Continued from Locost, part 2.
In building a Locost, you pretty much have to build everything that you can’t use off of your donor vehicle. In general, the most complex area that falls into that category is the suspension, both front and rear. Even with a good how-to, or using someone else’s design, you still have to build it. Ditto with the frame – you need to build the skeleton on which you’ll re-assemble your donor vehicle. However, the idea of building off of a motorcycle gets around a lot of that, because you already have half of the frame, the entire drive train is already mounted, half of the suspension is already in place, and you’ve even got an entire working electrical system that you only need to tap in to. That leaves only designing the front suspension and the frame from where it mates to the motorcycle frame forward. For that much work, you get a vehicle that would be equally fun as a Locost, for roughly half the work. Do we have a winner? Yeah!!
Suddenly amped (again) by this new realization, I start more poking around and rediscover a very cool vehicle I’d seen before but forgotten about, the IndyCycle. Looking at it again, I’m looking at exactly what I’d want to do, minus the second seat I’d put in behind the driver. (A single seat vehicle would maximize performance, but I still want it to be somewhat useful. And taking someone for a ride is half the fun, is it not?)
The Locost USA forums yield further information on building a trike, as a few members have done so themselves. I find mention of a vehicle that the builder has named the Raptor, which is essentially a tandem two-seat IndyCycle. With a fairly detailed walk-around video, I’m confident that I could easily duplicate (and improve on) what’s been done there. Case closed, start designing, right? Hah! My mind doesn’t work that way. I keep researching.
My research brings up yet another vehicle I think I’d read about long, long ago, called the Norton Shrike. It’s a bit jarring to look at initially, but reading deeper I start really liking what I see. The builder designed the Shrike to deliver maximum safety (after having a motorcycle buddy lose his leg, and nearly his life, in an accident), without compromising on the exhilaration or performance of driving a motorcycle. This is proven by his autocross participation, the 125,000 miles he puts on his vehicle, and the fact that he and his vehicle survived undamaged after hitting a deer. Try THAT on a motorcycle. The Shrike is also a reverse trike based on a motorcycle donor. What’s even better, plans are available for $70. It took a lot of restraint not to buy them right then and there.
It was a good thing I didn’t. I kept reading the Shrike website further (a helpful, but pitifully 1990s-era website). Amongst all the stories and information I find mention that the builder/owner burns through a set of front tires every 5000 miles, and a rear (motorcycle) tire every 1500 miles. Yikes! He himself does the calculations and puts his tire costs at $0.06/mile, a third of what his fuel costs are! Having already concluded that I’m going to be building on a tight budget, now I start to wonder whether building something that will need a new set of tires somewhere between every season and every month is necessarily a good idea. Admittedly, I won’t be autocrossing or participating in track days, but I won’t exactly be pussyfooting it around all the time, either.
With the seed of doubt sown, one last bit of information put a big, final nail in the coffin of ever building a Shrike.