Common Tread

The Tower Trike is one man's idea of a motorcycle too big to crash

Jul 25, 2018

First of all, I'm going to state the obvious and admit there's nothing about this machine — except maybe the seat — that says "motorcycle," legalities be damned.

The Tower Trike is one man's answer to the problem of motorcycles losing out to cars in on-road collisions. Some of us take a multi-pronged approach of honing our riding skills, increasing our situational awareness, focusing on optimal lane positioning, adding conspicuity and wearing good gear just in case. Tired of "so many close calls" on his motorcycle, Jim Gesto took a more direct but extreme approach to safety by building a trike so big no one could run him over unless the vehicle they're piloting belongs to the Union Pacific Railway. Now, he says he's putting the Tower Trike into production later this year and you can buy one for $90,000.

Gesto built the prototype Tower Trike two years ago and has been testing it and showing it off since. Naturally, Jay Leno got to ride it.

Gesto is no stranger to big, heavy vehicles. One of his companies produces a system that can be added to a semi to convert it into a tow truck capable of hauling other semis and large equipent. The Tower Trike is similarly large, weighing more than five tons and powered by a supercharged, turbocharged diesel engine that makes 335 horsepower.

"I overbuild everything," Gesto said. "When I do anything it's overkill. If it takes a quarter-inch bolt I use a half-inch."

Despite all that power — more than 1,000 foot-pounds of torque — top speed on the prototype is limited to 84 mph by the transmission and gearing. Gesto said the production models will do 100 mph. "I don't think you should go faster than that anyway," he noted.

The frame and some other components are built elsewhere and the Tower Trikes will be assembled at Gesto's shop in Indiana. He said he has seven orders already and can turn out about one a week, at current capacity.

As if the Tower Trike weren't unusual enough, just for its dimensions, it also comes with some distinctive aesthetic flourishes, most obviously the tall cross on the back (Gesto notes it also functions as a rollbar) and the Ten Commandments inscribed on the rear. They are a testament to Gesto's faith and won't change on the production model.

"We're going to have the Ten Commandments and the cross on every trike," he said. "If somebody doesn't like them, they can cut them off."

If the "Cornering Confidence" techniques I wrote about Monday aren't working for you, now you have an entirely different alternative for getting down the road without anxiety.