3 Wheelers

Hello, everybody:

I’m here to make you a challenge: how a professional designer would solve the problem of designing a 3 wheeled vehicle? (2f1r)

There are many small manufacturers that made 3 wheelers, but none of them seemed designed by a professional .

The exemptions I recall (propotypes) are the Peugeot 20Cup, and the VW GX3, and they show diferent aproaches to this. The first has a “layer” design (like an onion, from the outside to the inside: first the front wheels layer, then the cockpit layer, then the back wheel layer) and the second an “exterior” front wheel theme, so that the cockpit volume and the rear wheel seem more “integrated”.

Even so they don’t seem perfect: always a mix between a bike and a car.

So finally, the challange:
How should a 3 wheeler be, so that it has its OWN identity, not a mix of a car and a bike?



my long time favorite production

there are a bunch of CONCEPT designed byu the big companies which are REALLY well styled and thought out. But since they’re not in production i won’t post them. oh, and feel free to explore the site: http://www.3wheelers.com

Hi, people!

It would be a pressed metal sheet chassis with light highly-durable polycarbonate resin thermoplastic serving as windows/doors, windscreen, front-light protection, etc… Quite spartan.
The power system would be fitted under the floor

What are your comments on it?

just some things i thought of when looking at your design…

with wheels that big, moment of inertia is greater, fuel consumption is higher. small wheels = better acceleration, lower high speed. i thought that was the point of having something inbetween a bike and a car, with the maneuverability of a bike and the comfort / safety of a car.

also, what about having one wheel in front and two at the back?
seats look dangerous for a vehicle.

hope this helps
keep it up

Hi yenomoris!
Thank you for your feedback!

You’re right: the wheels are big. It was mainly a style figure. Even so I never pretended to do something between a bike and a car (“with the maneuverability of a bike and the comfort / safety of a car”, in your words).

I think it’s a car, but with 3 wheels to take advantage of things like:

  1. 25% less non-suspended weight;
  2. 25% less rolling resistence;
  3. the architecture lends itself perfectly for an aerodinamic teardrop shape (if one wishes);
  4. can be designed to use 3 electric engines, or to use a front wheel drive system from a donor, or even a motorcycle engine, gearbox, and traction rear wheel;
  5. for homologation purposes it could be considered a motorcycle, and being so, the regulations it has to comply are quite less demanding.

    The choice for 2f 1r wheels are mainly because of braking-while-curving physics. Generally this setup offers a best behavior for the car.
    Besides that, aerodinamics and the “donor” questions have better answers in this 2f 1r setup.

Why do you consider the seats dangerous?

Thanks for the comments: keep them coming, so that I can keep tweaking it :slight_smile:

Having built a few 2F1R recumbents in the past, I have to say that your weight distribution looks off.

In general, for non-leaning 3-wheelers, the Cg should be about 2/3 of the wheelbase away from the single wheel. In your case it looks too far back, and will create a large amount of understeer.

This need for the Cg to away from the 50/50 point (it’s actually at the 33/33/33 point) creates a problem with traction for a single driven wheel. In addition, if the height of Cg exceeds a 45deg angle back from the front contact patch, you will have a tipping problem under braking.

There is also the user issue where one has 3 tracks down the road. Potholes and other obstacles are more easily hit by one of the wheels. In a car, one can usually straddle either side of a problem with each side and on a bike, go around the problem.

If the mechanical issues can be resolved the resulting tear-drop shapes can be so very beautiful…


First post :blush: .

purplepeopledesign: I hadn’t thought of the three tracks moving down the road, as opposed to two. However, the driver should be able to handle it should he encounter a pothole that’s not too big. One should be comfortable and experienced enough to manuver the vehicle safely in any condition before hitting the road. Just getting used to handling the vehicle should counter the problem of having more contact with the road that could comprimise safety. There should, obviously, be a modified lisence to drive such a vehicle just for that reason.

It is possible to become accustomed to 3 tire paths on the road, but it does take time… at least 12 hours of actual driving time. It’s not so much being able to deal with a pothole in the road, but knowing what to do instinctively within the typical 1/2 sec between detection of the obstacle and crossing it with the tyres. I can guarantee that there will be some bumpy moments in the first week or so of driving. I do not think this requires a new classification of driver’s licence, but it is something to bear in mind when designing a 3 track vehicle.

I never meant to imply that the design is very difficult, but many of the user issues are not obvious until one has had a chance to “drive” a 3-wheeler for any length of time over a variety of surfaces. Trust me when I say that it is not as easy it may look.


Ahh…lucky you :laughing: . Sounds like a lot of fun.

What I like with the 20Cup is that the wheels are all inside the body. Before Peugeot presented it I designed a 3-wheeler for the last Peugeot Design Contest:

That’s just beautifull, SeaLion…