By on January 24, 2013

The perennially shy Alex Roy took delivery of his Morgan Trike last year and has dutifully operated it under all conditions, including during the arrival of Hurricane Sandy. There’s something awfully charming about the “Three Wheeler”, even if the price of it would also put you in a brand-new six-speed Corvette Grand Sport. As far as not-quite-motorcycles go, I much prefer it to the Can-Am Spyder, anyway.

Much of the appeal of the Morgan is its novelty value; we didn’t get very many Morgans of any type in this country, much less three-wheeled ones. The T-Rex is probably the only other non-bike-based trike on the market. In the UK, however, the “Moggie” is just one in a large field of competitors. Some are closer to the original Morgan design than the Morgan itself, while others are futuristic in the creepy Seventies sense of the word. The Telegraph recently put eleven of them together for a short test.

The Three Wheeler Group Test isn’t exactly long-winded but it provides a nice glimpse into a kind of motoring we just don’t get in the New World. About half of them are riffs on the Morgan concept, but some, like the Blackjack, are new ideas. A potential best-of-breed combination of the vintage-trike look and modern-superbike four-cylinder engine doesn’t yet appear to exist; if you want the Morgan look, you have to take somebody’s twin, whether it’s from a 2CV, a Moto Guzzi, or a fake Harley.

Clearly the thing to do would be for TTAC to track-test all these trikes until someone is killed, probably me, but in light of current airfare rates we might try to cover the domestically-available models first. If you build a trike and you’d like to see it disrespected reviewed in these pages, let us know!

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17 Comments on “Which Trike Do You Like?...”


  • avatar
    grzydj

    No bumpin’ and runnin’ with that front engine setup. Yikes.

    Since you and I both have pedal backgrounds Jack, I’d like somebody to test a High Roller, which is an adult sized big wheel, which has 3 wheels, so is technically a trike.

    It’d be a total human powered dorifto machine.

    EDIT: No links?

    Video here:

    http://www. youtube.com/ watch?v=oSox50NGUEg

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    I am shocked that there is not more of these given the relative ease of certifying a motorcycle for sale in the US (which these legally are) compared to a car. The MEV TR1 and Grinnall Scorpion 3 seem to be the performance options, with I4 motorcycle engines midship, but apparently according to the reviews mid-engine design might be too crazy for a vehicle with only one rear wheel. Interesting some of these, including the Blackjack, are front wheel drive.

    I would still argue that there is no point to a three wheel vehicle except to evade road taxes (UK) or evade automobile crash test regulations (US). However, as long as we live in a world with road taxes and crash test regulations those are good reasons. But at least with respect to the US market these still cost to much. If someone sold a proper sit down trike for Can-Am Spyder money I could see a market for that.

  • avatar
    tmkreutzer

    As a motorcyclist of 25+ years I would love to see things like these become commonplace, but open cockpit machines and contraptions like the Can-Am offer none of the advantages of bikes OR cars. They are too big to split lanes when the need (or opportunity) arises and they leave your ass out in the weather. IMO these kind of vehicles need to offer closed cockpits, heaters, radios, etc, and be more of an ultralight car than they are a bike.

    The only trike I’ve ever seen make any sense in real a practical way is the Honda Gyro Canopy. That offers the advantages of a bike in that it is small and maneuverable, but still has some cargo capacity and limited weather protection. 8 million Japanese delivery boys can’t be wrong. It is exactly the opposite forumla to what we are seeing here.

    But I’d still totally own one of those…

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      Cars handle better than motorcycles. What these reverse trikes give a buyer is something that can approach Super 7/Ariel Atom handling (even though with four wheels they will always have better handling) while avoiding the crash and safety certifications that hamper the sale and importation of a Super 7 or Ariel Atom.

      “IMO these kind of vehicles need to offer closed cockpits, heaters, radios, etc, and be more of an ultralight car than they are a bike.” Then you might as well make a proper four wheel car. Look how cheap a stripper Versa or Fiesta is priced. What you describe was actually made, in the form of the Reliant Robin, but only to evade UK road taxes which tax four-wheel “cars” much higher than three-wheel “motorcycles”.

      • 0 avatar
        tmkreutzer

        True that. I tend to think of three wheelers in practical terms for street use – almost like a micro car – instead of as a toy. If the authorities created an ultralight class of four wheelers, ala the Japanese 660cc Kei cars, they would fill the tiny commuter car void (and hospital emergency rooms) and three wheelers would still be oddities.

        As a toy all of these are as practical as something like the Atom, although subject to all the limitations you’ve ponted out. Too bad, I’m never going to be allowed to have a toy like that without being able to argue that there is some sliver of practicality. This heap-big-he-man still has to get permission from my wife for that sort of thing.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        Bombardier sells the Can-Am Spyder starting at $16,699, I wonder what Bombardier could sell a proper sit down (as opposed to sit on) reverse trike for. The wheels/tires, brakes, suspension and drivetrain could all be the same, it would just need a longer, wider frame and basic seats, It would drive and handle much better than the Can-Am Spyder. Maybe $20K, $25K at most? For a potential Super 7/Ariel Atom competitor, from a large, reputable manufacturer, fully assembled with a warranty. It would make a great track day/weekend warrior “car”.

        I wonder if Bombardier really doesn’t see a market for something like that, or if it just does not want to wake up legislators to the three-wheel loophole.

    • 0 avatar

      “…closed cockpits, heaters, radios, etc, and be more of an ultralight car than they are a bike.”

      Indeed, I’ve got a 1981 HMV Freeway which is precisely that. I use it as a commuter vehicle in the Seattle area. Inasmuch as it’s powered by a Tecumseh engine of 16 hp, it’s not particularly sporty, but it will go fast enough for actual freeway use, too.

      The heater, however, is just an oil cooler mounted under the dash without even so much as the benefit of a fan, which means it’s not so hot in cool weather. The factory specifically warned against using Freeways on ice anyway, as their entirely mechanical CVT does not play well with sudden changes in traction. I do get a kick out of driving it, though.

  • avatar
    chug

    For 3 wheelers, the Piaggio MP3 is hard to beat. Rides like a motorcycle.

    http://www.piaggiousa.com/scooters.html#!s=home/mp3-500

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    While there are many advantages to the concept of a 3 wheeler (taxes, certification, drive train efficiency), it seems like most of these things lack a critical aspect of cycles: the ability to lean thru turns like a motorbike. I remember seeing something ages ago that managed to add that ability:

    http://www.motherearthnews.com/Green-Transportation/1983-09-01/Three-Wheel-Cars.aspx

    Unless a 3 wheeler has this capability it will lack the thrill factor necessary to overcome the inconvenience inherent in the smaller form factor.

    • 0 avatar
      slow kills

      The Van der Brink Carver is the first one to come to mind, albeit I must agree with motorcycle writer Glynn Kerr in calling three wheelers the worst of both worlds: poor stability, safety, and amenities but still not as fast, simple, or fun as a bike.
      http://carver-technology.com/

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    It would be hard for me to choose one of these over a nicely sorted Miata or Toyo-ru BRZ.

  • avatar
    ott

    Do I have to like a trike? I’ll take the Corvette GS!

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    I’d like to build something like this from a kit, but it looks like that Black-jack, in kit form, still comes out quite a large figure.

    More or less, all I would really need is a transaxle. Weld together some steel tubing for the frame, cover it in some sheet metal. Wouldn’t be a bad project at all. I’d like to run it with with a old BMW opposed engine though.

  • avatar
    probert

    Even as many on TTAC decry the lack of cup holders, it’s hard to deny the peculiar beauty of these machines. Of the bunch only the blackjack has front wheel drive.

    For this layout it just makes so much sense: the rear can be used for storage and, loss of control, due to the rear wheel breaking grip, is avoided. It’s not the most evocative of the bunch but I’ll bet it’s the best ride.

    • 0 avatar
      chironrocket3

      Did you read the article? At least two others are front-drive. One, in fact, is described as being based on the 2CV.

      As a despondent of front-drive, I (humbly and civil-ly) disagree. Front-drive has the advantages of packaging and efficiency going for it and little else, in my opinion.

      When you buy one of these machines, you sacrifice safety and protection for one thing–fun. They’d be great commuters if someone would see reason and make one with a closed cabin, but until that time, these are about driving distilled down to its roots–the driver and the machine. Front-drive seems counter to that goal.

      I’m a big fan of alfresco motoring, and if you sprinkle some power-oversteer on top, I’m even happier. Front-drive on a machine designed ostensibly for fun makes little sense, if any.

  • avatar
    Lynn E.

    Sure they are silly and dangerous but I would love to have one.
    I wonder how an electric one would handle with motors in all 3 wheels?

  • avatar
    niky

    Hard to imagine the Grinall’s been in production for twenty years now, and still looks exactly the same.

    I absolutely adore the BlackJack Zero. Have for years. Kind of bummed that there’s no distributorship out here, but there you go. Even more fascinating if you option up to a Beetle motor…

    Since it’s available Stateside, that’s one you should go for, Jack. You’ve already got a source for a privately-owned Morgan, and it can’t be that hard to get a T-Rex for a group test… right?


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