Three-wheeler

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Diagram showing an initial velocity vector for three vehicles and the corresponding angular displacement from the initial wheel positions required to change the direction of the initial velocity vector by the same value when turning using various three-wheeled car steering mechanism configurations

A three-wheeler is a vehicle with three wheels, either "human or people-powered vehicles" (HPV or PPV or velomobiles) or motorized vehicles in the form of a motorcycle, all-terrain vehicle (ATV) or automobile. Other names for three-wheelers include trikes, tricars and cyclecars. The term tricycle is used somewhat interchangeably, but the term three-wheeler is more often applied to motor vehicles. They can be legally classed as either automobiles or motorcycles.

Many three-wheelers which exist in the form of motorcycle-based machines are often called trikes and often have the front single wheel and mechanics similar to that of a motorcycle and the rear axle similar to that of a car. Often such vehicles are owner-constructed using a portion of a rear-engine, rear-drive Volkswagen Beetle in combination with a motorcycle front end. Other trikes include ATVs that are specially constructed for off road use. Three-wheeled automobiles can have either one wheel at the back and two at the front, (for example: Morgan Motor Company) or one wheel at the front and two at the back (such as the Reliant Robin).

Due to its superior safety when braking, an increasingly popular form is the front-steering "tadpole" or "reverse trike" sometimes with front drive but usually with rear drive. A variant on the 'one at the front' layout was the Scott Sociable, which resembled a four-wheeler with a front wheel missing.[1]

Three-wheeler cars, usually microcars, are often built for economic reasons: in the UK for tax advantages, or in the US to take advantage of lower safety regulations, being classed as motorcycles. As a result of their light construction and potential better streamlining, three-wheeled cars are usually very economical to run.

Three-wheeler transport vehicles known as Auto Rickshaws are a common means of public transportation in many countries in the world. Auto rickshaws are an essential form of urban transport in many developing countries such as India, and a form of novelty transport in many Eastern countries.

History[edit]

Early car pioneer Karl Benz developed a number of three-wheeled models.[2] One of these, the Benz Patent Motorwagen,[3] is widely regarded as the first purpose-built automobile. It was built in 1885.

In 1896, John Henry Knight showed a tri-car at The Great Exhibition.[2]

In 1897, Edward Butler (inventor) made the Butler Petrol Cycle, another three-wheeled car.

A Conti 6 hp Tri-car competed in (but did not complete) a 1907 Peking-to-Paris race sponsored by a French newspaper, Le Matin.[4]

Configurations[edit]

Two front[edit]

Trihawk, a Tadpole-type trike manufactured in California during the 1980s

A configuration of two wheels in the front and one wheel at the back presents two advantages : it has improved aerodynamics, and that it readily enables small lightweight motorcycle powerplant and rear wheel to be used. This approach was used by Messerschmitt kr200 and by the BMW Isetta. Alternatively, a more conventional front-engine, front wheel drive layout as is common in four-wheeled cars can be used, with subsequent advantages for transversal stability (further front location of CG) and traction (two driven wheels instead of one).

For the lowest wind resistance (which increases fuel efficiency), a teardrop shape is desirable.[citation needed] A teardrop is wide and round at the front, tapering at the back. The three-wheel configuration allows the two front wheels to create the wide round surface of the vehicle. The single rear wheel allows the vehicle to taper at the back. This approach is used by the Aptera 2 Series. This idea has also been used by Elio Motors to develop a new low cost, high fuel mileage vehicle to be released in 2015. It is also used by Myers Motors for both its single passenger NmG and upcoming 2-passenger Duo.

Two rear[edit]

Bond Bug at Silverstone

Having one wheel in front and two in the rear for power reduces the cost of the steering mechanism, but greatly decreases lateral stability when cornering while braking.

Lateral stability[edit]

Reliant Robin, prepared for banger racing

The disadvantage of a three-wheel configuration is lateral instability - the car will tip over in a turn before it will slide. This can be prevented in 3 different ways:

  • by placing the centre of mass much closer to the ground,
  • by placing the centre of mass closer to the 2 rear wheels, or
  • by significantly increasing the rear track width.

In the case of a three wheeled ATV, tipping can be avoided by the rider leaning into turns.

Tilting option[edit]

A Honda Canopy used for delivery service

To improve stability some three-wheelers are designed as tilting three-wheelers so that they lean while cornering like a motorcyclist would do. The tilt may be controlled manually, mechanically or by computer.

A tilting three-wheeler's body and or wheels tilt in the direction of the turn. Such vehicles can corner safely even with a narrow track.

Wheel configurations[edit]

Several configurations are practical. Two front wheels and one rear, where all three wheels tilt, use the acronym 2F3T (i.e. two front three tilt). Other variations 1F1T, where only the front wheel tilts, an example being the Vandenbrink Carver, made in the Netherlands.

Active or passive tilt control[edit]

Tilting can be actively controlled by applying force between the paired wheels. A "free leaner" is balanced by steering, like a single track vehicle. This still leaves some advantages in traction, and the tilt can be locked for parking faster than a stand can be deployed.

Topology[edit]

Propulsion may be on one, two, or three wheels, tilted or not. Many possible arrangements require particularly flexible U-joints, which favours the other possibilities.

Use of 'extra' wheel[edit]

Tripendo recumbent tricycle, a tilting three-wheeler

Any extra laterally spaced wheel can benefit the vehicle by providing stability gains if there is a mechanism to lock the laterally spaced wheels at any given moment relative to the road plane. In some countersteered vehicles this benefit is generally only available when stopped.

In other types where the tilt angle is directly controlled this additional stability is constant at all speeds.

In a countersteered vehicle a loss of traction will result in a fall whereas in a tilt controlled design a fall may not occur.

Various electric and hydraulic systems have been employed to modify TTW behaviour, with notable success on the Carver.

Due to the tilting, there is not necessarily any load transfer between the wheels in cornering, so the rule about tadpoles (2F or "reverse trike") understeering and Deltas (1F or standard trike) oversteering does not necessarily apply

Registration[edit]

In the U.S the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines and regulates three-wheeled vehicles as motorcycles.[5] Licensing requirements vary on a state-by-state basis. In other jurisdictions, such as British Columbia, Canada, and Connecticut, a three-wheeled vehicle with an enclosed passenger compartment or partially enclosed seat is considered an automobile.

Safety[edit]

When the single wheel is in the front (the "delta" form, as in a child's pedal tricycle), the vehicle is inherently unstable in a braking turn, as the combined tipping forces at the center of gravity from turning and braking can rapidly extend beyond the triangle formed by the contact patches of the wheels. This type, if not tipped, also has a greater tendency to spin out ("swap ends") when handled roughly.

With two wheels in the front (the "tadpole" form or "reverse trike") the vehicle is far more stable in braking turns, but remains more prone to overturning in normal turns compared to an equivalent four-wheeled vehicle, unless the center of mass is lower and/or further forward. Motorcycle-derived designs suffer from most of the weight being towards the rear of the vehicle.

Due to the incidence of injuries related to their use, a 10-year ban, entirely voluntary for manufacturers, was placed on the sale of new three-wheeled ATVs in the United States in January 1988.[citation needed] However, it should be noted that more injuries were sustained by riders by not applying a proper riding technique, and lack of wearing proper safety gear such as helmets and riding boots. In a search conducted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, it was determined that "no inherent flaw was found in the three wheel design".

In popular culture[edit]

1932 Morgan Aero 2-Seater Sports

One of the most famous three-wheeled cars is the dirty yellow Reliant Regal Supervan III from the British TV series Only Fools and Horses.

In the British TV series Mr. Bean, a Reliant Regal three-wheeler was often driving around town. The car was sort of a nemesis to Mr. Bean, as he would drive in such a manner as to cause the car to roll over and even refused a ride from the three-wheeler when hitchhiking.[6]

Examples[edit]

Folding City Car: Zaschka Three-wheeled car, 1929. Engelbert Zaschka, German inventor, and his folding three-wheeler
Fuldamobil three-wheeler (Postwar-era Germany)


Two front wheels
Name Country Years manufactured Comments
Leanster Leanster Brudeli 625L Norway Unknown
Léon Bollée Voiturette France 1895-?
Egg Switzerland 1896-99
Advance 6 hp air-cooled Tri Car and 9 hp water-cooled Tri Car[7] England 1902-12
Humber Tricar[8][9] England 1904
Riley Olympia Tricar[10] England 1904 [11]
Lagonda Tricar[12] England 1904-07 total production: 69 cars
Anglian England 1905-07
Armadale England 1906-07
Morgan V-Twin and F-Series England 1911-39, 1932–52 Morgan Super Sports 2-Seater 1937
American Tri-Car United States 1912
Birmingham Small Arms Company Three Wheeler England 1929-36 1100cc engine[13]
Zaschka Germany 1929 Folding three-wheeler: Zaschka Three-wheeler 1929
Dymaxion car United States 1933 Concept car designed by Buckminster Fuller
Mathis VEL 333 France 1946 3 seats, flat-twin front engine, aluminium body, production less than 10 units
Velorex Oskar and other models Czechoslovakia 1951-71 Originally with leather bodies
Isetta UK 1957-62 Three-wheeled version of the Isetta built in the UK to take advantage of tax and licencing regulations
Scootacar UK 1957-64
Messerschmitt KR175 Germany 1953-55
Messerschmitt KR200 Germany 1955-64
Peel P50 Isle of Man 1963-64 Smallest production car ever built
HM Vehicles Free-way United States 1979-82
Campagna T-Rex Canada 1996–present Most likely the fastest (157 mph) most expensive ($50k MSRP) production 3-wheeler
Malone Car Company F1000|Skunk SS|TAZR United Kingdom 1999–present High power internal combustion and pure electric versions released November 2010
Cree SAM Switzerland 2001 Electric, only 80 produced
Scoot Coupe United States 2004–present Smallest production car currently, requiring no license to operate due to its moped drive-train
Myers Motors NmG ("No more Gas") United States 2006–present Single occupant all-electric plug-in: 75 mph, 50-60 mile range, lithium batteries. Developed from Corbin Sparrow. The 2-passenger model, the Duo, is scheduled for release in 2010.
Can-Am Spyder Roadster Canada 2007-present The Can-Am Spyder is a three-wheeled motorcycle manufactured by Bombardier Recreational Products.
Moonbeam United States 2008–present 100 mpg DIY, fabric-covered car based on parts from two Honda 150cc motorscooters[14]
Triac United States 2009-2011 Electric, never entered production
XR-3 Hybrid United States Plans-2008, Kit-2009 Front 3 cylinder diesel (125 mpg), rear electric 40 mile range -(220 mpg when used as a hybrid)[15]
Aptera 2e United States Electric or Plug-in hybrid, 300 mpg-US (0.78 L/100 km)
Triton Trikes United States 2000-current Gas power 42+ mpg - Parts lists, customize, Kits Available - call for info http://www.tritontrikes.com/index.html/
Elio Motors Shreveport, LA, United States First deliveries, Q2 2015 Two passenger fully enclosed cockpit with car controls so no need for helmet or motorcycle endorsement in most states; $6800, 84/49 mpg; A/C, power windows/lock, AM/FM stereo, and 3 airbags standard; 0-60 <10 sec; 5 star safety rated; Front-wheel_drive w/ F-1 style front suspension
Go3Wheeler United States 2014 80 mpg single person three wheeler 420cc 16 Horsepower RWD $3000 for a kit. w/ F-1 style front suspension Roll cage.
Two rear wheels
Name Country Years manufactured Comments
Apino Brazil unknown Mini Truck
Benz Patent Motorwagen Germany 1886-93
Eco-Fueler USA 2009-Present http://www.eco-fueler.com
La Va Bon Train France 1904-10 50-100 believed built
Davis D-2 Divan United States 1947-48 about 13-17 built, including the 494, a Jeep-like military vehicle[16]
Scammell Scarab England 1948-67
Autoette United States 1948-70
Daihatsu Bee Japan 1951-?
Daihatsu Midget Japan 1957-72
Mazda T-2000 Japan 1957-74
Mazda K360 Japan 1959-69
Mazda T600 Japan 1959-71
Kia K-360 Republic of Korea 1962-1973 356 cc, 11 hp, air-cooled two cylinder. Top speed 65 km/h and a maximum load of 300 kg. This was Kia's first truck. The spare wheel was located on the roof.
Kia T-1500 Republic of Korea 1963-? 1484 cc, 60 hp, four cylinder and a maximum load of 1.5 tons.
Kia T-600 Republic of Korea 1969-1974 577cc, 20 HP and 500 kg load. Top speed of 75 km/h. 7726 produced.
Kia T-2000 Republic of Korea 1967-1981 1985 cc, 81 hp, four cylinder and a maximum load of 2 tons. 15952 produced.
Electra-King United States 1964?-1980s? Two-seater electric car manufactured by B & Z Electric Car Company[17]
Bond 875 England 1965-70
Bond Bug England 1970-74
Reliant Robin England 1973-81, 1989-2002
GM Lean Machine[18][19] United States 1980s Tilt, concept car only, conceived by Frank Winchell[20]
elio motors[21][22] United States 2014
Twike Germany 1995–present Human-electric hybrid
ZAP Xebra United States 2006-2009 electric power
eTuk USA, LLC [23][24] United States 2014 eTuk USA have taken the tuk tuk, which is omnipresent in Asian cities, and re-designed it for the US Market, including an all-electric motor. visit their website (www.etukusa.com) to see the vehicle line-up ranging from 3/6 passenger vehicles and small food/vending trucks.
Snyder ST600-C United States 20??-20??
Carver Netherlands 2007-2009 Tilt

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Scott Sociable". Retrieved 2010-03-27. 
  2. ^ a b Elvis Payne (2012). "The History of the 3-Wheeled Vehicle". 3-wheelers.com. Retrieved 2012-01-03. 
  3. ^ Chris Chong (July 2, 2006). "History in its magnificence". star-motoring.com. Archived from the original on 2007-10-24. Retrieved 2008-01-20. 
  4. ^ "History". pekingparisraid.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2007-08-26. Retrieved 2008-01-20. 
  5. ^ "3-wheelers on TV 2.". 3-wheelers.com. Retrieved 26 December 2011. 
  6. ^ "Advance Fore-Cars and Tri-Cars". oakingtonplane.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2008-01-12. Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  7. ^ "British Motor Manufacturers (1894-1960) Humber". britishmm.co.uk. Retrieved 2008-01-20. 
  8. ^ "Humber History". histomobile.com. Retrieved 2008-01-20. [dead link]
  9. ^ "Rileys 1896 - 1939 The Pre-Nuffield Years.". Rob's Riley Pages (ukonline.co.uk/rileyrob). Retrieved 2008-01-20. 
  10. ^ illustration[dead link]
  11. ^ "The History of Classic Cars: 1905 Lagonda Tricar". autoclassic.com. Retrieved 2008-01-20. 
  12. ^ Peter Bowler, president The BSAFWD Club. "image and description". Bsafwdc.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-04-09. 
  13. ^ – Mark Wilson (2006-09-24). "Moonbeam: 100mpg Homemade Car". Gizmodo.com. Retrieved 2012-04-09. 
  14. ^ "XR3 Hybrid Personal Transit Vehicle: A 125 mpg Plug-In Hybrid Three Wheeler You Build From Plans". Rqriley.com. Retrieved 2012-04-09. 
  15. ^ Phil Patton, "A Dreamer's Machine, More Promise Than Reality", New York Times (September 24, 2009)
  16. ^ Rob & Sharon McLellan. "advertising brochure". Mclellansautomotive.com. Retrieved 2012-04-09. 
  17. ^ "General Motors Three Wheeled Cars.". GM's Lean Machine (3-wheelers.com/gmlean). Retrieved 2008-04-08. 
  18. ^ "Lean Machines: Preliminary Investigation.". Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California at Berkeley (commutercars.com/downloads/studies/). Retrieved 2008-04-08. [dead link]
  19. ^ "illustration". Retrieved 2012-04-09. 
  20. ^ "elio motors". Retrieved 2013-04-16. 
  21. ^ http://www.eliomotors.com.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  22. ^ "eTuk USA". Retrieved 2014-07-01. 
  23. ^ http://www.etukusa.com.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]