After an accident left him paralysed, Mark Betts refused to give up on motorcycling, so we’ve altered our approach for this Suzuki Special. Mark now owns and rides two tricycles, one based on a GSX-R1100 and one based on a 1200 Bandit. We take a look at both.
Mark started riding at the age of 17, and owned a number of bikes before graduating to a GSX-R1100. Unfortunately though, Mark was involved in an accident on it when a car pulled out in front of him. He was left paralysed, but where some people would have thrown in the towel and called time on motorcycling, Mark refused to give up, added an extra wheel, and carried on.
“I started riding bikes about 30 years ago,” Mark explains. “I passed my test on a 125 Vespa but soon discovered that it didn’t handle, so I moved onto a 400 and went everywhere on it. The first Suzuki I bought was the GSX-R1100M. I loved that bike, it was an absolute missile in its day and I owned it for years. I spent nearly as much time cleaning it as I did riding it. Actually I still do that.
“But after a car pulled out on me, while the bike was a write off, I sadly did even more damage to myself than I did the bike. I’m now paralysed from the chest down, but I couldn’t, and wouldn’t, give up bikes. I loved that bike and they had to pretty much prise it out of my hands even after the crash. But now I love trikes, and they’d only be Suzukis for me. And you can’t just have one, can you?”
After the accident, Mark plumped for a Bandit 1200 to become the basis for his first trike conversion.
“The Bandit I have now is my second Bandit. I’d never ridden a Bandit before my accident but I knew how good that original motor was from my GSX-R. That was my first trike, after that, I bought another Bandit from Bill Smith Motors and also got hold of the GSX-R1100 from eBay.”
Both bikes were then converted into three-wheelers with the help of the Trike Shop UK in Cardiff, who make and fit the conversion. Although, even then, Mark made sure he did his own bit of fettling and tinkering, too.
“The actual trike conversion is a fairly straightforward process. The back end is a kit made by the guys at the Trike Shop in Cardiff, and there they do all the clever work in terms of design and fabrication of all the components needed to put it together. Then it is simply a case of unbolting the swingarm and shock mounts, and bolting the trike conversion in using the same mounts. The theory is that you could very simply convert it back into a motorcycle if you wanted to.
“The rear end conversion uses 17 inch wheels which have 225/25 Kumho tyres fitted. Rear brakes are both Ford discs and calipers with Goodrich braided hoses. The exhaust systems for both bikes I have handmade myself from stainless steel. I got hold of everything I needed and TIG welded them myself. And because I don’t have the use of my legs, all of the controls that are normally operated by your feet, so gear change and rear brake, have been moved up on to the handlebars. I have an electronic gear shifter supplied by Kliktronic, which uses buttons on the left handlebar, and both trikes have a K-Lever2 twin lever for the linked brakes.
“Other than that, the Bandit is as standard as a three-wheeled version could be, apart from a window clutch cover. But I’ve also fitted the GSX-R trike with Galfer wavy discs and Goodrich brake hoses throughout, and also a stage three Dyno Jet kit and K&N filters.”
And like all good motorcyclists, Mark gets out on his toys as often as possible and, space allowing, would love to add to his collection.
“I ride both trikes as much as possible and I’m out nearly every weekend. In the last year they’ve done nearly 5,000 miles each! I don’t favour one over the other, I just alternate between them. One weekend it will be the Bandit, so it’ll be the GSX-R I take out next time.
“I take them to the TT and have been every year since I started going on them, without fail, and this year I also went to the Ulster GP. I rode to Assen BSB last year, too. So I get out and about on them, but also spend most of my time riding them when I’m out for a blast with mates. And luckily for me, my understanding wife, Kate, loves coming out with me too and we’ll be going back to the TT next year and also back to the Ulster if she gets her way!
“Next I’d like a Hayabusa trike, but at the moment that would mean parting with either the Bandit or the GSX-R, and I can’t bear to do that.”
If you have a Suzuki Special you think we should see, send an email, some pictures and a brief spec to firstname.lastname@example.org