Let's get this out of the way. No product, no matter what it is, should ever be called Qooder. This is a mistake almost as bad as naming a condom brand after an historical event in which a giant protective structure was allowed into somebody's private area, only to burst open and discharge a horde of tiny, destructive people. In fact it's worse. There is no excuse for calling anything a Qooder.
That said, this thing looks like a hoot. Perhaps they could've called it a Hooter. Perhaps not.
Swiss company Quadro, as Mike Hanlon has explored in a previous article, is the pet project of master designer Lucio Marabese, the man behind the Piaggio MP3 and the Yamaha Tesseract – the first tilting 3- and 4-wheelers to burst onto the scene in the last decade or so. Moving from designer to manufacturer has allowed Marabese to bring his tilting multi-wheelers to life exactly as he envisioned them.
If the MP3 can be taken as the prototype for the Qooder, then we're already sold. When we first rode the Piaggio MP3 many years ago, it became instantly obvious that these wide tilting platforms have a lot to offer.
They steer and feel just like a motorcycle, believe it or not, counter-steering easily into corners and generally handling beautifully. But the front end grip and stability simply has to be experienced to be believed. You can lean over far enough to drag the center-stand on a bumpy, gravelly road. You can brake harder on a set of cheapie "bowling ball" scooter tires than you would ever think possible. With the wide front platform, you can hit the brakes astonishingly hard while you're leaned over. On the cobblestoned, poorly maintained roads of an Italian town centre, you'd struggle to be safer or quicker on anything else.
Or to have as much fun. We put a number of our hardcore motorcycling friends on the MP3 while we had it, and every single one came back surprised and delighted at how enjoyable the thing was to fang around. While a common sight in Europe, they haven't taken off everywhere ... we'll have to see if that changes at all with Yamaha's Niken this year, which looks like a flat-out performance take on the platform.
Either way, the Qooder is said to do all the same things as the MP3, using a hydraulic tilting system that proportions oil between the left and right suspension units in the front end as the bike leans over, or rides over an asymmetrical obstacle. When you hit the brakes, or encounter a bump with both wheels at the same time, there's a third suspension chamber in the center that takes up the oil as both sides compress equally.
The other thing the Qooder does differently is to use two rear wheels as well as two front ones, making it a tilting 4-wheeler. Now, to be honest, I'm not sure that's necessary. A whole extra tilting 2-wheel back end (two wheel drive, no less, with an integrated differential) would add significant weight, as well as requiring extra tires, brakes and suspension servicing. And when it comes to tilting vehicles, front end traction is paramount in cornering and braking, but your rear wheel is far less likely to have grip problems.
Certainly not with just 32 horsepower on tap, from a 400cc single scooter engine with a CVT. That would struggle to light up a single rear tire in a corner. Arguably the same level of rear-wheel stability could be added much cheaper by fitting a traction control system and keeping the rear wheel single. But I'm sure Quadro has done plenty of thinking about this, we'd have to ride it to see if it makes a difference.
While these things should be terrific fun on the open road, they're probably mainly destined for round-town use in European cities. As such, it makes sense that Quadro is looking to extend the Qooder range with an electric version.
The Electric E-Qooder
The E-Qooder retains the facepalm-heavy nomenclature, but adds mightily to the power output. The prototype rolled out at the Geneva Auto Show featured a 46-horsepower motor, with nearly three times the torque on tap to make use of those two rear contact patches. It should be an absolute beast in comparison.
Range on the prototype is somewhere between 130-260 km (80-160 mi), depending on how you ride it. Typically with electrics, your range drops dramatically with speed, so slow speed city runabout use could get you plenty of mileage per charge. Final production specs will be released closer to the E-Qooder's release in 2019.
Check out a video of the 4-wheel tilting platform in action, highlighting the hydraulic 3-chamber suspension setup below:
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