Back in 1999, a mate and I were discussing the possibilities of making a trike, so that he could get back into motorcycling after an accident in the surf left him with limited mobility.
Basic criteria: It had to be automatic as he didn't have the strength to hold in a clutch, it had to look like a bike (not a 3 wheel Volkswagen), and had to be a decent size bike, not some modified scooter that some people wheel their chairs into.
We couldn't find any of those Honda CB750's that came with an auto trans but, after a bit of hunting, did locate a Guzzi Convert gearbox complete under Tommy Newells house. (For those who don't know Tommy, he and dad Don have been running a Guzzi shop in Brisbane for many years.) As luck would have it he also had for sale ,on consignment, a T4 in original good condition with a fairly low mileage. I liked the idea of a Guzzi, having owned one and ridden several more. There just seems to be something about them that feels good.
So the project started. Change the bike to an auto by fitting the Convert gearbox, and then add a Ford Cortina diff to make her into a trike. Sounds easy doesn't it? To start with, it was, the fitting of the gearbox (with a bit of help and advice from Pogo) did proceed fairly smoothly.
Then we had to bring in the QLD Dept of Trans approved engineers, special welder/fabricators, and turn our ideas into practicalities that would not only work but also please the Gods of Transport who looked down from on high in their government offices. Mix in with this a change of job circumstances, waiting periods at fabricators, and trying to find parts, etc, etc, and the days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and months into about 4 years.
Add in a mix of little things like a respray of the tank turning into a major reconstruction due to rust, the transmission oil tank not fitting into the cut down frame (the rear subframe was cut and lowered 2" to make the seat easier to access from a wheelchair), and it just seemed to keep going.
Sometimes it just seemed as if the waiting was necessary, a problem with the brakes was solved by an engineer who just happened to visit from Adelaide at the correct moment, the hard to find mudguards and a cheap chrome plater were found only when all avenues seemed exhausted. And so the job plodded on, seemingly never ending, always to be there with something more to be done.
Today however we finally took it in to the engineer for one last inspection. It's going to need a couple of stickers but all else passed.
We've still got to make some hand controls but its nearly ready for Murray to ride, its looking good and may just have been worth all that time and effort. We like to think that the basic idea of it still looking like a bike has been achieved, its still very obviously a Moto Guzzi, just a bit wider at the rear. And although it feels and rides a bit strange for a bike, it still feels better to me than a bike with a chair (sorry to all sidecar owners).
It's not a bike for everyone, but if it gets "Muz" out doing what we all love then it can't be a bad thing.