Quadricycles: Another Case Where Four Is Two Too Many?

The Geneva Motor Show has brought out a few new rides that further blur the lines between car and motorcycle. The Yamaha Tesseract made distinct impression when the concept ‘bike’ showed up in 2007. Four-wheel ATVs have been around for a while and distinguish themselves from cars by having the pilot centrally located, straddling the engine in a ‘horse-riding’ position while steering with a handlebars rather than a wheel. As on-road vehicles these have only started to catch on outside of the USA. The NHTSA would define these vehicles as automobiles and require them to pass the same safety standards as any other automobile, including requirements for restraints, airbags and collision tests. These requirements wouldn’t make any sense on something more akin to a motorcycle than an SUV, but one can appreciate where rules are rules and as defined it is an automobile with four wheels in contact with the ground at all times. Regardless of U.S. marketability, the world marches on. Enter the Lumeneo Smera and the Sbarro Pendolauto. The Smera is a proposed cabin-enclosed electric vehicle that has four wheels but tilts similar to the idea behind the Piaggio MP3 and the Sidam Xnovo. The Sbarro Pendolauto is a much more sporty quad concept with the rider in the open air in a very low position that shouts corner-speed. The saying ‘four is two too many’ regarding the four-stroke engine is often recognized by fans of two-stroke powered motorcycles and the same could be echoed in regard to these four-wheelers. So, why a pseudo-cage when a bike is so much fun? Obviously the stability of four corners would be an asset as well as the additional grip offered by two additional wheels. The drawbacks would include the increased size and weight of the extra wheels. Size is a big deal to many scooter and small displacement fans that are frequent readers of 2SB, where we typically get excited about smaller being better. But the quadricycle concept does retain several aspects of the motorcycle that many people enjoy such as nimble handling, better fuel efficiency, the open air rush, leaning into turns and a smaller footprint when it comes to traffic and parking. The quadricycle concept for personal transportation is intriguing. If the NHTSA would redefine the motorcycle as a vehicle where the rider is centrally located and any passenger would be required to sit in-line with the pilot (or if the quad was given a class unto itself) we could possibly see things like this on the road in the USA. Surely the auto industry would have something to say about it. But maybe it could be an asset to them if they were to join in by scooping up one of the several fine ATV makers in the US like Polaris or Articcat and kick start their entry into the field. BRP is already on the case and half way there.

Thanks to Jalopnik and Gizmodo for the links.