Three-wheeler handling meets 1930s racecar style: Seattle's ACE Cycle Car
By Loz Blain
March 17, 2008
March 17, 2007 If you don't have the cash for a Caterham Levante, and the Can-Am Spyder's looks are a bit modern for you, you could do a lot worse than check out Liberty's ACE Cycle Car, a classically styled open-top three wheeler with twin open front wheels. Powered by a loud, strong and beautiful Harley-Davidson engine, the ACE offers a classic racecar-style driving experience as it hugs the corners around your favourite twisty road.
Seattle's Pete Larsen loved the idea of the early British cycle-cars - trikes with a single powered rear wheel and twin steered front wheels, usually with long stroke V-twin engines and designed to provide cheap transport by dodging road taxes. But after several attempts to import a British-built, Guzzi-powered cycle-car kit, which were thwarted by red tape, he decided to design and build one himself.
With years of experience up his sleeve building custom sidecars for Harleys, Larsen set about building a cycle-car in his downtime and spare time. The American Cycle-car Endeavor (ACE) project, modelled after a Morgan Super Sport of the 1930s, took about 5 years before it bore its first prototype in 2005, and Larsen was thrilled by his first driving experience: wind in his hair, sun on his back, the throaty roar of the big Harley engine right in front of him and the excellent roadholding and sense of speed that comes from having a vehicle so low to the ground.
Construction is sound and sturdy: a T.I.G. welded tube frame holds it together, and the independently-suspended front wheels are steered by an automobile-style steering wheel that's removable to allow the driver to get into the cockpit. Power from the ACE's 88-110 cubic inch Harley engine is fed through a 5-speed automotive transmission and shaft drive to the rear wheel. Power from the smallest 88ci engine is good enough for over 120mph, which would feel significantly faster at such a low ride height.
The ACE Cycle Car is road-registerable as a motorcycle, and will be exempt from helmet requirements in some states of the USA.
Larsen currently only plans to build six Cycle Cars for sale - although if interest is high enough he's willing to go into production. And from only US$34,500 for the base model, it's not hard to imagine demand being strong for these unique and very cool roadsters.