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Thread: 1986 Suzuki Cavalcade 1400 trike conversion, hard to steer

  1. #1
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    Red face 1986 Suzuki Cavalcade 1400 trike conversion, hard to steer

    I bought a 1986 Suzuki Cavalcade 1400 that had been converted to a trike. When I made the purchase, I was not familiar with trikes. I did not have my license at that time, and only rode as passenger around the seller's block. I did not know at the time that the rear axle and suspension was made by cutting the frame and removing the rear wheel, etc. . A car or truck axle had been welded in and the drive shaft from the engine was welded into the the "U" joint at the axle.

    This arrangement made it necessary for the builder to "slightly" shift the rear axle to one side to line up the drive shaft from the engine, as the drive shaft is on the left side of the engine. Viewing the trike from the back, you can see a slight off set of the rear axle. There was solid hub caps on the rear wheels, so I could not see that one wheel was like a "spare tire " wheel, and the other one was like a deep dish type. I assume this was to keep one tire from sticking out further than the other one under the rear fenders because of the offset. There is no suspension between the rear axle and the frame, so hitting bumps in the road will jar your back bone. There is very little clearance between the top of the axle and the rear bike frame, so since the axle is welded to the swing arm, The axle will come straight up when you hit a bump and hit the frame; something I didn't know at the time. I put rubber blocks between the axle and the frame, and welded a couple of small springs on each side at a certain point convenient, and that helped some. I have ridden the trike a good bit since I bought it. Just watch for holes in the road, etc. Rough roads are not pleasant to ride on. Problem number one is: The axle gearing is too low . I am pushing 5,000 rpm at 50 mph, and abouth 5,500 rpm at 55-60 mph in 5th gear. Red line is 7,000 rpm. Problem number two is: this trike is very hard to steer in sharp turns. I almost lost it in a sharp turn when my left had pulled off of the handlebar and caused me to swerve. Thankfully, I was going slow down a small mountain road and I was able to re-gain control. I have a friend to is going to see if he can put different gears in the axle. Since the axle is welded solid to the swing arm and I dont have independent suspension on the rear, I am afraid of putting the welds on the swing arm into too much stress on uneven roads, etc. I dont know if there is much that can be done, especially on the hard steering. I just wanted to share this little story if anyone has any suggestions that would help correct my bad decision when I bought it. I cant afford a new one, (or even a used one at the prices trikes bring). I let the price of this one lure me in and did not know what I was buying, since I was new.

  2. #2
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    danny welcome aboard

    there is nothing wrong with not having independent suspension. besides working on the spring try running the air pressure at 22 lbs. also if there is rake kit for that bike it will help with the steering. try calling the forum owner (papazook) see cut n shoot customs ad at the ad section. he is an installer and knows a lot about rakes.

    hang in there you might be able to make it ridable
    Stallion #406 // 2013 Tri-Glide

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    Default Suzuki trike suspension

    Quote Originally Posted by Gorilla View Post
    danny welcome aboard

    there is nothing wrong with not having independent suspension. besides working on the spring try running the air pressure at 22 lbs. also if there is rake kit for that bike it will help with the steering. try calling the forum owner (papazook) see cut n shoot customs ad at the ad section. he is an installer and knows a lot about rakes.

    hang in there you might be able to make it ridable
    Do you mean 22 lbs. in the rear tires? The tires are automobile tires, 15 inch. I have a bad back, and when I hit a hole with one of the rear tires, It hurts my back. I try to hit holes when they suddenly appear with my front wheel and straddle over the hole with the rear tires. I do my riding on back roads and this is sometimes a problem. I stay off the main roads as much as possible, since the gearing is too low, as I mentioned in my first post. I pushed it up to 55-60 mph and was running over 5,500 rpm. Since the engine has age (1986), I try not to push it very hard. Hope I can remedy this with a differential gear change, if possible, this summer.

  4. #4
    9250+ Posts Jack Klarich's Avatar
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    Yes Danny, many on this Forum are running 22PSI in the rear tires
    Nuff Said," Were Burnin Daylight, Lets Ride"(Sober 32years)
    Current ride : 17 FREEWHEELER M8, Power Vision tuner, DK Customs Outlaw air cleaner, modified by me head breather vent with drain, Gutted stock mufflers, (RJS Originals) rear wheel discs , (RJS Originals) custom windshield lower panel, Mighty Mites Love Jugs fans by Papa Zook

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    350+ Posts Rmitchell55's Avatar
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    Danny Welcome to Trike Talk from the left Coast. I left Tazewell in 1964 and have only been back for visits. Will be back in September for our high school reunion. What part of Tazewell are you from?
    Ray
    2017 Harley Triglide
    Tijuana Border

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    600+ Posts vwbug72501's Avatar
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    Welcome to Trike Talk Danny. Sounds like you got one of those "Close, but no cigar" home grown conversions.

    There is a lot of good information in the forums such as DeathBySnuSnu's tech thread in VW trikes: https://www.triketalk.com/forum/thre...-build-a-trike

    There are also some good threads in the Home Built Trikes forum.

    I would suggest that you do a little Googling to find out the original rear tire outside diameter and the original final drive ratio of your year/model motorcycle. If the automobile differential ratio is close to the same as the motorcycle you might be able to get away with changing your wheel/tire combination to correct the gearing issue.

    A raked triple tree kit might be hard to find for your year/model so you might want to consider a leading link front end to adjust your trail for easier steering. There are several good threads in the forums.

    As for the offset differential and lack of suspension, pictures would help!! We like pictures!!! Posting in the Home Built Trikes forum might be more productive but pictures will help the members make recommendations on how to proceed.
    Last edited by vwbug72501; 04-14-2019 at 09:36 PM. Reason: Forgot something

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    1750+ Posts Pegasus1300's Avatar
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    Although Suzuki only made that bike for a couple of years they used that engine for several years and it is bullit proof. Do not worry about the age, it will run well for many years. Just keep your oil changed. Most triks run 20-22 lbs in the rear tires. Remember those are car tires back there made to support hundreds of more pounds then you trike. Welcom to Trike Talk and good luck on making your ride, rideable.
    Happy TRAils/NSD
    Paul

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