Tale 1: Trikes

On my commute this morning, I passed a tricycle going in the other direction.  A Piaggio MP3 reverse trike (two wheels steering, one driving).  As the name implies, Piaggio considers it modern and advanced.  If that was another commuter, he or she is someone in the area.

Also somewhere in the region is another leaning 3-wheeler, a Can-Am Spyder.

What to make of trikes?  I’m not completely sure, and neither is this guy:

Overall, I see trikes growing at least a little.  The prime riding age is 35-65, i.e., Baby Boomers.  Since Baby Boomers seem to be weathering well, the largest motorcycling cohort in our society’s history will continue somewhat.  Easy-handling trikes are a part of that wider range of riders and styles.  On the manufacturers’ side, more and more firms are supplying aftermarket kits (leaning and non-leaning), or even factory trikes, including factory Harley-Davidson trikes.  (BMW has shown futuristic prototypes in this field, like a lot of futuristic fields.)

Besides boomers, I see more and more scooters under younger and younger riders.  Societies around the world are urbanizing, including ours.  Bikes, scooters, and motorcycles are becoming more appealing in their “native habitat,” and the younger residents are more open-minded about alternatives to the car.  Somewhere in that mix, there’s a place for trikes, literally and figuratively.

From a purely business perspective, 3 wheels gives you the regulatory flexibility of a motorcycle.  You’re legally still a bike, but without the trickiness: most trikes fall between the cracks of helmet laws.  Hence, we’ll see more bold new ideas in the 2/3-wheel space.  This world lacks the manufacturer expense of crash-testing requirements, and to a large extent the customer demand for heating, AC, soundproofing, etc.  And to an extent, you gain the handling of a leaning vehicle, with the acceleration of a lightweight, non-box structure.  (The luggage space doesn’t hurt, either.  Show me a tank bag, and I’ll show you someone who really rides, instead of just tooling around and posing.)

Basically, I don’t even know what the 3-wheel world will become.  Because at some point, I expect to be surprised.  That’s the mark of a field with future potential.

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