The three-wheeled T-Rex superbike/car combo has ruled the roads in Quebec for 20 years. But it wasn’t recognized as either car or bike in neighbouring Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, so it couldn’t be sold there. Until now.
Recent changes in Ontario’s motor vehicle legislation now allows a previously outlawed segment of three-wheeled vehicles to be licensed and registered in the province for the first time. Enter the T-Rex!
What is it?
The T-Rex has two wheels up front, one at the back, a motorcycle engine, a sequential manual gearbox, a steering wheel, and two bucket seats just 12.5 centimetres off the ground, all wrapped up in a tubular frame that doubles as a roll-cage.
Call it a trike or a three-wheeled car, there’s no getting around the fact the T-Rex is a beguiling vehicle. Built in Boucherville, Quebec by privately owned Campagna Motors, it is arguably one of the coolest Canadian exports today.
Although seating and controls are much like those of a car, the T-Rex (along with Campagna’s other three-wheeler, the V13R) is registered in Ontario as a motorcycle. But you don’t need a motorcycle licence to ride, ahem, drive one.
You do have to wear a motorcycle helmet while in one, however. That situation gets stranger still, because in British Columbia the T-Rex is registered as a car and no helmet is required. In its home province of Quebec it’s a motorcycle, and again, helmets are required. In the U.S. it’s treated as a motorcycle as well, but since helmet laws vary from state to state, you may or may not need one depending on where you are.
What makes it tick?
At the heart of every new T-Rex 16S is an inline-six cylinder 1.6L (1,649 cc) BMW engine that comes from BMW Motorrad, the German manufacturer’s motorcycle division. The engine is tuned for 160 horsepower in the T-Rex and it’s mated to a six-speed BMW motorcycle transmission that drives the rear wheel via a chain final drive. Campagna has modified the transmission to also include a reverse gear.
Past T-Rex models have utilized a range of 1.1, 1.2 and 1.4-litre powerplants from Suzuki, Kawasaki and S&S. The current BMW engine was introduced in 2013.
Campagna also utilizes a customized version of BMW’s engine mooode control allowing drivers of the T-Rex to choose between various power management styles.
Tipping the scales at just 525 kilograms (1,157 lb), this ultra-light three-wheeler manages 0-to-97 km/h (0-60 mph) run in a claimed 3.9 seconds.
"We want to be the vehicle that best uses the power it has" says André Morissette from Campagna as he explains how they care deeply about power-to-weight ratios and why the company will continue to focus on their forte: building three-wheeled machines.
What can you do with one?
There may be some die-hards who’ll want to commute to work in a T-Rex and may even want to drive it in the winter, but you’ll get wet when it rains, be exposed to all the dirt and debris on the highway, and get cold when the temperature drops (there are no climate control options on a T-Rex other than Mother Nature).
There’s not a lot in terms of storage space either, just a small amount of cabin storage above where your legs go. Accessory side-mount panniers offer the only lockable storage option.
With an MSRP starting at $58,000, the T-Rex 16S is not a toy for a light wallet either. Make no mistake, nothing about a T-Rex says “I’m sensible.”
But sensible is boring. Sensible is where excitement goes to die.
Combine the ultra-low centre of gravity and exposed seating in a T-Rex with its supercar besting power-to-weight ratio and what you’ve got is a vehicle that is arguably one of most exciting toys around. Just show it an open road!
Then there’s the name, T-Rex; a prehistoric beast of unmatched power, at least according to a certain Spielberg franchise. As far as cool vehicle names go, it’s right on top with the best of them; cue Stingray, Viper and Godzilla.
Why not make it an EV? The company says it’s explored that idea but hasn’t found it consistent with the social manner in which T-Rex owners use their machines --enthusiast group rides/drives, rallies and such. Plus, with claimed fuel consumption of just 8.4L/100km, it seems Campagna threw in some sensibility after all.
According to the company there are about 2,500 Campagna three-wheelers on the road globally with an estimated 500-to-600 in Quebec alone. While their biggest market is the U.S., they also have a notable presence in Japan and the Middle East. What impact the new Ontario market will have on the company remains to be seen, but just knowing one might see one of these unique vehicles breaking up the otherwise monotonous flow of local traffic should be a bonus for Ontarians.