Think back just a few years. How many three wheel production motorcycles or cars were being produced? Not trike conversions using a “normal” motorcycle as a base vehicle but a three wheeler from day one. Were there any? Historically, many have come and gone but at that time, the T-Rex powered by a Kawasaki engine was out there, a very low production vehicle but beyond that, what?
Fast forward to today and the Piaggio MP3 is riding out of showrooms and the Can-Am Spyder is just going on sale and you can bet we’ll see quite a few more 3 wheelers popping up now that some companies have taken the all important first step into production. Maybe Volkswagen will take another look at their GX3 and who knows what else may happen. These trikes are not a technological leap but they open a new segment of the market which may itself lead to new ideas. Things can change pretty fast, a lot faster than you might think when you look at current products and try to project forward. It’s easy to see all of the hurdles without considering how many different creative minds are working on the problems which can lead to astounding progress.
Electric motorcycles have been a garage project for technically competent tinkerers for many years but recently the KillaCycle is taking the idea to a whole new level. Working with A123 Systems, the same company providing power for the Tesla Roadster, they’ve developed a serious racer that’s probably going to dip into 7 second quarter mile times before long. Sure, everyone says the range isn’t there yet, which is true, but do the critics think there’s some immutable law keeping that problem from being solved? Battery technology is a huge focus today because auto manufacturers are crying out for better, lighter and cheaper batteries. That will open up possibilities for motorcycles, too.
Even diesel is getting another look for motorcycles, with the Thunder Star, which, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, and the Neander, which is about ready for production. The Bulldog is being made for the military with some civilian sales planned and Arctic Cat has a diesel quad. Diesels are becoming a big factor in the LeMans series since Audi went out and crushed the competition yet it wasn’t long ago that diesel was only for trucks, and slow ones at that.
I think I’ve said all of this before in one way or another:
The rate of technological change is increasing rapidly and motorcycles in some ways are almost frozen in time. It’s common to hear sport bike riders taking shots at Harley Davidson as using ancient technology but I have a hunch you’ll be able to say the same thing about current sport bikes before very long.
Even having said that, I still smile every time I pause to look around and see how quickly new products appear and advances are made. I was recently reading this book which is really neat if you get into fast paced technological change. It will definitely get your wheels turning, … and smiling, too. I guess the best way to sum it all up is to say, hang on, you ain’t seen nothing yet!