Quadro4: Exclusive UK first ride

Posted May 18th, 2015 in Road Tests Leave a comment
Rating:

Baffled, that’s probably the best way to describe how the Quadro4 made me feel on my first tentative ride. Ordinarily I can jump on a machine and feel at home (or not) within a couple of miles but this is very different and is anything but ordinary.

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Obviously the Quadro4 has an extra couple of wheels, or one more if we’re talking about the Quadro3 (S) we tested in January, or the usual crop of MP3/Metropolis/Tricity tricycles – and yes this is still classed as a tricycle in the eyes of the law. That law means anybody who has held a car licence since before January 2013 can legally just jump on a Quadro4, or any of the LT (Large Track) three-wheelers. You can also ride one on a full bike licence, which makes more sense from a safety point of view. To be honest the car licence route is not really a loophole I’m too comfortable with, at least if you have some bike experience you can appreciate how to balance, lean and have an understanding of the controls. To a complete novice it’s all going to be new and daunting but to some extent the Quadro4 will be easier to ride if you’re not a seasoned bike or scooter rider but it is easier to ride one quickly if you are already a capable rider. Confused? Read on…

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So how do you ride it then?

Starting with the basics, all the controls are as you’d find on a twist & go scooter, front brake, rear brake and throttle. There are also a few extras – a handbrake, footbrake and tilt lock handle. Starting the Quadro 4 is the same as on any other scooter, pull a brake in, press the starter and it fires up. With the tilt lock on the ECU cuts power so you can’t ride off with it locked upright, the handbrake near your right thigh is there so you can’t forget to take it off. As an added security measure it can’t be released without the ignition key (twist it all the way to the left at the same time as releasing the brake). One thing that will help you when you ride it is if you learn how the Quadro balances. With other large capacity three wheeled scooters (aside from the Quadro3) you have to lock the machine in the upright position if you want to keep your feet off the floor. The Quadro uses a Dual Hydraulic Tilting System, so there’s some resistance there; it means it can balance in the upright position. You still need to use some core body positioning if the road is slightly off camber, or if the Quadro is leaning slightly but if you practice before riding it you’ll start to trust its capabilities. Before riding anywhere for the first time sit on a level surface at a standstill and feel how the scooter balances, it’ll help with the riding later. Once you’ve mastered sitting still without falling off its time to go and ride this big red beast.

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Positive countersteering

This is where things get a little more interesting, moving it around on the drive you can steer it kind of like a car, so moving it around isn’t a problem and with it locked you can wheel it in to tight spaces as easy, if not easier than any other maxi scooter. Ride away though and initially it feels slightly alien, the front end feels a bit heavy but that feeling soon melts away once you get moving. Simply steering it doesn’t really work on the road though. Your first few corners are strange and you’ll probably run wide, not a good thing to be doing on the road so I suggest you try and take your new Quadro4 to a quiet industrial area to practice for half an hour. Weave in and out of a few parking bays, turn a few corners and get to grips with the way it moves and turns, hopefully your Quadro dealer will make sure you can ride it before letting you head off into oblivion. The biggest tip I can give you here is to learn about positive countersteering. If you’re an advanced bike rider you’ll know all about it and will do it when you’re riding anyway. All bike riders lean into a corner and countersteer subconsciously but positive countersteering takes things up a notch. Positive countersteering is a way to turn a bike quickly; in effect you’re pushing the handlebars the opposite way to which way you’re turning. If you’re taking a left hand bend your mind thinks you’d push the right hand bar towards the corner, in reality the opposite is true. Push the left bar away from you and the bike turns much faster and vice versa for a right hand corner. With the Quadro4 the more force you put into countersteering the better and the more confident you’ll become. Car drivers will more than likely try to steer it around a corner to begin with but it simply doesn’t work, I tried it around a few slower speed turns. Don’t let me scare you off with all these black magic advanced riding techniques though, it may not be ‘normal’ but you wouldn’t be buying, or thinking of buying a four wheeled scooter if you wanted to be like everybody else and these skills can be picked up quite quickly.

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Engine

Before we talk about its on road capabilities here’s some info about the scooter itself. Like the Quadro3, the 4 is powered by a 346cc liquid cooled engine, according to Quadro the engine in this scooter has been designed specifically by them for the Quadro4. It’s centrally mounted and has an integrated differential with belt drive to both rear wheels. The engine makes 30bhp, 3bhp more than the one in the Quadro3, it also makes a bit more torque but the scooter itself weighs 57kg more than the three-wheeler.

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Braking

The 4 comes with 240mm discs with combined braking to all four wheels, you can also just use the front lever to operate the front brakes on their own. The wheels are 14” alloys, fitted with Duro tyres and the machine can lean to 45º. I never experienced any loss of traction, or felt it was getting out of shape during my time with it; the only limits are the rider’s ability.

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Comfort

It’s a comfortable machine, although not massively roomy it has a little bit more legroom than an MP3. The seat is well padded and has a built in adjustable back support for the rider, the pillion seat is separate to the riders and sits quite high up, so your pillion may get a bit of wind buffeting – an adjustable screen would have been useful, although it was perfect for me on the front. The pillion foot pegs flip out and were well placed, although sometimes they wouldn’t fold back in on our test machine. Other than that the build quality and finish is very good throughout, as you’d demand on a scooter costing as much as a small family car.

Equipment

Storage space isn’t huge, the seat is split into two halves, twist the key and the rear pops open with a very nice smooth action may I add. There’s a light and 12v socket in there but it wasn’t quite roomy enough for my Arai. It’s still useful storage space but the optional 48 litre colour coded top box would be an essential item for me. There are also a couple of storage bins up front, one of those also has a 12v to power your sat nav or charge a phone. The central digital dash is fairly comprehensive with all the usual features, trips, temp, fuel, time etc. There’s also a large analogue speedo and tacho.

On the road

Hopefully you’ve not been scared off by this point, stick with us because once you’ve got your head around the way this machine works you’ll find yourself hunting for the twisty roads.

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Seeing as this was the first Quadro4 in the country and other magazines were queuing up to road test (you can also read my Quadro findings in MCN, Scootering and on Bike Social) it I only had it for a week but during that time I found myself becoming quite attached to it. Despite what I wrote earlier on, it only took an hour or so to get the measure of this big red contraption. Cornering may not be quite as intuitive as on a two-wheeled scooter (at least not until you’ve mastered it) but I must admit the Quadro4 makes them addictive. I found myself taking the twistiest routes to test both man and machine. The 45º lean angle is more than enough (it’s 5º more than an MP3) and there’s loads of ground clearance to play with. I’m attacking corners as hard as I can, pushing the handlebars with some force to turn faster, get around quicker and more to the point to get the best enjoyment I can out of every ride. Once you’re into the swing of things you can pinpoint where you want to be mid corner and fire yourself out the other side. There’s no mistaking the fact that it still feels different to a ‘normal’ scooter but that’s no bad thing, it’s good to be different. It doesn’t really matter what type of a rider you are, you can still enjoy the Quadro4. If you want to ride it like a hooligan it’s more than capable of keeping the most experienced riders entertained. If you want to ride it through town, beat the traffic by doing some steady filtering and get to work safely in the rain, or on icy roads (especially with the optional winter tyres) then it’s also a great tool for that. The scooter isn’t actually any wider than any other maxi scooter, it can fit through any gap and because of the dual front wheels and Hydraulic Tilting System you feel more stable at slower speeds so filtering is actually a bit easier at times. The suspension is very good too, speed bumps and potholes can be ridden without jolting the rider about too much and if you hit some dodgy Tarmac or a slippery manhole cover mid corner the extra wheels keep things safe and to be honest I didn’t bother trying to avoid them too much. Having four contact patches of rubber is also very useful, as are four disc brakes, the brakes are outstanding. Loads of feel and they’ll stop it on it’s nose if you want, you can also skid the rear if you want to show off a bit. Surprisingly on a machine in this price bracket, there’s no ABS fitted but to be honest it’s not really necessary, although when the Euro 4 regs come into force in 2017 all bikes/scooters over 125cc will have to have it as standard and the Quadro4 will benefit from even better braking and increased levels of safety.

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Engine wise the 346cc lump is great once it gets moving but with 246kg’s of lard to move around, plus the rider of course, at times it feels underpowered. Get it in the city, which is where most Quadros will live, and it is perfectly adequate and most of the time out of town it has enough power but there were occasions when I wanted just that little bit more oomph, a 500cc engine would give it that bit more power. Having said that though, it will top 84mph on the GPS so it’s not slow, it just takes a bit of getting there and mid range power suffers a bit. I’m pretty sure the scooter can handle some extra horsepower though and it’d be great to be able to have enough power to spin those rear wheels coming out of corners if I fancied it. By the end of my week with the scooter I really was enjoying the way it works. It may be different and might have two more wheels than most bike riders are comfortable with but it certainly works.

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Conclusion

This may be the first road going four wheeled tilting scooter in the world but I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last. Just as the Piaggio MP3 spawned a three-wheeled phenomenon, the Quadro4 will be the dawning of a new transportation era. It’s big, expensive and not instantly easy to ride but once you adjust your thought process to this new style of riding it can be very enjoyable. If you’re the kind of person who likes a gadget, wants the latest new machine and have the best part of £9,000 to spend, the Quadro4 is worth a go. Just take your time when you first start riding it and don’t try to run before you can walk and you’ll love it.

The Rebel – 4MC: http://www.4-mc.co.uk

At this point it would be rude not to include some info on the first four wheeled scooter. Almost a decade ago I was invited to try out a prototype four-wheeled scooter, the machine was the brainchild of Nick Shotter. A man who had suffered in a bike accident and thought four wheels would help to prevent some accidents. Nick has turned his creation into his life’s work, he gave up his profession, spent his lifesavings and has sought investment from family, friends and interested parties to get his invention up and running. As of yet nobody has bought the patented design but Nick still hasn’t given up hope and it is currently being evaluated by an unnamed manufacturer.

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Although the Yamaha Majesty powered 4MC was rough and ready back then, it proved itself on the airfield test track. The four contact patches gripped the Tarmac and like the rubber beneath me, had me well and truly hooked. The potential was evident and it certainly worked but was also good fun.

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So what does Nick Shotter think to Quadro beating him to market? “As predicted, it was only a matter of time before other manufacturers competed for the Piaggio MP3’s market. Such competition increases the chance of selling or licensing the 4MC because the 4MC’s patented design is superior in that it has unmatchable safety margins and is lighter, which reduces build costs and improves all aspects of performance. Thereby, the 4MC provides the would-be competitor with a much greater chance of success than the alternative designs. Therefore the advent of the Quadro4, Peugeot Metropolis, and Yamaha Tricity, is all good news for the 4MC. In particular the Quadro4 is most welcome because it is the first four-wheeler.

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The first choice for the Yamaha Tesseract and the first Quadro 4D was to use the 4MC’s patented transversely pivoted front suspension arms. Quadro in particular had gone all the way to the very brink of launching their first 4D it seems but withdrew at the last moment. This withdrawal was after Quadro was notified about the 4MC patents, but whether the two events are linked I cannot say. The current Quadro4 uses a different front end to the 4MC and as such it does not violate the 4MC’s patents. Since you rode the 4MC I have enhanced the technology by making it much simpler and it works even better. These developments are covered by recently filed patents”.

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Written by 2Commute (Ian Grainger), © 2022 all rights reserved.
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