Trike market may be fueled by well-financed, well-educated buyers

Publish Date: 
Feb 15, 2013
By Dennis Johnson

DEALER EXPO, Indianapolis, Ind. -- According to Jim Pinto, there are about 1.5 million reasons why dealers might consider adding trikes to their product lineup:

This is the estimated number of baby boomers, female riders and others who are eligible prospects for three-wheeler sales, says VP and GM of Champion Trike.

Trikes are a robust, growing field fueled by a well-financed, older group of riders. Whether it’s Harley-Davidson’s purpose-built trikes or the number of conversion kits on the market or even Can-Am’s tri-wheeled Spyder, interest in three wheelers is high. Just last year, NADAGuides reported 27 percent year-over-year increase of consumers searching for trikes on its website, and Cycle Trader recently reported an abnormally high number of searches for trikes in the South, Southeast and Southwest.

The market is led by a handful of manufacturers such as Garden Grove, Calif.-based Champion, which also owns Lehman Trikes up in Spearfish, S.D., as well as Motor Trike Inc. out of Troup, Texas, and Roadsmith Trikes in White Bear Lake, Minn.

“Trikes allow people to select, and not settle, in their riding habits,” says Pinto. Managed effectively, the trike conversion business can also be a lucrative business for a dealership. How so? Pinto explains that when a dealer sells a motorcycle as a three wheeler, he or she gets three different revenue enhancements — there are profits on the 1) conversion kit, on the 2) labor for the buildout, and on 3) installing all the accessories that a rider usually gets. It’s also a great way to tap into the huge number of used, older bikes out on the road.

Between Champion and Lehman, the companies offer more than 74 different styles of kits for Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha, and Victory. Within that lineup, there are kits at multiple price points, Pinto says. The kits many automotive parts so that no special tools are needed, and when installed don’t affect emissions.

“We encourage new dealers to send out employees to watch how we can do an assembly, but our kits aren’t that difficult to build because they’re pretty much plug and play,” Pinto says. “All the parts are there. It’s not like you’re welding pieces together or that type of thing.”

The major trike conversion manufacturers all echoed Pinto’s words about the ease of adding a trike line to a dealership. Most offer bolt-on kits that require a minimum of factory training. The most a dealer would need to do, according to Lehman’s director of marketing, Jaime Kreager, is open up some extra floor space to allow customers to walk around a unit. Servicewise, an ATV lift or extensions on an existing lift should accommodate most trikes.

Older, with better credit. Companies like Champion offer both floorplanning and retail financing, while others can arrange one or the other. But one of the things about retail financing, says Doug Lindholm, GM of Roadsmith Trikes, is that it’s often not needed for trike customers. Trike buyers tend to be more well-financed than the typical powersports customers, Lindholm says. They often come in ready to buy and don’t need to do the loan-qualification dance, he adds. (Continued)