First Ride

First ride: Quadro4 review

The first leaning step-thru quad. Or shall we just agree to call it a four-wheeled scooter?

IT’S a quad,’ one or two people commented in response to our recent news story on what the makers call the first four-wheeled scooter.  

I suppose it is a sort of quad. It’s called the Quadro4, so there’s a clue in the name.

But in that case it’s a leaning step-thru quad. That conjures a confusing mental image so we’re sticking with the manufacturer’s description.

I’ve just ridden the first four-wheeled scooter (or leaning step-thru quad if you insist).  

Its closest relative is probably the three-wheeled scooter with one wheel at the back, like Piaggio’s MP3 or Yamaha’s Tricity. Like those, the Quadro4 has a tilting suspension system allowing the wheels to lean in line with the chassis while maintaining contact with the road. The difference is the Quadro4 has it at both ends.

And with the loss of a single central rear wheel  some facet of the physics keeping it upright seem also to have altered.

I won’t pretend I understand why bicycles and motorcycles don’t fall over. A century of research has barely arrived at a consensus. I do know that the forces at work on the Quadro4 feel slightly different. Where three-wheeled scooters more or less mimic the sensation of riding a two-wheeler, the Quadro4 feels more foreign.

Like the three-wheelers, and any motorcycle or bicycle, you tip it over by counter-steering. But on the Quadro4 the connection between the handlebars and lean angle feels less direct.

The tilting suspension system offers hydraulic resistance to leaning it over. That can make the Quadro4 feel like it may run wide in corners, at least until you’ve got used to it. It will go over but more input than usual is required through the bars to make it. Up to 45° of lean is achievable according to Swiss manufacturer Quadro. With four contact patches, one thing that’s never in doubt is grip.

I had a relatively short test ride on the four-wheeler. The new UK importer brought one to our office in Hammersmith and waited for two hours while I rode it up and down the M4 and then around the North Circular to the Ace Café, where someone asked if it was car. It felt more manoeuvrable by the time I handed it back, with the benefit of some time to adjust to it.

Luckily, two-wheelers usually naturally want to go in a straight line. At low speed I found the Quadro4 a little less inclined to do so of its own accord, especially moving off from a standstill. I’d open the twist-and-go throttle and involuntarily turn left or right a little as it began rolling, which is worrying when filtering through traffic. A big handful of throttle kept it straight but it’s something else that took some getting used to.

You might as well use a big handful of throttle because the Quadro4 is not very fast. It makes 30hp from its 346cc single-cylinder engine according to Quadro, and weighs 257kg dry. A Porsche easily beat me away from some traffic lights, after I’d filtered to pull up alongside it. I hope it was some consolation to the driver for the thousands of times he’s been left behind by motorcycles.

Unusually, both the speedometer and rev counter have red lines, at 130kph (80mph) and 8,000rpm, and both are reached simultaneously.  At an indicated 120kph (74mph) the rev counter needle hovers at about 7,000rpm. The black screen provides enough wind protection for those speeds.

It’s comfortable, although I found the brake pedal clashed with my right foot, so my toes were sticking out of over the edge of the footboard.

The ride quality is smooth. A benefit of four wheels is that when one goes into a pothole there are another three that don’t, so the disturbance is less. The tilting system also enables the main chassis to remain vertical on an uneven surface.

There are four brakes discs, one on each wheel. The right-hand lever applies the front ones only while the left applies all four. The brake pedal also applies all four.

Four wheels and four discs provide a lot of stopping force for a scooter and a stamp on the pedal brought the Quadro4 to a halt very quickly. There’s no ABS but there is a lot of traction. The front brake alone was less effective. I fell into using only the pedal, as if in a car.

It’s got a handbrake and a tilt-lock lever to stop it toppling over. Applying the brakes increases the hydraulic tilt resistance and in practice that was enough to let me keep both feet up at traffic lights.

Quadro’s new UK importer, Clements Moto, sees it as a ‘London vehicle’. Given the high number of MP3s in the capital, there’s probably a market for it.

Clements is hoping the four-wheeler will attract some car drivers. According to Quadro, it’s classed as a three-wheeler under European law. Drivers who passed their car test before January 19 2013 are entitled to ride one (and a Piaggio MP3 LT) without taking a motorcycle test. If they passed their car test later, they will need an unrestricted or A2 motorcycle licence.  

Also in common with the MP3 LT, you can legally ride the Quadro4 without a helmet, if you really want to.    

No doubt some drivers will be tempted by a four-wheeled vehicle that can slice through traffic. And it will filter - it's widest at the bars, just like a two-wheeler. A BMW driver wanted to know all about it when I stopped for petrol. He was one of three people to ask about in the short time I had it. Another was a scooter rider, who pulled up alongside me in traffic to say it was ‘awesome’. The third was the Harley rider who called it a car at the Ace Café.

For people already on two wheels, or even three, I’m not entirely sure what good the extra rear wheel will do. In practice I suspect the benefit of so much grip at that end will be mainly psychological.  

The Quadro4 costs £8,499 on the road. For another £200 you can get a two-wheeled Yamaha TMAX 530, which is much faster, much more fun and has a bit more space under the seat. The Quadro4 has space for one helmet; the TMAX will take a helmet with space left to wedge in a bag. The Quadro4 has two glove boxes to the TMAX’s single lockable one. Both have a power socket.

In my short run on the Quadro4 it did 62.9mpg, calculated from fuel receipts. The TMAX only managed 46.3 but it does have one more cylinder and 16.5 more hp.

It should give the Quadro4 a range of over just 200 miles from its 15-litre tank.  

You could get Piaggio’s MP3 500 Sport for £7,632 on-the-road, with 10 more horsepower than the Quadro4 and space for two helmets.

Or you could get the three-wheeler Quadro3 for £5,995. Like the Quadro4, it’s got a 346cc single-cylinder engine. It makes slightly less power, at 27hp - but it weighs 57kg less too.  

Model tested: Quadro4

Price: £8,499 on-the-road

Engine: 346cc single

Power: 30hp

Torque: 18.7lbft

Dry weight: 257kg

Tank capacity: 15 litres

Fuel economy (calculated from receipts): 62.9mpg

Seat height: 770mm

Colours: red, grey, white, black

Available: Last week of June 2015

Watch our video review of the Quadro4.

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