Hooniverse Asks- Would You Buy a Three-Wheeler?


Should you choose to lop one wheel off of your car it suddenly doesn’t have to meet the myriad of Federal safety and emissions standards that have been holding it back all these years. Well, that’s not exactly true, but it is the case that three-wheelers in the US are granted motorcycle status meaning that they have to conform to much less stringent standards, and they get to wear those cute little license plates.

It’s not just in ‘Merica where trikes offer benefit either. Great Britain used to allow both neophyte drivers to roll (no pun intended) in three wheelers, as well as offering the odd-number wheeled vehicles a significant tax break. That’s the only way that you could explain the success of the Reliant series of trikes. England is also home of what is probably the most famous of three-wheelers, the Morgan Trike, which is fabulously making a comeback as we speak.

Back here in the States, trikes have met with lesser success. From the 1940s Davis to the scandal plagued Dale, to the recently deceased Aptera, three wheelers have captured some recess of the automotive psyche, only to fade almost as soon as it arrives – or sometimes before. But is it the inherent issues – tipsiness, never being able to straddle a pothole or errant animal – that is keeping trikes from becoming commonplace? Or, is it something else? What about you, would you ever buy a three wheeler, and if not, why?

Image source: [Morgan3wheeler]

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95 responses to “Hooniverse Asks- Would You Buy a Three-Wheeler?”

  1. Vavon Avatar

    If the 3 wheeler is a Peugeot, NO!
    <img src="http://www.motoplus.ca/Diaporamas/3_4roues/images/12%20Peugeot%2020cup.jpg&quot; width="650/">
    However if the 3 wheeler is a Citroën: YES!
    <img src="http://gs.miklpa.dk/wp-content/2009/06/gs-pa-tre-hjul-lille.jpg&quot; width="650/">

  2. muthalovin Avatar

    Oh HELL YES!!
    <img src="http://www.adamkuban.com/kublog/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/20090811-honda-3-wheeler-atv.jpg"&gt;
    My dad raced 3-wheelers when I was a little kid. He managed to break the same collarbone three times. I totally want one (3-wheeler, not broken collarbone – though I am sure they actually do go hand in hand).

    1. Vavon Avatar

      That does look really cool indeed!

    2. M44Power Avatar

      Ah, safety standards. Killing the fun of our youth so the fun of our youth doesn't kill us.

    3. Irishzombieman Avatar

      Rode one for the first time when I was maybe 10. I'd been riding a little 2-wheel Honda 50 for some time, and had developed the really bad habit of putting my foot down to turn sharply. First time I did it on the 3-wheeler, I ran myself over. The tire grabbed my foot and dragged me off the bike.
      The feeling of a knobby tire driving at high speed across my nuts is as mentally fresh today as it was 30 years ago. I shall never forget.

    4. Devin Avatar

      I remember being told they were very tippy, but we replaced ours with a four-wheeler when I was pretty young so I never got to experience the tippiness for myself. ATVs in general are a good time though.

  3. acarr260 Avatar

    We had a couple of three wheelers growing up… a balloon-tired Honda 110 and a race-prepped Honda 200X. Both were less than stable, and the 200X would actively try to kill you at the edge (which turned out to be about half throttle).
    Oh… three-wheeled cars? No… no thank you.
    I have to admit that the T-Rex (I think that's what it is called) is pretty cool, but it seems to be closer to being a motorcycle than a car.

  4. M44Power Avatar

    I'm seeing more and more Can-Am Spyders on the road, which boggles the mind considering their asking price.

    1. CherokeeOwner Avatar

      The entry-level prices for them — particularly the RT touring models — are about the same as the Honda Goldwing and most of HD's top-end touring bikes.

      1. M44Power Avatar

        I guess I don't really put them in the same mental category as touring bikes. Although now that you point that out, I don't really see any reason they aren't going after a similar market.

        1. Maymar Avatar

          <img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_OuewUENaelQ/S6-Rx3wlpMI/AAAAAAAAAQg/7zgpCY7CSyU/s1600/2010-can-am-spyder-rt-15.jpg&quot; width=500 /img>
          Oh no, they're definitely going after that market. After they brought out the standard Spyder, they followed up with a touring model, resplendent with radios and trailers and backrests and semi-automatic transmissions (that actually work pretty well) and navigation, and probably heated whatnots. Shame about the looks though. The standard Spyder's a neat little oddball Tbut yes, pricy, especially in their Canadian home market).

    2. joshwebster84 Avatar

      It looks like a WaveRunner with wheels.

  5. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    There is nothing inherent within the concept of a trike that dissuades me from purchasing one, but there are no current (or former) offerings that really seek to motivate me to part with my hard-earned money. So the answer is currently no, but since I’ve often toyed with the thought of building one, clearly trike ownership isn’t the deterrent.

  6. OA5599 Avatar

    [youtube _Dv3gxut3Oc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Dv3gxut3Oc youtube]
    It might be fun to have something like this powered by a lightweight motorcycle engine.

  7. CherokeeOwner Avatar

    A Morgan Three-Wheeler is a car on my bucket list, so yes, I would buy a three-wheeler.
    When it comes to motorcycles though, I'm split down the middle. My dream bike is a Ural T sidecar, but sidecars are not trikes IMO so that doesn't count. The Piaggio MP3, even though it looks a little dorky, I wouldn't be too against riding one; it does have somewhat of a cool factor in that it's a trike that leans and is no wider than a normal maxi-scooter. And, of course, the Piaggio Ape mini-trucks, I would have over a Japanese mini-truck any day.
    Can-Am Spyders and the HD TriGlide? Sypders look dorkier than an MP3, and TriGlides scream of, "I had hip replacement surgery, but still want to be like Peter Fonda in 'Easy Rider.'" That said, if HD made a modern version of their old ServiCar — which is a TriGlide without the top box and passenger seat — I wouldn't be opposed to getting one as an alternative work vehicle. Use it to haul a small trailer full of stuff when I wouldn't need my Cherokee.

  8. tiberiusẅisë Avatar

    Here in New Jersey, motorcycles and trikes do not get inspected, So there's that.
    This would be my first choice for a three wheeler:
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c9/R68-sidecar.jpg&quot; width="400">

  9. bhtooefr Avatar

    Given that I already have a TerraTrike Path… a good three-wheeler is something I approve of.
    But, for a higher speed vehicle, I'd much rather have a "quadricycle" class of vehicle like Europe has – rather than abuse the three-wheeler loophole, a safer car with not much more weight can be done as a four-wheeler. Then, with a "heavy quadricycle" with lower safety requirements in exchange for less weight, size, and power restrictions, you could make the class D driver's license harder to get, and have a quadricycle license that's as easy as a current class D license.

  10. $kaycog Avatar

    A hemi-powered three-wheeler would be a lot of fun.
    <img src="http://media.techeblog.com/images/trike_2.jpg"width="500"/&gt;

    1. Vavon Avatar


    2. OA5599 Avatar

      [youtube AsYFCeXuwD0 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AsYFCeXuwD0 youtube]

    3. Vairship Avatar

      Forward vision appears to have been …overlooked…

  11. Devin Avatar

    The heart says yes, the bank account is less optimistic.
    Seriously, if I had the money and the space, I'd probably start shopping for a Morgan three wheeler.

    1. JayP2112 Avatar

      Space is not an issue. You could park this car in your bathtub.
      <img src="http://pictures.topspeed.com/IMG/crop/201211/2013-morgan-three-wheeler_600x0w.jpg&quot; width="600">

      1. M44Power Avatar

        Anything painted in Gulf livery looks better.

        1. Devin Avatar

          There is the odd exception.
          <img src="http://www.exoticspotter.com/images/38/37439.jpg&quot; width="500">

          1. M44Power Avatar

            Hey, its still an Aston Martin. Sigh…

          2. Vairship Avatar

            Actually, it's more of a Toyota Ick.
            Oh, that's not how they spell it?

          3. Garland Avatar

            Nope; still better looking than a regular Cygnet

          4. JayP2112 Avatar

            Yea- I'd hit it.

  12. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    What do you mean "would I"? There's one in the garage now.
    <img src="http://www.tanshanomi.com/temp/spyder-dealer-512px.jpg"&gt;
    And, if you go back to my first Hooniverse submission…
    <img src="http://hooniverse.info/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/cyrobuka_01-480×320.jpg"&gt;
    So I guess the answer for me is "oh hell yes."

    1. CherokeeOwner Avatar

      You should do a review of your Spyder. It's been a while since we've had a motorcycle review on here.

      1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
        Peter Tanshanomi

        I've been knocking the idea around. The issue is time.

        1. dead_elvis Avatar

          How long have you had it, and how's it holding up? I looked at a few used ones once they were a couple years old, and I can't say I was too impressed with how they'd aged. Granted, that was in New England, but at that price, I'd like to see Goldwing-levels of fit & finish, not flash-rusted fasteners everywhere & a level of decrepitude more appropriate on a vehicle 10 years older.

          1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
            Peter Tanshanomi

            We've had it since last spring. It's holding up just fine, but it lives in a climate-controlled garage.

          2. Devin Avatar

            I too have a climate-controlled garage.
            The climate controls whether or not I can access my garage.
            The climate has decided that for the moment, I cannot.

  13. JayP2112 Avatar

    VW GX3. Would have been in the low $20k area. I'd have to lobby hard to get this passed for HPDEs. Probably uses nothing- tires would dry rot before they wear out.
    <img src="http://images.gizmag.com/hero/4990_6010670507.jpg"&gt;
    Not This:
    <img src="https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcT6epk5nG3-xs8wM95MzJ7PVrqkpiUtax-N-8FfPu-4CSW9HQgePg&quot; width="600">

  14. C³-Cool Cadillac Cat Avatar
    C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

    I would, but only if it were enclosed, had A/C, good performance, good fuel economy, and didn't go through tires like a bike can (does).
    The ultimate commuter vehicle.

  15. Irishzombieman Avatar

    I would. I would buy a three wheeler.
    But not to drive it.
    <img src="http://gearpatrol.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/8-reliant-robin-space-shuttle.jpg"&gt;

    1. Irishzombieman Avatar

      Really, though, everything I know about the Carver I learned from Hooniverse.
      And I like it. Quite a lot.
      <img src="http://www.blogcdn.com/green.autoblog.com/media/2006/08/carver.jpg&quot; width=500>

      1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
        Peter Tanshanomi

        I love that it made Hammond giggle uncontrollably, and Clarkson say “I have to say, absolutely hand on heart, that I've never had so much fun in a car, really and truthfully, and I don't think I'd ever tire of it."
        If you can impress jaded ones like them, I can't imagine how fun it is. Was.

        1. Irishzombieman Avatar

          Thanks. Will have to hunt down that episode. Tonight.

      2. ChironRocket3 Avatar

        Oh, I would give a kidney for one of these. And a lung.

  16. DemonXanth Avatar

    <img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v493/overtki11/bitch%20cruiser/201-1.jpg&quot; width=400>
    I can dig a trike. There's actually a few that I could really enjoy.
    …and this is not a photoshop.

    1. dead_elvis Avatar

      Must be great in the corners.

    2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      Hey, if it's good enough for Alice Cooper, it's good enough for me.
      <img src="http://www.ratraceproductions.com/alice-cooper-trike-chopper-photo-03.jpg"&gt;

  17. topdeadcentre Avatar

    Why yes, I am just about daft enough…
    <img src="http://www.unfinishedman.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Morgan-3-Wheeler-e1298674554142.jpg&quot; width="450/">
    But I want one with this exact paint job…
    <img src="http://www.unfinishedman.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Morgan-Three-Wheeler.jpg&quot; width="450/">
    Morgan 3-wheeler. $40k price range… Hand-built doesn't come cheap!
    (I believe the design is actually from Ace Cycle-Car in Seattle, which is also Liberty Sidecars, but if I'm remembering correctly, Morgan picked it up)

  18. wisc47 Avatar

    The hoonability of the Morgan 3 Wheeler in enough alone to make me want one, not to mention the fact that I have some old-timey fighter pilot fantasies to live out.
    [youtube J_brpEvwels http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_brpEvwels youtube]

    1. Raphael Orlove Avatar
      Raphael Orlove

      <img src="http://autofrei.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/pa110365b.jpg&quot; width="500">
      The hoonability is not to be underestimated. I drove one for about twelve minutes and did approximately fourteen thousand burnouts in that time.

  19. P161911 Avatar

    Sure, if it was the ride in type like a Morgan, not the ride on type like a Can-Am. It would fall into the fun toy category though. I doubt I would use one as daily transportation.

    1. Devin Avatar

      I probably could DD a Morgan at the moment.
      Well not at this precise moment, but in the summer.

      1. Vairship Avatar

        So could I! But I'd need another vehicle to take the dogs to the dog park, so this'd be my second 'car':
        <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/48/Ape_Calessino.jpg/800px-Ape_Calessino.jpg&quot; width="600">

    2. stickmanonymous Avatar

      I've thought exactly the same thing. All the ones you ride –in– (perhaps not the Robin) are fantastic. The Morgan is a machine I pine for.
      All the ones you ride –on– are entirely dorky (Can-Am, Tri-Glide, etc.). These all look like transport for people who find motorbikes too scary or difficult, but still want to project some sort of image. Sort of like the boring uncle who shaves off half of his moustache, so that now he looks weird, and is still boring.

    1. JayP2112 Avatar

      Beat me to it.

      1. pj134 Avatar

        I think Mr. Emslie has some deep seated desire to own a trike but can't let himself do it. This question comes up often enough that I have it ready to go each time.

        1. JayP2112 Avatar

          I remember the episode. Jesse thought trikes were for pansies and wanted a motorcycle. The crew said it was impossible and they ended up with this.
          I still want to see the motorcycle.

          1. pj134 Avatar

            It wouldn't turn, and when it fell you would need a crane.

    2. Raphael Orlove Avatar
      Raphael Orlove

      Anybody know what happened to this thing? By fa my favorite thing from the show, and I wonder where it is now.

      1. pj134 Avatar

        I wish I knew. So very awesome.

        1. JayP2112 Avatar

          Looks like the Monster Garage went to Barrett Jackson in 2008. http://www.trombinoscar.com/monstergarage/peterbi

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      Nice Motorette!
      [youtube pO9aiSm_Vlc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pO9aiSm_Vlc youtube]

  20. Number_Six Avatar

    No, but I have mad respect for people who can't ride motorcycles because of physical limitations so they get a three-wheeler instead.

  21. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    1. JayP2112 Avatar

      Great. Researching this will consume my afternoon.

      1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
        Peter Tanshanomi

        Nah. At least, it doesn't need to…

        1. CherokeeOwner Avatar

          "FAQ | How much does it cost? | [Blank]"
          That's the ONE thing I wanted to know!

          1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
            Peter Tanshanomi

            An MSRP of $80K was proposed, but never relevant, because plans for a "limited production run of 25 priced at $80,000 with $25,000 down" were never realized. Only the three prototypes pictured exist, and as far as I know none have been advertised for sale or crossed the auction block since they were completed in 2005.

          2. JayP2112 Avatar

            If some manufacturer could get a trike down to $16k and it not suck, I'd have one.
            The VW trike looked promising until the lawyers came into the picture.

    2. sport_wagon Avatar

      One of my favorite designs. A modernized P51 Mustang for the road. Too bad they never made any, even as a kit.

  22. mdharrell Avatar

    I've already traded an MGB for this one, so yes, I'd probably also consider buying one.
    <img src="http://farm2.staticflickr.com/1412/4732772669_6986f7f583.jpg&quot; width="450">

    1. CherokeeOwner Avatar

      Is it as fun as it looks, and have you bought a parts car yet?

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        Yes, it is. No, not yet.

  23. Kogashiwa Avatar

    <img src="https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/550934_10151280952569179_1650269795_n.jpg&quot; width="600">
    Alternatively I would like to commute on one of these:
    <img src="http://wakpaper.com/large/Auto+Racing_wallpapers_266.jpg&quot; width="600">
    Those things are fascinating without the bodywork.
    <img src="http://i147.photobucket.com/albums/r299/mrbillb/DSC03677.jpg&quot; width="600">

    1. SSurfer321 Avatar

      How does your co-worker feel about sharing the commute with their ass hanging out 4" off the ground?

      1. Kogashiwa Avatar

        Helmet and earplugs, problem solved.

      2. JayP2112 Avatar

        I'd be more concerned about that exhaust.

    1. dr zero Avatar
      dr zero

      I would love to have a Bajaj/Tuk-tuk for city driving. It would be great to fly around making lots of noise and spewing two-stroke smoke out the back.
      <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e0/Jakarta_bajaj.jpg/800px-Jakarta_bajaj.jpg"&gt;
      A Piaggio Ape would also be pretty sweet.
      <img src="http://cache.jalopnik.com/assets/images/12/2009/05/Ape_1.jpg"&gt;

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        "It would be great to fly around making lots of noise and spewing two-stroke smoke out the back."
        I assure you that is absolutely true, regardless of the number of wheels. Most observers are delighted, some are infuriated. I enjoy both.

  24. facelvega Avatar

    Would I buy one? Yes, probably. But what I really want to do is build one. I love the look of the Morgan, but long before Morgan bought out the Liberty Ace design and heated the 3-wheeler discussion back up, there was the Pembleton. Why spend fifty grand for a Morgan or an Ace when you can build a Pembleton for well under ten grand and thousands of hours of your own labor?
    <img src="http://img.webme.com/pic/p/pembleton-archives/silverfish.jpg&quot; width="600">
    Sorry, I just stole the pic, not the link. Pretty easy to find, though. It it to the Morgan what the Locost Se7en is to the Caterham.
    Also, a guy on my block has one of these parked in the building garage:
    <img src="http://www.motorstown.com/images/peel-p50-04.jpg"&gt;

    1. HycoSpeed Avatar

      That Pembleton has instantly vaulted onto my dream kit car list. My google seems to be lacking today, I can't seem to find a link to the actual company. Really awesome car though, a 3 wheel Morgan has been a magnet for me since I was a kid.

      1. Vairship Avatar

        I haven't been able to find a website that's still alive, but there's a phone number in this article – along with ten other trikes http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/news/9675884/

    2. jeepjeff Avatar

      Every time I see a Peel P50, I stare at it for a minute, and it still doesn't look like there is anywhere for the driver's legs.

  25. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    One I'd forgotten about that looks like a heck of a lot of fun…
    [youtube BpIIX45dqPA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpIIX45dqPA youtube]

  26. Rebis Avatar

    I have wanted a three wheel morgan forever, but the price of the new ones is ridicules. I totalled a mini cooper s back in the sixties and came close to turning it into a three wheeler like the side car rigs that were running at the time. Three wheels are unstable only when the single wheel is up front. The morgan three wheelers were finally banned from racing with the four wheel cars because they were unbeatable. Even back in the 1930's morgans that were set up for racing were capable of 120 mph, sounds stable to me, don't think I ever had my old plus morgan faster than that.
    At the top of my wish list is not the new morgan but the blackjack zero kit. It is much more up to date, this guy who sells the kits is a genius. He used a vw bug trans with the diff backwards to get front wheel drive!

  27. JayP2112 Avatar

    I think i see a trend.
    2 wheels up front: yes
    2 wheels in the back: no
    Physics is a bitch.

  28. junkman Avatar

    I own two three-wheeled cars, both with two wheels in back. The '48 Davis is based on a design by legendary race car builder Frank Kurtis. Despite being sixty-five years old, it is comfortable and stable, due in part to its large size. On the other hand, driving our '75 MEBEA Robin is one of the scariest things I have ever done. I love it!

    1. Devin Avatar

      YOU OWN A DAVIS???
      PICS PICS PICS!!!!
      Uh, sorry about that, got a little out of hand there.
      (But seriously, pics pics pics.)

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        A Greek Robin isn't too shabby, either. That's a pair of seriously unusual vehicles. Then there's the Isuzu 117 that junkman mentioned owning earlier, making me wonder whether we haven't already seen this Davis:

  29. nutzforautos Avatar

    ummm…other than the SUB..which isn't ever going to happen..no.

  30. Autocitycredit Avatar

    As if the 3 Wheeler did not draw enough attention when driven, you can order it with … Why should they offer A/C when you can't get a heater?