Lazareth LM 847: The 470-horsepower, tilting 4-wheel motorcycle you've been waiting for

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Lazareth LM 847: a machine that takes horsepower to the extreme(Credit: Lazareth)

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Can motorcycles undergo meiosis? If so, Ludovic Lazareth's LM 847 looks like it's got stuck in the process of cell division. Built around a gigantic, 4.7-liter Maserati V8 engine, this terrifying tilting quad bike picks up where the Dodge Tomahawk left off, with four single-sided swingarms, rim-mounted brakes, dual hub-centre steering and a bunch of other crazy touches. Oh, and 470-odd horsepower tearing up the bitumen through a single-speed viscous clutch automatic transmission.

French motorcyclists have lived the last 30 years under a strange and annoying law that restricts all motorbikes to a maximum of 100 horsepower. Every bike released in Europe needed a French version made, complete with electronic or mechanical restrictors to choke it down to a power level deemed safe and proper by the local bureaucracy.

A French R1 would pull like a standard bike up until that magical horsepower limit, then crap itself and wheeze its way up the useless top half of the tacho like it had been shot. It might as well have been; superbike class sales figures in France plummeted because the experience of trickling around on these crippled thoroughbreds was just so depressing.

The spread of European Union road regulations is rarely something high performance vehicle lovers tend to celebrate, but in this case, French bikers have something to cheer about in 2016 – the 100 hp law is dead! Viva la mandatory ABS.

What better way to party, thought famed custom creator Ludovic Lazareth, than with a machine that takes horsepower to the extreme?

Lazareth's LM 847 is, to the objective eye, a conflation of impractical ideas, awkwardly overengineered into a hulking mass of unrideable ostentation that will probably never turn a wheel on the road.

If that's your assessment, fine; it's never stopped Lazareth before. His outrageous vehicles are about making statements, visual and mechanical, and in that sense the LM 847 has plenty to say.

The heart of the matter is a ludicrous motor: the 4.7-liter, 32-valve V8 from the Maserati Quattroporte, a 620 newton-meter bone crusher that puts out exactly 4.7 times the old horsepower limit.

One rear tire was never going to be enough to put 470 horsepower to the ground, so Lazareth supplies two, each with its own chain drive, and each on its own hefty single-sided swingarm.

The obvious choice here would be to suspend each wheel individually, but Lazareth has no time for obvious choices. He mounts a TFX rear shock transversely, in a fashion that looks like it will not only damp bump-handling movements that affect both rear wheels, but also any motion that moves one wheel relative to the other – for example, cornering lean angle changes. How this works dynamically on the road, who knows?

At the front end, there's another two giant single sided swingarms, each featuring its own hub-steered front wheel with a Buell-style rim-mounted brake. This time, each gets its own shock, as well as an unsprung weight figure that'd probably be admirable on a B-double truck.

Between the front and rear wheels are split carbon fiber aerodynamic shields that work together when the bike is upright to give the impression of a third tire … Or that the whole monstrous thing is just one two-foot wide piece of rubber.

One hint as to how hard that front end is to steer comes from the gigantic width of the handlebar poking up out of the airbox. Lazareth has been quoted as saying if he can't make something work beautifully, he'll hide it, so lord knows what that steering mechanism looks like under there. The bars are made even wider with the addition of bar-end mirrors (that'll be annoying when you're lane-splitting through traffic to get to work), and the levers are reverse-action, because screw you, he's Ludovic Lazareth.

Not a bolt on this crazy creation is anything like any other bike you've seen this side of the show-only Dodge Tomahawk. From the winged front lamps, to the rude, stout air intake behind the screen, to the incongruous footboards, to the fact that it runs a single-speed transmission with a hydraulic coupling and electric reverse, it's a complete original …

… until you notice he's stuck a Ducati Panigale tail section on it, virtually unchanged, and somehow made it work visually despite the fact that it's fixed to a 2.6 meter long, 400 kg, tilting quad bike.

Lazareth is a sick man. This bike is a sick experiment. I can't even imagine how a human would fit on it, let alone find the throttle stop on an engine so violently powerful. But I love it, and I'd give it a go in a second, and I'd be delighted to hand it back half an hour later, wide-eyed and trembling, to this French Dr. Frankenstein. The scariest thing is, he's surely elbow deep in something even more bizarre as we speak.

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