Getting about on a bicycle is environmentally friendly, great for your health and cost effective. One drawback – particularly for those learning to ride or for whom balance is an issue – is the instability that comes with being on two wheels at low speeds. Tricycles offer a way to overcome this problem, but three-wheelers
have their own set of stability issues when it comes to cornering at higher speeds. Like the Deliver-E Trike
we looked at earlier this year, the Swingtrike aims to provide a best of both world solution by employing a tilting design that keeps all wheels on the ground across bumpy terrain and through corners, making it safer – and more fun – than traditional fixed frame trikes.
When those of us who live in urban areas picture letter carriers – or posties, or mailmen/women – we usually think of them as people who deliver the mail by foot. The fact is, however, letter carriers in much of the world use small motorcycles to make their deliveries. If Australian inventor Simon Williams has his way, many of those motorcycles may soon be replaced by his electric three-wheeler. Not only is the Williams Deliver-E Trike quieter and cleaner than gas-powered bikes, but its two rear swing arms pivot independently, allowing the vehicle to lean into turns and stand upright when parked at the side of a sloping road.
While Optimus Prime and his fellow Transformers may be pure fiction, shape-shifting cars are destined to become a reality. Over the years here at Gizmag we’ve featured several examples including the Vauxhall Flextreme GT/E
with its retractable aerodynamic body panels, the Rinspeed iChange
with its ability to change from a one- to a three-seater, and the flexible-skinned BMW Gina
. Now, it’s time to add another one to the list, as a design concept if not an actual prototype - the wheel-configuration-changing Cell.
The race to produce a narrow, tilting, hybrid motorcycle/car/EV continues with another boutique manufacturer throwing its hat into the ring. This time, its Cherban who has released plans of its concept Urban Jet, a 150mph three-wheeler EV that is said to be able to accelerate from 0-60mph in less than 3.5 seconds. It’s a two-seater (bobsled style – though hopefully not as scary) that leans up to 45° into corners, and is reminiscent of the Dutch Carver (see it briefly in our video
on the Nissan Landglider and other narrow track vehicles).
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.
Since Nicholas Negroponte first came up with his landmark teething ring visualization of the coming together of communication, computing and content, the term convergence
has become the uber buzzword. Now there’s convergence going on in the personal transport industry, with the car and the motorcycle morphing as car makers attempt to downsize their vehicles to make them better suited to the world’s increasingly crowded roads. This article begins with Nissan’s tandem two-seat, half width tilting car, the Landglider, and examines all the other work being done around the world as narrow track vehicles seriously begin to make their case.
The term convergence normally refers to the merging of consumer electronics, entertainment and media, but if recent trends are anything to go by, it could equally apply to the melding of the car and the motorcycle. BMW’s enclosed C3 motorcycle is now emerging as a road safety pin-up vehicle and at the Frankfurt Motor Show last month both Volkswagen
exhibited tandem half-width cars that looked for all the world like four-wheeled motorcycles. Now comes news that Nissan is to unveil an electric tandem four-wheeled “Land Glider” concept at Tokyo Motor Show, and the wording of the press statements looks like Nissan is very confident the vehicle will reach showrooms.
This odd-looking creation could be the start of something massive – it's the first prototype of an entirely new design of leaning four-wheeled bike which not only offers a massive increase in safety but, should it reach production, will be legal for anyone holding a car driving licence to use without taking an extra test – all while keeping the cheap road tax, good fuel economy and exemption from congestion charging that goes hand in hand with bike ownership. Following on from our first glimpse of the 4MC
, Ben Purvis takes a closer look at the development of this remarkable machine and talks to inventor Nick Shotter about the 20-year obsession that led to its creation.
If the fun
we had aboard Piaggio's MP3
is any indication, motorcycles with more than two wheels have a big future ahead of them. The additional stability and traction you get from a tilting three-wheeler is quite an eye-opener, and they're still exceptionally fun to ride. If you want to take the concept one step further, though, an extra wheel at the back as well can actually make the entire bike narrower while delivering the sort of stability that can let you safely powerslide and drift all four wheels on an oily skidpan. Remember Yamaha's wild and wonderful Tesseract concept
from 2007? The company is keen to get one into production, but as it turns out, Yamaha has run into trouble with patents held by an ex-courier and motorcycle safety advocate from the UK who has been working on a road-ready tilting 4-wheeler for more than 20 years.
There was lots of interest last year when we wrote about Sidam's Xnovo
, which essentially looked like a 500cc micro-minivan on three wheels. But the Xnovo hasn't materialized on the market yet, and its USD$10,000 projected price robs it of any practical claim to economy. The California-built AutoMoto, however, achieves many of the Xnovo's aims for less than half the price. It's got a roof, a windshield, wipers, an MP3 stereo, CVT, two seats and a large, lockable storage trunk - and it has three wheels, with two at the rear, which attach to a platform that allows the body to tilt when cornering. Its 150cc engine gets 83mpg in daily use - 30mpg better than the Toyota Prius - and it's much easier to park. It can squeeze through traffic like any other scoot, but it doesn't require a motorcycle license or helmet in many US states. The AutoMoto should prove itself to be a practical and fun way to get around and it looks like a bargain too, at only USD$3800.