Instantiations of the Dream:
An explanation of description shorthand can be seen here. (For instance, what does 1F1T mean? It means the vehicle has one front wheel, and that one tilts.)
2F3T, Natural(?), Gas, 1 seat, Open. Mitch Casto, ever persistent, noticed a reference to a machine by Neumann. The above image was scanned from a German book called One Hundred Years on Three Wheels (100 Jahre auf 3 Rädern).
The generous soul who emailed the above image wrote: "Ernst Neumann was a painter, teacher, industrial designer and he had some other professions. He started with installing a steam engine in a threewheeler in 1887. In 1900 he made a journey to Italy with it. In 1922 he built another threewheeler for transport. In about 1945 till 1950 he built tilting threewheelers. The photo I scanned shows another machine from 1945/50 with Neumann."
Now there's an inventive guy. Go, Neumann!
1F1T, Natural, Gas, 1 seat, Open. Way back when, British motorcycle manufacturer BSA/Triumph made a small tilting trike called the "Three."
It's top speed was a mere 30 mph, but boasted the impressive mileage figure of 125 mpg. Ariel called it "the ideal shopping machine." It was powered by a 50 cc 2-stroke engine producing 1.7 bhp (bhp means "brake horsepower" if you've ever wondered, uh, whatever that means) at 5500 rpm, it had pedals like a moped to start and, in a pinch get one out of trouble. It's price was a mere 95 Pounds Sterling.
It's lean was controlled by torsion bars; it wants to sit up straight but will comply with a rider's movements.
1F1T, Assisted, Gas, 1 seat, Semi-open. In 1980 came the Jephcott Tilting Trike. As described in July 1980, in Popular Mechanics magazine, Dr. Edmund Jephcott suggested that this 30" wide, 66" wheelbase would get 100 mpg from its 75cc, 4 hp engine.
"Its crafty tilt feature enables it to weave safely through snarl-ups or make sharp turns at speed without risking a spill. Unlike two-wheelers, the car is stable at a crawl and in crosswinds, while the body gives riders weather and crash protection."
The tilting mechanism is foot-pedal controlled. "The foot pressure is a direct extension of the instinctive sense of human balance. There is a lateral shift in the center of gravity, allowing faster safe cornering speeds than a conventional four-wheeler."
This was a prototype, and the above sketch was for a proposed body about 81" long.
Mother Earth News' 3VG, 1983
2F3T, Active, Gas, 1 seat, Closed. Alert Reader Troy S. followed up his email about an oddity called the 3VG to me by sending a reprint of an article about a series of seven tilting trikes by the staff of the Mother Earth News. The first through sixth were ever-more sophisticated proof-of-concept vehicles, and the seventh is a very sophisticated bike that looks like the model for the LifeJet (see Mercedes, below). Among those listed on the patent is John Shuttleworth, founder of Mother Earth News. (His and other TTW patents can be seen on the TTW patents page.)
Mother Earth News' 3VG, 7th prototype.
This example, the seventh prototype, was recently purchased by Mitch Casto (firstname.lastname@example.org) who, with the help of some of the engineering department where he works, is restporing it. What a find!
GM Lean Machine, 1983
1F1T, Assisted, Gas, 1 seat, Closed. In 1983 GM's Frank Winchell put together a tilting trike.
Here's more pics and other data on a page dedicated to this relatively well-known TTW.
Honda Gyro, 1984 (This one Prototype X)
1F1T, Natural, Gas, 1 seat, Open. Honda mass-produced the Gyro from 1984 to 1986. They are pretty rare, and fun to watch in motion. Read more about it at the Honda Gyro page.
Trautwein Dreirad (Three-Wheeler), 1984
2F3T, Natural(?), Gas, 1+1 seat, Open. Dr. Wolfgang Trautwein developed this parallelogram Ackerman steering system and applied it to a variety of bike.This picture is from a German-language website featuring a prototype built on a Vespa chassis. Go to that website: http://www.fortunecity.com/uproar/picture/717/VESPA/GANZN/ganzn.htm
Trautwein's technology made it into a variety of vehicles, including a Honda CX500. Read about it at this German-language website: http://www.cx500c.de/cx_artikel/1984_02_motorrad.htm
Here's to a great inventor...
Dr. Wolfgang Trautwein.
Jephcott Micro, 1987
1F1T, Active, Gas, 1+1 seat, Closed. Jephcott's Micro, from 1987, was an evolutionary extension of the Tilting Trike of 1980. This trike was more like a production vehicle, and, further, had its pedal-controlled tilt replaced by a n hydraulic controller. Click the above thumbnail to see a four-panel explanation of the pendulum-based control.
Below are some pictures by motorcycle designer Tony Foale who had the privilege of driving the Micro back in 1987. From his perspective on high performance vehicles, the Micro's tilt mechanism was too slow in response. Could it be that the human instinct, and foot pedal control, are the optimum? Even if it's not ideal for mass-consumption, maybe, maybe.
This one is 8'5" and has a 350cc 12hp engine, and has a maximum tilt of 25 degrees.
The Unisport, 198?
2F3T, (Automatic or Assisted), Gas, 1 seat, Closed. Mitch Casto, ever vigilant, sent me some grainy faxes (courtesy of another tilt-fan, Larry Edwards, inventor of the Slalom shown below) of this tilter, the Unisport by Unicar Corp. of Anaheim CA. TWO readers have contributed further information:
Vortex, VX-1, 1988
1F1T, Assisted, Gas, 1 seat, Closed. This project began in 1983, but was actaully realized in an undergraduate thesis at the U. of Waterloo (Canada) in 1988. In the author's own words, "The Vortex VX1 is a 2 passenger, 3 wheel concept vehicle powered by a 650 cc Honda Motorcycle engine. The VORTEX leans into corners like a motorcycle, achieving good stability despite its narrow track."
The next step is the VX2000, which will got from Assisted lean mode to Active (hydraulic) lean control.
(Links are dead as of May 2006. If anyone can help me get back to The Man, let me know!)
Philippe Girardi's Pulsar series, 1989
1F3T, Assisted, Gas, 1 seat, Open. The Pulsar is the name given to a design as much as to any TTW. Philippe Girardi's excellent pages, with great photos, can be found at http://www.troisroues.com/. He's still rolling, with fresh press always in. Check it out! (And thanks, Philippe, for writing to help me make this entry more accurate!)
The Tiltster, 199?
1F1T, (unknown), Gas, 1 seat, Open. Mitch Casto and the rest of the tilt afficianados sent a link along about an apparent one-off called The Tiltster. It looks fast in its well-finished purple-ness. It looks a little scary too. It was built by a guy named Lawyane of XZOTIC Cycle Products in Prairie, Texas.You can see it is V-Twin powered.
1F3T, Natural, Gas, 1 seat, Open. From Granada Spain comes a patented narrow-track trike, a leaner, and a beaut! Patented now in the US and in Europe, he has a running prototype. This site has gorgeous pictures of the mechanism, the bike at rest, and in the dynamic equilibrium of a hard turn. Further, he has a discussion of single-passenger TTW. Go ahead and click here to visit!
BMW Concept Trike, 1994
1F1T, (unknown), Gas, 1 seat, Open. This 1994 concept car is a one-wheel-in-the-front, two-in-the-back vehicle. Two nice pictures of it can be seen at this simple site. I don't know how (or IF!) this one tilts, though. Hmmmm.
The Millennium Trike, 1995
2F3T, Natural, Gas, 1 seat, Semi-open. James Sulman and Mike Richardson have a page up for their "hypertrike", The Millennium Trike. It's a beautifully done story line with lots of detailed photos. This is a beautiful bike, and capable of ~40 degrees of lean.
2F3T, Active. Gas, 1+1 seats, Closed. This concept car is a two-wheel-in-the-front, one-in-the-back tilter. Check it out at Benz's own Life Jet page. Will they go into production? Here's hoping! All say a little thanks to engineer Philip Koehn for his wit. Thanks, too, to Michael Shcact for his permission to use these images. You may also view this vehicle at
Now in production!
1F1T, Active, Gas, 1+1 seats, Semi-open.
In 1997 Kroonen and van den Brink won the Invention of the Year prize at the world trade centre of Rotterdam for their elegant, and yet (apparently) simple tilt control mechanism. ("Simple" if you are as smart as these gentlemen, I think!) Here's to their success with a fine, and refined, design. Go see it at this earlier page.
September 1999 saw their first production model unveiled at Frankfurt.
Spring 2002, and the Carver is in production. As far as I know, this makes the VandenBrink Carver the first production closed TTW.
Read all about it at http://www.carver.nl/home.htm. It's really cool.
1F3T, Natural, Gas, 1 seat, Open. Brazilian Antonio Carlos Baptista Sanjuan built this proof-of-concept trike in 1998 in preparation for a four-wheeled effort. His email is email@example.com. He hopes to have his website back up soon!
1F1T, Assisted, Electric, 1 seat, Open. This was Max Hall's first TTW. This photo was taken just before a test drive. It was running and tilting in September 1998 as a 36VDC machine. It never got a above 25 mph. Partly for that, and partly for its dicey tilting scheme, it is now scrapped. I think GM's Lean Machine had a dirty little secret: that pedal assisted leaning has some difficult piloting issues. The page, the journal, pictures and the accounting can be found on the Commutamatic page.
2F3T, Assisted, Electric, 1 seat, Open. I got email from a soul brother. He built a 48VDC electric TTW! (Mine, the Maxion, is in the 1999 section below.) He writes, in a few exchanges,
I too have built a tilting electric--48 volts Adv D.C. motor--curtis controller
Tilting is accomplished manually--Jockey stick on left side--fulcrum arrangement--not perfect. Steer with jockey stick on Right side and at speed with handlebars.
The machine was more or less completed a year ago---recent upgrade from 36 to 48 volts allows me to reach 45 m.p.h. on the flat with relative ease--I could see 50 Major structural pieces are nickle plated, pre-drilled channel iron called Kindorf or Superstrut.- used in the trade to hang false ceilings, lights, pipes etc.
As I'm sure you know, it requires obsession to get a project like this done--most folks can't afford that--for good reason.
He's wise. He's added since that it is direct drive, a little pokey off the line, but a great top end for a
48 vdc electric. Go visit his machine at this page with three
pictures and his e-ddress.
1F1T, Natural, Gas, 1 seats, Open. Steve Delaney, a mechanic, built this because he didn't want to tire his back. It's pivot is, on one end, a drive-shaft universal joint, and on the other, a trailer ball hitch. Two dampers complete the story. In the blue box behind the bike's front end is the former front end of a Subaru. Wow. It's fast, reliable, and smooth as anything to drive. Go Steve. I ran into this bike a tthe Microcar and Minicar Classic at Larz Anderson Park near Boston in July 2000. I've put a few more pictures of it up at this little page.
1F3T, Automatic, Gas, 2 seats, Closed. Visit the entire discussion of this amazing pre-production design at http://www.rqriley.com/slalom.htm
ZEDIS (Zero Emission Downsized
Improved Safety Urban Vehicle), 1999
1F3T, Natural (Assisted at low speeds), Electric, 1 seat, Semi-open.The students at Bath, England have been busy with a beautiful prototype. Learn more at their website, http://www.bath.ac.uk/mech-eng/zedis//.
1F3T, Natural, Electric, 1 seat, Semi-open. This vehicle finally achieved its target speed of 40 mph in Septemeber (1999). It has three leaning wheels, a maximum tilt angle of 45 degrees. I am indebted to Mr. Sanjuan (see above) for his thoughts on a similar design. It's been scrapped, it's bits and pieces became part of a project with my students. You can learn more about it at the Maxion's page.
Autostudi's A-Trix, 2001(?)
1F1T, Natural(?), Gas, 1 seat, Semi-open. The engineers at Autostudi in Italy built this prototyle on a modern 50cc scooter chassis. Learn more at their website, http://www.autostudi.it/autos/A_TRIX_HOME_ENG.htm.
R8 TTW, April 2005.
1F3T, Automatic, Gas, 1 seat, Open and Closed. Nice piece of work! At the time of this wwriting (7/2006) Mike has 1000 miles and 15 months on the road. Long may he tilt!
2F3T, Automatic(?), Gas, 2 seat, Closed. Notice the word "TAXI" on the side. Yesss! Finally a cool ride to the airport. This Welsh entrant hopes to be in production by 2008. Read more: http://www.jalopnik.com/cars/naro/
Phiaro 3-Wheeler Prototype P67b ETERNITY, November 2005
1F1T, Automatic, Gas, 2 seat, enclosed. A descendent of the Van Den Brink Carver (with their "DVC Tilting Technology") but with the rest of the styling by Japanese and European design collaboration. See more at this gizmag article: http://www.gizmag.co.uk/linktous/4817/
BMW C.L.E.V.E.R., April 2006
1F2T, Gas, 2 Seat, Semi-open. BMW and England's University of Bath came up with this. Either Van Den Brink is licensing technology, or they are headed for a patent fight... it looks, and sounds, an awful lot like the Carver. (See above.) But then again, Bath has been messing with this stuff for a long time, too. Huh. But it sure did prompt a bunch of discussion out there in the carblogosphere! More here: http://www.leftlanenews.com/2006/04/23/bmws-clever-concept-completed/
Philippe Girardi Innovations, Torga, 2006
1F3T, Natural(?), Gas, 2 seat, Semi-open. Girardi, seen above in a 1989 entry for the Pulsar series, is at it again with this eco-friendly series. See the rest: http://www.troisroues.com/torga.html. And thanks, Phillipe, for keeping in touch!
Piaggio MP3, May 2006.
2F3T, Automatic, Gas, 2 seat, Open. They are calling it revolutionary. Phht. http://www.piaggiogroup.com/_vti_g2_nwArt.asp?rfrsh=3760296&idnews=114
Joe Wilcox, Tilting Trike, 2006.
2F3T, Natural, Gas, 1 seat, Open. Joe is really cool. I know, I met him at the 4th AltWheels this September, 2006, in Boston. The thing that I think is so cool about his trike is that it represents an improvement in tilting that is, once you see it, slap-your-own-head obvious... but not until you see it. It's an example of the finest kind of evolution.
See also Mitch Casto's List Of All Motorized Tilting Three-wheelers on WWW
There are five parts to this site:
And a note on intellectual property and copyright: as far as I know, everything on this page is available elsewhere on the web, and all sources are cited. Complaints and questions are always elcouraged, email me.