Top 10 bikes with roofs

Rainproof wonders

MOTORCYCLES with roofs have always fallen into an unhappy netherworld, slipping into a crack between ‘proper’ bikes and cars and usually ending up getting no love from fans of either.

But that hasn’t stopped a steady trickle of prototypes, concept bikes and occasionally full-production models with something above your head. Few have had much success, and few deserve it, but there have been enough over the years to warrant a top 10 listing to run down some of the strangest, best and (on occasion) most successful of this niche breed.

Is it just that nobody has managed to make a convincing bike with a roof or is the idea itself unworkable? The evidence below suggests that the former is definitely true and the latter is pretty likely. Could you ever be swayed towards a roofed bike?

10. Lit C1

We’re dropping this one in at the bottom because it’s one of those projects that’s been ongoing for ages and never seems to get closer to production. if it ever reaches fruition it could be the most convincing roofed bike yet. An electric scooter, its USP is that it’s got a massive gyroscope built into its chassis which allows it to stand upright even when it’s stationary. Some of the firm’s prototype videos are impressive, showing the bike still standing after determined efforts to knock it down. The real bonus is that it can be completely enclosed, since there’s no need to be able to get a foot down.

9. BMW Simple

This was a concept bike that never actually got a proper unveiling. As with many of the car-bike hybrids with roofs, it’s actually got three wheels to lend a bit more stability but unlike the firm’s CLEVER concept, on which the rear wheels and engine remained upright while the front tilts, the Simple’s rear pair also lean. That gives it just enough of a bike-like feel to be included. The stealth fighter-esque styling is also a bonus. 

8. Toyota i-Road

Another bike-with-a-roof that also gains an extra wheel, this one comes from Toyota and as such is given a car-style twist. Inside there’s a steering wheel rather than handlebars, but it leans like a bike so we’re giving it a pass for this list. Although not a production machine, it’s more than just a concept as Toyota has made a handful of them and handed them out to members of the public for sort of beta-testing procedure. Whether it will go any further than that remains to be seen. It’s electric, of course, and gets the inevitable lower-case ‘i’ in its name to remind you that it’s hi-tech. 

7. Honda Elysium

This 2001 concept bike was actually a convertible, since the roof would fold away when not needed. And it’s got a certain appeal, not least thanks to its 750cc flat four engine, which at the time of its unveiling was clearly a piece of one-upmanship in light of the recently-revealed Yamaha T-Max and Suzuki Burgman 650 which were forging a new market for large-capacity scooters. Of course, it never reached production, which is something of a shame as had it been sold it might have actually been a pretty interesting proposition.

6. Peugeot HYmotion 3

Another one not to make production, when the HYmotion was first shown in 2008 there was actually talk that it might be manufactured. Not just a three wheeler, it was also three-wheel-drive, with twin electric motors up front and a supercharged 125cc single with 20bhp powering the rear wheel.

5. Honda Gyro Canopy

Again, the link between roofs and a third wheel rears its head, but the Honda Gyro Canopy very much reached production. In fact, tens of thousands have been sold during a production run that started way back in 1990. Like the rest of Honda’s oddball Gyro range, the rear wheels and engine are on a separate platform that’s attached to the main structure of the bike via a pivot, allowing them to remain upright.

4. Quasar

If you ever had a copy of the Observer’s Book of Motorcycles back in the late 70s/early 80s, the Quasar was the one bike in there that you were never likely to see in real life. A mish-mash of Reliant Robin 850cc engine and feet-forward, roofed styling, it was built from 1975 to 1982 and just 21 were delivered.

3. Benelli Adiva

Back when BMW was making waves with the C1, Benelli got in on the roofed scooter action with the Adiva. While it offered none of the BMW’s crashworthiness, it had the more usable day-to-day advantage of being a convertible, although the roof panel was so slim it wouldn’t provide much weather protection. The original was in production from 2001-2006, and Adiva lives on as a separate company, now making an MP3-style leaning trike – with a roof, of course – called the AD3. 

2. BMW C1

While other roofed bikes have either not reached production or have offered nothing more than a bit of protection against the rain, the C1 was a bold effort to make a motorcycle with a car-style safety cage. It was crash tested and in some countries was exempt from helmet laws as a result (not in the UK, though). It was big and heavy, so the 125cc version struggled a bit, but there was also a 200cc model that managed a little better. Buyers weren’t convinced, though, and sales were pretty dismal. Secondhand prices are strong now.

1. Peraves Ecomobile/MonoTracer/Monoracer

Swiss firm Peraves turned out its own breed of two-wheeled supercar for a couple of decades, and despite massive price tags sold a decent number of them over the years. The basic recipe of BMW power (from a K-series four-cylinder engine) and an aerodynamic, lozenge-like shape made for impressive top speeds and economy, while deployable stabilisers stop the thing from falling over when stationary. The MonoTracer improved on the Ecomobile’s styling and added an all-electric power option and has since lost the ‘T’ to become the Monoracer under the canopy of a new, Czech-based firm called Peraves CZ, founded in 2009 with Peraves founder Arnold Wagner at the helm. The original Swiss company went bankrupt at the end of 2015, leaving Peraves CZ in full control of the Monoracer.

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