Custom Triumph a ‘freedom machine’

The motorcycling ‘bug’ is something that grabs some people hard, and it sticks with them no matter what life throws in their path.

Edmonton-area resident Rick Lenglet is a good example.  Lenglet has been a passionate motorcyclist, snowmobiler and auto restorer for much of his adult life.

Twenty-seven years ago, the active lifestyle Lenglet was living changed suddenly.  He was snowmobiling with friends near Edson, east of the Canadian Rockies.  The group was sledding up a forestry cut line – familiar territory, a place they’d ridden before.  As Lenglet explains, he crested the cutline expecting to ride down the riverbank on the other side.  But heavy rains had washed the river bank away, creating a sheer drop.  Lenglet crashed the snowmobile, landing on the frozen river below, breaking his back.  He was paralyzed and has been wheelchair-bound since.

But that hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm for the powersports industry.  Late in 2012, Lenglet and his employer began planning a custom-built trike to accommodate him and his wheelchair.

As Lenglet has been a key sales associate for 16 years at one of Canada’s largest Triumph dealers, Echo Cycle in Edmonton, it was only natural to base the trike on a Triumph.  The rig was fabricated in partnership with Lazy Dawg Motortrikes, a trike specialist in Olds, Ab.  Based on a Motor Trike kit (based in Texas), this unique three-wheeler is built around the chassis and monstrous 2300 c.c. 3-cylinder engine sourced from two Triumph Rocket III motorcycles.  Lenglet says the kit is a straight bolt-on to the Rocket III’s OEM driveshaft and swingarm.  The trike uses a 7-1/2-in. Ford rear end with 15-in. alloy car wheels mounted with P205/70R15 BFGoodrich Radial T/A car tires.

Lenglet says Lazy Dawg Motortrikes ‘dialed’ in the three-wheeler and modified the Triumph forks with Progressive springs, and manufactured a custom triple clamp that rakes out the front end some 4-1/2-in. from stock, increasing directional stability. An air bag suspension is fitted to the rear, which Lenglet says he runs ‘slammed,’ lowering the rig and making it easier for him to mount and dismount.

Without the use of his feet to activate the gearshift lever and rear brake, the builders had to engineer some unique solutions to change these functions to hand operation.  The OEM left handlebar-mounted clutch lever has been rotated up and a second lever has been fitted to control the rear brake.  Both levers can be pulled simultaneously.  A handlebar switch (from an Aprilia motorcycle for using an onboard computer) has been scavenged and becomes a left thumb-activated gearshift changer.  A ShiftFX air shifter (with on board air compressor) takes care of moving the gearshift lever for the 5-speed transmission.

Lenglet himself built a rack that mounts to the trike’s ‘trunk’ to carry his wheelchair.

“I’m completely self-sufficient”, he says, adding he gets out of his chair, folds it and clips it into the carrying mount, then gets on his ‘freedom’ machine.  Another special item he’s had to fabricate is a set of straps to secure his feet to the floorboards.

The Triumph trike’s paint scheme is dazzling, but Lenglet says his choice was controversial.

“When people asked what colour I’d chosen to paint the trike and I showed them, they just shook their heads and said, ‘You’re choosing that?’

“But when the paint was finished, people said, ‘Wow!’”

The paint is House of Kolor ‘candy lime gold’, painted in-house where Lenglet works.  “It’s got a metallic silver base, then (a coat of) metallic blue, and a green tint in the clear coat”, he explains.

Lenglet took delivery of the Triumph trike in June, and says he’s completely satisfied with the project.

“I’d guess we have 600 to 700 hours of labour in the trike, and it might cost something in the range of $40,000 dollars to replicate.”

In the short, five month riding season he’s had the trike, he’s put on a remarkable 9,000 kilometres, a solid riding year by anybody’s measure.

On the Triumph trike’s handling, he says, “Going to Nelson (B.C.) helped me a whole lot.  I’m surprised at how well it handles.  (You have to) gear down and stay on the gas in corners, and it sticks like glue.”

And with a fuel range of about 270 kilometres, the three-wheeler makes for a good tourer.

Lenglet says his unique Triumph Rocket III trike isn’t quite ‘finished.’  Always the tinkerer, he’s trying to figure out a way to fit a reverse gear to the rig, and the idea of building a triple exhaust system to unleash a few more horsepower from the mighty Triumph triple is percolating away in his mind.

A performance motorcycle enthusiast and hot-rodder to the core, Lenglet gleefully informs us that a Triumph Rocket III Motor Trike rig recently set for its class a new Land Speed Record at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Like the old saying goes, you can’t keep a good man down and Rick Lenglet is one of those motorcyclists who prove the point.

About Tim Yip