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Honda’s 50cc three-wheeled Gyro cargo scooter

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December 8, 2009

Honda's Gyro 50 three-wheeled delivery scooter

Honda's Gyro 50 three-wheeled delivery scooter

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Our story and video on the Nissan Langlider explained the trend toward narrow track vehicles and the convergence of the car and motorcycle. It also covered all of the major two-, three- and four-wheeled vehicles already at, or soon to be at market, or so we thought. What we missed is potentially the most important of them all - Honda’s three-wheeled Gyro, a Japanese-only delivery scooter with two wheels at the back that tilts just like the Xingyue. It’s fully enclosed, gets 100mpg and even in Japan sells for less than US$3500.

Honda’s three-wheeled Gyro can be purchased naked or fully enclosed and is designed like a cab-chassis utility, to be fitted with an aftermarket rear section suitable for your line of business.

To say they are the most common road vehicle in Tokyo, the world’s largest and most congested urban area, is no exaggeration. The frugal 50cc engine enjoys a tax break in Japan, and in a city where vehicles rarely get near the speed limits, is more than powerful enough to get the job done. Equally interesting is the array of boxes built onto the platform, some of which offer enough carrying capacity to fit a small third world country. It’s a monumental sales success in Japan and has been produced in one form or another for 28 years, with the actual Gyro model now in production for 27 years.

Remarkably, the design is not Honda’s. It was patented in the UK in 1966 and first marketed as the BSA Ariel 3 in 1970. The company fell apart soon after that and it was subsequently licensed to Honda.

Why the design has never been seen much outside of Japan is a mystery – the two rear wheels offer additional stability at low speeds, and the CVT transmission matches up well with Honda’s now fuel-injected 50cc motor to offer a range of nearly 250km from a tiny 5L fuel tank – the Gyro returns in excess of 100mpg in any language.

So let's get this straight. The world's largest and most respected motorcycle manufacturer has a tilting, fully enclosed three-wheeler that gets 100mpg, has massive cargo space, a 30-year record of reliability and ... it's only available in Japan. Could Honda be striving to build new and better machinery for emerging markets when indeed it has a 30-year-old killer app already in the garage?

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5 Comments

B"H

What do you mean by "..the design has never been seen much outside of Japan..". The Gyro is the official delivery vehicle of the Postal service in Israel and an ugly one of that too.

Ariel Ben Yochanan
9th December, 2009 @ 06:08 am PST

And it certainly is not the only 3-wheeled tilter in production. There are literally dozens of them but here are three Piaggios with articles posted in Gizmag:

http://www.gizmag.com/go/8251/

http://www.gizmag.com/3-wheel-500cc-gilera-fuoco/8454/

And their soon to be released 170mpg hybred:

http://www.gizmag.com/go/7730/

But for all around shear performance leaning trike, I like the Brudeli:

http://www.gizmag.com/go/6440/

And then there is the Chinese version of the Honda Gyro but a link escapes me right now...

Will, the tink
9th December, 2009 @ 08:02 pm PST

There was a US version in the 1980s. I had a blue 50cc Gyro and thoroughly enjoyed it until it was completely destroyed by the idiot that stole it. I'm a good bit heavier now, perhaps there's a 125cc version. :)

James Womack
14th December, 2009 @ 08:14 am PST

Daihatsu made them after Ariel and before Honda. I have pictures somewhere because i graduated on the motorcycle-car-gap a couple of years ago. Loads of enclosed narrow vehicle concepcars have been made dating back to the start of automotive transport, but never as many as right now.

Paddy Milford
14th December, 2009 @ 04:10 pm PST

William, you may be thinking of the Xingyue xy150zk, which goes by many names worldwide; Vogue, TopTom, Palma150, Orbiter, Tri-Fecta, ScooterPOD, Auto Moto, just to name a few.

It has a 150cc engine (GY6 clone) and gets around 80mpg. Fun little tilter with a roof.

Roger W.
10th February, 2010 @ 12:38 pm PST
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