CRAFTING CHAMPIONS: TPC TRIKES’ VEGAS-TO-RENO THREE-WHEELER

The machine that won the 2023 Vegas to Reno and more!

TPC Trikes has a rich history of racing three-wheelers that can be traced back to the 1970s. Over the years, many companies and individuals have developed trike conversions long after the major Japanese manufacturers stopped producing three-wheelers in the 1980s. Some convert dirt bikes to three-wheelers, while others use an ATV, such as Honda’s TRX450R or Yamaha’s YFZ450R, as a starting point. Bill Casey, the owner of TPC Trikes, is renowned for his ATV conversions. In 2006, Casey created the first TPC450R by purchasing a brand-new Honda TRX450ER, cutting it in half and transforming it into a three-wheeler. This marked the beginning of the modern era of three-wheelers.

Since 2006, TPC Trikes has been building hand-crafted custom frames in addition to ATV conversions. The Vegas-to-Reno trike is an excellent example of the one-off-style competition builds created by TPC.

TPC Trikes has a reputation for converting four-wheelers, like the Honda TRX450R, into three-wheelers, but the Vegas-to-Reno main frame is entirely hand-built.

TPC TRIKES’ VEGAS-TO-RENO THREE-WHEELER

TPC V2R TRIKE HIGHLIGHTS

• 1st Place AMA Pine Lake National, 2012

• 1st Place NEEDT Pine Lake National Round 1, 2013

• 1st Place NEEDT Pine Lake National Round 2, 2013

• 1st Place Red Bull Day in the Dirt Round 1, 2013

• 1st Place Red Bull Day in the Dirt Round 2, 2013

• 2013 NEEDT Championship

• 1st Place NEEDT Pine Lake National, 2015

• Retired as TT Trike, 2015

• Rebuilt as Desert Trike, 2021

• 1st Place Best in the Desert Laughlin Classic, 2022

• 2022 Hare and Hound Championship

• 2022 Best in the Desert Championship

• 1st Place Best in the Desert Vegas to Reno, 2023

TPC TRIKES’ VEGAS-TO-RENO THREE-WHEELER

V2R TRIKE HISTORY

The Vegas-to-Reno trike is not a recent build. The idea for the trike was conceived in 2010 with a new elliptical-tube prototype frame to replace the original box section on TPC frames, which was needed for large-capacity fuel tanks. However, the project was put on hold when no desert-racing sanctioning body would allow three-wheelers to race. In mid-2012, trikes were welcomed back to TT racing at the legendary Pine Lake raceway in Ashtabula, Ohio. The frame was taken off the shelf and finished as a TT trike, using standard TPC triple clamps, front hub and front axle, along with TPC frame parts from the 2006–’08 CRF450R for the front half and 2006–’14 TRX450R parts for the rear half. 

After a successful TT career, the trike was shelved again in 2015 when TPC Trikes withdrew from racing for a future move from New York to Oregon. In 2021, TPC rider Dave Ham contacted TPC with news that Best in the Desert now allows trikes to compete in its series, including the famed Vegas-to-Reno off-road race. Since the original frame was intended for desert racing, it was again taken off the shelf and modified with a few new features, including frame gussets for durability and skid plate mounts.

This was the first time the team ran Moose Racing’s new Rattler rear tires, and everyone loved them! The tires have an MX-style tread well suited for sliding and forward traction.

TPC TRIKES’ VEGAS-TO-RENO THREE-WHEELER

HYBRID HONDA ENGINE

As is usual for TPC Honda builds, this machine incorporates a TRX450R gearbox and pairs it with a CRF450R dirt bike top end. Allen Knowles of CT Racing is the mastermind behind this engine, which features a 98mm 13.5:1 JE piston that pushes displacement to 470cc. Knowles explains, “We use the CRF450R head because of the intake angle it needs to make the carburetor fit. It’s virtually the same, except the CRF has a slightly different port layout and +1mm oversized exhaust valves. So, on this motor, we ran the stock CRF stainless exhaust valves, which are 31mm, and we ran +1 Del West titanium intake valves, which are 37mm. We installed CV4 springs all the way around with a webcam in it. We went with a high-compression motor because of the altitude. If you don’t have compression, the dogs don’t want to hunt.” The Vegas-to-Reno racecourse varies dramatically in elevation change, ranging from dry lake beds near sea level to upwards of 8,000 feet through the mountain passes. 

This IMS fuel tank has a 3.2-gallon capacity, which was more than enough to get from one pit to the next. It also features an IMS dry break for quick fuel stops.

TPC TRIKES’ VEGAS-TO-RENO THREE-WHEELER

SUSPENSION

Up front, Showa 47mm twin-chamber forks have been modified for three-wheeler racing by Milner Brown. It can use all 12 inches of suspension travel without bottoming out. The triple clamps, front hub and axle are all manufactured by TPC. A GPR stabilizer buffers hits to the front wheel through rock gardens and hard edges. 

At the rear, a 2006 Honda TRX450R swingarm is supported by an Elka shock and Elka linkage setup expressly for this machine by Doug Roll of Roll Design. There are 11 inches of wheel travel at the rear. A Lone Star Racing Axecalibar axle, dual-row bearing carrier and anti-fade lock nut complete the rear suspension with just over 50 inches of width. 

Up front, the team prefers the tall center rib of a 23-inch Maxxis RZR 2 for straight tracking, especially in the sand. In the rear, the team changed things up for this race by going with Moose Racing’s 22-inch Rattler tires, which got rave reviews at the finish line. “We wanted a lightweight tire that wouldn’t strain the motor, so we turned to 1980s Kawasaki racer Jimmy White for suggestions,” says TPC team racer David Ham. “Jimmy turned us on to the new Moose Racing Rattler tires, which he developed the tread pattern years ago when STI owned them. It’s a lightweight 6-ply tire that works great on three-wheelers. Running them with Tire Blocks gave us a tire package that was hard to beat.”

LED lighting and helmet lights were utilized for this race, which usually has racers finishing in the dark. However, the TPC team crossed the finish line well before sunset.

TPC TRIKES’ VEGAS-TO-RENO THREE-WHEELER

THE THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM

Look at the tech-inspection stickers on the left front fork, and you’ll notice that this isn’t this trike’s first Vegas-to-Reno rodeo. This is the third and finest Vegas-to-Reno race for this machine after three straight years of trying. The team came prepared to race through the night and duke it out with high-flying trophy trucks and race cars as the miles counted down, but neither was a factor. The team finished first in class in under 12 hours, well ahead of sunset and before the first trophy truck crossed the finish line.

Engine cooling is critical for an engine that runs for hours at peak performance. Oversized-capacity CRF450X radiators and a Trail Tech electric fan keep temperatures optimal at all times.
The footpegs manufactured by Wicked Metal Designs are long and wide, and have aggressive serrated teeth for ultimate boot grip. The team chose not to run nerfs, which can get hung up in desert terrain.
A complete Dasa exhaust system lets the engine exhale freely. A 2006 Honda TRX450R swingarm and Elka shock and linkage tame the rugged terrain for long-distance comfort.

ABOUT TPC TRIKES

TPC Trikes limits its builds to competition-style trikes. This is mainly due to federal regulations restricting the production of three-wheelers. With over 33 championships in everything from MX, TT, FT, ice, HS, drag and now desert racing, one thing is for sure: TPC Trikes are proven winners. The wait is the hardest part of getting your hands on a TPC. With only a two-person crew and no intentions of expanding, they are limited to how many machines they can produce. Whether it’s a build-it-yourself trike from TPC frame kits or a full-on build, only a few frames are built a year. Currently, TPC Trikes is booked up well into next year.

 


CONTACT: TPC Trikes• Phone: (607) 222-1234 (call ahead for shop appointment) • Web: www.tpctrikes.comE-mail: [email protected]

 

 

 

 

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