T-Rex 16S Offers Three-Wheeled Thrills
Since the Thebis touring trike was developed in Sidney, BC twenty years ago, Canada is proving to be a leader in three-wheeled vehicles. The new T-Rex is yet another proof of that. Described as half motorcycle and half roadster, this three-wheeler has been roaring around roads with race car precision, earning wide eyes and dropped jaws from everyone it encounters. It is fascinatingly unique, a powerful machine made for those who wish to feel the rush of pushing their driving skills to the limit. Test drivers of the Canadian-designed Campagna T-Rex 16S are instructed to “drive it like a car, but act like you are on a motorcycle.”
Based in Montreal, Campagna Motors has been hand-building three-wheel vehicles since 1995 based on motorcycle mechanicals but adapted to seem more like cars. Beginning with this model, the company has entered a strategic alliance with BMW to supply liquid-cooled motorcycle crate motors. With a compact and efficient inline 160 hp six-cylinder engine from BMW Motorrad, it means much more torque than previous versions and an electronically controlled throttle that can be adjusted according to road conditions and driver preferences. The combustion, transmission and cooling systems were also worked on by BMW engineers to improve performance and fuel economy.
The vehicle’s body is made entirely of steel tube frames, with a sturdy sheet metal floor and fiber-glass body panels. New rear geometry maximizes tire grip under acceleration and on corners, with a bolted back designed to make repairs easier for an auto mechanic. Despite a removable steering wheel, it takes some acrobatics to get inside to the comfortable but snug marine-grade waterproof seats. Once you’re in, pump up the 180 W Alpine audio systems with high-tech connectivity to try to drown out the deafening roar of the motor just behind the seats. Most people wear helmets or ear plugs when traveling at higher speeds – a face shield helps prevent biting too many bumblebees.
Of course what everyone in auto careers wants to know is how it handles. The engine is tilted forward to lower the centre of gravity and it can accelerate to 100 km/h in four seconds flat! The reverse-tricycle design with two wheels up front provides great stability, making it seem nearly impossible to roll a T-Rex. It takes a refreshing level of manual involvement to navigate the Campagna. The spinning rotors during braking create an almost musical, whirling noise and you can really see and feel the wheels hugging the road.
But being at license plate height has some drawbacks. Drivers must be extra cautious to avoid blind spots and make good use of peripheral mirrors since they can’t see what’s behind their tailpipes. Though the T-Rex has been crash-tested by Transport Canada and is street legal in most of North America, it does not have anti-lock brakes, airbags or stability control, which is required of passenger vehicles. Also, as it’s not technically a motorcycle, helmets and protective glasses are not legally required.
We bet that when the limited edition T-Rex 16S becomes available next month in a variety of automotive painting colours, it will bring the next level of excitement for drivers who really want to feel the road.
Would you be scared to drive the T-Rex on BC’s mountain roads?