Gold Wing Inside: Tri-Magnum 3 Wheeler

Can-Am, Slingshot, Freewheeler: you may think the latest class of three-wheeled motorcycles is a recent innovation, but you’d be mistaken. This Tri-Magnum appeared in a magazine in the 1980s as a kit you could build at home around a Honda Gold Wing motorcycle. Though fairly popular at one time, they don’t pop up in finished form like this one here on craigslist all that often. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Ed for the find. 

Said to be an answer to the need for more fuel efficient vehicles, the Tri-Magnum promised 50 MPG without the penalty of driving a boring economy car. The Honda Gold Wing provided sprightly acceleration thanks to its smooth six-cylinder engine, but the Tri-Magnum was originally conceived with a Kawasaki Z900 underneath. Regardless, you could likely choose from a wide range of motorcycles depending on how wild you wanted to get.

The interior is surprisingly nice, with two close-fitting bucket seats and no room for a center console. The original builder of the kit is still in business, and provides this break-down of how it all comes together: “The chassis consists of a stripped motorcycle, minus the fork and front wheel, which is then attached to a VW Beetle front suspension assembly using a simple framework. The motorcycle drive train is used as is, including its lightweight and efficient 5-speed transmission.”

This Tri-Magum is a non-runner at the moment, as the seller describes the issues: “The Gold Wing underneath was disassembled, fitted and is mechanically non-functional but does provide a rolling chassis that is wired but needs to be finished.” This is a unique kit for sure, and far more intriguing (to me, anyhow) than the modern creations that have found far more buyers than I ever expected. However, the $4,500 asking price for a non-runner seems steep to me.

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  1. canadainmarkseh Member

    This is all kinds of cool. It surprises that the new generation of auto cycle ha sent caught on in a bigger way. As for this kit a I think a transplant of a Suzuki hyabosa ( I probably spelled that wrong ) that would really light this thing up. This is one of the cooler kits I’ve ever seen I’d total like to finish this kit. My choice of colour would be the brightest red I could find. I sure hope this rig makes it back onto the road.

    Like 2
  2. Rick

    That’s not a bad deal for a bike that’s 99% complete. I’m not crazy about the headlight treatment but to each their own. These have an unusual seating arrangement where the steering wheel is between your legs, and you’re laying back.

  3. Comet

    No mention of a Reverse.

    Like 1
    • bobk

      Depends on what year Gold Wing was used as donor. “Reverse” was introduced with the 1500 GW in ’87? I understand that 2018 GW’s have a true reverse gear, but admittedly, don’t know for 100% sure. For all GW’s prior to 2018, “reverse” uses the starter motor somehow. Slow (walking speed), and if used too long or too often, you’re going to be buying a new starter motor. I would expect that the additional weight of the Tri Magnum chassis/body wouldn’t help either.

      • James Carver

        GW still uses an electric motor for reverse gear, with the 2018 models, the alternator and the starter is one part, also used for the reverse and walking forward feature

  4. Jon

    Those are Chevy Vega tail lights. I’m pretty sure.

    Like 5
  5. Robert S

    Yes Jon, the tail lights are from a 76 and later Vega

    Like 1
  6. Milt

    Back in the day, I was so enthralled with this design I sent for plans. After a quick look through, I realized it was way out of my skill set. Glad someone actually built one. Found the booklet. Anybody want it?

    Like 4
    • michael h streuly

      Yes milt i would like to have it. you can email me for my address.

    • DPMarty

      Funny. I just ran across my old set of plans in some files in my basement. I, too, wussed out at the idea of doing all that work by my self with my limited skills at the time. Then 20 years later I found myself building and designing autocycles for a startup electric vehicle manufacturer. I actually got to work with Mr. Riley a little bit. Quite an interesting and knowledgeable man.

  7. LAB3

    From what I can tell on the original website it looks like they sell plans and not a kit so you’d need to build everything out yourself. Given that, $4500 doesn’t seem like too bad a deal especially when you consider that Goldwings are a dime a dozen this time of year.

  8. Danno

    Robert Q. Riley has all kind of neat stuff, including plans for a Tri-Magnum, on his website.

    Like 1
  9. chad

    glad the “2 out of 3” wheels R in frnt.
    Can’t tell frm ad the extent of the build @ this point. “another gull wing is an easy buy”. Duz dat mean this one’s toast…?

  10. Richard

    I was ready to pull the trigger until the Vega taillights.

    Like 1
  11. William Barkley

    Death trap.

    Like 1
  12. Victor Anderson

    4500 bucks for one in this shape actually seems like a fair price to me.

    Like 1
  13. George

    That is one ugly front bumper.

    Like 1
  14. Delmas

    That would be really nice with a Yamaha V Max engine. High horsepower and torque. To me that would be the best package.

    • DayDreamBeliever Member

      If the space would allow it, go with one of the later GoldWing or Valkyrie 1800cc 6-cylinder drivelines. That would really move it!

      I’m curious how sophisticated the front suspension and brake system is. this really does look like a cool commuter, but wonder how stuffy it might get inside on a hot day?

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