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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There was an interesting discussion here recently about the future direction of motorcycle design. My view was that high-performance 3-wheel versions would become more popular if the price were to come down.

It appears that KTM was thinking the same thing, but going one wheel better. This motorcycle/sports car hybrid concept seems to be springing up all over. I really think it's going to be a serious challenge for conventional bike designs as soon a volume production brings the price down to a reasonable (i.e., HD, BMW or Goldwing) level. I can tell you when I saw this thing I moaned with desire, and that doesn't happen often when you're 61 years old:
http://www.motorauthority.com/news/roadsters/ktm’s-new-x-bow-roadster-ready-for-geneva/
 

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I'd have to go with the Ariel Atom myself. I watched the videos on youtube. Talk about feeling the wind in your face. If I ever had to step from a bike to something with more wheels the Atom would be my choice for sure! 8)
 

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I read the write-up on the KTM and my first thought was: "What's the objective? Performance or practicality?" It seems the KTM it's clearly aiming at the performance sector; same thing for the Atom. I'm wondering how mass market a strictly performance-oriented 3 or 4 wheeler would be? As opposed to a 3 or 4 wheeler that would serve as a high-mileage commuter vehicle?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
TucsonDon said:
I read the write-up on the KTM and my first thought was: "What's the objective? Performance or practicality?"
The same questions could be posed with respect to your Goldwing (or any other motorcycle), which would probably come up short in both categories compared to the X-bow and the other multi-wheel concepts.

Practicality? An open-to-the-elements vehicle can be only be called practical by the dedicated few, but the X-Bow would at least require less protective clothing since road rash is unlikely in a crash. The design also offers the possibility of greater cargo capacity. And even if you still have to sit out in the rain (as on a motorcycle) at least there is less danger of traction loss with more rubber on the road.

Performance? The X-Bow and other concepts pretty much rule this category: greater stability; greater cornering speed; greater braking power; greater ability to operate on gravel, dirt and other soft surfaces. I honestly can't think of a single way in which a motorcycle offers an advantage over these things. If somebody can think of one I'd like to hear it. I think they would deliver every one of the pleasures of motorcycling -- but more of each.

It's going to be funny to watch the debate begin when these things hit the road. Motorcyclists like to bitch about being too hot, too cold, too wet; they bitch about locking up the rear wheel and about skidding on metal grates and oil slicks; they bitch about rain grooves and tar snakes; they bitch about low-sides and high-sides and picking up a heavy bike; they bitch about roadside flats that require removing the rear wheel without a centerstand -- but when this alternative presents itself which eliminates all that but still preserves the wind-in-your-face experience many (I predict most) will say "I wouldn't be caught dead on one of those."
 

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MikeB said:
The same questions could be posed with respect to your Goldwing (or any other motorcycle), which would probably come up short in both categories compared to the X-bow and the other multi-wheel concepts.
Absolutely. No question about it. I was approaching the X-bow from the perspective of what would provide the greatest mass appeal. If a manufacturer is looking to make a vehicle with more than two wheels that appeals the broadest audience, a high-performance one won't do it. Most people don't need or want that level of performance, and most won't be willing to pay for it.

Note: I'm certain X-bow and the Atom are targeting the market who wants high performance and is willing to pay for it.

On the flip side is this: if a manufacturer is looking to make a high mileage alternative to cars that appeals to the broadest audience, they're going to have to take into account weather. That means providing cover, which may put the vehicle into the category of automobile, and thus be subject to some (or all) of the same regulations. It would then be competing against the low-end cars already on the market.

If the objective is to find a market willing to endure the elements in return for 60+ mpg or more, then we return to the question of how much incremental market is there for three or four wheels vs. a conventional two wheels for a scooter. I have no idea what the market is for an open three or four wheel vehicle vs. an open two wheel scooter or small motorcycle. In many part of the world, two wheeled scooters and small motorcycles are the primary means of transportation. Could the same be the case here in the U.S.? Again, I honestly just don't know.
 

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MikeB said:
It's going to be funny to watch the debate begin when these things hit the road. Motorcyclists like to bitch about being too hot, too cold, too wet; they bitch about locking up the rear wheel and about skidding on metal grates and oil slicks; they bitch about rain grooves and tar snakes; they bitch about low-sides and high-sides and picking up a heavy bike; they bitch about roadside flats that require removing the rear wheel without a centerstand -- but when this alternative presents itself which eliminates all that but still preserves the wind-in-your-face experience many (I predict most) will say "I wouldn't be caught dead on one of those."
I suspect you're right ... there's an element of two wheeled riding that goes beyond the "wind in your face experience." So I suspect there won't be a lot of crossover between the two markets. Some ... but I think we can safely say the two wheeled motorcycle won't be going away any time soon.
 

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I like it. Especially the "rain proof" nature of the vehicle. It's an open air experience thats safer then a bike. no lean angles though. Anyoone who rides a trike may want one of those instead.


I'll take two....and keep the Shadow.
 

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I have no doubt that they look like an incredible amount of fun. Heck, anything with that sort of performance stats would be. But, they arent motorcycles.

I doubt that most bikers just want "wind in their face". I have ridden in pretty zippy little VW type buggies, with just the roll cage and no body, which give you plenty of wind in your face. I've had a T-Roadster which also gave a tremendous amount of "wind in your face". It still is a long way from the experience you get on a motorcycle.

I see the appeal, but I doubt that they will ever even begin to replace motorcycles.

Yall ride safe..
TJ
 

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I doubt that machines like this one will ever replace 2 wheelers.
Totally different experience. For me, one of the main reasons I like a bike is the fact that you have to lean into the twisties.
Try doing that with the KTM :shock:
Interesting concept though and I'd rather drive one of these than a 3 wheeler :D
 

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TJMac said:
I have no doubt that they look like an incredible amount of fun. Heck, anything with that sort of performance stats would be. But, they arent motorcycles.

I doubt that most bikers just want "wind in their face". I have ridden in pretty zippy little VW type buggies, with just the roll cage and no body, which give you plenty of wind in your face. I've had a T-Roadster which also gave a tremendous amount of "wind in your face". It still is a long way from the experience you get on a motorcycle.

I see the appeal, but I doubt that they will ever even begin to replace motorcycles.

Yall ride safe..
TJ
i feel the same.

wouldn't the DOT classify that as a car and not a cycle? as an L.A. commuter, i would hate to give up the ability to use the carpool lane during rush-hour traffic.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I see the appeal, but I doubt that they will ever even begin to replace motorcycles.
Just for the record, I don't think that these things will replace motorcycles any more than jet airplanes made prop-planes obsolete. But a lot of big money from major manufacturers is being bet that a significant chunk of the market can be wooed away. I think the concept is a winner, but I doubt we'll know for sure for a decade or so.
 

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