Are There Different Types Of Trike?
How Much Does A Trike Cost?
I Want To Build A Trike, whatís The SVA Scheme?
Is A Trike Classed As A Motorcycle Or A Motorcar?
Driving Licence Groups
Changes to B1 Entitlement
MOT Testing Classes
Vehicle Excise licence
Do I Need To Wear A Helmet When Riding A Trike?
Motor Cycles (Protective Helmets) Regulations 1988
Do I Need Seatbelts Fitted To My Trike?
Are There Different Types Of Trike?Yes, but in a nutshell, there are only two types of trike that you really need to know about, bike engined and car engined. Having said that, it isnít the engine type that finally influences the decision of what type of trike youíre going to ride, itís the weight of the trike, and what you are actually licensed to ride; any type of trike can be built or bought to suit disabled needs. These can realistically vary from a humble 250cc bike engined trike, all the way up to a growling, car engined V12 monster.
How Much Does A Trike Cost?How long is a piece of string? If youíre thinking of building a trike yourself, then there really are no price guidelines I can give you; the skyís the limit as they say. If youíre going to buy a ready made trike, whether it be bike or car engined, second hand or new, you can be sure to be looking at anywhere between £1,000 and £20,000, depending on how many "trick" or "shiny" bits you want on it, or indeed, the extent of the disabled adaption. The adaption can be anything from a linked brake system, to a trike design where it is possible to board the trike in a wheelchair, and steer the trike from said chair; the possibilities are endless.
I Want To Build A Trike ... Whatís This SVA Scheme?The Single Vehicle Approval scheme is a pre-registration inspection for cars and light goods vehicles that have not been type-approved to British or European standards, including amateur-built vehicles and vehicles using parts from previously registered vehicles; this can include some trikes. The main purpose of the scheme is to ensure that these vehicles have been designed and constructed to acceptable safety and environmental standards before they can be used on public roads. If youíre seriously considering building your own trike, a copy of the SVA manual would be more than helpful to you.
Is A Trike Classed As A Motorcycle Or A Motorcar?Now this is where it gets complicated. In this section, I will deal with vehicle classification, driving licence groups, MOT testing classes, and vehicle excise licence. These four different categories, when used in conjunction with each other, help determine what type of trike youíve got, or are thinking of buying/building, and indeed, whether you are actually licensed to ride it or not. Please note that you will see several weights and figures which, logically speaking, should be the same in different categories, but they arenít. Donít despair, these figures *are* correct, as I ... er, asked a policeman. Iíll start with vehicle classification :-
A mechanically propelled vehicle that is used, adapted or intended for use on the road, is classified under a series of groups according to its use, weight and design. A trike can be in a number of classifications, and depending on which one itís in, makes for some pretty fundamental differences when applying road traffic law. The groups are as follows ...
1. Invalid carriage - Not exceeding 254 kg - Designed for sole use by the disabled. 
2. Motorcycle - Not exceeding 410kg - Not more than three wheels.
Recently, the DVLA have started to split this category for trikes that fall into it. The word "Tricycle", or phrase "3-Wheeled Tricycle" [Doh!], is more likely to appear on your vehicle registration documents, rather than "Bicycle" as has been used in the past. Maybe someone showed them the third wheel, eh?
3.Motorcar - Not exceeding 3050kg - Passenger carrying with no more than 7 seats excluding the driver.
 If a trike was built solely for a disabled person, and was adapted as such, it could be classified as an invalid carriage. It would be prohibited from using a motorway, would require only a "K" driving licence group, and would be excluded from road tax if under 10cwt unladen weight.
What your trike is classified as, will denote which driving licence you will require, and what vehicle excise licence your trike will require.
Now, Iíll move onto :-
Driving Licence GroupsSo, now youíve worked out what your trike is classified as, you need to make sure that you are licensed to drive the vehicle. Unfortunately, licence groups donít match vehicle classifications exactly, so here we go ...
1. Motorcycle - New licence holders are limited to 25kw/33bhp for the first two years of their licence, unless they take the large motorcycle test (Direct Access). Less than 410kg unladen weight.
2. Motorvehicle - Not exceeding 3500kg, and not more than 8 seats excluding the driver; basically the "car" group. The entitlement to drive a vehicle not exceeding 7.5tonnes, for those who passed a test prior to 1/1/97, is covered under group "C1".
3. Quadracycle (licence group B1) - 3 or 4 wheel motorvehicles not exceeding 550kg unladen weight, but exceeding 50kmph and 50cc. This is a relatively unknown group that brings the UK more in line with Europe. If these type of vehicles exceed 550kg, they then fall into the motorvehicle group.
If youíve passed a full motorcycle test, you will have group "B1" on your licence, although if you havenít passed a car test, you wont have group "B". This creates a bit of an anomaly as your motorcycle canít exceed 410kg, but you could ride a trike up to 550kg, because of your "B1" entitlement. This is worth knowing, as there are quite a few riders who limit themselves to a trike under 410kg without realising.
Changes to B1 EntitlementBefore October 2000, a person who passed a motorcycle test was granted a full sub-category B1 licence (lightweight car, motor quadricycle, motor tricycle) as an additional entitlement with the full A (motorcycle) licence. The Driving Standards Agency, in their íSafer Motorcyclingí consultation, proposed that in future successful motorcycle test candidates would be issued with a provisional rather than a full B1 licence. 49 of the 57 consultees who commented on the issue were in favour of this proposal, including safety, police and training interests. There were representations against from companies selling lightweight cars, the National Trike Register and MAG UK, suggesting that riders might want to use their licence to ride tricycles. There were suggestions that separate licence categories should be introduced, but changes to motor vehicle licence categories would require a change to EU law. Ministers decided to implement the proposal, which affected very few motorcyclists as over 90% held a full car licence (which continues to give full sub-category B1 entitlement). Nor did it affect anybody already holding a full motorcycle licence, who retained full B1 entitlement. The changes were implemented during October 2000. What the above did mean though is that if you didnít have a full car or bike licence before October 2000 and wish to either trike your bike or buy one you will now have to apply for a provisional car licence and if you wish to carry passengers then pass the test. This is very unfair as a car driver with no experience of bikes can get straight onto certain types of trike, with passengers, and ride away. Also if youíre forced onto a trike due to a disability or a smash youíll have to apply for a provisional car licence even though youíve been riding bikes for years!
You can ride a trike on a provisional car licence, ie. with "L" plates, but you must be 17 ( or 16 if you are getting Disability Living Allowance at the higher rate for the mobility component ) and the trike must have only one seat; the riderís seat. If you do wish to carry passengers, your trike can have extra seats, but you must carry a qualified bike or car licence holder with you at all times; this is also dependant, of course, on which sort of trike your accompanying full licence holder is qualified to ride.
MOT Testing ClassesJust to make things even more complicated, and having worked out your trikeís classification, *and* ensured you are licensed to ride it ... what >MOT group is it in? It could make a difference when it comes to MOT time, and you suddenly find out that your local bike workshop isnít entitled to test it. The requirement for an MOT test is the same for all vehicles, including trikes, but excluding HGVs and PSVs.
Class 1 - Motorcycles - With or without sidecars up to 200cc.
Class 2 - All motorcycles, including class l with or without sidecars.
Class 3 - 3 wheeled vehicles, not exceeding more than 450kg unladen weight.
Class 4 - Cars, including motorcaravans, dual purpose vehicles, and goods vehicles not exceeding 3000kg.
If youíre wondering why Iíve included this table, then look again at class 3. Say for example, youíve got a trike of between 450kg and 550kg (B1 licence maximum), it will need to be tested at a class 4 MOT centre. So, your trike could be classed as a motorcar, yet youíre riding it under a quadracycle licence, but you need to get it tested at a car MOT centre. Got it? Good!
And finally in this section :-
Vehicle Excise licence
Just to make sure it doesnít get too easy for you, your trike will be taxed under one of three classes. Where as previously your trike would have been taxed as either a PLG vehicle (private light goods), or a motorcycle, a new rate was introduced ...
As with the vehicle registration, the "Tricycle" class has been introduced here too, or rather re-introduced; itís actually existed years, but hardly been used.
Expect to see "Tricycle" instead of "Bicycle" on your tax disc, if your trike falls into the relevant class
Current Vehicle Excise Rates
Motorcycles (with or without sidecar)
|Engine Size (cc)||12 Month Rate||6 Month Rate|
|Not over 150||£16.00||Not Available|
|151 - 400||£35.00||Not Available|
|401 - 600||£53.00||£29.15|
Tricycles (not over 450kg unladen)
|Engine Size (cc)||12 Month Rate||6 Month Rate|
|Tricycle not over 150||£16.00||Not Available|
|All other tricycles||£74.00||£40.70|
So, thatís it ... easy, eh? All you have to do now, is work out where your trike comes in all this. The best of British luck to ya!
Do I Need To Wear A Helmet When Riding A Trike?In a word, "No", neither for bike engined nor car engined trikes. Helmets are only compulsory for motor bicycles, not motor tricycles. On the other hand, you may wish to wear a helmet, say on a long journey, to protect your head from the weather, flying debris etc, etc; itís up to you. As a word of warning, should you be unfortunate enough to have an accident on your trike, some insurance companies may try to use against you, the fact that you werenít wearing a helmet should you wish to make a claim for damages, especially if you sustained head injuries.
As far as íthe boys in blueí are concerned, do no more than to print this next piece out, and carry it with you. If you get pulled and quizzed about your lack of lid, just show this to them. Do not alter it in any way, as it is an official police document and will be recognised as such.
Motor Cycles (Protective Helmets) Regulations 1988.
Statutory Instrument 1998 No 1807:-
1. Citation and Commencement - Omitted.
2. Revocation - Omitted.
In these Regulations:-
a. EEA state mean a state which is a contracting party to the agreement on the European Economic Area signed 2nd May 1992. b. A reference to a numbered regulation is a reference to the regulation so numbered in these regulations. c. A reference to a numbered paragraph is a reference to the paragraph so numbered in these regulations.
[as to the area of the European economic area see further the editorial note to regulation 3820/85].
4. Protective Headgear.
(1) Save as provided in paragraph (2) every person driving or riding (Otherwise than in a sidecar) on a motorbicycle when on a road shall wear protective headgear. (2) Nothing in paragraph (1) shall apply to any person driving or riding on a motorbicycle if - a. it is a mowing machine. b. it is for the time being propelled by a person on foot. (3) In this regulation "motorbicycle "means a two wheeled motorcycle, whether or not having a sidecar attached, and for the purposes of this definition where the distance measured between the areas of contact with the road surface of any two wheels of a motorcycle is less than 460mm those wheels shall be counted as one wheel. "protective headgear" means a helmet which:- (a) either - (i) bears a mark applied by itís manufacturer indicating compliance with the specifications contained in one of the British Standards (whether or not as modified by any amendment) mentioned in schedule 2 to these regulations. 0r (ii) is of a type manufactured for use by persons on motorcycles which by virtue of itís shape, material and construction could reasonably be expected to afford the wearer a degree of protection from accidental injury similar to or greater than that provided by a prescribed under regulation 5. (b) If worn with a chin cup attached to or held in position by the strap, provided with an additional strap (to be fastened under the wearers jaw) for securing the helmet to the head ; and (b) is securely fastened to the head by means of straps provided for that purpose and "strap" includes any fastening device.
Do I Need Seatbelts Fitted To My Trike?
This is the definitive guide to seatbelt requirements for trikes; except no imitations! This took some serious research, and a few arguments with the Vehicle Inspectorate, but they agree this is totally correct.
Vehicles first used before 1 April 1987.
Seatbelts are required for three wheelers that fall into the following categories:
1. With an unladen weight over 410Kg first used on or after 1 January 1965. 2. With an unladen weight over 255kg if first used on or after 1 September 1970.
Less than 410kg unladen equipped with a driving seat of a type that requires the driver to sit astride it and where that vehicle was constructed or assembled by a person not ordinarily engaged in the trade or business of constructing those sort of vehicles.
Vehicle first used before 1 April 1981:-
Drivers - A belt that restrains the upper body (but need not include a lapbelt). Forward facing rear seats - no requirement.
Vehicle first used after 31 March 1981:-
Drivers - a 3 point (lap/diagonal) belt.  Forward facing rear seats - no requirements.
Vehicles first used after 31 March 1987:-
Seatbelts are not required for trikes that either ...
1. Have an unladen weight of less than 255kg. 2. With an unladen weight of more than 255kg but less than 410kg which are equipped with a drivers seat requiring the driver to sit astride it and where its been constructed or assembled by a person not ordinarily engaged in the trade or business of manufacturing vehicles of that type.
Drivers - three point belts Forward facing rear seats ... If not more than 2 rear seats then either:-
1. A 3 point inertia belt for at least one seat.
2. A 3 point belt, lap belt, disabled persons belt or child restraint for each seat.
Vehicles with more than 2 rear seats then either:-
1. A 3 point inertia reel belt on an outboard seat and a 3 point static or inertia reel belt, lap belt, disabled persons belt or child restraint for at one other seat
2. A static 3 point belt for one seat and a disabled persons belt or child restraint for at least one other seat.
3. A 3 point belt, lap belt, disabled persons belt or child restraint for each seat.
 A 3 point belt means a seat belt that ...
1. restrains the upper and lower parts of the torso.
2. includes a lap belt.
3. is anchored at not less than three points.
4. is designed for use by an adult.
original article by Wolf on the NABD website