2008 GG Quadster Review
As close to a motorcycle as a four-wheeler can get
Living in Southern California can be tough on the ego. Your CBR pales in comparison to the 1098Rs and MV Agustas rolling around down here, just as your Audi A4 looks like a toy next to the plethora of Lamborghinis and Ferraris that are a dime a dozen anywhere near the beach in SoCal.
Major ego bolstering can be had by including the GG Quadster in your stable of steeds. Sure, it’s not a horizon-tilting two-wheeler, but its BMW K1200S-sourced engine qualifies it for inclusion in these illustrious virtual pages. And if attention is what you crave, this Swiss-built machine – a cross between an ATV and a Formula racecar – will start more conversations than Jeremiah Wright.
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The Quadster is the brainchild of Gruter und Gut, a high-tech fabrication shop in Switzerland that introduced the GG Quad a couple of years ago. That first iteration was powered by the R-series BMW Boxer Twin, and mega-celeb Michael Jordan thought it was cool enough to add a pair of them to his garage. Now, with the addition of the speedier Quadster to market, Jordan has placed an order for one from U.S. importer GG Quad North America.
While the original Quad’s Boxer motor cranked out a claimed 85 horses, this new Quadster is rated at an impressive 167 hp, the same as the K1200S sportbike. This larger and longer powerplant is slipped into a wheelbase 3 inches longer, creating a bigger turning circle and requiring different steering arms. It’s a very tidy piece of work, but it’s actually slightly bigger in wheelbase and track than a Smart car.
Two aspects of the Quadster are most prominent, aside from the fact that it’s a mostly street-legal quad with low-profile sport rubber at four corners. The first thing one notices is how crazily over the top the sight of it going down public roads is. And if you take a closer look, you’ll find billet-aluminum heaven. Giant chunks of aluminum alloy have been milled down into exceedingly lovely suspension double A-arms and frame members that gleam like diamonds to a gearhead’s eyes.
'With nearly 170 horses pushing fat rear tires, the GG Quadster gets up and boogies.'
“That thing’s harder than Viagra!” said Kristian, a wide-eyed observer instantly drawn to the Quadster when we pulled into a Long Beach parking lot alongside the ocean.
Which brings us to the other overriding feature of this billet hunk of Viagra: its $65,500 price tag. Ouch! Hope your hedge fund or Nike sponsorship is doing well.
So, let’s say the idea a $65K toy isn’t daunting to you. What’s this exclusive contraption like to ride?
Well, it starts off with a control interface lifted from the K1200S, including comprehensive instrumentation and traditional wacky BMW switchgear. An unfamiliar toggle switch is mounted near the handlebar’s steering stem – it functions as the actuator for the Quadster’s reverse gear. Flick the safety-covered toggle and then press the rear brake pedal very firmly to engage reverse. A pneumatic system consisting of a frame tube that doubles as an air tank and an air compressor below the right side of the seat neatly engages the mechanism.
After backing out of its parking space, fun of a different kind ensues. The 1157cc four-cylinder motor has a light flywheel effect for this pseudo-automotive application, and this plus tall moto gearing requires a fair bit of clutch feathering to get its claimed 825-lb dry mass rolling quickly away from a stop. The Quadster is much more responsive once under way and rolling above 25 mph, accelerating with a force unknown to 99% of car drivers. The factory claims a 0-60-mph time of just 3.5 seconds.
While the Boxer engine in the Quad pumps out healthy amounts of torque at relatively low revs, the K12 motor requires spinning up for maximum thrust. Although the Quadster’s maximum crankshaft torque output of 96 ft-lbs soars above the original Quad’s 74 or so, the K motor doesn’t peak until way up at 8800 rpm. The Boxer Twin’s peak at 5500 revs is much more usable in normal riding, but the K12 motor is more like a Formula car than the Boxer powerplant, which enhances the quad’s sports-car personality. An accessory SR Racing muffler fitted to our test example sings an appropriately racy tune.
Grip is in abundant supply, thanks to four fat gumballs at each corner. To optimize traction from this more powerful engine, the Quadster is fitted with 245/35-18 rear tires, 20mm wider and an inch larger in diameter than the original Quad’s. Fronts are now 205/40-17s, 10mm wider and an inch taller. While the chubby Dunlop Sportmaxx rubber is sticky, we wonder if it’s overkill for a vehicle of its size and weight. With that much tire, there are few bumps that can be missed.
A set of Wilbers shocks that are adjustable for preload and rebound damping do a good job at smoothing most bumps, but uneven road surfaces have a way of negatively affecting steering, pulling the Quadster this way and that as the tires of the narrow-track vehicle get drawn from side to side. Road camber causes the Quadster to pull to one side, and potholes want to grab the bars from your hands. This condition somewhat spoils an otherwise terrific ride. Fitting a narrower and lighter wheel-tire combo might reduce this unnerving tendency.
And if I were head of G+G R&D, I’d look into developing a power-assist mechanism for the steering. This would alleviate the heavy feeling at low speeds, and it would further reduce the bump-steer condition that is the Quadster’s most obvious flaw.
The other R&D shortfall is its tall gearing that seems to be lifted directly from the K1200S. This is fine for a 550-lb motorcycle that can reach 170 mph, but in this application it – like the wide tires – is overkill. There’s potential for the Quadster to reach 140 mph, but realistically you’ll likely keep speeds below triple digits. Reducing the final-drive ratio in the BMW shaft-drive system would result in a much sprightlier performer around town without hurting its effective top speed.
On the plus side is sure-footed handling not far removed from a slot car. The Boxer-powered GG Quad developed 0.90 G on the skidpad when tested by a car magazine, so it’s likely this longer and fatter-tired Quadster will push the 1.0-G threshold. Grip is prodigious, with a safe amount of understeer built in, but the tail is happy to rotate with a handful of K12 power. Carving up a series of curves on the Quadster is sure to bring a smile to the face of any mechanical aficionado.
The Quadster’s braking system pushes the overkill envelope, but not in any negative way. They consist of no less than six 4-piston calipers, with a pair of the billet two-piece clampers for each 270mm floating front rotor. Action from the front brake lever is precise, but max whoa power requires also using the rear brake pedal, which is biased 70% to the front through actuation of the second set of front calipers.
The Quadster’s riding environment is quite hospitable, boasting a large and cushy seat and fairly good wind protection. The riding position is rotated forward into a comfortably aggressive stance that allows its rider to hustle and muscle the quad around. A generous 6.9-gallon fuel tank can accommodate 200 miles between fill-ups. BMW’s heated grips are a nice option no matter how many wheels the vehicle has. The optional ($4000!) aluminum sidepods are larger than the Boxer-powered Quad’s, now easily swallowing full-face helmets and scads of anything else you might want to bring.
More than anything, the Quadster’s dominating impression is its oddball-ness – it’s a head-turner of the highest magnitude and causes anyone in sight to do a double take. It doesn’t take a trained lip reader to ascertain the most frequent response: “Wow!”
It’s an unlikely vehicle to be ridden on public roads. Indeed, getting it registered to operate on public roads is a hoop-jumping exercise that is dependant on the regulations of each state. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Certainly, however, the biggest obstacle to Quadster ownership is the way-up-there MSRP. We’re talking Desmosedici prices here, which puts it out of touch for most of us. The less-expensive Boxer-powered Quad lists for $56,500, but that’s still outside the realm of possibility for those of us who aren’t major-league sports celebrities. The Quadster is way cooler and faster than the Can-Am Spyder and has truly impeccable build quality, but we’ll leave it up to you whether it’s $50K cooler and faster.
However, not all of us in a financial state in which we are thrilled to get our $600 federal stimulus checks. On the morning of our ride, a guy excitedly came up to us at a gas station and asked the inevitable question of price. After telling him it would take about $65K to get one in his garage, he responded, “Hmm, that’s not bad. My sand rail cost $150K!”
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