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ECU plumber Larry Remick built his three-wheeled motorcycle from salvage parts and painted it in honor of the Pirates. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)


'Pirate Trike' Latest Wheeled Creation Cruising Campus

By Doug Boyd

Around Greenville, a purple-and-gold vehicle with flames on the side and a skull-and-crossbones on the roof wouldn’t be all that unusual.

But this one is.

Larry Remick, a plumber at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, spent about three years building this three-wheeled, two-seat motorcycle, or trike. He painted it this year, and that’s when it really started drawing attention.

“People love the Pirates around here,” he said. “It’s just an eye-catcher going down the road.”    

The trike is powered by a 1,600-cubic centimeter, air-cooled four-cylinder engine and transaxle from a 1968 Volkswagen Beetle. The engine had been flooded during Hurricane Floyd, so Remick had to rebuild it after he acquired it. In the process, he replaced the stock single-barrel carburetor with a two-barrel Weber carb to give the engine a little more power.

The trike’s front fork is from a mid-1980s Honda Shadow. Remick traded a motorized bicycle for it. The rear wheels came off an old Ford Mustang. The rest Remick built himself.

“All this stuff is pretty much salvage material,” he said, estimating he’s spent $600 total on it, plus a lot of hours.

This trike is the third Remick has built over the past 30 years. On one he put cedar shingles and cut a moon-shaped window in it. “It looked like an outhouse,” he said with a smile. “Building these things is a lot easier than figuring out what you want it to look like.”

Trikes aren’t uncommon. Some riders are older and less able to balance a heavy two-wheeled motorcycle, but others just want something different, and trikes have grown into their own motorcycle subgroup. Kits are available to convert Honda’s popular Goldwing touring motorcycle and other models, certain Harley-Davidsons and other motorcycles, but they can cost as much as $10,000 or more plus installation. Ron Ayers Motorsports in Greenville sells new Goldwings with trike kits already installed starting around $35,000, according to sales staff there.

Other trikes are like Remick’s, based on the Volkswagen four-cylinder engine.

Most keep the traditional single seat straddling the frame with a passenger seat behind. With Remick’s, driver and passenger sit beside each other.

“My wife rides with me quite often,” he said. “She been on the back of every motorcycle I’ve owned. Now she’s on the side in this one.”

Instead of a throttle, brake and clutch on the handlebars like a traditional motorcycle, Remick’s trike has three pedals on the floor.

“It’s different from your normal trike,” he said. “It’s a completely different experience. You have to get used to something like this.”

Getting used to it also means being exposed to the outside with no bodywork between you and the world and the odd sensation – compared to riding a motorcycle – of looking to the side and seeing the front wheel turning.

“It drives like a car, so most people who know how to drive a stick-shift could drive this thing,” Remick said.

The trike has gained fans around the health sciences campus.

“It’s kind of neat,” said Sammy Snead, an HVAC technician at Brody. “It gets a lot of attention.”

Remick said he’ll keep making changes and improvements to the trike. For example, he’s looking for an aftermarket springer fork to replace the Shadow fork.

“It’s a work in progress. Everything I do is a work in progress.”


This page originally appeared in the July 31, 2009 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at