Today’s “trike” is not just a trike. Variants include everything from traditional units with two driven wheels at the back of a conventional motorcycle, to bolt-on kits that add two outboard rear wheels to the existing two for stability, and to newer design translations that place two steerable wheels forward and one driven wheel aft. The Prowler RT from Motor Trike is an innovative example of the latter, what’s known as a “reverse trike” design (thus the “RT” designation) that is unquestionably eye catching and an engineering wonder.
The Prowler RT is a conversion for the ubiquitous Honda GL 1800 Gold Wing. The kit swaps the conventional motorcycle front end with a dual-wheel setup featuring full independent front suspension. Designed as a bolt-on arrangement, there is no fabrication required; the integrity of the motorcycle is retained. A large, easy-access trunk between the front wheels provides more than eight cubic feet of storage—that’s in addition to the Gold Wing’s generous saddlebags and tour trunk (according to Motor Trike head honcho Jeff Vey, the three most requested trike attributes are exceptional handling, smooth ride and superior trunk design. Check, check and check).
If you like to blend in, the RT isn’t for you. Its futuristic look turned heads everywhere I went. Be ready to answer questions from, well, just about everybody. When people pull off the highway just so they can take pictures of the thing, that’s a pretty good indication the Motor Trike folks are onto something here.
Unlike other reverse trikes I’ve ridden that rely extensively on electronics to control handling, the Prowler has no electronic assist—it’s all mechanical engineering. That means that feedback is direct and never vague, giving the rider a true connectedness with the pavement. If I’m to be picky, the tradeoff is that nearly all road irregularities can be felt through the handlebars. Otherwise, it’s tight, predictable and controllable. And, while steering is not exactly what I’d call “light,” it’s certainly manageable and lower effort than I expected, especially for such a substantial rig (the Prowler RT weighs a hair under 1,150 pounds). The only time all of that mechanical weight is truly felt is at very slow speeds, when steering is quite heavy. Adding a touch of throttle makes things easier. Speaking of throttle, unlike some reverse trikes, the Prowler lets the rider (instead of a computer) decide how much throttle is allowed in corners. Personally, I like that approach.
Typically, riders have their own Gold Wing converted by Motor Trike. The Prowler RT conversion fits all GL1800 models dating back to 2001. From the website, customers are guided to the Motor Trike dealer nearest them (there are 200-plus dealers in the U.S.) where they can coordinate conversion of their Gold Wing by the factory. Each RT conversion is made to order, installed on the customer’s Gold Wing and shipped within three weeks. Cost for the conversion, including installation, is $10,000. Each Prowler RT has a 3-year/60,000-mile factory warranty.
Motor Trike has become a significant player in the trike space. All of their products, including the RT, are developed and built entirely in-house, within its 100,000 square-foot facility with more than 80 employees (all of them “motorcycle people,” according to company leadership).
So, which is better, a front wheel or rear wheel trike configuration? Jeff Vey says, “It’s Almond Joy or Mounds. It’s all a matter of taste.” All I know is that the Prowler RT is a pretty sweet setup that was a treat to ride.
I bought a new 2016 CanAm Spyder F3-S which this Gold Wing trike looks like. I HATED IT!! It does not ride like a motorcycle, does not handle like a motorcycle, does not feel like a motorcycle, has three tracks so missing potholes and road kill is difficult, and felt super squirelly going down the road. At 60 mph I was afraid to take one hand off the handlebars. My dealer aligned it three times in the first 25 miles, including using a laser, and it would still follow ruts in the road, pull & veer, and handle like a drunk cow on roller skates. What a POS. Paid $25,000+ out the door and sold it for $16,000 three weeks later with 200 miles on it. Two of my friends have Harley trikes and love ’em; they drive much better. If you want a trike, buy one with the two wheels in back; they steer better and track better.
Hey Dave, I’ve had both a standard 1999 and 2008 GoldWing and a 2015 CanAm Spyder RT. You are absolutely right. The CanAm is funky (maybe even scarry) to ride. Before making the move to the Spyder I thought about triking the 2008 GW. Took two test rides on two different mods and honestly, they rode like crap. Front end felt like the bearing was loose. The dealership assured me that wasn’t the case. Tried the CanAm, it felt flaky also. But I needed a trike IF the wife was going to ride with me so I bit the bullet and bought the CanAm. BTW, I almost wrecked it coming home from the dealership in a sharp turn. Having owned no less than 20+ 2 wheeled bikes in my 50+ years of riding it really was a paradigm shift, a new learning experience. I’ve gotten used to it, and now I enjoy the ride. More comfortable than the GW, but still not as stable and twisties are out (crap). But the wife enjoys the ride and so do I. Just can’t go as fast, definitely not fast in the turns. NOTE: My favorite bike was a 2008 B-King. 🙂 So damn fast, (ecu was race ready) and the twisties were a blast. But alas it almost killed me when I hit a bump in a turn and the dang think did a wheelie. Lost 3 hours, had a concussion and a bad headache for 2 weeks.
Jerry/David/Matt; I guess you guys are correct, I am a two-wheel-ed motorcyclist. I’m not trying to slam CanAm riders but I did not like the CanAm Spyder’s handling, tracking, the way it followed ruts, and having three seperate tracks. It was not for us. I felt like I was going to be flipped off in turns and had to slow way down. We ride lots of potholed rough country roads and it was no fun. BTW, I sent my old GL1800 to a suspension shop in Georgia and had $3800 worth of front & rear suspension ‘comfort’ mods done; it then handled like a sport bike but rode too harsh so it went bye-bye too. The bike that I have found best for all-day riding two up is our Harley Street Glide with Ohlins shocks, cartridge fork mod, highway pegs, Corbin seat w/backrest, & 2″ over stock pull-back handlebars. It is now (after Stage II engine mods too) very similar to our 2015 Indian Chieftaine. The Indian really was that good and would still be in our garage if not wiped out by a texting dump truck driver.
I still own a 2008 B-king and I like it very much, however I turned 55 in June and I am short 30″ inseam so I have to stop on the balls of my feet it just dose not feel safe any more. so as much as I love the power and it handles very well I am going to sell it and get a Triumph Bonneville Speed master. just seen the new 1200 cc I have been waiting for this bike, also it rides 2 people unlike the 2017 bobber. just have to wait for 2018. be safe everyone.
Two wheels in back is less stable. Under braking, the center of gravity moves forward, under hard braking and turning, the center of gravity can move outside the triangle formed by the contact patches of the tires – that’s when they go on two wheels and turn into a bicycle. The problem with the CanAm is that the electronic ‘nanny’ mode intervenes both too early and rudely, destroying any fun you might have
Thats funny Dave! I have had a Sportster Trike, A Dyna Trike, a FLHTCUTG, and a VW Trike (The best Delta Trike)… It wasn’t until I got my Spyder RT that I felt safe making a Turn or going over 60 or driving on a road with potholes. A Reverse Trike is 10X MORE stability as a Delta trike. As far as “Handling Like a Motorcycle” NONE of Them do…If you know how to and like to ride a snowmobile you’ll be at home on a Spyder, The body English is the same.
I’m terribly sorry that you feel that way.
If people stopped trying to make a Spyder into something it is not – a motorcycle – and simply accept it for *what it is*, you’d be happy. Stop expecting a Spyder to behave like you think it should, just relax at the bars and let it have its head, like a horse, and you’ll be just fine.
Snake, if I could have simply kept it between the lines at 60 mph, if I could have simply removed one hand from the handlebars at highway speeds, if it hadn’t followed every rut & track in the road, if it didn’t dart & veer all over the place above 50, you’re right – I’d have been fine. The F3 Spyder that I owned was a death trap; my wife rode on the back for less than five miles, jumped off, and swore it was evil & she’d never ride on it again. Maybe mine had something wrong but it was brand new off the showroom floor and had been aligned three times before I got rid of it. There was absolutely no joy riding that POS.
WOW So many experts?? I’ve been on a Trike for 7 yrs. and not had any issues other than a hard hit on an Ohio Rd. that had been destroyed by a harsh winter. We ride a GL1500 Honda Goldwing with a Lehman ‘Kit’ with a straight axel. We’ve done multi-day trips down in the Allegany mountains, day trips burning as many miles as we can with some buddies. I had to go to a trike because of some physical issues. I got off my 2 wheels and have been on 3 for 7 yrs. As I am nearing my 74th Birthday, the trike is allowing me to extend my yrs. of enjoying the “wind in my face” experience. How great is that?
Jay, if a trike is needed to keep you ‘in the wind’, that’s fine, But… a CanAm Spyder or any other trike is no motorcycle. If able, for me at lest, two wheels is where it’s at. I love motorcycling; could probably learn to enjoy trike-ing, but am gonna avoid the street-legal snowmobile experience as long as I can. No insult is intended to the trike crowd; my wife & I wave at every one we see, and they too are part of our wonderful hobby.
Well, that’s one man’s opinion. If you ever get to a point that prohibits the 2 wheel experience as I have you will gladly straddle on 3 wheels if the passion for the ‘wind in your face’ doesn’t die. Thanks for the response. I lead a ride every year (by request) for some guys and last season one fellow left the road and went over an embankment on his beautiful Harley ‘Softail’, today he rides a Triglide and is enjoying it!
Hey I’m ‘Free On Three’
I’m a few months shy of 70, have been riding for 50 years and won’t give up my two-wheeler soon I hope. Having tried and observed all kinds of trikes, I can’t imagine going that route. When I can no longer safely ride I expect to get a Miata or something similar. Why go half way?
Rick, HAHA; LOL!!! Now you’re looking for trouble! A cage is not a trike and a trike is not a bike; but… our 2016 Corvette conv is indeed a lot of fun.
I owned a Spyder for a year and a half. After a year, my wife & I rode from Chicago to Boston & back. 5000 rpm to do the speed limit, the vibration, noise level & pain in the tail: wasn’t back 2 weeks and traded it off for a new goldwing & haven’t been happier. Lost $10,000 and was a hard lesson to swallow, but will never own another 3 wheel bike; that is until I get too old to hold up my bike.
Say, as a Spyder rider for 8 years, sure, if you are used to a 2 wheeler, you may not like the Spyder. But please quit dissing Spyder riders. The Spyder is very responsive & having the semi-auto transmission is great if you are somewhat disabled. We need more Riders overall.
I ve ridden bikes all my life for about 40years,,,,, the can am is a wonderful trike,,, proper air pressure , light grip at the handle bar and yes you should be able to let go the handle bar and drive it with one hand….. it s not a motorcycle and it will take a few days to feel at ease on it , it s just different ,,, but yes you ll feel safe ridding it . I know take corners on it as fast as I want to ,It needs to be ridden , don’t seat straight on it and expect to take a fast corner ,,, just like a bike the faster you cowant to corner the more lean angle you need …..
Let me just say that after riding on the street for years on sportbikes I was injured and wasn’t able to ride 2 wheels anymore. I did ride a few cruisers but never a Harley so I can’t say what they’re like. Always will love bikes so after 15 yrs I pulled the trigger and bought a 2015 Can Am Spyder F3. I heard all about how they didn’t ride like 2 wheels but figured after all the time not riding I could handle it. I pulled out of the dealership and 50 ft up the road motorcycle memory kicked in and I was trying to lean and countersteer it. Like you Dave I hated it. 1/2 way home I pulled over and thought this was a big, and expensive, mistake. Since I didn’t have the choice to go back to 2 whls I kept at it. After 500-700 miles I understood it and now I can hit fast sweepers with confidence. I agree the 3 contact patch can be a pita but I can ride one handed with no problem. Like anything it just takes getting use to. Also I would say the seating is like riding a snowmobile but not riding it. It’s more like riding a quad on the road. It’s fun but will never take the place of a motorcycle. Just with it I can ride with my friends. Oh and what they say about stopping and people ignoring the new Harleys and walking over to talk about the Can Am is all true. Especially with a wheelchair strapped on the back.
If you came from snow mobile , a Can-Am or any 2F-1R ( 2 front wheels- 1 rear ) trike are going to seem familiar about how those thing steer . For a lot of people who doesn’t live where the snow & skidoo are , like here in Qc , a reverse trike is going to feel very strange . And I don’t say that because Can-am is produce here by Brp .
Have been riding bikes since 1975. Had a Champion side car trike kit installed on a 2001 GL1800 in 2003. Bought the bike new. We had only 26k miles on the kit and experienced rake failure. And @ 28k miles, the Champion kit frame cracked…a major catastrophic failure which went unnoticed till we took the trike in for service. I am wondering if perhaps the solid rear axle conversions do not allow enough flex? That said, I have tried out the Can Am. It is a different experience, but not one that would make me exclude it from consideration. I rode one for 3 hours one after noon as a loan from our dealer. I liked it. It was not a bike, but it was fun. In looking at the new Motor Trike Prowler kit, it possesses the same allure as does the Can Am. And that extra storage in the front box is a definite plus. I am no longer a rear wheel trike fan. Done it once, won’t do it again. I do agree with the comment on braking for two wheel in front. The dynamics of a reverse tricycle concept would logically give far better braking. Our trike was traded in for a Kawasaki Mule Pro FX. I am now wondering what our next bike/trike will be. Maybe never again. And no matter what it could be, it will undoubtedly start @ $30k and up, if we look at new. My current thought, is to buy a very low mileage used GL1800 and put a Motor Trike Prowler conversion on it. However, the Can Am is also a viable contender….and the nice thing about that, is that is comes that way from the factory and is warranted 100% from one company.
At 73 with 55 years of riding, I found myself having problems when riding two-up in town. Picked up the newly installed Prowler RT and had the same initial experience as many have reported trying to counter steer and nearly going in the ditch. But after two rides for a total of 120 miles, I am comfortable. I agree, it is more like riding a four-wheeler than a motorcycle and I will be riding slower but I was doing 65 on county roads this morning.
I kept my KLR 650 for solitary rides.
Agree ,the three wheels can extend ones riding years I have a 2010 goldwing with a Roadsmith trike kit ,130,000 miles on it and still riding @ 79 It is different but still love it !
I had a 2005 Electra Glide with a Tle sidecar. I carried the tools I needed in the sidecar.
I drove the Hack in Anchorage Alaska for 4 1/2 years, all year long.
I could run the Hack at 70 mph,hands-off,with proper toe-in. Whatever….
I want to know about two wheel leaning front ends? Anybody have experience with this set-up?
There is one that is made in the U S that seems well designed ,cant recall the name but im sure you can get it up online .If i was to get another one I would definatly try one .
As a first time biker I didn’t think I could handle a two wheeler. Before I took the class for motorcycles I went looking for a trike. I spotted the CanAm spyder, viewed the video and bought it on the spot. I qualified on a two wheeler and still purchased the Spyder. That was in 2008. Just bought a new 2018 Limited Edition. Love it. Spyder rider for Life.
I wanted to buy my brother a present that he can both enjoy and use. Thank you for this; I find it interesting that there are different types of trike. I guess my brother would love the Prowler RT because as you’ve mentioned it features independent front suspension.
racheel just statrting back not sure and some fear and guidance would help frank
What about the TMW set up? Has anybody tried that system? I have one snd so far like it. It takes time to get the feel of it but can still lean into the corners.