Trike step helps disabled bikers stay in saddle

Rick Barrett
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Milwaukee — A three-wheel motorcycle has kept Daniel Ruzinski in motor sports after a problem with circulation in his legs took him off a Harley-Davidson touring bike.

Especially after a long ride, Ruzinski said, his leg would sometimes give out unexpectedly.

He would roll up to a stop sign, not sure whether he could balance the big two-wheeler, the Milwaukee-area motorcyclist said.

Switching to a Harley-Davidson Tri Glide helped, since the trike wouldn’t tip over if Ruzinski couldn’t put his foot down when stopped. Yet getting on and off the trike could be difficult, he said, if he didn’t have an accessory called the Trike Mid-Step.

With that product, made by a company based in Maribel, a city about 20 miles southeast of Green Bay, he can easily climb aboard and exit the trike without worrying about his leg buckling or his boot scratching the trike’s rear fender.

It’s also easier for a passenger to get on and off the trike, Ruzinski said.

Three wheelers have become popular with people who don’t have balance issues but appreciate them for what they are — a practical and fun alternative to a standard two-wheel motorcycle.

Taking it a step further, the Trike Mid-Step was developed by Terry Larson, a trike rider.

It’s a solid platform for your foot — right in the middle of the trike — allowing a driver or passenger to easily step up and into the saddle. Then the platform can be flipped up and out of the way or left in place.

“The idea just popped into my mind,” Larson said, after he and a passenger had difficulties climbing aboard his trike.

Three-wheel motorcycles, while easier to ride than a two-wheeler, can be more difficult to mount and dismount.

Larson recently received a utility patent for the Trike Mid-Step, making it more difficult for someone to copy his product. He and his business partners also have signed an agreement with their first distributor.

“Our videos have been viewed about 45,000 times already. We are getting the word out there,” Larson said.

The Trike Mid-Step is made from billet aluminum, a powder-coated steel frame and stainless steel hardware. The bolt-on accessory sells for $695, but Larson says, for some people, it could make a big difference in getting on and off their trike.

The product is handmade locally and fits both standard and custom-built trikes. The only downside, Ruzinski said, is that his trike loses a little ground clearance from having the product bolted to the trike frame.

Dave Zien, a former state lawmaker who has logged more miles on a Harley-Davidson than probably anyone else, says he’s hopeful that trikes and products like the Trike Mid-Step will make motorcycling less intimidating.

Zien has logged several million documented miles on motorcycles, including a million miles on a 1991 Harley that was later displayed in the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame in South Dakota.

He continues to ride tens of thousands of miles a year, on a trike now, despite losing part of his leg in a near-fatal bike crash in Florida in 2011.

The former state senator and Marine Corps veteran travels across the country on his trike, advocating for veterans. He’s also an advocate for people with physical disabilities.

“This Trike Mid-Step, I predict, is going to get more people on three wheelers. There are people who stop riding two-wheel motorcycles now, at age 65 or 75, but they can ride another 15 years or more on a trike,” Zien said.