.5-gallon fuel tanks adds another $940.
For more information, visit hannigantrikes.com
(This Tri-Wing article was published in the October 2012 issue of Rider magazine.)