SERIOUSLY COOL: Paul von Wildenrath's Fusion trike combines the front end of a Yamaha V-Max with the rear suspension and components from a BMW 3-series and a Golf 4.
August 7, 2008
By Mike Winfield (IOL www.motoring.co.za)
Paul von Wildenrath is a man on a mission. He wants to convert South Africa to a nation of trike lovers - but not the little pedal-powered things you had as kids but motorcycles with three wheels.
Frankly, it's a tough ask. There are very few real trikes in SA and most bikers, like me, regard them as novelties at best and just downright pointless at worst. After all, they combine all the worst characteristics of a car, in that you can't lane-split, with the worst characteristics of a motorcycle - no weather protection, no safety protection...
But I have to tell you, one look at Paul's trike and I'm a believer.
The problem with many trikes is that they look like stick insects.
The problem with many trikes is that they look like stick insects with wheels but Paul's machine is exquisitely built and proportioned. It's aesthetically attractive, muscular, finished beautifully and detailed. And that's before he even fires up the V4 Yamaha V-Max engine.
The trike has four-into-two, stainless steel sidewinder exhaust pipes and even stationary sounds like a Nascar racer. Drop it into gear, ride the revs and the hair will rise on the back of your neck. This is a true hotrod, an absolute work of art.
Paul runs Fusion Trikes from his base in Pretoria East and for the moment is concentrating on the V-Max, although there's a Suzuki Bandit 1200 planned, not to mention a Rover V8 version and a range of Subaru engined trikes.
Most of the rear fittings have come from Yamaha, BMW and a Golf 4.
In fact, and this is going to annoy all V-Max lovers, the big brute of an engine actually suits the three-wheeler concept better than it does the two wheeler. The huge torque, the thundering growl - it's all seriously cool.
What Paul does is take a V-Max, remove everything aft of the pillion then add a beautifully-crafted tubular sub-frame into which the driveshaft, differential, sideshafts, brake discs, calipers, dampers and hubs are already fitted.
On Paul's trike, most of those fittings have come from a BMW 3-series and a Golf 4, while the gorgeous wheel rims are from Tiger around which are wrapped some dramatic low-profile 225/45 17" radials. To maintain the aesthetic balance - and aesthetics are everything to Paul - the front wheel also runs a 17" rim.
The thing about a trike, explains Paul, is that you can customise it to your exact needs. At the back of his own trike he has a luggage box he uses for his weekly grocery shopping but customers can choose from a variety of styles, including a bench seat so the rider can be accompanied by their spouse and children.
In fact, Paul is big on converting women to trikes. "A lot of women don't like riding pillion on modern superbikes and they resent being left at home on a Sunday while hubby rides off on his breakfast run. With a trike, women can join in."
Trikes are lighter
Another advantage is that they only require a motorcycle license to ride. And you can't fall off them. "A lot of people are scared to get into biking for fear of falling off," Paul said. "With a trike, that just doesn't happen."
Trikes are lighter than cars and use less fuel on average. They also have three, even four, disc brakes, making them easy to stop in a hurry.
At present Paul offers two options. "We can do the complete build, including providing the donor bike, or we will convert the customer's bike.
"Prices for a completely built-up trike start at R195 000 (excluding VAT), which compares favourably with the customised two-wheeled choppers now being sold in SA which range upwards from R350 000.