More than a decade before the quads we know and love today were introduced on the market, the 3 wheeler made it's debut. Honda developed them in 1970, and they were famously featured in the James Bond film “Diamonds are Forever.” These were a marvel in the recreation world, sparking a whole new industry.
These original 3 wheelers were clearly influenced by the earlier ATVs, which were larger amphibious vehicles, generally with 6 or 8 wheels. They had no ATV shocks or suspension to speak of other than the large balloon wheels with which they were equipped.
It wasn't long before people started to see the potential behind the ATC (or All Terrain Cycle). In the 70's racers began modifying their trikes, punching them up to 190cc and running them on alcohol. Honda heard about it and realized they needed to start producing their own racing models. They recruited two of the aforementioned racers, “Dyno” Dean Sundhal and Mark “Wax” Weixeldorfer to help.
When the new bikes were finished they were sent to Baja for testing. Needless to say, it was a huge hit, and thus ATV racing was born.
The first high performance trike was the 1981 Honda ATC250R. It featured full suspension, a 248cc two stroke motor, five-speed transmission with manual clutch, and a front disc brake.
In 1982 Honda released the “Big Red,” which featured both ATV shocks and racks. Being the first utility trike, combined with it's ability to go just about anywhere, meant this one was a big hit with hunters, campers, and those just looking for a good trail ride.
1983 saw yet another new model, the ATC200X. This landmark machine was designed for the sporting trail rider. It was an easy to handle, 192cc four stroke, ideal for younger riders and those just getting started in the sport.
In 1987, safety concerns meant the end of 3 wheeler production. All manufacturers switched over to 4 wheelers rather than deal with extended legal battles. In 1997, however, the consent decrees they had entered in to expired, but still very few models are made or marketed. Trikes are usually only found with enthusiasts, three wheeled relics in a four wheeled world.