Company Profile: Lehman Trikes of Spearfish SD

Text: Wayne Peterson • Photography: John Kimpel

The reality of this statement hit John Lehman back in 1984, when his wife Linda informed him she wasn't at all comfortable riding a motorcycle with one of their small children on the back. Most of us would've put the bike up for sale, or packed it in mothballs, at least until the kids were big enough to ride. But not John. He had the idea for a three-wheel motorcycle, one that would give Linda all the comfort and stability she could ever hope for.

Starting with a 1981 Honda CB900, a 7.5 inch Chevrolet Vega differential, sheet metal and fiberglass body parts, two car tires, a bunch of tools, and a garage full of dreams, John created Number 1 - the first modern trike. Not only did the trike appeal to Linda, but many other riders were interested as well. The rest, as they say, is history. Production began in Westlock, Alberta, Canada, in a small space with only a handful of employees. But word spread fast, and with it, demand. In 1993 John Lehman's longtime friend Larry Strilchuk became his partner, and so was born Lehman Trikes, Inc., The Leader of the Three World. These humble beginnings are not unlike another motorcycle company that began in 1903, namely Harley-Davidson.

Coming to America

In 2004, responding to an ever-expanding US market, and the company's need to expand its space as well, Lehman purchased a building in Spearfish, South Dakota - a move that gave them a 50,000 square foot building to grow into, and for many of their employees, US citizenship. Additionally, Lehman hired local residents to fill many critical positions: in a flash of brilliance not only did they hire enthusiastic young people, but they also brought on board an older, more experienced, motorcycle and management crew. Enthusiasm inspired both groups. Lehman continues to seek local suppliers for their outsourced parts, which helps in giving back to the community. At the Spearfish location, Lehman employs approximately 150 people. Above and beyond the Spearfish operation, Lehman also has demo fleets on the road to all the major rallies, and a dealer network, that has grown to an impressive 90 franchised and independent dealers worldwide.

Conversion Nuts and Bolts

Currently, Lehman builds conversions from Harley-Davidson Sportster®, Dyna®, Softail®, FLH Ultra Classic, and Road King. In an exclusive agreement with Harley-Davidson, they're also producing the Tri GlideTM factory conversion, available only through Harley-Davidson dealers worldwide. Additional Lehman conversions include the Honda Gold Wing, Suzuki Boulevard C50 & C90, Victory Kingpin and the new Vision-based Crossbow. All conversions have body units individually designed to follow and complement the lines and curves of each bike. Bodywork is in fiberglass, with all painting done in-house, by a seasoned crew who matches the stock factory colors meticulously. There's no detail too small. Wiring harnesses are designed to plug in to the stock bike's receptacles, avoiding any need to cut or splice; these harnesses also include connections for future additions, like light bars and trailer hitches. With a real waste-not, want-not attitude, all factory tail lights are reused as well.

To keep all units as strong and original to the manufacturer's high standards, Lehman embraces a "No Lean" philosophy that begins with a solid, one-piece swingarm designed to be the most sturdy and inflexible in the industry. Additionally, all trike conversions use the original swingarm's driveline (i.e., belt or shaft) and bolt patterns, keeping the original design's strengths and avoiding any weaknesses from cut and weld. Bikes come in the front door as complete two-wheelers. Then they're placed on conversion carts that move down the assembly line. Each unit is accompanied by a checklist that gets verified at each station until it arrives for final inspection, and is triple-checked by quality control. This final check is performed by an independent inspector. The completed trikes are then loaded on to Lehman's own bi-level semi-trailers. On the lower level are the trikes, while all removed two-wheel parts are placed above for return to the dealer. The transformation from a two-wheel motorcycle into a three-wheel Lehman trike takes an average of 30 days, from their front door to the dealer's showroom floor.

Individual models take different physical construction times, from 8 hours for a C-50, 10 hours for a Sportster, and up to 60 hours for a Touring model. Prices run from $ 17,000 for conversion of an entry level Suzuki C-50 Tramp and up to $ 35,000 to $ 40,000 for top-of-the-line touring models (available only through authorized Lehman dealers). Host bikes come to Lehman via several ways; some are purchased directly by Lehman, others are provided by the authorized dealers, which can be either spec bikes or customer ordered units. Additionally, Lehman offers Trike Kits, which the factory trained dealers can assemble at their own location. Last but not least are the Factory Turn-Key Models, which, as their name implies, are only available from those manufacturer's dedicated dealers, like Harley-Davidson and Victory.

Warranty Info

The Lehman warranty is for three years, unlimited mileage. The warranty covers defects in material and workmanship on Lehman parts. The host motorcycle is not covered by the Lehman standard warranty. Be sure to check with your local dealer to establish whether a conversion voids your factory warranty. Currently, because of an agreement with Victory, the conversion doesn't affect the Kingpin's factory warranty.

Dressed for Success

Lehman also carries a number of accessories for individual expression and comfort/functionality. These include backrests, luggage racks, tour packs, light bars, steering stabilizers, power trunk releases, trailer hitches, chrome wheels, electric reverse systems, and the newly released, exclusive Road Dog designed trailer called the Drifter.

Yet perhaps one of the best features of Lehman Trikes may be that which supports their loyal riders. Lehman Trikes formed an exclusive riders group called Lehman Pride. This group is designed to increase communication among Lehman trike owners and provide them with a venue to share the joys of owning and riding their Lehman Trikes. Lehman Pride is the only factory-sponsored trike owners group in the industry. Lehman Pride was developed to be the ultimate expression of what they call, Threedom.

Doing Good

Not content to rest on their laurels, Lehman started a pay-it-forward program called The Good Turn Trike. The purpose of this program is to allow anyone with a love for motorcycles to keep riding, despite physical or financial means, and to recognize people who overcome adversity and strive to make a difference in this world. Each year, Lehman chooses one person who would greatly benefit from a trike conversion, and they generously install a conversion kit on the individual's personal motorcycle. Over the years, Lehman has donated a number of conversions, and just last year, they made the program an annual event! This certainly adds credence to the Lehman philosophy, "The customer doesn't care how much you know, until he knows how much you care." This attitude carries through from top management, to the guy mopping the floor - and with that kind of commitment and a product line that many of us are growing into, Lehman Trikes will become the logical choice for those who live to ride, and who want to ride forever!