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Check out this lean machine
"I MAY not have a six-pack, but you should check out my quad." That's something you can say with a straight face if you ride a Quadro Qooder, a Swiss contraption that looks like a scooter and go-kart had a baby.
That awful pick-up line may not get you anywhere, but the Quadro sure will. Like most scoots, it offers all the convenience of twist-and-go biking. It has a plump saddle with room for two, under which you'll find a little storage space (too little for a helmet, alas, but it has a 12-volt outlet if you want to plug a charger in).
What makes the Quadro different is its chassis, with its quad-wheel setup. Other brands have messed about with three-wheeled scooters (Piaggio with the MP3 and Yamaha, the Tricity), but this literally does one better by being the only bike in the world with four tilting wheels.
The idea is that the Qooder leans and steers like a bike, but is much less likely to fall over and skitter across the road in a shower of sparks if you roll over a banana peel lying in the middle of a corner.
And yes, you need a proper motorcycle licence to ride one, in this case a Class 2A one, on account of the 399cc engine.
Does it work? Beautifully. It's a bit weird to start with, with slow steering reactions at low speeds, but once you get used to it the Qooder feels a bit like a magic armchair that glides through the air.
You perch quite high up for an imperious view of the road ahead, and the ride is much better than on the average scoot, the Qooder's big 14-inch wheels soaking up bumps while you soak up the inevitable attention from gawkers who don't know what to make of it.
The engine could use a bit more zing, because its 31.7 horsepower output doesn't go a long way when it has 281kg of Qooder to push around, to say nothing of the rider. The brakes have their work cut out for them slowing this much bike down, too.
That said, the Qooder sometimes feels slower than it is. You occasionally glance at the spartan instruments and find yourself going faster than you imagined, because it's so comfortable to ride that it masks some of its speed.
While the benefits of having four wheels on the ground are obvious, so are some of the downsides. The Qooder itself is expensive to begin with, at 24 grand without certificate of entitlement, but it might be relatively expensive to maintain, having four tyres and two drive belts to replace. It's thirsty, too, consuming fuel at the rate of 5.3 litres per 100km, which is more than some small cars.
Still, what price safety? I wouldn't call the Quadro Qooder uncrashable (to do so would be to tempt Fate) but you would have to try like the dickens to fall off one. It feels as if it has unlimited grip from the tyres, and in the rain it's completely reassuring to ride - its Swiss creators must have built it to tackle their snowy commutes.
If anything, the Qooder's stability means it takes effort to get it to change direction rapidly. You have to work the handlebars manfully, and really engage those core muscles to shift your weight around and get it to turn. Ride this quad hard enough and long enough, and who knows, you really might have a six-pack to show for it.
Quadro Qooder QV4
Engine 399cc, single cylinder
Power 32.5hp at 7,000rpm
Torque 38.5Nm at 5,000rpm
Gearbox Continuously variable transmission
Top Speed 135km/h (estimated)
Seat Height 780mm
Agent Mah Pte Ltd
Price S$24,022.05 without COE