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The Attack of the Viper Trike

Trike by TQ Customs, California invades the Highways

by Ujjwal Dey with Photos by Peter Linney




“Thanks to my family! I have had countless late nights and weekends at work throughout this project and the projects before it. They support me through the tough times, miss me when I’m gone and celebrate my victories.” - Tony Quinones of TQ Customs

Once upon a time, in an urban locale far, far away, there lived a little boy who dreamed of designing a car. He would sit for many hours at a time drawing cars. Whether he was sketching his own ideas or drawing one of his favorite classics, he would never get tired of it. He was an Energizer Bunny waiting to fit himself inside a go-go-kart.

When he was in high-school, he was sent to a tour of Art Center at Pasadena, California. To many it is considered the most elite transportation design program in the world. Even if this hyper artistic kid was one of the handful accepted each year, it seemed the expense of course fees was impossible to cover. That dream has never been lost, though, the young grasshopper would have to travel another route to reach his destination.


Tony Quinones started designing and distributing aftermarket parts for Harley under the brand name “Wicked Image Inc.” in 1997. His Dad being a lifetime expert in engineering and manufacturing, mentored the eager grease monkey from the very beginning. As this small all-American business grew, the duo brought the manufacturing in-house and geared up to hone new skills. The evolution of the designer to manufacturer to a complete automotive entity was happening. They created final versions of 2D and 3D CAD drawings. The machine shop was equipped with CNC, manual machines, water jet cutting, MIG and TIG welding. They could easily handle working with any metal, plastics or composites.


Taking the leap into 21st century, this Mom and Pop Company recently added 3D printing in their build process. Over the years, TQ Customs has built many great products and distributed them in the US and in overseas markets. The primary business was motorcycle components. But the young padawan felt the Force incite him and he always had a bike build or hot rod project in the works. Soon, the Jedi powers were too strong to contain him in the manufacturing unit.


“I generally felt like production was getting in the way of my projects.”

The Spawn and the Viper Trike:

Says Tony Quinones, “One day I was approached by a friend asking about some of my previous builds and what I was able to build. As it turned out this friend had a client looking for something unique. They had the Viper engine sitting aside from a previous viper engine upgrade, which would now become the heart of this new idea. The client had seen a trike built by the great Michael Leeds known as the “Frogman Trike." The message relayed went – “I want something like that, only better and it has to have the viper engine in it." That was a tall request, and a lot of blanks to fill in.



Editor’s Note: Check out Trikes.bikernet.com Archives from 2012 where we featured the Frogman Rocket Trike.



The one and only, Michael Leeds: http://www.michaelleedsstudio.com


Reminiscing on the challenge, our young Master Tony recalls, “We went back and forth for nearly a year with sketches and renderings making changes and evolving the design concept. With a clear direction we agreed to a budget and I was given the green light. It started with the Viper engine mounted to the fixture table and I began to 3D cad model the V10. As major components arrived I immediately reverse engineered them to add to the CAD model. Items like transmission, brakes and the differential.”


Not to be taken in by petty pride or ego, he adds, “One of the key components driving function and design was the Hub center steering system from ISR. I started working on my own version but when I came across their system I knew they were years ahead in development and testing. With our ISR system on order, Acke was kind enough to share the critical dimensions so I could continue working on our suspension, chassis and front wheel design. All of the chassis tubes are laser cut with designed in locating features. Meanwhile we made all of our fixtures in-house on the Omax water jet machine. The chassis was designed in such a way that every tube self-locates before it was mounted in the fixture allowing for zero error during manufacturing.”



The mission was well under way. The man, the Frogman myth and the new Viper Machine. Admitting to his passion for perfection and quality, Tony Quinones says, “I take as much pride in the structure and components that you don’t see as those on the exterior. The rear-end started as a Dana 44 from a C4 corvette. I wanted to use independent suspension but there was limited room for an upper arm. The C4 style is one of the few that would work because of their half shaft design. I had to modify the differential housing, shorten the half shafts to narrow the track width, fabricate custom uprights and machine custom lower arms. All we really used was the diff-housing and the wheel hubs by the time it was done.


Adding his talent and multiplying it with latest technology, Tony Quinones highlights, “The rear lower arms are one example of the art most people will never see. They are 3D profile machined from a 2” thick billet bock and clear anodized. Too bad they are completely covered up.”


With the chassis and suspension coming together on the fixture table the final body design was coming together. Wanting some time away from the shop to finish this Viper Trike design, Tony Quinones enrolled himself in the Art Center at Night transportation design program. The Master is always a Student first and therefore he remains a Master. This was a class for those testing the waters in design to those finalizing their portfolio for admission to this big league school.


“I wanted to get a new perspective as I was working on my first full concept vehicle. My instructor and accomplished designer Jason Hill gave me the perspective shift I was looking for as I refined my design. I was not able to share the project details at the time, now I look forward to sharing the results.”

Living the Dream:

“With the body design completed in my 3D CAD software I sent the renderings to the owner for final sign off and it was time to start manufacturing.” beams the young entrepreneur, designer, builder and gentleman.


“The Body needed to be accurate to spec but production molds were not needed. I turned to Contact Scale. They were able to 5 axis machine full scale prototype molds for the hand laid carbon fiber. The prototype mold process allows us to create exact to print molds and plugs with tight tolerance and symmetry. The possibilities are truly endless.” Remaining a shrewd businessman at the core, he adds, “We have plans to bring this technology in-house to offer faster lead times and greater flexibility for future projects. My goal was to achieve a factory fit and finish on the body panels.”



No man is an island and as Isaac Newton noted that he achieved because he stood on the shoulders of giants. So, quite a few key people influenced the final product of Tony Quinones’ Viper Trike.


He mentions, “One of my mentors is Mark Towle of Gotham Garage. His knowledge is second to none in the world of custom bodied cars. We were able to achieve the fit and finish that is expected on a high quality prototype. Uniform panel gaps are easier said than done. We continued the body work in house to control the finish with nearly 300 hours of block sanding. Jim Smith of Smith Designs has been our go-to guy for many years. He took over for the final prep and painting. Jim laid down the vibrant House of Kolors Red.”



Test of the Viper’s venom:

Road test came next for the Viper before the body was to be fitted for the final assembly. Everything worked, every part was accessible. There are several unique features in the Viper Trike that no one anywhere can buy from a local trike store. They key things to test was, brakes functioning and throttle responsiveness. Then there is the shifter! An automatic transmission shift of a motorcycle was needed on the trike. This was made possible electronically with a Master Shift paddle-shift controller. A foot controlled paddle shift. All of the controls work as a traditional motorcycle. The suspension was tested to the limit. QA1 coil overs would perform but they have a very unique three-link system up front designed to operate in a very tight space. Mounting the headers backwards would perform just fine but the modified harness and ECM needed a shake down. The iPad on the dashboard connected to the ECM also got tested.



The most crucial and important system to test and where Team ‘TQ Customs’ Viper met with failure was the steering system. On the first test ride the push pull cables provided with the ISR hub were not up to the task of turning the Viper Trike. It works great on a 500lb sport bike, but with an extra 1500 pounds, we had a problem. “The ISR hub itself works amazing……but how do we make it turn.” The TQ Customs Team explored many different concepts from boats, car, heavy machinery, etc. There was limited space to work with and everything has been manufactured awaiting final assembly. Ultimately we combined a Hydraulic / Mechanical system. The final steering system offers a 5:1 hydraulic advantage. The system is closed loop and does not require any electric or pulley driven pumps. The custom made cylinders fit perfect in to the available space. We were able to perfectly match the 50-degree lock to lock rotation of the front wheel and handle bars to the required stroke of the actuating cylinders.


The second round test ride was successful and it was time for final assembly.



The Viper’s Custom spirit:

Each small component has its own attention to form and function. As they come together as one cohesive package, each piece also commands a closer look. The one off 24”x15” billet wheels are one of the first pieces to grab your eye. The front fender struts and mirrors are a couple of the more understated 3D profile machined accessories. As the hood flips forward, the one off geometry of the billet hood hinges announce their presence. Top to bottom and front to back the Viper Trike is loaded with attention to detail.


Blending the technology of a car and a motorcycle with a few unique aspects made the Viper Trike a challenge in design and craftsmanship. You can’t help but stop and look at it. And turn and look again.


“I am proud of the accomplishment and honored to have been given the opportunity to create a one off prototype vehicle. I have a pile of blank paper on hand; stay tuned in to www.TQcustoms.com to see what comes next.” - Tony Quinones

Go check out the many brilliant works of TQ Customs and tell them Bikernet.com sent you. We guarantee a treat and soon a custom made thrill.


* * * * RIDE ON * * * * Trikes.bikernet.com * * * *

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KNOW THE VIPER: Technology, Specifications and Customs


Bike Name: The Viper Trike


City/State: Temecula, California      


Builder: Tony Quinones, TQ Customs



City/state: Temecula Ca


Company Info: TQ Customs

Address: Temecula Ca, By appointment only

Phone: 909-234-3604


Web site: www.TQcustoms.com                   

E-mail: Tony@TQcustoms.com


Fabrication: TQ Customs


Manufacturing: TQ Customs


Welding: TQ Customs


Machining: TQ Customs





Year: 1999


Make: Viper V10


Model: V10 Gen 2


Displacement: 8.0L


Builder or Rebuilder: A&C Performance


Cases: Aluminum Block


Case finish: Natural aluminum Finish


Bore: stock


Pistons: stock


Lower end: stock


Stroke: stock


Rods: stock


Heads: A&C Performance


Head finish: Natural


Valves and springs: stock


Cams: A&C Performance


Carburetion: Viper EFI


Air cleaner: Dual K&N intake


Exhaust: Gibson Stainless headers (slightly modified)


Mufflers: Gisbon


Other: TQ Customs exhaust fabrication

Powder coated intake and valve covers.

Modified wiring harness and ECM




Year: 2014


Make: Powerglide by Mikes Transmission “Ultimate shorty glide”


Gear configuration: 2-speed


Rear end: Dana 44, Independent rear suspension


Suspension: Qa1 Coil overs





Year: 2016 Viper Trike 1-of-1


Builder: TQ Customs


Front End:


Make: ISR Center Hub Steering


Model: NS2


Sheet metal:


Tanks: Aluminum Fuel tank


Fenders: Hand laid Carbon Fiber


Panels: Hand laid Carbon Fiber


Sheet metal: Hand laid Carbon Fiber


Molding: CNC machined Billet trim and components



Base coat: House of color by Jim Smith of Smith Designs


Frame: Black Powder Coat 


Molding: Black Powder Coat


Base coat: House of Kolors Red







Make: TQ Customs


Size: 20”x7” 220mm Tire


Brake calipers: ISR


Brake rotor(s): ISR


Tire: Avon 220 50R20




Make: TQ Customs Machined by Colorado customs


Size: 24”x15”


Brake calipers: Baer


Brake rotor: Baer


Tire: Pirelli 405/25/ZR24



Foot controls: TQ Customs


Finish: Black Powder Coat


Master cylinder: Wilwood


Brake lines: Crowne Performance


Handlebar controls: Performance Machine


Finish: Black anodize



Shifting: Master shift, paddle shift unit modified for foot shift




Ignition: Viper


Ignition switch: Push to Start with RFID security


Radiators: Champion Cooling


Wiring: TQ Customs


Harness: TQ Customs


Headlight: Morimoto HID Projector


Taillight: Radiantz LED in TQ Customs billet housing


Electrical accessories: iPad


Switches: Performance Machine


Battery: Optima


Final Details: 

Seat: Bitchen seat co.


Mirror(s): TQ Customs


Gas caps: Billet


Handlebars: TQ Customs


Grips: Arlen Ness


Pegs: Arlen Ness


Floorboards: TQ Customs


Oil filter: Mopar


Oil cooler: Afco Aluminum


Oil lines: Braided


Fuel filter: Aeromotive


Fuel pump: Aeromotive


Throttle: Arlen ness


Throttle cables: Motion Pro



Specialty items: EVERYTHING


Kicker Audio stereo

TQ Customs billet speaker grills



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Reader Comments

Dear sir we need videos (sound/exhausts/fire spit/fast running) of ur viper trikes

Harish gupta
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Editor Response We will see what we can do
Ujjwal Dey

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