Peraves Ecomobile, Monotracer, E-Tracer and X-Tracer Cabin Motorcycles

Peraves Ecomobile cabin motorcycle

Peraves Ecomobile cabin motorcycle

Cabin motorcycles, the nomenclature for fully enclosed 2 wheelers, are an interesting vehicle concept that, no matter their function or rationale, have to overcome a lot of resistance from both drivers and motorcyclists. Peraves, makers of the Ecomobile, Monotracer and the soon to be unveiled E-Tracer electric and X-Tracer X-Prize competitor, are well aware of the mental leap necessary for drivers to be comfortable with less than 4 wheels or for motorcyclists to accept a vehicle that confines their feet inside.

After the article on the Peraves SuperBallMotor, one of our regular commenters, Gordon Swanson, decided to follow up a bit more with the company. They responded with a short update on the SuperBallMotor but also included more information about the continuing evolution of their cabin motorcycles which Gordon forwarded on to me and it's the first time I really sorted through the various versions. The more I looked through the information, the more interesting and appealing they become.

Peraves Ecomobile

Peraves Ecomobile

The Ecomobile, the first of their cabin motorcycles, has already been around for 20 years, it has proved to be functional, fun and reliable and owners think they're a hoot. The Swiss company had 10 of them over here in the US in 1996 and traveled from Atlanta to Montana to Arizona and back with no problems at all in the 3 week trip, but most of us have never seen one up close nor had one out on the road and it's hard to build an appreciation for an alternative vehicle like this without a bit of seat time.

Peraves Monotracer

Peraves Monotracer

The Monotracer is the newer, redesigned and updated version, has BMW K1200 power with 130 hp, 14 gallons of fuel on board, tops out at 155 mph and at a steady 75 mph gets 47 mpg. All of the expected climate control features, heating and A/C are included. The body is a composite-monocoque made from glass, kevlar and carbon weave bonded with epoxy-resin and reinforced with aluminum crash and roll bars.

These enclosed 2 wheelers have stabilizing wheels deployed at low speeds, while stopped and when in reverse. They extend or retract in about a half second and are "computer supervised." When retracted, the stabilizing wheels are still exposed and touchdown when leaned over at 52 degrees, a pretty impressive angle for some high speed maneuvering.

Motorcycle handlebars control the steering, throttle and such and when strapped into your seat, the videos give you the impression of being in a tandem seat airplane cockpit. It actually looks like a lot of fun and performance appears to be really good, more than enough to dust off any cars you're likely to encounter and easily able to keep up with most bikes.

The Monotracer body style looks very aerodynamic though it is not what I would consider beautiful, functionally appealing would be more accurate, though it doesn't look bad by any means. Once you took a high speed ride swooping through the turns, I bet it would begin to look a lot better, too. Also, it seems to be a considerable improvement over the original Ecomobile.

The new Monotracer is priced at 52,000 Euros, ($73,500), so it's out of reach of a lot of buyers but, exclusivity can be a strong attraction.

If you're able to be in the Czech Republic at the Brno GP track on July 13th to 16th, they're going to have a track day and driver training event which will show you just what these cabin motorcycles are capable of, for the rest of us, we'll have to consider these from afar.

Two interesting developments are coming soon:

The E-Tracer, scheduled to appear this year, is an all electric version and, according to Peraves, is much faster than the BMW powered version. That should be interesting.

Peraves is also one of the official contenders for the X-Prize and they are working on the X-Tracer as their entrant in the 100+ mpg competition. I believe this will be a hybrid using the SuperBallMotor for the ICE component.

Quite honestly, though I've known about them for a long time I never thought much about these 2 wheelers, but looking at them more closely, I think they would make for a really enjoyable riding/driving experience. Would they replace the feeling of riding a motorcycle? I don't know, because of their very different nature, it would have to be experienced first hand to make a real judgment, but, like a lot of you, I'd sure like to give one a try.

Link: Peraves

Comments

  1. SMay says

    No matter their function or rational . . .
    Other than staying dry if it rains and not messing up your hair – I’m missing the point
    of the Tronesque light cycles.

  2. Duffey says

    I think the point is that you can go for long / fast trips is comfort. There is a video on their site squaring a C-6 ‘vette, a Hyabusa and a monotracer in a run from one burg to another. The monotracer won, providing the through-traffic speed of a cycle, and the range of a car (14 gal. tank). I have always thought these are interesting, and the monotracer might get my wife on two wheels, so that would be a big plus…

  3. todd says

    There’s been times running through traffic where I’ve had to stop or slow to a near stop between cars. How would this fare in these instances? I would be afraid to pull through to the front of a line of cars at a signal in fear I wouldn’t have enough room to lower my side-wheels. How much room do you need?

    I too don’t see the benefits (some touring bikes are really comfortable and don’t need air conditioning to make up for the enclosed cabin) other than being a HOOT and getting people’s attention.

    -todd

  4. kevan says

    I think for probably the majority of riders this concept is too radical and too expensive. Motorcyclists tend to very conservative (staid?) and accept change only incrementally over decades. There is ,however, a small group of enthusiastic individuals whose aim is an affordable version of the Peraves. This is mostly “backyard” engineering and is a testament to the enthusiasm of amateurs who know what they want and would like to drag the rest of the motorcycle world into the 21st century. The addition of people such as Craig Vetter and Dan Gurney to the ranks of those interested in this type of vehicle can only aid the cause.
    My personal interest is to have a single seat recumbant style vehicle in which I could travel comfortably and economically for three seasons of the year ( winters in Maine are beyond me). I do have several conventional motorcycles and enjoy the particular abilities each has but I would really like a semi-enclosed recumbant!

  5. says

    Duffey has a good point….think thousands more people on 2 wheels. The more people on 2-wheels, the better motorcycling will be for all.

    I also think about riding in one of these much later in life than i would on a conventional motorcycle.

  6. JR says

    Imagine how many more people would be interested if you built this with the same front end as the Piaggio MP3

    No need to worry about falling over and still the ability to lean.

    More braking power too.

  7. FREEMAN says

    I don’t think motorcycling needs to be dragged into the 21st century. I like it just the way it is. Less body panels and more machine. Not my cup of tea.

  8. DWolvin says

    Wow- I had not thought of mixing a little MP3 into the mix… I whole-heartedly agree that a Piaggio / Peraves mutant would be the bomb!

  9. JC says

    “think thousands more people on 2 wheels. The more people on 2-wheels, the better motorcycling will be for all.”

    Actually, there are people on bikes that clearly shouldn’t be.

    some people should just stay away

  10. Steve In Seattle says

    I have had the pleasure of riding shotgun in an Ecomobile and I can attest that it is an absolutely fabulous machine. I love my BMW K-Bike, but this is a completely different experience. Fast, quiet, comfortable, roomy (huge trunk area was probably the biggest suprise) and the stability of the landing gear and the agility made for a winning combo. The biggest plus: Here in the Puget Sound area, the ECO has boarding priority on the Washington State Ferries!!! Which can be HUGE for commuters.

  11. WRXr says

    What would the legal status of thses be in the US? In most places if it has 3 wheels or less, it is a motorcylce. But this has 2 wheels PLUS 2 additional wheels for stopping/standing. SO it could legally be a car, which means it would need airbags and all the other safety/emission features required on automobiles.

    Anyone know for sure?

    Agree with JR. A piaggio type front end / or Bombardier front end would solve this issue.: It would be a bike.

  12. todd says

    Think of them less as wheels and more like kick stands. It’s no more a car than someone wearing roller skates on a motorcycle…

    -todd

  13. says

    Wait, this thing is totally enclosed, three times the price of a loaded K-bike on which it’s based, and only gets basically the same gas mileage as the naked version?

    Uh, no thanks. Wake me up when they manage a reasonable MPG figure. With a totally closed cockpit and much slipperier design, anything less than 70 MPG is a joke.

    That being said, if someone could manage to build one of these that *did* get good mileage, I suspect everyone would be a lot more interested.

    cl

  14. says

    I think these are kind of cool and I’m sure I’d make space noises in the mostly silent electric version. It doesn’t really mean I want one though. Part of motorcycling to me is the wind, being out in the environment, not solely passing through it in controlled climate comfort.

    But if I were doing some massive touring, I bet one of these things would be sweet.

    Do they make a convertible style?

  15. Steve In Seattle says

    The Ecomobile and Monotracer are “type approved” through the NHTSA and have appropriate DOT compliant replacement parts as needed – and are MOTORCYCLES. There are two Ecomobiles and one Monotracer in the USA, the latter having just showed up this year. In 2006 one of the Ecomobiles drove from North Carolina to California, then up the coast to Seattle where it was the subject of a news feature (carried on King5) and was demonstrated on the Washington State Ferries. Here in Seattle it’s known to be a bit rainy now and then so a fully enclosed, heated, defrosted, and helmet free (Washington State requires helmets on motorcycles, but DOT exemption pre-empts that rule) motorcycle that ALSO has ferry boarding priority offers features that are difficult to place a value on! The WSF was asked to view and acknowledge that the outriggers did not constitute a “trailer charge” since they really don’t extend much more than the “feet” of normal riders and since the entire width with outriggers deployed was actually NARROWER than a full dress Harley that it was parked next to (HD leaning on its kickstand was about three inches wider).

    All that may be interesting, but there’s NOTHING more fun on wheels – 2, 3, 4 or 18+ for that matter!

    Steve in Seattle

  16. says

    Most of the above are completely missing the point of the Ecomobile, by assuming the thing should be viewed primarily as a motorcycle. Sure, it based on a K100 and it leans into corners – but then a Ferrari has four wheels and a trunk, yet few see it just as a mere car (except those of us who have helipads on our yachts).

    The Ecomobile is first and foremost a unconventional and cleverly designed high-end vehicle, built for individuals who want something different. At 73K+ it is pricey, but then you can easily spend that amount too on a chopper from Arlen Ness, Jesse James, OCC and the like. All of which, by the way, appear almost conventional in comparison with this Swiss blimp gondola.

    Sure I’d love to have one, and were they built & sold by BMW the price could be halved, putting it into my reach. I may miss the wind in my face and the bugs in my teeth, but come rain and winter temperatures, it would beat a car any time.

  17. says

    Now just imagine if all major manufacturers built an enclosed two-wheeler, and started competing on fuel mileage as well as looks. The Ecomobile design is decades old by now….

  18. Steve In Seattle says

    Aparently Peraves have been approached in the past by a “major manufacturer”, but I don’t know what ever became of that meeting. I’m just glad that there are enough of them being made that I can still have one some day!

  19. ScotDuke says

    It’s an interesting concept. Some years ago BMW was making noises about developing something along these lines, although the roofed over scooter was the only product to roll off the production line. We do see small numbers of these in Europe and they are quick. But they also have a huge turning circle and as mentioned by others, the price is high.

  20. Azzy says

    These have an important role to fill in the UK (and probably coming here as well with the per mile tax as proposed) as those and the 3 wheelers are taxed as a motorcycle, and not a car. That goes for the congestion tax, and probably a few others.

  21. laurent says

    I’d just like to see more innovative and original things on the road, no matter what.

    We need diversity.

  22. says

    “ ‘think thousands more people on 2 wheels. The more people on 2-wheels, the better motorcycling will be for all.’

    Actually, there are people on bikes that clearly shouldn’t be.

    some people should just stay away”

    True, but thousands of others could still join. The more people understand the nature of what it is like to be on two wheels, the more awareness there will be, not only from other drivers, but from road crews and general road maintenance, civil engineers, etc.

  23. ScotDuke says

    Azzy – just so you know – the road charge/mile concept put forward for the UK has been scrapped indefinitely. It’ll be too costly and complex to implement, so the revenue would have to pay for an expensive technology and it wouldn’t actually earn much for the country, if at all. The Netherlands is pushing ahead with the system, for the moment at least.

  24. Miles says

    Nice, but $73K is way too much. I can get 3, 5, and 7-series BMW cars for under a $1K around here. (Sure from 1995, but $72K buys a lot of gas, and a few motorcycles on the side.)

  25. Po Khamvongsa says

    The rumor is the Chinese are working on their own version right now for an enclosed motorcycle for less than $10 grand, they must be keeping the project a secret for fear of copy cat. The only info I have is that it is a Propane/ICE/Electric 3 wheel Hybrid with 3 high performance hub electric motors. My googling detective works are unsuccessful, any body heard anything about this rumor. “PO”

  26. Azzy says

    ScotDuke – Good to know. Too bad over here we wont try it until we have pumped billions into teh system. If it doesnt work, it must not be funded well enough….

  27. Uncle B says

    Very disappointed in the probably truthful, but low Mpg figure quoted! Got to get a higher number here! Next, How do they fair in winterly conditions? This is a “Down South” thing, not a practical replacement for a car! Get them made in China and get the price down under the price of a standard sedan, then let the McMansion owners in the ‘burbs buy them to make room for mortgage payments rising as we speak, along with the price for a gallon of gasoline! Nice to see the “road-rash free way to go is available for all!

  28. says

    Very Cool!

    I am enthusiastic about electric vehicles, ecological and human-powered, clear e’e motorcycles.
    I appreciate the possibility of securing a well-designed fairing and substantially improves the aerodynamics. This also improves performance and fuel consumption.
    Currently I am more interested in electric vehicles, seeing that the performance of new generations of electric motors are often better than the internal combustion engines. See the Tesla Roadster, is a wonderful example.
    I believe that an improvement in the design of stabilizing side wheels easier to have the same advantage of motorcycles in the middle of normal urban traffic.
    I think the price of $ 70,000.00 does not make sense. The authors should provide a reduction of the price.
    I wait for the electric model should be much more interesting.
    Regards to all

  29. kingsley says

    the product make sense but like every one has said before the cost is unnecessay and i wonder why other manufacturers can’t produce this vehicle or is it due to patent right or unnecessary pride. If i was asked to choose between a goldwing and a monotracer i would choose the monotracer it’s how a touring motorcycle should look, i mean you are protected from the extremes what is the use of heated grips or sound stereo in open air at 80m/h when you can be cocooned in a monotracer.

  30. kingsley says

    and enjoy those luxuries such as heated grips, gps, sound stereo, and of course air conditioning no need for protective suit in the summer or tropical regions.

  31. Bruce Fidler says

    I think the real problem is not MPG, but PPM – PenniesPerMile. With the low MPG and the very high price, you could keep a Hummer AND buy a NEW K1200LTC as well. What are they thinking??

    By the way, my experience on the K-bike includes 54.7MPG @ 65mph on a 3 day ride along the Texas coast on a 1999 K1200LT. And I could hear my classical music CD’s in, and out of traffic.

  32. steeleye5 says

    I think it’s an interesting concept, one that didn’t need to be made. Honestly though, how’s one suppose to fix one of those things. I’ll link a video of the engine in I believe the Etracer, which i would assume that something similar is in the pictures of the shown models. http://kugelmotor.peraves.ch/Bilder/Kugelmotor_engl.wmv As a person who is studying 2 and 4 stroke repair, which includes motorcycles, i wanna know how to fix one if one ever comes to me in need of repairs