#316 Raise You One Wheel

Honda goes the extra mile and adds a fourth wheel to its “autocycle.”

The fuss seems to have died down around the Polaris Slingshot. It went from being called a motorcycle in the corporate ads to an autocycle in the eyes of the law in some jurisdictions. The “what to do with it” conundrum seems to have been solved in many locations and I have even seen one around town here in Victoria, BC although I don’t know the numbers being sold. When it comes to the company’s product lines, Polaris often keeps those figures tight to its chest.
It was years before we could really nail down the number of Victory motorcycles sold in Canada. No matter what you think of the concept, the Slingshot looks cool and there will be buyers.
Once an idea pops up, if the scent of success lingers in the air, others take interest. BRP obviously had an excellent idea with the creation of the Spyder and after some initial surprise and confusion from the riding public thousands of people happily went out and bought them. Then came the Slingshot—three wheels and further removed from the idea of a motorcycle yet many (riders or not) found it enticing. Someone at Honda had their olfactory senses hard at work as a concept has now surfaced: Project 2&4 is a collaboration between Honda’s motorcycle and auto departments, hence the “2” and “4.” If three wheels are good are four even better? Designers on the motorcycle side at Honda penned the 2&4. The power comes from Honda’s RC213V MotoGP bike, a V4 pushing out 230 hp in track form. (It’s an engine that really did need to find a home beyond the $184,000 US street-spec RC213V-S.)
But beyond the powerplant, what makes the 2&4 motorcycle-ish? It’s not simply a matter of it being a Honda because the company also builds cars, a jet plane, marine engines, ATVs, side-by-sides, lawnmowers, etcetera. As a company, Honda is even more diverse than Polaris.
Well, if you wanted to, you could drag an elbow through the corners. The pilot sits in a suspended seat that “floats” inches above the pavement: no doors, windows, roll bar, or roof. The rider/driver is as “out there” as he would be on a motorcycle. And there is no obvious room for a passenger. That might be a plus for some. The 2&4 weighs a little less than a Gold Wing at just over 408 kg, and at about 10 feet in length it’s only slightly longer than Honda’s Fury. It is compact for an … autocycle.
Honda has long maintained a commitment to “personal mobility” be it mechanical aids that help with stair climbing or standing, a self-balancing unicycle, a Grom for inexpensive runs across town or if you are just afraid of being alone, a friendly robot that will hold your hand as you walk across the parking lot. Project 2&4 is said to be an extension of the personal mobility idea—a fast one. It was unveiled at the Frankfurt Auto Show, where Ducati chose to unveil its yearly rendition of the “most powerful Monster ever,” the new 1200R.
The motor in the 2&4 has been detuned slightly to make it street legal, an interesting concession for a concept machine. However, it is doubtful that with the fourth wheel the 2&4 will fall into the grey area known as the autocycle in some North American jurisdictions—probably the way Polaris would prefer it. Yes, it is a car for technical reasons—even if it might be the most thrilling one out there. Wind, rain, bugs and all.