Tim and Josh Kapitan are riding the wave of aging baby boomers, namely those who don’t want to hang up their biker leathers.
This father-and-son partnership is behind Griffin Trikes, a trike conversion and motorcycle sales, parts, accessories and apparel business at 310-400 Fort Whyte Way in the RM of Macdonald.
Griffin just celebrated its fourth anniversary, and Josh said their order book is filled with trike conversions to be done over the winter.
"We can do every make of motorcycle and most models," Josh said, pointing out a few in the showroom that are awaiting pick-up and being sold on consignment. They use Champion Trikes and Sidecars, Roadsmith Trikes, California Sidecar, Hannigan Motorsports and Lehman Trikes conversion kits to produce the best fit for each make and model of motorcycle they convert.
According to Josh, there are three main reasons for people opting to convert their motorcycle to a trike or for buying a trike instead of a motorcycle. "Health, age and safety," he said.
In fact, it was Tim’s need for a hip replacement that led the Kapitans into the trike business about five years ago. Josh said he was working on road construction in B.C. and Tim was selling motorcycle apparel online, but neither was very happy with their work. Tim began researching trikes when he realized he needed a more stable ride. He found that Canadian regulations prohibit trike conversions from being brought into the country from the States, and there were no local companies offering this service.
While trikes are gradually gaining in use in Canada, Josh said, "Every second motorcycle you see is a trike in the States."
The target market for trikes is people aged 45 and up. Josh said one of their customers is a 91-year-old Yukon resident.
He added that many trikers are women who like the greater safety offered by a trike. Trike drivers manually steer their vehicle rather than having to use their body weight, as with a motorcycle. When a trike driver stops, they don’t have to use their feet to balance the trike. Trikes offer much more stability when travelling on gravel roads.
As well, an extra fuel tank and trailer can be added to a trike to facilitate longer journeys.
"There’s so much more freedom," Josh said.
He said many of the trikes they’ve created are driven by Canadian snowbirds to retirement communities in Florida and Arizona.
He admitted that many bikers view trikes with disdain — at least until they try one out. In the case of couples, it’s usually the woman who admits that it’s time to switch from bike to trike.
While the number of conversions they do grows every year, Josh said the other parts of the business help to balance their revenue throughout the year.
The Kapitans recently started selling MV Agusta motorcycles, and Josh said they are the only dealers between Ontario and Calgary for this Italian-manufactured brand.