When four wheels is too many and two wheels isn’t enough
Three-wheeled cars (or is it trikes?) have been around since the invention of the car itself and yet they still have an aura of mystique and novelty surrounding them. Three-wheeled vehicles are in a league of their own and sit between the realms of cars and motorcycles. They make the rules up as they go along with new novelties and experiences being explored with constant innovation.
Want to drive a car that leans into turns like a motorbike? Want a bike that has the stability of a car? These things can only exist on three wheels and thanks to some forward-thinking engineers, they do! Let us take you down the rabbit hole and show you the weird, wacky and wonderful world of three-wheeled vehicles.
One of the most interesting cars you’ll ever see and the most fun car you’ll ever drive, if you’re lucky enough to get a chance. Although the car is an eye-watering £30,000 the experience you get to it is 100% unique. To describe the way it feels to drive one wouldn’t compare it to a car or a motorcycle but rather, it’s probably closest to feeling like being in a fighter jet.
As you turn a corner, the entire cabin will tilt itself into the corner to make it feel as though you’re a fighter pilot banking in the sky. The quicker you turn the wheel, the further the cabin will lean meaning that you can control the amount of tilt to suit your liking.
If you’re looking for a more open-top experience then Yamaha’s trike bike should hit the spot. The Yamaha Niken is a big, beefy-looking motorcycle with one key difference. Having three wheels allows for riders to enjoy superior traction and stability all whilst preserving the feeling of leaning into corners, putting your knee down and going full-tuck.
Although it’s a little wider than the two-wheeled variant it is based upon, the Niken still manages to elegantly filter through traffic and carve through twisty roads. The worries of slipping, falling and watching your bike slide across the abrasive tarmac aren’t completely eradicated but they are reduced significantly with this excellent three-wheeler.
Unlike the Vandenbrink Carver, the Polaris Slingshot doesn’t offer a bizarre novelty but instead, this stanced three-wheeler focuses purely on speed and performance. The Slingshot is, essentially, a similar product to the Ariel Atom. It’s an open-top, ultra-lightweight sports car that is optimised for breathtaking track performance.
Built in Alabama, this American machine is powered by a 2.4-litre I4 engine which produces 173 hp and 166 lb-ft of torque. It may not sound like much but this little piece of fun only weighs 791 kg and does 0-60 mph in around five and a half seconds.
The main appeal to this tripod, I believe, is the stunning looks. Angular and aerodynamic fairings make the Slingshot stand out even more than it already does and the ‘tadpole’ setup with one thick wheel at the centre of the back give this car a real futuristic feel.
The Morgan 3-Wheeler (yes, that’s the official name) is very similar to the Slingshot in concept but not in design. Like the Slingshot, the Morgan is also a 3-wheeled, open-top sports car but instead of taking styling cues from modern supercars, the Morgan uses classic Morgan styling.
It looks classic and it feels classic too with the rumbling 2.0-litre V-twin S&S engine truly feeling like it was made 40 years thanks to the noise and vibration. If you’re looking for a refined and well-tuned ride, you better look elsewhere. However, if you enjoy the styling of classic cars and are looking for something incredibly unique than this may be the one for you.
Last but certainly not least, we can’t end this without mentioning possibly the most iconic 3-wheeler ever. It was incredibly popular and yet no one really knows what the people over at the Reliant Motor Company were thinking. Who thought putting a rather conventional car body on a delta 3-wheeler layout, where only one wheel is at the front, was a good idea?
Well, as it so happens you didn’t actually need a car license to drive the Robin before 2001 as it weighed under 450 kg and had three wheels instead of four. The vehicle was also taxed and registered as a motorcycle which meant that owners could save money each year by owning a Robin, simply because it had three wheels.
Since the regulations have changed the Reliant Robin is mainly good for making us think of Del Boy’s Reliant Regal and tipping itself over around bends.
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