There’s a reason the Honda Gold Wing is called the Cadillac of motorcycles—the ride is that smooth and comfortable. Having had lots of seat time on a two-wheeled Gold Wing, I was really looking forward to my test ride on Roadsmith’s HT1800, its Gold Wing trike conversion, knowing that the third wheel could make for the ultimate in comfort touring. I was not disappointed.
For 2012, Honda updated the Gold Wing’s styling, creating a more integrated appearance and a sporting edge, as seen by the new lines in the fairing. The redesigned fairing adds extra wind protection for the lower body and leg areas. Fortunately, none of the updates, including a more modern-looking instrumentation panel, created challenges for triking the Gold Wing.
Roadsmith uses an independent rear suspension, producing an incredibly smooth ride that you can feel as soon as you crank the throttle of the powerful 1832cc, six-cylinder engine. The trike simply glides along, soaking up bumps and imperfections in the pavement with ease. There was none of that hard side-to-side rocking that comes when you hit a bump on a trike outfitted with a solid rear axle. The independent shocks take the brunt of the bump force, leveling it out or dissipating it altogether.
My test trike had Roadsmith’s optional AccuRide installed, an automatic leveling system that adjusts the suspension for various loads using Progressive Suspension air shocks. The system adjusts on the fly using a magnetic sensor that knows when to “air up” or “air down” the shocks depending on the load. This allows the trike to always be at the correct ride height without having to manually adjust the suspension. This system is intended for riders who know they will have varying loads, such as those who occasionally haul a trailer or bring along a heavy passenger.
The AccuRide system never kicked in for me as it's not intended for someone of my weight—I weigh 118 pounds—and not even for the average 200-pound rider. The system will turn on when adding a passenger of about 160 pounds and adjust about 20 psi. So the Accuride is really the third suspension option for riders, those who will have heavy and/or varying loads as stated above.
For average-weight riders who plan on riding two-up without a trailer, Roadsmith’s adjustable pre-load suspension option will do. This is a fingertip adjustment actuated by a button on the dash that ties into the GL1800’s existing “adjustable pre-load” suspension. This option runs an additional $299.
What you get with the base trike kit is the base suspension option, which gives you the ability to manually adjust the progressive coil-over shock suspension. The button on the dash is no longer used.
Here is Roadsmith’s IRS setup. The red bar is the sway bar. This IRS is outfitted with Roadsmith’s adjustable pre-load system, which uses two Progressive Suspension coil-over shocks, seen here in chrome.
Roadsmith manufactures its own shaft driven differential constructed from standard ring and pinion gear sets used originally on a Ford car. The company also constructs the driveshaft from the same components used in full-size cars and trucks. Roadsmith figures if the driveshaft can handle those heavy loads, it can certainly handle the lighter load of a trike. Out on the highway, I was pleasantly surprised at the power of the HT1800. I shifted quickly through the five gears to get up to speed, never sensing the engine lag with the weight of the trike. The big 1800 handled that extra weight with ease, but again, I’m light and was not carrying any load.
Fifth gear is an overdrive gear which helps to lower RPMs at cruising speeds.
Roadsmith’s trike kit adds about 250 pounds to the Gold Wing’s 904-pound weight, but the Gold Wing has plenty of power to handle that heft, and then some.
Stopping power comes from dual-piston disc brakes, similar to those used in automotive applications, on each of the rear wheels. The brakes are plenty powerful, and I had no problem stopping the Gold Wing when and where I wanted using standard pressure on the foot brake and handbrake levers.
The rear tires are 205/65-16 radials.
With a Roadsmith kit, the wheelbase on the Gold Wing is increased about 12 inches, for a total of 78 inches. That’s 8 inches on the back and 4 inches upfront with the optional steering kit installed. Roadsmith puts the rear wheels behind the passenger seat, which smoothes out the ride even more and allows the trike to track better.
To keep the trike on the ground during turns, Roadsmith uses its True Track Stabilizer bar, a sway bar that uses the torsion effect to keep the trike square to the ground. Even going hard around corners, I never felt that the HT1800 could even remotely lift off the ground. The standard sway bar is 5/8 inches. Performance-oriented riders or those expecting much heavier loads—for example, two-up riders who are both above average weight—should consider the optional 3/4-inch sway bar that restricts lean even more.
My test model was outfitted with the optional steering kit that increases the rake, making it easier to steer the big trike. The steering kit reduces steering effort by more than half. To learn more about the geometry of this, visit Roadsmith’s Web site for a thorough explanation. Honda’s marketing notes for the Gold Wing indicate that the front and rear suspension were revised for 2012 for a better ride and more comfort. Doug Lindholm, owner of Roadsmith, said he noticed that the steering on the 2012 Gold Wing trike feels much lighter and responsive.
Steering a trike without an “easy steer kit” is like driving a car without power steering. You can do it, but it takes some muscle, and over time this can wear on you. I highly recommend the steering kit option.
While we’re on the subject of steering, the HT1800 has a pretty wide turning radius, due in part to that extended wheelbase. If you need to do a U-turn onto a double-lane road, you might clear the curb, but it could be tight. See my photos below.
|Make note of how wide this road is. I actually started my U-turn with the right tire in the grass. |
|I’m now coming out of the turn about a foot and a half from the edge of the pavement.
You should really have a good sense of the HT1800’s turning radius before doing a U-turn onto a busy road. If the width of the road you’re turning onto is less than two lanes, it’s more than likely the trike won’t make it without having to back up. Backing up the trike can be done in one of two ways: with your legs (if you’re tall and have the strength) or by using the electronic reverse, which takes a few seconds to activate. For the latter, you have to put the bike in neutral, then press a button on the right handlebar to activate the reverse. If traffic is coming, you won’t want to risk taking the time to back up the trike—better you turn left and change your direction in a nearby parking lot to get the trike headed where you want to go. Bottom line: backing up the trike is a slow process; it moves at 1 mph tops.
A handy optional feature on this Roadsmith trike is a 5-gallon fuel tank, which comes in addition to the generous 6.6-gallon tank on the Gold Wing. Roadsmith utilizes the extra space above the differential to house that extra tank.
The opening for the auxiliary fuel tank is located to the left of the passenger seat.
My short test ride did not allow me to calculate miles per gallon, but Roadsmith says its trikes typically get 3-5 mpg less than the motorcycles on which they’re built. The Gold Wing gets an estimated 35 mpg. There is a switch in the left glove compartment that lets you switch to the auxiliary tank on the fly—yes, while riding. The fuel takes about 10-12 minutes to transfer from the extra tank to the main tank. When all the fuel is pumped out, it shuts itself off.
Roadsmith offers lots of options, allowing you to customize your trike. I’m standing on Wing Guards, running boards made from tough fiberglass pieces supported by mounts in the front, middle and rear. I’m told these can handle any size rider. A non-skid rubber material is placed where your feet touch.
Honda added approximately 7 liters of additional storage space to the side saddlebags on the 2012 Gold Wing, but those disappear when you install a trike kit. Instead you get a large 6-cubic-foot storage area that’s big enough to fit two full-face helmets with room to spare.
|The Gold Wing’s top pack offers 60 liters of storage capacity—enough for two full-face helmets. |
|The large rear trunk is carpeted. An optional light turns on when you open the hatch.
For even more space, Roadsmith offers the option of an extended trunk, which is a deep storage area at the front of your trunk. But because the extra storage area occupies the same space as the auxiliary fuel tank, you can’t get both. More fuel or more storage space—take your pick!
The optional extra storage area adds a 12-inch-deep rectangle of space to the front of your trunk. The extra compartment is 6 inches tall and 12 inches wide.
For models that come without an airbag, Honda added a new storage pocket on the lower part of the dash. The dash remains the same when a trike kit is added, so expect the usual array of bells and whistles that come on a Gold Wing, including buttons for the 80-watt-per-channel amplifier that makes the radio sound crisp and clear at highway speeds. The dash also includes five-position heated grips, five-position heated seat and backrest, cruise control, GPS, a tire pressure monitoring system, and much more.
The height of the windshield is manually adjustable, but what I like are the adjustable, closeable vents that direct air right at you when you need it.
|An MP3 connection is located on the left glove compartment, while the trunk has an iPod connection. In the upper right corner of this compartment is the metal toggle switch that activates the extra fuel tank. |
|The parking brake is located on the right side, underneath the passenger footrest.
|The ergonomics of the Gold Wing are good, with the rider sitting on top of the bike as opposed to sinking down into the saddle. |
|For 2012, Honda upgraded the seat material and the cover material for added comfort. Suffice it to say, this is one of the most comfortable saddles I’ve ever sat on, with lots of lumbar support and cushioning where you need it. My test model was loaded with options, including chrome rear rims to match the front chrome rim. Also notice the fender spoiler lights, which have built-in running and brake lights for added visibility at night.
Roadsmith used to be known as The Trike Shop—yes, that was the brand name for the business. Sixteen years ago, The Trike Shop became the first trike manufacturer to offer independent rear suspension on its conversions. Back then, it was highly innovative to use IRS on a trike, and The Trike Shop is now one of the leaders, offering a top-notch IRS system that’s undergone years of refinement. That’s evident while riding the HT1800.
For more information, visit RoadsmithTrikes.com
My Test Model with Options
HT1800 Kit (includes complete chassis, body, tires, 16x7 alloy rims, carpeted trunk, trailer hitch, parking brake): $7,999
AccuRide Leveling System: $799
Performance Sway Bar: $49
Steering Kit: $999
Auxiliary Fuel Tank: $499
Chrome Wheel Package (front and back rims): $1,499
Fender Spoiler Lights: $299
Trunk Courtesy Light: $29
Two-Tone Silver Paint: $299
Wing Guards: $899
My test trike has the $299 silver-tone paint shown here. TRN Specs At A Glance: 2012 Roadsmith HT1800 Gold Wing Conversion
Fuel Capacity: 5.6 gallons
Curb Weight: 1,150 pounds
Colors: Red, Black, Blue/White
Price: $31,899 ($23,890 Gold Wing base price + $7,999 HT1800 kit); My test model: $37,260
If you want the ultimate in touring comfort, this Roadsmith HT1800 is the way to go. Roadsmith has been working hard at building up its brand and reputation for nearly two decades. This is one of the most comfortable and solidly built trikes I’ve ever ridden. The fact that Roadsmith was the first to introduce IRS on its trikes says a lot about the company’s knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. Plus, there is a long list of available options, including the extra fuel tank -- all this makes Roadsmith stand above the rest in my mind.