Should the Same Test Apply?
In my home state of Missouri, a motorcycle license endorsement is required to operate a two-wheeled motorcycle, or a trike, on the roads and highways. That makes perfectly good sense. You do not want unskilled motorcyclists on the highway.
However, the same test applies to trikes and motorcycles. Once you have your endorsement, you can legally operate a trike, or a motorcycle. When I searched the Department of Revenue website for Missouri , I found the following information:
To receive a motorcycle license with full privileges, most states require that maneuvers be performed as designed. On-motorcycle skill tests are not designed for sidecars or three-wheel vehicles. Those vehicles maneuver differently than a two-wheeled motorcycle. Depending on the state, a driver examiner may follow you on a car test-route. Restrictions (sidecar, three-wheeled vehicle) may be added until completion of a two-wheel motorcycle test.
This is a fairly generic statement and it doesn’t say that restrictions will apply. It only says that restrictions might be added. I believe there should be a separate endorsement for trikes, because a trike handles in a completely different manner than a two-wheeled motorcycle.
Trikes Stay Flat
Trikes are three wheeled vehicles. That is an elementary fact. Some trikes have two wheels in the front; some trikes have two wheels in the back, plus an additional third wheel. The three wheels cause the trike to remain flat while traveling through curves or turns, like a car. The rider simply turns the handlebars to go around a curve. The trike is very stable, even when encountering potholes, road kill, and other obstacles on the road surface.
A motorcycle does not remain flat through curves or turns. The rider controls the vehicle by using the handlebars, floorboards/foot pegs, and rider weight to tilt, or lean, the motorcycle through the curve, or turn. In fact, on some motorcycles, if you turn the handlebars too far, the motorcycle will fall over. Quickly. When a motorcycle travels into a curve, through the curve, and out of the curve, the rider is required to make minute adjustments and corrections. Centrifugal force, road banking, and the road surface all effect how a motorcycle travels. Encountering obstacles on the road require quick reflexes and action in order to continue riding upright.
The only similarities that trikes have to motorcycles are the following:
- Operating controls are on the handlebars – clutch lever, brake lever, throttle
- Shift lever
- Rear brake control
A Potentially Dangerous Assumption
To assume that these similarities cause the two vehicles to handle the same is incorrect and potentially dangerous. Trikes and motorcycles do not handle the same or make the same demands of a rider. In my opinion, I believe that a separate endorsement and test should be given to the operators of trikes and motorcycles.