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Three new tilting narrow-track vehicles from EICMA - including a tilting offroad quad scooter

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November 15, 2011

The Quadro 4D Parkour - an off-road focused tilting 4-wheeler.

The Quadro 4D Parkour - an off-road focused tilting 4-wheeler.

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Tilting three- and four-wheelers make a lot of sense - they're almost as narrow and light as motorcycles, and perhaps even more maneuverable, but they offer enormous amounts of grip and stability. There's so many new narrow track vehicle designs sprouting up all over the world right now that it's easy to see them becoming a significant part of the commuting mix in the congested cities of tomorrow. So here's three new designs we spotted at EICMA Milan - one electric four wheeler, a petrol powered three wheeler and an aggressively styled four wheel tilter that seems to have off-road ambitions.

Tilting narrow-track vehicles: the state of play

There's no getting around the fact that our urban infrastructure can only deal with a certain number of people. The roads servicing many cities, originally built in the days of horses and carts, are regularly grinding to a standstill under the weight of rapid urbanization and population growth.

The fact is, commuting in cars is a gigantically inefficient use of space - particularly when you can take a look around at the dour faces of peak hour and notice that the vast majority of cars only have one person in them. And as space continues to tighten, and populations continue to move into cities, the problem can only escalate.

You can look to Asia for solutions - the continent is full of cities where people have adapted to living in far higher concentrations than most western nations. And the first thing you notice about Asian traffic (apart from the complete chaos, depending on where you are) is that small, efficient motorcycles rule the roads.

It's interesting to note that governments in Europe, Australia and elsewhere seem more interested in deterring motorcycle use than encouraging it - but the simple fact is that in vastly congested cities, a bike can get places quicker, fit through spaces that stop cars dead, and generally park much closer to the destination than a tonne of metal with four doors.

For many people, the issue is safety - especially in wet weather. And that's where the reasonably new class of tilting three and four wheelers comes in. When Piaggio got to the market first with the MP3, it completely sold me on the concept: a tilting vehicle with two front wheels is simply much harder to crash than a motorcycle - without adding a huge amount of technical complexity or width to the vehicle.

Nissan Land Glider

They're also a huge amount of fun to ride - but while they haven't really taken the market by storm yet, it's clear that a lot of companies see huge potential in the future, because they're popping up everywhere! Nissan's Land Glider (pictured above), the 4MC, the Sidam Xnovo, VentureOne (now Persu) and the Naro tilting car all show different interpretations of how it might end up happening, and sit at very different points on the scale between car and motorcycle.

And at EICMA Milan, we saw three new implementations of the tilting narrow track vehicle concept that tickled our fancy: the Swaygo 575 EVR-1, the Quadro 350D and the funky Quadro Parkour.

The Swaygo 575 EVR-1

The Swaygo 575 EVR1 - an electric, tilting 4-wheel scooter.

South African company Swaygo has been making four-wheeler prototypes since 2006, but the fully electric 575 EVR-1 looks like the first product the company will bring to market.

The EVR-1 takes advantage of the broader body and carrying capacity of the 4-wheel platform to pack the chassis with battery cells. As such, it's got an "effective range that exceeds 100 km (62 miles)" - although such claims really don't mean much yet in the electric vehicle market, with no standards to go by and a wild variation in battery range depending on how far you twist the throttle.

Twin electric motors are mounted in the rear wheel hubs, allowing direct drive as well as regenerative braking.

The Swaygo 575 EVR1 - an electric, tilting 4-wheel scooter.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the Swaygo's design is that each front wheel is mounted on a separate, short pair of forks, and each rear wheel is suspended by its own shock and miniature swing-arm. It's unclear how the front wheels are connected, but there is a tilt locking mechanism for parking or sitting around at the lights with your feet up - and it's operated by a "vertical center disk brake." So... A bit of a mystery, that process.

Being a little beefier than your typical tilting three wheeler, and carrying some 80kg worth of battery packs for a total kerb weight of 290 kg, the Swaygo comes complete with what I imagine would be a very handy reverse gear - and the single forward gear is good for a maximum of 105 km/h (65 mph) .

Enquiries can be made at the Swaygo website.

The Quadro 350D

The Quadro 350D - 350cc, tilting 3-wheel scooter

Italy's Quadro is working on bringing a number of 3- and 4-wheeled tilters to the market, but the first to look production ready is the 350D.

A conventionally shaped maxi scooter with an aggressive frontal design, a 350cc motor and two front wheels, the 350D could easily slip unnoticed into a Gilera Fuoco procession. But the front suspension and tilting mechanism looks quite different. Where the Piaggio's tilt mechanism is all managed closer to the headstock, the Quadro system sits quite low to the ground, almost acting as a flexible axle between the two front wheels.

The hydraulic Quadro tilting system

Suspension struts on either side appear to give the front wheels three shock absorbers between them, and a lock-off valve in the middle provides a hydraulic tilt lock. Either way, the system delivers the same claimed 40-degree lean angle as the Piaggio/Gilera platform - which is more than enough for a good time on the road, let alone happy, safe commuting.

The Quadro 350D - 350cc, tilting 3-wheel scooter

The 350D has a cigarette lighter attachment for mobile phone charging, and enough underseat storage for two full faced helmets.

More information at the Quadro website.

Quadro 4D Parkour

The Quadro 4D Parkour - an off-road focused tilting 4-wheeler.

Also looking fairly close to production (although not hugely different from Quadro's standard 4D 4-wheeler was the Parkour, a tilting 4-wheeler with twin driven rear wheels, a fairly aggressive paint job and semi-offroad tyres.

Anyone who's ridden a tilting 3- or 4-wheeler can attest that you really don't lose a lot of traction or stability when you take these things off the paved road - I was stunned at how grippy and planted the MP3 felt when I went weaving back and forth on the grass.

The Parkour, named for the sport of urban obstacle-jumping, seems to want to capitalize on this. But while it looks pretty cool, and might be marginally better than its brethren on dirt, it doesn't appear to have longer travel suspension, the low front tilt mechanism will raise ground clearance issues and at the end of the day it's probably way too heavy for serious offloading.

The Quadro 4D Parkour - an off-road focused tilting 4-wheeler.

Still, as a light offroader, it might have a bit to offer ... and it'd be interesting to see the effect of sticking one wheel into a rut and seeing where you ended up.

As I say, tilting triples and quads are starting to pop up all over the place. It's hard to see them making a big dent in American, UK or Australian markets in the short term - they're still a bit 'uncool' for the riding communities in these countries where riding is more of a recreational lifestyle choice than a commuting option. But it'll be very interesting to see how they take off as a safer option on the congested roads of Asia, or the cobblestones of Europe. And in the longer term, it'll be fascinating to see if they end up becoming a larger part of the commuting mix here at home.

About the Author
Loz Blain Loz has been one of Gizmag's most versatile contributors since 2007. Joining the team as a motorcycle specialist, he has since covered everything from medical and military technology to aeronautics, music gear and historical artefacts. Since 2010 he's branched out into photography, video and audio production, and he remains the only Gizmag contributor willing to put his name to a sex toy review. A singer by night, he's often on the road with his a cappella band Suade.   All articles by Loz Blain
14 Comments

Good, good, good! I like where this is going.

But please don't throw in red herrings like VentureOne (now Persu)!

Don't get me wrong their fully enclosed cabin designs are great - my favorite in fact - but they are a fake outfit - they've been promising the stars for years with absolutely nothing to show for it but nonfunctional mockups and empty promises.

yrag
16th November, 2011 @ 12:10 am PST

Somebody should have the foresight to sell these vehicles in Asia. It is a given thing that we travel everywhere on bikes. The only downside is being caught in the rain. The market potential for a three or four wheelers here is worth billions of dollars. Just add a roof please, at the very least a foldable one like the Adiva. Sell your product at a 'proven' market, preferably like right now, in the ongoing rainy season.

Come out with a single seater with a larger luggage compartment, sell it stricly as a commuting vehicle for going to work and back, saving on the fuel and toll charges, beating the morning traffic gridlock and easy to find parking space. You got a killer product here.

marv13
16th November, 2011 @ 12:33 am PST

I can see the Parkour being pretty popular in Nordic cities, although the suspension travel might be an issue in the country (e.g., anywhere outside the city limits here in Norway). People here use scooters and quads all year around in the city (with studded tires). The Parkour looks like it would be a killer app for conditions in Oslo. Also, I would like to start chanting Tesserat! Over and Over again. I don't care if it is a Yamaha or not, but mating a real sportbike motor and beefy version of the quad suspension concept would be a hoot!

Alan Belardinelli
16th November, 2011 @ 03:27 am PST

We have already developed TTW for Tiny Pick Up in Indonesia

Rubiyanto Hadi Pramono
16th November, 2011 @ 04:12 am PST

marv,

You should pester Honda to actually produce that electric version of the Canopy that they showed. It would seem to be perfect for what you want. A commuter with a roof and cargo space.

http://www.gizmag.com/honda-finally-makes-an-electric-canopy-gyro-three-wheeler/20456/

Gadgeteer
16th November, 2011 @ 04:59 am PST

Yes, some sort of weather protection is required for the daily business commuter. Nobody wants to arrive for a day at the office, 'sweat soaked' by wearing a full Rain Suit, or 'roasted' under a broiling sun.

And I agree that "Venture/Persu" has become a JOKE among the 'tilting world'; after almost 5 years and over 6 million in 'venture' capital, they have not yet demonstrated ONE WORKING PROTOTYPE that they have BUILT.

Roger W.
16th November, 2011 @ 06:42 am PST

Actually in many cities in China a principal form of transportation is with electric two wheeled scooters that are half the size of the four wheel design shown in this article. Have the cost, half the power to drive the vehicle and half as much space to store it when it is not in use.

Few people appreciate the billions of dollars spent to simply house a car when it is not in use which is 90% of the time during its useful life. That includes taking up to 50% of the roadway to park or store vehicles overnight and during the day, the 20% of the average American house that is used only to store two cars when not in use, and the amount of land that is dedicated to auto parking at businesses, schools, and public facilities.

The electric scooters of 8 people require a smaller footprint than 1 person's car. Additionally a two person electric scooter does not need a dedicated area but can be squeezed in to unused spaces, with the collapsible designs making it possible to bring a scooter inside an office or home.

So long as governments and taxpayers subsidize the parking and roadways needed for automobiles the users continue to have a free ride. It is the worst in the USA where our governments gave away the public transport systems in the 1940's and 1950's so people often cannot use anything other than a car to get from home to work or school. From my house their is no legal way to get to the nearest town using a bicycle or by walking, and my situation is not uncommon in the United States.

Calson
16th November, 2011 @ 09:36 am PST

having put a good 30k miles on the Piaggio MP3 500, I am pretty excited by the Quadro 4D. But what I am really looking for, are refinement to the idea. Better ergo, more engine power, etc. I also think a roof makes a lot of sense since the main advantage of the 3/4 wheel platform are their stability in the rain and better weather protection for the rider makes a lot more sense on these bikes than normal 2 wheelers.

However I don't think these bikes makes as much sense in Asia, the technology invovled means that they are inherently a lot more expensive than "normal" scooter. A mp3 250 starts at $6400 here in the US and for that kind of money you can prob buy a use car that would make more sense. Its a perfect platform in the US and Europe where people are willing and can afford the premium for these kind of bike.

Last thing that no one ever mention is that by design the two front wheels gets in the ways of the leg well. I hope that the manufacturer will eventually find a workable solution. Again, we need more refinement.

Hsiang Lin
16th November, 2011 @ 10:20 am PST

What happens on these machines when leant over if the outside wheels disappear into a pothole or a lump of bitumen lifts the inside wheels; catapult?

Ozuzi
16th November, 2011 @ 03:42 pm PST

Ozuzi- "What happens on these machines when leant over if the outside wheels disappear into a pothole or a lump of bitumen lifts the inside wheels; catapult?"

What happens to any small motor vehicle when a front wheel drops into a sizable hole, or strikes an obstruction?

The tilting 3 & 4 wheelers at least retain the grip offers by TWO (or THREE) remaining wheels when these incidents occur. The average mono-track vehicle just has ONE other wheel (which just may then follow into the same rolling collision)!

vortexau
16th November, 2011 @ 06:51 pm PST

Some very interesting coments calsons one on the usa is very good .

Chas Blay
17th November, 2011 @ 07:02 am PST

Without seeing a detailed spec of the Parkour it seems at a glance to have nothing more going for it than extra guard clearance and grooved tyre's and to me thats not enough as the Wesll concept which is the only other crossover vehicle I can make a comparison to is significantly more capable off-road and maybe equally caapable on-road. The Parkour will be severely limited by the mechanics of its front suspension.

Overall I'm very excited by the Personal Usage Vehicle (PUV) market development but 3 wheelers are the last joke in the mechanical engineers handbook really, the sooner all countries can adopt the PUV as a standard of vehicle that is NOT a passenger car the better.

The PUV to me is:

one or two seats in line

a vehicle that keeps its Centre of Gravity (Cog) inside its camber or tilting angle so doesn't fall over on its own (Gyroscopes may change that radically as there are already 2 wheel units you CANNOT push over)

Can be licensed to anyone with a modicum of extra training over a car.

Fits 2 across a standard lane way with 500mm between

I am very surprised that Europe and especially Asia (Japan) havent done more with 4 wheel bikes on roads as they have had the licensing to do so for some time and just an empty market to introduce people too. Japan could have helped itself long time ago with 4 wheel motorbikes being available for license as I currently understand it.

Lin there are already companies that produce 4 wheel motorcycles for you to use and also gyroscopic transit scooters to stay upright.

A PUV will substantially improve on the overall performance of the Carver which Jeremy Clarkeson raved about. What has delayed the PUV's introduction is a singular vision from the populace demanding it. So speak up! :)

Gavin Greaves
3rd April, 2012 @ 10:29 pm PDT

This is the future,aerodynamically enclosed narrow 4 wheeled tilt using weight shift,steering to control the lean not the steering,makes for a very safe platform,like a motorcycle except,twice the contact patch,twice the braking.It can be as comfortable as a large sedan with tadem seating,AC and all the goodies or stripped down.Range will be twice that of a motorcycle or other open design.Its a win win for everyone and those that take the risk and get it right will be the next mover and shaker that forever changed the world of transportation for the better.

Thomas Lewis
17th August, 2013 @ 09:56 am PDT

What about a tilting semi three-wheeler? A narrow front track, and even narrower rear track, where all four wheels apply the same lean angle during cornering. Basically that would come down to a tilting Isetta. Remember that little bubble car from the Fifties? BMW made it in a three-wheel version, and later on in a four-wheel version as well. Stretch the wheelbase, and you can accommodate three people in all comfort and safety.

Voyager
18th October, 2014 @ 08:36 am PDT
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