Polaris Industries has updated its Slingshot three-wheeler for 2020, giving it a new 1997cc four-cylinder engine, an automatic transmission, revised suspension and a redesigned cockpit. In all, Polaris says the 2020 Slingshot features “70% new vehicle content” in its first major update since its introduction in 2015.
Ah, long-term test bikes. Oh, how we love them. And then we have to give them back, creating a void in our stable. Well, that time has come for the 2019 Niken GT that Yamaha has so kindly let us hold onto for lo these many months. What have we learned, boys and girls? The Niken GT works great in any job you’d ask of a sport-tourer or a commuter motorcycle. In fact, if you ignore the funny looks from passersby and don’t look down at the wide fairing in front of you, you really can’t tell that the Niken is a leaning multi-wheeled vehicle instead of your standard two-wheeled fare. Just ignore the Doubting Thomases and embrace the Niken as a motorcycle because in every meaningful way – save one, and that’s to its advantage – it behaves exactly like a motorcycle.
If there’s one thing that gets motorcycle riders – and Motorcycle.com readers – worked up, it’s the debate about whether a three-wheeler is considered a motorcycle or not. If you’re one of the haters, this news might brighten up your day: Campagna Motors, the company best known for producing the T-Rex, is shutting down.
In addition to the new FXDR 114, three Custom Vehicle Operations models and updates to its touring models, Harley-Davidson announced some significant updates to its trike lineup. In fact, apart from the FXDR which is brand new, the 2019 Harley-Davidson Tri-Glide Ultra and Freewheeler received the most updates of the company’s offerings for the coming year.
To be honest, I didn’t pay any more attention when Yamaha announced it would actually produce the Niken than I do to the unicorns that occasionally wander into the back yard as I’m semi-dozing on the patio after a nightcap. Fanciful creatures of the imagination. But I snapped to fully woke when the invite came in over the email transom to come to Austria and ride the thing. What, it actually exists? Sure, why not?
Bombardier Recreational Products has filed for patent designs for what appears to be a new Can-Am Spyder. The patents, at least five in all, show various aspects of the vehicle’s bodywork. They were filed on March 20 with the European Union Intellectual Property Office, but only published and fully registered today.
Yes, that’s right, what we have here is a patent application for a trike integrated with a full drum set. The brainchild of one Michael Pestritto of Pompano Beach, Fla., this patent describes a trike with a 12-piece double-blind kit and a secondary set of controls so someone can operate the trike from the passenger seat while the rider in front can lay down a wicked drum solo.
I remember riding the Piaggio MP3 when it was introduced in America. A scooter lover at heart, underneath my sportbike-loving exterior, I wasn’t sure what to make of the MP3 and its three wheels. My opinion of it was solidified when I leaned the scooter/trike over through a turn and felt the outside front tire skipping. What would have likely resulted in a lowside on a two-wheeler ended up being a case of massive understeer, without ever separating myself from the scoot in a crash. From that point on I’ve always had a soft spot for all the Piaggio MP3 variants. In this week’s Church feature, Yossef Schvetz takes a spin on the MP3 at its European intro. His opinion? Awfully similar to mine.
Maybe somebody beat you with a kickstand when you were a child, and you carry an irrational fear of them? Let it go, with the MP3 you can relax, you don’t need one. With a little practice, you can flip the right-thumb button inward just as you’re coming to a stop, which clamps the caliper to the ¼-of a brake-type disc which holds the MP upright. The people in the cars look at you with even greater suspicion. As soon as you twist the throttle to blast off, the lock releases and in town, most of the time, you’d never really know you had two wheels up front. (If you’re rolling backwards, though, the upright lock won’t release until you thumb the lever!) The lock-up mechanism even has its own ECU.
Five years ago this month MO reported that Bombardier Recreational Products had filed a patent as far back as 2009 for a control system that’d allow the Can-Am Spyder to lean. Later that same year it came to light that Harley-Davidson had been developing a similar tilting three-wheeler ( the Penster) for years before scrapping the project and moving in a more traditional-trike direction with the Tri-Glide and recently introduced Freewheeler. Well, guess what? The leaning reverse trike charge isn’t being led or financed by BRP or H-D and their incredibly deep pockets. At the vanguard of the full-size tilting trike revolution is a lone engineer in a garage somewhere in Snohomish, WA.
When Can-Am introduced the Spyder F3 last year, the company knew that some potential customers had requested a more cruiser-ish riding position from their three-wheeler, but I’d be willing to bet that they had no idea how many sales the change would drive. After less than one year, the F3 accounts for almost 20% of Spyder sales. Then came the owner surveys that notched the overall satisfaction level at a whopping 93%! I can only guess that the product planners were patting themselves on the back for creating the F3 as a platform and not merely a model in Spyder’s inventory since the biggest requests from F3 owners and prospective owners were more wind protection and storage from the naked roadster. (Yes, we know there was the F3-S, which is really just an optional F3 trim package. We also know Can-Am calls the Spyder a cruiser, but the roadster title feels more appropriate.)
Having the chance to partake in our recent 3 Wheeler shootout, I was fortunate enough to pilot three very different machines. Two of which, let’s face it, are basically cars with one rear wheel. Apart from the obvious fun we were having romping on the different “motorcycles,” what I distinctly remember was the ease at which I was willing to explore the limits of the Morgan 3 Wheeler and the Polaris Slingshot, the former void of any electronic aids, the latter with switchable stability control (the Spyder F3 stability system is always on).