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Custom Builder Russ Dueker's Custom Trike

Thursday, June 3, 2010
A Pro 1 Fork set out at a crazy rake angle sets Russ trike apart from a standard three-wheeler.
A super-long Pro 1 Fork with a crazy rake angle, a sideways-mounted engine and close-spaced twin rear wheels set Dueker's trike apart from a standard three-wheeler.
Even though he had never built a custom motorcycle before, Russ Dueker knew he wanted to do something different. Sure, most first-timers would have started out by buying a rolling chassis, strapping in an S&S engine and a Baker tranny, bolting on a bunch of aftermarket parts and callng it a one-off custom, but Dueker didn’t want to take that route. No, call it pride, call it sadism, but he opted instead for the torment that comes along with building a ground-up custom primarily through trial-and-error. But his upbringing on the farm and growing up around heavy machinery had instilled in him both a strong work ethic and provided a solid foundation for the intricacies of tractor engines, so Dueker was compelled to step up to the challenge of building a one-of-kind three-wheeled motorcycle.

One look is all it takes to prove that Dueker succeeded in his quest to build something unique. It starts with a crazy-long rake that would make chopper owners from the ‘70s jealous and bars that are ultra-clean, void of wiring or levers. The trike sources a standard V-Twin engine for power but has been unconventionally mounted sideways. Forget frame rails – this thing is industrial strength, punched-out holes and a ridged spine in a combination of two-inch DOM steel and 18-gauge sheet metal. Everything on the back end is packaged neatly between the close-spaced 18-inch RC Components Havoc wheels. The multi-spiked seat reminds me of an upraised, open hand, and true, may serve form better than function, but it contributes to the three-wheeler’s overall heavy-duty design.

Russ Dueker went with cruiser industry leader S S for his trikes engine and fueling system.
Russ Dueker went with cruiser industry leader S&S for his trike's engine and fueling system.
Its originality starts with the engine. I’ve seen V-Twins mounted in this manner before, but never on a three-wheeler. The S&S 96 engine has been rotated 90-degrees so that the S&S Super G carb is forward-facing. Besides serving as a shiny chrome focal point, the layout boosts engine cooling as well by exposing more surface area of the cylinder heads. The engine configuration allowed him to run the driveshaft up the middle of the frame. To get power to the rear, Dueker sourced a centrifical clutch that he had to modify and mated it to a 6-speed right side drive transmission which has also been turned 90-degrees to match the engine. From there it goes into the right-angled gearbox and then to the wheels via a final drive that also runs down the middle of the trike.

“To shift, you let off the throttle a little and the centrifical clutch disengages and then it’s a regular jockey shift on the left side that runs to the gears,” Dueker said.

The engine is gravity-fed from the small custom tank that’s integrated into the top of the frame, but the oil tank is below the transmission so he had to go with a suction feed. The tank is disguised as the gnarly chrome piece in front of the engine that looks like an evil tire-shredding chin spoiler which is actually a piece of extruded aluminum that he capped the ends on before adding the fins he cut out on the saw. He then had those chromed and stated that the fins help out in cooling.

The trike’s frame is hollow which allowed him to run all the plumbing and wiring internally. He started out by making a skeleton out of DOM steel and then skinned it with 18-gauge sheet metal. Dueker accomplished the drilled-out look by punching holes with tubes of DOM steel. The welds are clean, giving the appearance that the frame is a single piece of billet. The frame’s industrial design isn’t what you’d expect on a three-wheeler, but Dueker wanted it to complement the wicked Havoc wheels he selected for the trike.

Two-inch DOM steel with 18-gauge sheet metal make up the cool frame of Russ Duekers trike.
Two-inch DOM steel with 18-gauge sheet metal make up the cool frame of Russ Dueker's trike. Danny Gray wrapped the tubes that make up the unique seat below.  
Danny Gray wrapped the tubes that make up the unique seat on Russ Duekers trike.
The fact that he ran the drivetrain through the middle of the build means all the guts of the gearbox are on the inside of the wheels which leaves the rear Havocs cleanly on display. He also kept the rear discs out of sight by mounting them on each side of the gearbox. Dueker opted to make both brakes foot-operated. The right side is the standard arrangement for the rear while the left foot is connected to the front brake. And while each wheel on the back has its own disc, look closely and you’ll see that the one on the right is the only one that has a Performance Machine caliper. The left side is a dummy disc mounted solely for keeping the aesthetics on the rear balanced. When I inquired whether it was a linked braking system, Dueker replied with a chuckle, saying he kept them independent of one another because “I like to have two separate brakes, you know, in case if you lose one then at least you’ve got another.”

With an engine that’s been mounted at a 90-degree angle, a transmission that’s been rotated to match and operates with a centrifical clutch, of all the complications that arose in the course of the build, mounting the starter became the most challenging. Since he turned the engine, the starter actually had to turn in the opposite direction as well. Dueker had a spendy chrome starter that he was bound and determined to use but the rotation was backwards so he had to improvise by buying an automotive one that worked in the right direction. He still had to machine a bigger flywheel so that the starter could come in at a clean shot to the starter ring gear.

“I’ve got a $600 starter sitting on the shelf that I didn’t even use.” Such is the plight of a custom bike builder.

I gave him a little ribbing by asking him how the seat felt, a question he said he’s heard a thousand times. He compared it to a tractor seat and claims that you don’t notice the points much. It’s got to be better than when I first saw it before Danny Gray upholstered the seat for him as a prize he won at the Metzeler Custom Bike Show in Sturgis where he was the People’s Choice Award. He actually took the trike to the Las Vegas show without a seat while Gray was working on it and Danny came through big-time by shipping it overnight the day before the show, but not before causing Dueker a few grey hairs.

When asked how it rides, Dueker stated “It’s obviously different. When you’re going straight, it sticks right to the road. When you turn, you can tell there’s duals back there and they’re spaced apart a little bit. You’ve got to make the thing
Russ Duekers trike always attracts a crowd.
Russs Dueker's three-wheeler always attracts a crowd.
turn.” The rear wheels are connected by a solid axle. He opted against using a differential rear end because he said that with a differential the outside wheel is going to come up a bit on turns and would just spin.

But he says people’s reaction when they see him out riding it is priceless. At bike shows, it blows people away because they can’t give it a quick one-over to figure out how everything works. During the shows, he says the pack has a tendency to shuffle from bike to bike, but when they get to his trike, they progression generally comes to a halt to get a longer look at his creation.

Besides the People’s Choice Award at the Metzeler Custom Bike Show in Sturgis, Dueker has also won his class at several smaller shows in his home state of Colorado and even won the overall title at an event in Loveland at the Budweiser Event Center that netted him a couple grand. Not bad for a guy who started out solely with a desire to build something different and the motivation to make it happen, who did things the old-fashioned way through trial-and-error. Not many people would go out and buy a metal lathe they had never operated or a milling machine without having used one before. But Dueker did, which makes his first-time effort all the more impressive.
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Russ Dueker's Custom Trike Specs
Two wheels that operate more like one  an engine thats been rotated 90-degrees and a centrifical clutch mean this isnt your standard three-wheeler.
Engine – Air-cooled S&S 96 S&S Super G Carb fed
Exhaust – Russ Dueker
Primary – Russ Dueker
Final Drive – Russ Dueker
Transmission – Accessories Unlimited 6-speed “Rear Side Drive” Modified
Frame – Russ Dueker 2” DOM steel with 18 gauge sheet metal
Fork – Pro 1 Fork Brace – Russ Dueker
Triple Trees – Accutronix
Front/Rear Wheel – RC Components 21” Havoc front; 18” Havoc rear
Tires - Metzeler ME880 Marathon
Rear End Assembly – Russ Dueker
Brakes – Performance Machine
Oil Tank – Russ Dueker
Fuel Tank – Vision Design
Handlebars – Russ Dueker
Seat/Upholstery – Russ Dueker/Danny Gray
Hand Pegs/ Foot Controls - Accutronix

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Builder -Bike  July 16, 2010 02:28 PM
The negative comments are hardly amusing. How easy for these guys to hide behind the computer in their parent's basement and write these jabs. Please post pics of the bike you fabricated with your crappy comments.
Uncle Bob -wht chedder  July 16, 2010 11:59 AM
100% Outstanding. Only the listed fools below couldn't recognize the Brain Power & Hard Work that made this machine a multable winner. Lets list the lazy coach potato's faults below & see if we can help them get off their asses & accomplish something other then taking second place in their Wii Bowling Tournaments.

mcguire - sewer rat= Another out of shape, don't want to work for anything worth value, so finds himself attracted to a Honda Fury (Eww-Can't wait for next years model) hope it has a cup holder.

b dunk - Special= this poor guy finds himself at bike shows talking to himself. In his head you can hear; Dam, I hate all these guys. They all thinks their so cool. If I had money & a dad, I could build one hell of a wheel-barrow (one that dumps itself). I wonder if I stand here long enough, one the hot girls will think I accomplished something.

JS - Holy= Ok Lady, it’s very obvious you don't get out much and reality can be shocking to you that watch Opera, Judge Judy & Ricky Lake all day. But listen up. When you run out of food stamps & the tax paying people (you know, The Ones That WORK) stop giving hand outs, don’t cry about it, just use whatever imagination you have to build a life that your mommy would have been proud of, like working at All-Sups.

NW - WTF= Ok guy, lets start you out with Anger Management. This will help lower your blood pressure and allow you to get your kids back in your life. Insulting people’s hard work will only get what High School got you "A good old fashion after School Butt Kick".

mcguire -sewer rat  July 7, 2010 01:44 AM
Thats different. I bet you could have got a couple of nice bikes for what it cost to build. Form follows function but I doubt this is very functional.
obs -now that's custom  June 22, 2010 09:55 AM
nice to see a custom that involves more than a paint job and bolted on parts!!!!
CS -Sales  June 10, 2010 05:17 AM
Not too keen on the castration rib atop the backbone
Morvegil -WTF  June 7, 2010 11:38 AM
mcguire -sewer rat  June 6, 2010 06:34 AM
Another lawn sculpture. I was looking at the Honda add and the new Fury Sabre is downright georgeous. Now I could never justify the expence of a old school chopper but the Honda you could put 100,ooo miles on and it looks CLEAN!!!!
lamar -successfully strange  June 5, 2010 11:08 PM
not near as boring as what you usually see, down to the seat
b dunk -Special  June 5, 2010 09:50 AM
I didn't know the Special Olympics had a chopper show associated with it. Everyone gets a trophy for showing up. At least the rider won't tip over after leaving the bar, oh wait it's another V-Twin that never leaves the trailer for more than 10 feet.
JS -Holy...  June 4, 2010 11:44 PM
That is, by all that's unholy, what an abomination. Blow the thing up, bury, do SOMETHING..but for gods sake, lose the thing!
NW -WTF  June 4, 2010 04:39 PM
This has to be the worst abortion of a "custom" bike I've ever seen grace your website. Please make it go away...........it's hurting my eyes.