So why is tilting so important?

Some may wonder why I’m insisting on a tilting 3-wheel design for Project Streetliner. Watch about :30 of this video and it’s pretty obvious. The trouble with non-tilting trike is well explained by Wikipedia:

The disadvantage of a rear drive, non-tilting three wheel configuration is instability – the car will tip over in a turn before it will slide, unless the centre of mass is much closer to the ground or the wheelbase is much wider than a similar four wheel vehicle.

So unless the wheels tilt, you’ve got to essentially crawl around corners. I’m not planning to race this vehicle, but I do want to be able to take evasive action in traffic. So tilting it is! A vehicle like the Morgan was low enough and wide enough that it doesn’t really have this issue. But if I want to really benefit from a smaller frontal aerodynamic cross section, I’m going to need to keep things narrow. The advantages of a Piaggio MP3-style front end keep piling higher and higher.

Gizmag’s comprehensive review of narrow-track vehicles

Gizmag is one of my favorite new tech news sources precisely because of their affinity for new vehicles. This video is a fan-tast-ic overview of all the single and narrow track vehicles in the pipeline right now. They’ve put those innovations into very sharp perspective as well — laying out the reality of traffic congestion we’re going to face in the next decade and beyond. With the number of cars on the roads worldwide set to double in that time period (greatly outpacing the growth of road infrastructure), one of the best solutions may indeed be smaller vehicles optimized for efficient commuting. Narrower, nimbler vehicles means not only drastically less fuel consumption, but less congestion.

What this means for Project Streetliner is that I’m re-evaluating width. The seed of this idea was essentially for a recumbent version of the Piaggio MP3 with a streamliner shell on it. In the video, the presenter talks about how the Nissan Land Glider concept began explicitly with a half-width vehicle. In my mind, a vehicle like Concept #2 would be about 2/3 the width of a standard car. If I adopt a more narrow track and shroud the vehicle more like a Velomobile, that could make for a very interesting vehicle.

The Ace Cycle-Car

Seattle-based Liberty Motors makes this Morgan-esque three wheel vehicle that I think is just fantastic. Scale it down a touch and put leaning suspension up front and it’s very, very close to what I want Project Streetliner to ultimately be, even in aesthetic sensibility.

The Ace Cycle-Car

But what I’m especially interested to see are the specifications on their website. Specifically, the 950 lb curb weight. Given that this vehicle appears to be made completely out of steel, including the body, and powered by a 103″ Harley motor, that’s pretty darn light. I really think that this makes my 500 lb goal for Project Streetlinervery realistic.

Thanks, YouTube

YouTube recommended this video for me this morning. A very interesting 48-volt electric trike commercially available in Germany and the Netherlands. There is something very sexy about the shape and upon further investigation of the websites associated with it, there is a very nifty roof option. Scaled up and with different (leaning) suspension geometry, this is close to what I am building. Although I really do like my Streetliner Concept #2, something more akin to this shape should be explored also.

Yet another tilting trike

@DuncanWilson sent me another great tilting trike video! This one has a close up of the lean locking mechanism, which is exactly along the lines of what I’d envisioned forProject Streetliner. I’m thinking a foot pedal that locks the lean on demand and a hand-lever (much like a parking brake) to keep it locked when desired. Looks like that’s a pretty universal approach.