WHEN two wheels are not enough, naturally you add a third wheel. That’s just what Harley-Davidson have done with their 2020 Freewheeler trike, creating a muscular hot rod on three wheels that will have you yearning for more.
Dripping in chrome and Performance Orange paintwork, our test trike personified the custom persona that Harley-Davidson have built their reputation on for more than a century.
Attention to detail is outstanding and includes engraving across the stunning chrome Fat Boy style (original) front end. It’s so good that the Terminator himself would look right at home on this ride.
That’s pretty much the reaction we received anywhere we took this beauty. Grown men, women and children just stopped and admired, whether it was as we passed cars or we were parked at a café.
It was like the trike united onlookers in amazement, and gave fathers the opportunity to explain to their sons and daughters what a trike was and why it was so cool. The best bit was that a lot of these people were not actual motor bike riders.
It showed us that there is a genuine appreciation for the uniqueness and cool factor of the 2020 Harley-Davidson Freewheeler trike. It’s quite a special thing to watch people who aren’t riders suddenly gain an interest in riding.
A serious ride like the Freewheeler requires a tough power plant and that is exactly what Harley-Davidson have installed in the trike, with a 114 cubic inch Milwaukee Eight finding itself as the soul of the beast. After all there is no substitute for cubic inches.
Producing 162Nm of engine torque from its 1,868cc motor with 102mm bore and 114mm stroke and electronic sequential port fuel injection, the Milwaukee Eight engine moves the trike’s 507kg running weight along nicely.
Even with the added weight it could blow away lighter 700cc motorbikes in a straight line with ease. Two fat exhaust pipes expose themselves under the rear of the bike, but this is where we must say damn you, to the EPA.
The standard exhaust and positioning looks good, but without legislative restrictions could be better. This trike is pure muscle hot rod and should have loud commanding straight through pipes to match the sound of the beast, to the demeanour of the trike.
It should be loud and angry and unapologetic; it should scream get out of my way – I am coming through. But this reviewer needs to stop dreaming and waxing lyrical, and come to terms with the world we live in.
Of course, he could always just visit the massive parts and accessories catalogue and continue to customise the Freewheeler and stick his finger up to the man – which let’s face it if this trike could talk that is what it would command him to do.
So enough about the attitude and uniqueness of this stunning machine, because we know you want to know that it’s like handling wise, and how three wheels differs from two wheels on the road.
Forget any preconception you had about a trike riding like a motorbike, it simply doesn’t. You need to consider turning, as it’s a lot more physical than you might expect. It’s certainly more than yours truly expected.
Turning the Freewheeler can best be described as like driving a car. It’s wide and needs room, and moreover, you have to slow down properly. There’s no taking hard corners at high speed, that’s for sure. Well, sort of.
With a little muscle and a little time aboard the Harley-Davidson though, we began to accustom ourselves to the unique characteristics of this beautiful machine. Over our initial nerves, we found the Freewheeler a heap of fun to ride.
But wait, like a free set of steak knives from Demtel, it still gets better. Once you turn the traction control off, and get used to the rear suspension behaviour in turns, you can take bends harder.
Be warned though, it does feel like it wants to lift a rear wheel. It doesn’t, it’s just the suspension travel, but it does take some mental adjustment. Traction control is part of Harley-Davidson’s Reflex Defensive Rider System which comes standard on 2020 trikes.
Up front, the forks are 49mm, and are combined with a steering damper, which controls feedback from the road. At the rear, premium Harley-Davidson touring suspension is calibrated to deliver a smooth and responsive ride.
It works well, especially with the feel the rider experiences through the 12-inch mini ape hanger handlebars which come standard on the 2020 Freewheeler. The reflex-linked Brembo brakes feature ABS, and are extremely impressive.
For a vehicle that weighs as much as it does, and has a wheelbase of 2,615mm, the braking system pulls the trike up in a real hurry. We experienced this first hand when we had a driver pull out on us, and it came to a halt almost immediately.
Another benefit of having three wheels is that you don’t need to put your feet on the ground when stopping. Apart from that, the trike controls are similar to a normal Harley-Davidson; one touch blinkers, cruise control, normal throttle, clutch and gear selection.
Performance Orange is one of four available colours, with Barracuda Silver, Stiletto Red and traditional Vivid Black the others. All choices ride on Enforcer cast aluminium wheels. Pricing starts at $45,995 ride away.
Our test bike was provided by Harley-Davidson Australia. To find out more about the 2020 Harley-Davidson Freewheeler, contact your local Harley-Davidson dealer.