It started on a visit to the Chopper Club’s ‘Diamond Day’ show at the Ace Café way back in July 2003. Andy and I had ridden to the show on his green Reliant trike. We’d paid to enter and bought a £1 raffle ticket each and, amazingly, I’d won top prize, a 250 quid voucher to spend at Stadium Harley-Davidson. Not owning a Harley or bike or trike of any description, the voucher sat on the sideboard for a few months until I decided one day to build a trike. All I knew was it had to be orange with a 70’s muscle car look about it. So the voucher was exchanged for a Quickbob tank, caps and a tap all for a quid. Bargain.
READ MORE AFTER THE IMAGES…
The next few months were spent collecting parts for the build. I bought a Reliant engine, axle and prop shaft from Andy and a trip to Netley Marsh autojumble and the Beaulieu auto jumble, which are only a few miles from each other and held on the same weekend, produced a Kawasaki GPX750 front end & a large solo saddle. A few other bits were found at Netley and a pair of lovely wide 70s Wolfrace alloy wheels, already drilled to Reliant bolt pattern with nearly new 265/50/14 BF Goodrich tyres bought from Beaulieu.
Next up was to purchase the tube. We used 60 to 80 feet of the stuff. 1 3/8” o/d ERW for the main frame and 1 7/8” o/d for the top tube. The basic layout was mocked up one Saturday afternoon by balancing the front end, tank & seat on blocks of wood, old paint tins & anything else that came to hand, then moving the components about until the proportions looked just right. A dummy engine & gearbox, bolted together from various empty casings, stood in for the original while we rebuilt it. With the deep dished Wolfies bolted to the Reliant axle, it was obvious the back end was far too wide, so we dismantled it and had the axle tubes pushed out of the diff housing on a hydraulic press at the local tech college. We chopped 4” out of the middle of each drive shaft, then sleeved, pinned & welded them back together. The axle tubes were also cut by 4” then taken back to the college to be pressed back into the diff housing. The rear brakes use the Nova discs and Golf calipers set-up perfected by Andy on his green trike, featured in issue 214 of BSH, with Goodrich hoses and stainless fittings. All 3 brakes are linked to one pedal.
The fat Wolfies were bolted back onto the, now much narrower, axle & offered up to the lumps of wood & paint tin mock up. Perfect.
Tube bending time. It all went rather well, but then Andy’s done this several times before -tubes were bent, offered up, bent a bit more and welded together until the frame was complete. The headstock bearing cups were machined by Reg, a local chap with a lathe in his garden shed, and the 1 ½” thick alloy yokes were machined by Baz. Axle clamps were made from 4” offcuts of 2” bore tube sliced in half along their length, with 4” x 1” tabs welded to them to form clamps, one side being welded to the frame and the other bolted to it. Handlebars were bent from the same 1 3/8” tube as the main frame & integral risers welded to them. A simple flat plate bracket was welded to the middle of the bars to mount the speedometer. The ends of the bars step down from 1 3/8” to 7/8” to take Honda C90 moped switchgear.
A battery box was made from 2mm steel plate and brake and clutch pedals, brackets for the Metro handbrake, brake master cylinder etc, etc, made and welded to the frame. Everything was fabricated with simple hand tools, plus a 4” angle grinder & MIG welder.
We stripped & rebuilt the 850 engine, bolting it back together with stainless steel fasteners. The gear knob is a 3” diameter stainless ball, spotted sitting on the desk in a friend’s sheet metal workshop. In fact all the nuts, bolts and fittings are stainless, including the steering stops, pedal linkages and a load of other bits that I can’t think of, machined by Reg in his shed. The exhaust is a complete standard Reliant system, simply cut up with some of the bends turned around, to form a swoopier set-up that clears the frame & gives the maximum ground clearance. It was then sprayed in high temp’ black paint & wrapped in racing bandage.
The radiator’s a brand new Mini one, cooled by an electric bike fan of unknown origin. The headlight’s a Highway Hawk item while the rear lights are commercial units, usually seen on buses & lorries. The luggage rack was originally part of a Harley luggage system, bought at Netley auto jumble, dechromed & powder coated black. Although the trike’s really intended as a solo, I’ve made a small pillion pad that bolts to the rack when needed.
I knew what colour it had to be before we’d even started the build so it was just a case of dismantling the trike and taking it to the powder coaters. “I’d like this powder coated orange please” I said, and he showed me a colour chart with more shades of orange than you could imagine. Bugger, a choice had to be made so I chose the brightest, most vibrant orange there was. The frame and tank were powder coated orange and battery box, engine sump, engine pulleys and other bits were coated in gloss black.
A few days later it was all ready for collection, so we hurried home to bolt it all back together. The tank was given to another local guy, Marcus, at Lunatic Fringe Artwork, who sprayed a thick black stripe down the middle, flanked either side by a thinner pinstripe, while Reg wired all the electrics up.
After a few teething problems ,like the brake hoses leaking and then leaking some more, it now goes, stops and turns round corners, although it’s got the turning circle of a super tanker as there’s quite a bit of rake on the front end, but it doesn’t matter as it has reverse for those tricky manoeuvres like corners.
As usual it was finished just in time for the Winter, although I did get out on it a few times to several shows and meets. A hardtail Reliant trike is faster and more fun than you would think, so as soon as the Spring returns it’ll be racking up some serious miles.
Many thanks to all who’ve helped, including
Andy, (mankymonkeymotors.co.uk), Nige, Reg & various mates who’ve helped out when needed. Also my wife Clair for putting up with it all.
Oh, & the name? Well “Flap” is my little girls’ nickname for my canvas roofed Landrover & is also my user name on the forum of mankymonkeymotors, so the trike just sort of naturally became “The Flapster”.
Owner/builder- Darren Nash.
Co-builder- Andy Field.
Frame- MankyMonkeyMotors hardtail.
Engine, gearbox, propshaft & rear axle- Reliant.
Radiator- British Leyland Mini.
Front end- Kawasaki GPX750.
Rear wheels- Wolfrace slot mags with 265/50/14 B.F.Goodrich tyres.
Rear brakes- MMMotors disc conversion using VW Golf GTI calipers & Vauxhall Nova discs on one-off mounting plates.
Tank- 1 quid Quickbob.
Seat- large universal solo.
Battery/electrics box- MMMotors.
Headlight- 5 ½” Highway Hawk.
Rear lights- large universal commercial.
Paint- Very bright orange powder coat by A & C Shotblasting of Newbury, Berks with striping by Lunatic Fringe Artwork.