A Conversation with Bill Casey of TPC Trikes
The Sickest 3-Wheeled Conversions on the Planet
April 19, 2013
By John Pellan
TPC Trikes is a company with a mission to offer custom-built products based on ideas from the past but created using the designs of today and visions of the future. Its founder, William Casey, is a throwback to ATV racing in the mid to late 1980’s. A time when he was just about to launch what he had hoped to be a promising career on the professional ATV racing circuit. At that time racing ATVs meant racing 3-wheelers. Unfortunately, the CPSC and the “Consent Decree,” which was signed by all of the major 3-wheeled ATV manufacturers, ended Casey’s dream before it even had a chance to take off. His interest in quads was, and still is, non existent. His passion for the sport and for riding 3-wheelers has never dwindled, however.
That’s why, in 2006, he, along with two others, formed TPC Trikes LLC and began, in part, to pursue his dream again. Casey had noted that, with the advent of the internet, there were pockets of 3-wheeler enthusiasts scattered about several websites on the ‘net. These websites were also attracting members from all over the globe. By this time, of course, the only machines available for these old-school traditionalists were 20+ years old and finding them (and their replacement parts) was becoming more and more difficult. And, Casey notes, many of those machines were cobbled together in a manner that, more times than not, turned a blind eye towards any concerns for safety and reliability. He has (reluctantly) admitted that “I’m getting older and my riding days are soon to be limited.” He says that now he would like to “sit back and build THE sickest 3-wheeler for others to ride and enjoy.” Therefore, he set out to create an all-new 3-wheeled ATV custom built mostly from current OEM parts and existing machines. And that’s EXACTLY what he did....
Bill Casey has been an avid 3-Wheeler rider and racer for many years. And that's why TPC Trikes offers today's ultimate 3-wheeler conversion.So Suzuki's invention of the fourth wheel didn't impress you much?
No, not at all. Growing up on 3-wheelers I never saw the need for a fourth wheel. To me it just seems like the front end is always in a fight with itself, especially in the woods and over rough terrain. Since you only have one front wheel with a trike, that's 50% less stuff you're going to hit. Also, the front of a 3-wheeler is much lighter so you can float it across many obstacles. Sure, in some cornering situations the 4-wheeler can be more stable and/or faster, but for every situation where a 4-wheeler has the advantage I can find just as many situations where a 3-wheeler has the advantage. One sure thing about a 4-wheeler, however, is that they are "lazier" to ride. By that I mean that, compared to a 3-wheeler, you can get away with a lot more “sloppy” riding on a quad and you tend to ride with less body movement. Personally, I won't even ride quads anymore because it actually dulls my 3-wheeler skills. I also know several quad racers who practice on 3-wheelers just to improve there quad skills.
This 350X replica is picture perfect thanks to a TPC kit.As a former 3-wheeler rider and racer I think you're spot on with this. So tell me more about TPC. What does it stand for? When and why did you create a quad to trike conversion business?
Well, the initials “TPC” come from the name of my first born son, Tyler. After he was born, I decided it was time to retire from racing bikes, something I had done since I was forced to quit racing 3-wheelers in ‘89. I wanted to stay in the sport and I had always worked on bikes and ATVs for local dealers and shops, as well as working part time in my own garage. When I decided to start my own business in ’98 it was an easy decision; I simply named it after Tyler . It was around ‘02 that I decided to focus exclusively on 3-wheelers since that was my main interest and no one else out there was really doing anything with trikes. At this point I was still only working on vintage trikes, and doing it on a part-time basis. In 2006 I purchased a brand-new TRX 450R with the intent to build an entirely new modernized trike, and on Jan 6th, 2006 I posted my intentions on the internet for the first time. In 2007, after seeing the TPC 450 under construction, several of my friends decided that we should see how far we could take it so we gambled our pooled resources on the future of TPC Trikes. In late 2008 we went public with our plans to produce a conversion kit. In 2009 we started showing up at 3-wheeler rides and MX races to put the trike through a public torture test to prove its worth. On Jan 6th 2010, after four years of development and testing we started offering the TPC 450 and we have been on a wild ride ever since, traveling across the country several times and winning an impressive 50% of the races the TPC has entered, including winning the 2011 CRA Open Class Championship!
Were you the first to create such a machine?
Yes and no. Since the beginning of trikes, people have been making conversions. Bob "Ace" Williams, Sam Coe (brother of team Honda rider Mike Coe), Nick Nicholson, and Kelvin Franks were just some of the more famous trike builders/pioneers back in the day. But all these guys converted motorcycles since quads had not yet been invented. As far as quad to trike conversion, it is hard to say who did it first. There is always someone tinkering somewhere that we may not even know about. I know one guy cut a banshee and put an old TRI-Z 250 front end on it, but it was more for show than go. I know another guy stuffed a CRF 450 engine in a 350X frame. What I can say is that we were the first to take a modern quad (TRX 450R) and a modern bike (CRF 450R) and build a completely brand new trike from just those two models with no vintage parts and then offer a kit or complete trike from that combination.
What was your first ATV?
The first one I actually owned myself was a 1982 ATC 110 that I bought brand new. I worked odd jobs and saved up about $600 and my Dad paid off the balance as an early Christmas present. A few years before that my cousin, who was more like a brother, bought a 1979 110 and took me riding on the weekends and in the summer.
You being the 3-wheeler enthusiasts that you are, I bet you have a few machines in your garage worth noting.
Not really, I am not a collector. If I can't ride it and ride it hard then I have little use for it. That’s the main reason I built the TPC. After I retired from motorcycle motocross racing I decided to do full restores on my 86 Mugen/HRC ATC 250R and my 85 ATC 350X. I was also in the middle of building a custom 450X made form a combination of 350X 250R and TRX 250R as well as some rare NOS Mugen parts. As I was nearing completion I sat one day and looked at them all, thought about all the money I had tied up and came to the realization that I would never ride them the way I wanted and what they were built to do for fear of damaging them. So, I bit the bullet and sold them off to finance the TPC 450. I haven't looked back since. The only Vintage ATCs I have are my ‘82 110, mainly because it was my first, and an ATC 250SX that I use for yard work, track maintenance (and my son likes to ride it!) Other than that, all I have are my ‘06 and ‘07 TPC 450's and an XR 650R.