| Wonder Woman in
a Suit (The Blaggmeister)
For the last few years, Haydn Meredith of the Trike Shop in Cardiff, being the twisty turny kind of guy that he is, has managed to blag some free space on various stands at prestigious bike events up and down the country. Not a bad trick when you consider that around 200,000 people pass through the doors of the NEC alone, with organisers charging around £5000 plus vat per sq millimetre for a stand.
And what does he have to do to in order to get this free gig? Well not much really, just come up with something that hasn't been done before and preferably is as mad as one of Salvador Dali's preliminary sketches.
In the past, the likes of Streetfighters magazine, Carole Nash and BSH have all been more than pleased to allow the necessary space for Mr Merediths 3 wheeled tour of the outer limits of sanity. I thought the Hayabusa trike was lunacy personified (then having ridden it, agreed with myself completely) then along came the 5 wheeled S and S engined monster that graced the front cover of Hog-Dogs sister publication. But little did I know what was still to come.
Actually I wasn't the only one. I heard Haydn on the phone going through his pre show blag banter one day, when the other party said well ok, but we need something pretty nutz this time. How about a Buell trike said Haydn, yup that'll do it came the reply, see ya at the NEC. I considered the complexity of such a project then asked how long had it been on the drawing board for. What drawing board came the reply, it was just the maddest thing that came into my head!
By the time a new Buell Lightening had been acquired, the NEC Show was only around 4 weeks away. Although not previously fans of the Sportster engined special, putting some miles under its wheels made the lads from the Trike Shop realise just what a bloody hoot it was. Unfortunately, it also became pretty obvious that with the engine acting as a stressed frame member, being rubber mounted front and rear and having an underslung shock, triking the Buell was going to be no walk in the park.
Once up on the operating table, it was apparent that if the trike wasn't going to handle like a pig in a pair of high heels, the rear engine mounting would have to be bolted up solid whilst the front could be left as is. The lower rails of the rear sub frame where bolted to the now redundant shock mount, with the swingingarm pivot acting as a secondary mounting point. Stainless steel was used throughout and short inclined vertical struts were added to prevent any lateral movement, making the back end feel as solid as a rock whilst still allowing the lay-down shock arrangement to do its work.
If your familiar with the Lightenings rear end (and I'm sorry but I cant resist a quick, ooer missus) you will be aware that the riders arse is kept from rubbing on the back tyre by a rather splendid aluminium sub frame that looks a bit like a metallic duck bill. It's an integral part of not only making the Buell distinctive from its own stable-mates but just about everything else on the market too. Getting rid of it was not an option so instead it was decided to make more of a feature and so while it was being polished to within and inch of its life, a stainless steel under tray was fabricated and the whole plot generally cleaned up. A set of billet pointers (the badass equivalent of indicators) were added and the whole back end resplendent in its subtle sheen of stainless and ally looked both business like and pretty damn sexy, a bit like Wonder Woman is a suit.
Whilst on the subject of things billet, mention has to be made of those amazing wheels and brakes. Although the rear wheels were crafted by Taylormade, the original design and manufacture of the prototype 16 spoke front was performed by Graham Duffy, Harrison Billet got hold of the original drawings and modified a set of their 340mm discs to suit. The rear calipers where adapted from our underslung mini 4 pots currently available for Buells. So successful was the outcome that Harrison now offer a direct fit twin-disc upgrade for Buells, as well as a mini 4 pot rear caliper for custom bike applications.
I must admit, that having seen the Buell in mid build, I did express real doubts as to how the finished product would look believing that the bike, being so dainty would look like it was overshadowed by the rear axle, I think the technical terms I used at the time were, Yeuuck and Arse. I needn't have worried and to ensure this didn't happen, the standard belt was utilised keeping overall length the same with the whole back end being deliberately minimalist to maintain its streetfighter looks. A slight increase in rake was machined into the front yokes however to assist with straight-line stability.
Now whilst the finished article was up, running and firmly ensconced within its blaged show space at the NEC, a certain Irishman called Taff! phoned up the Trike Shop wanting to know if they could trike a Ducati 916. Thankfully he got through to Special K, the sensible one, who said yes of course, but how do you fancy a Buell? Obviously smitten with the idea, Taff flew over from Northern Island, took one look at it and said rapitupden oil avit.
Apparently Irish Taff wasn't finished there. I want a trailer to match, a higher set of bars and last but not least, the paint job has got to be changed. Presumably, the trailer is to put a picnic hamper in, the bars are to give a more upright riding position, but the paint job, now that's an interesting one. You remember that I said Taff was from Northern Ireland, well the Buell had originally been painted orange and green. colours that in Taffs neighbourhood would be about as welcome as Bin Laden at a Klan meeting.
Words and pics: Mal Lee
reproduced with kind permission of Mal Lee. Thanks Mal
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