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One of these trikes is not like the other

Concept, Electric bike 10 1634

A reader, Tim, who owns a Baccura Airlite from the last batch made, describes it as “a beautiful lean steer trike that mimics the simplicity of a bicycle.”, an unofficial site that was “developed to showcase the lightest, fastest recumbent trike ever made” refers to it as the “only successful lean steer trike design ever produced” (check out this video to see the steering in action). The Baccura site points out that the trike was designed between 1981-1983 by Jamie MacMenemy, who according to this BikePortland forum thread also developed the lefty hub for Cannondale. Even out of shape, MacMenemy came close to winning the OHPV’s inaugural PIR Human Powered Challenge with his new trike design. The history of the Baccura Airlite design is pretty interesting, and you can read more about it at Also check it out (along with other trike designs) at the 2006 OHPV-Human-Power-Challenge.

Josh Hadar’s E-Trike Chopper has been spreading around the design blogs lately. It is not sleek, low, and aerodynamic like the Baccura design, but it does have an interesting look. Unlike some of Hadar’s other sculptural bike designs, this one doesn’t even have pedals. It is a completely electric version of one of his earlier pedal trike designs, the Christy Lynn. According to Inhabitat, Hadar’s new e-trike is “powered by a Mars Electric motor that can produce an output of 4.8 kilowatts (6.4 horsepower) continuously and 15 kilowatts at a push, allowing the chopper trike to hit a top speed of 45 mph.” Pretty impressive…but I’d still like it better with the option to pedal.

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  1. andy October 20, 2010 at 1:35 pm -  Reply

    1. The lean steer is an interesting concept, but it looks like the guy is nearly falling out of the seat to get around a corner, and his turns are wide and sweeping at that. I wonder if a (more) tiltable seat or more of a hammock as a seat would be helpful. The close up later in the video is what scares me though. The riders legs are only about 2 inches away from the chain on the right, and the spinning wheel on the left. I don’t think I would really want to be leaning over a spinning wheel. Maybe they could have a sort of “skirt-guard” over the wheel so that you can’t actually tough the wheel while it’s moving?

    2. I really hope this site doesn’t go in this direction. Electric assist bicycles are one thing, but this is purely an electric motorcycle. I don’t care to read about motorcycles on a bicycle blog.

    • James T October 20, 2010 at 2:00 pm -  Reply

      Andy, I know what you mean, but watching that video made me really want to try one of these trikes. It does look like the rider is close to the wheel at times, but I think that issue
      could be easily addressed with guards as you mentioned. I suspect that is not the case because these are primarily designed as sport machines, but I could be wrong. I would love to hear a response from someone who rides an Airlite though. Tim, maybe?

      Regarding your second point, in the years I have been writing this blog, I have deviated from the core topic from time to time. You don’t have to worry any change of direction though. In this case, I saw the two on the same day and thought it was an interesting contrast. Initially, I was a bit surprised based on Hadar’s previous bikes that this latest creation is purely an electric motorcycle. It is based on one of his pedal powered designs though, so the two designs are linked to a common starting point. I hope that no one considers the new electric powered version to be the logical evolution from a human powered trike though. That’s why I noted that it would be better with pedals.

      • andy October 20, 2010 at 2:22 pm -  Reply

        1. Agreed, it would be fun to try. I’d just hate to hit a bump and get tire burn on my thigh because of the design. A wheel fairing of sorts would add minimal weight, probably actually help aerodynamics, and easily remove the issue.

        2. Ok, I guess the contrast sort of makes it work here. I’m just putting in my unsolicited vote. So long as human power is a factor, than I’d love to read about it. Otherwise, I just don’t care to see it here. Just my 2 cents; post them if you want.

        • James T October 20, 2010 at 2:56 pm -  Reply

          Good point about possible aerodynamic gains from lightweight wheel fairings on that trike.

          …and I do always appreciate input from readers (solicited or not).

  2. Ross Nicholson October 20, 2010 at 2:00 pm -  Reply

    Nonsense. Electric and motor assist in cool bike designs should be welcome, but then again, we don’t decide what gets in here, now do we? Bicycle design is a great whatever it is plus it is educational. Personally, I detest racing bikes and bike races as useless exhibitions for spandexian non-conformists, but I can tolerate the occasional disappointing write up as the cost of readership.

    • James T October 20, 2010 at 2:34 pm -  Reply

      Thanks Ross! Your comment reminds me of an old post that I wrote after hearing from a reader who complained about a bike that I had previously featured. It was kind of fun to go back and read that old rant, but I think it still represents how I feel about this blog. I don’t expect everyone to like all of the bikes (and other things) that I share here, but I think variety is what keeps it interesting.

  3. Binch Shin October 20, 2010 at 3:09 pm -  Reply

    Here is a different style of lean-steer trike made by Chris Luxembourg. I bet everybody will shout, “WOW~” 😛

    Chris is a wild guy who don’t care about sketches or graphics that I hope to receive from him to share with you all.. haha 😀

    ps Secret to Chris(frankly I think its steer would be unstable as running on bumpy roads..)

    • James T October 20, 2010 at 10:06 pm -  Reply

      Interesting…thanks for sharing. I liked the video that shows it on the road as well-

  4. Tim October 20, 2010 at 11:24 pm -  Reply

    I’m the owner of the baccura trike pictured in NZ.
    The capital, Wellington is often effected by high velocity winds. Enough to pull car doors off the hinges at times! When I moved there I ended up giving up cycling because of the danger so I was looking for a trike that might be safer to ride. Of all the designs I found on the web the baccura was the one that made the most sense to me. Short chain, low seat and an elegant build that resembles the simplicity of a bike frame. Luckily Jamie was making a batch and I was able to contact him to ship one over to me. Mine is the all alloy version but you can use carbon tubes to save weight. The main tubes and lugs are glued together using a high tech epoxy and this allows for adjusting the wheel base and handling for maneuverability or speed. The ride is exhilarating and after my first downhill I had to beef up the brakes. I also attached saddle bags on either side of the seat to carry shopping etc. I never really ran into a problem with leg clearance but I’m sure you could attach a chain/wheel guard if needed. Because you are using the seat and handle bar for pedaling leverage it’s quite stable to sit in and as you can see on the straights you can ride hands free. One thing that took a bit of getting used to is countering the effect of gravity on the steering. When riding on banked roads I would have to apply pressure to the handle bars to correct the steering. I think the lightness and simplicity of the design more than makes up for this though. It’s great fun to ride!

  5. marcel October 21, 2010 at 10:33 am -  Reply

    Wow, Baccura Airlite looks very beautiful. And simple in it’s construction. Does anybody know ore about the steering dynamics? Things like headtube angle and rake are very important in regular bike geometry. I wonder how this is dealt with on the Baccura. Anyone?

    When on art-school, I did some experimenting with the steering by leaning concept but couldn’t work it out properly. Gr. marcel

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