Hooniversations: Cabin Cruiser Bikes- Good Thing or Bad Thing?

Ecomobile leans on its outrigger while doging a sport bike in the turn.
Ecomobile leans on its outrigger while dogging a sport bike in the turn.

Cabin bikes seem like a good idea, overcoming the inclement weather and road hazard detriments of riding a motorcycle, while still providing the narrow profile and agility that only having two-wheels affords. The question is; why haven’t they caught on?

Peraves ag have been building cabin motorcycles for about 20 years now. Their first foray – the Ecomobile – became popular enough to keep the company in business with more than 90 sold to date. The current lineup includes that model in multiple variants, as well as the updated Monotracer. Both bikes are powered by BMW motorcycle engines, and both use outrigger wheels for low speed maneuvering, as demonstrated by notorious motorcycle-hater, Jeremy Clarkson in this BBC clip-

The concept of the cabin motorcycle is not unique to the Swiss, as BMW marketed a semi-closed step-through scooter called the C1 a few years back. That bike offered enhanced safety and weather protection over traditional scooters, but didn’t make a dent in the marketplace, and was discontinued.

Peraves has been the only maker to stick to the cabin motorcycle format, and their lack of further success may lie in their product’s price tag, which for the new Monotracer is about $75,000. But that doesn’t explain why other makers – especially in the era of high fuel costs and depressed motorcycle sales – haven’t offered cheaper alternatives.
With a 125-mph cruising speed, two passenger capability, motorcycle maneuverability and fuel economy, and all-weather protection, what’s not to like about these? It also seems that their arresting styling would appeal to the pretentious Earth-firsters who want to save the world, while at the same time making sure everyone sees that they are saving it.
So the question is: why haven’t these things caught on, and do you think they ever will?
Let us know.

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28 responses to “Hooniversations: Cabin Cruiser Bikes- Good Thing or Bad Thing?”

  1. goingincirclez Avatar

    So these rolling suppositories do absolutely nothing for me. They compromise everything that makes a motorcycle great. I mean, compare the driver of the capsule in the lead photo, to the rider in front of him: the driver may as well be at home playing a racing game while seated in a recliner. So what's the point? You want protection from the wind and rain? Buy a Corolla. You don't want excess noise? Buy a Corolla. But you still want something that's fun to toss into corners and economical to own? Buy a Focus or a Civic. Heck, buy the damn Goldwing or Electraglide if you're that demanding for luxury comforts and you can still have some semblance of wind-in-your-face and pucker-moment suspense, however minimal.
    But if you want an insulated capsule that handles well, there are hundreds to choose from that cost far less while offering twice the versatility, and they're called cars.
    (wow, I had to post this in two parts? I really need to shut up)

    1. Robert Emslie Avatar
      Robert Emslie

      No you don't. That's exactly the kind of dialog I was looking for.

    2. grouchyroan Avatar

      i agree, you do need to shut up, lots of people might want to ride a bike that can’t for whatever reason, their business, not yours. as long as someone isn’t taking your rights from you then it shouldn’t concern you in the least. i’m one of the unlucky one that had to give up riding, skin cancer, arthritic hands couldn’t hold the fat grips, blind in one eye and couldn’t balance, a friend from the early days of street rods and custom bikes and choppers is in the process of building me a bike with auto trans and trying to figure out the grips, we are all different and i personally don’t like know it all assholes that think the world revolves around them. go ride your fucking bike, take off your helmet, ride in the rain, show everyone you are a real man. but yes you should shut the fuck up

  2. Maymar Avatar

    If inclement weather is a concern, I’d rather just get an Ural Patrol and nut up.

  3. Ash78 Avatar

    As stated, it loses all the “bike-ness” while not providing the safety and traction of a 4-wheeled vehicle.
    It’s sort of like recumbent bicycles–why haven’t they caught on outside the quirky professor and dorky engineer demographics? Because owning a road bike is all about bragging about your tiny, hard saddle that chafes your taint. LiveStrong!

  4. Maymar Avatar

    If inclement weather is a concern, I'd rather buy a Ural Patrol and nut up (of course, with the 60 grand saved, I could afford nuts, and not just of the truck variety).

  5. BGW Avatar

    On the plus side, it seems like a perfect solution for agoraphobic bike enthusiasts.

    1. skitter Avatar

      But not clausterphobic ones.

    2. R. Steve W Avatar
      R. Steve W

      You guys miss the point here. I love my 500cc Kawasaki Vulcan, but the world is running out
      of dino juice (algae actually) and the car-people are going to have to go three wheel or two
      wheel, and in an enclosed aeroshell to save gas. Did you know some of these EcoMobile/
      Monotracer/ZeroTracer get 250 to 300 miles per gallon? It seems the big trick for mileage
      is aerodynamics and as few wheel bearings as possible. The engines of these things are
      quite small for their weight. Like it or else, fast the time approaches when you'll have to go
      to work in one as well, and only take your hog out for joy on weekends, if at all. The predic-
      tions for gas prices don't look good for the 5 year picture, not good at all. And the tar sands
      only make $10 a gallon gas or MORE!! He who catches up to this fact early will be the new
      winner of the marbles etc.

  6. Deartháir Avatar

    So these enclosed bikes offer similar mileage, performance and reliability to a motorcycle without the inclement weather concerns.
    They still offer the same restrictions as a motorcycle when snow arises, so that's not really true. What it really means is "won't get you wet when it rains". Unfortunately most people who are riding a bike have already accepted that drawback, and in fact don't see it as a problem. So motorcycle riders aren't going to be interested, particularly when they can simply get a heated vest, gloves and chaps, at which point they really don't care if it's raining or not.
    So the market then is not going to be for bikers, it's for car drivers and commuters, perhaps. But this is no more manoeuvrable than a car, because of the outriggers. So at low speeds, you can't do what a bike can because of those wheels dropping down for you. You can't park it anywhere, the way you can with a bike, because it's large, obtrusive, and again, requires the outriggers. And you don't get any of the fun of driving a bike.
    So, basically, it comes down to the fact that the reason these haven't caught on is that they are not a bike, they are a car… and not a very good one at a very high price.

  7. skitter Avatar

    It looks like the driving position of the cabin cruiser is far removed from any motorcycle or quad this side of an Alligator, further alienating motorcyclists, while still being too foreign for car drivers.

  8. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    The overall dorkmobile aesthetic and $75k price tag trump most of the subtle reasons people are bringing up about wind in their hair and image. People will pick up silly looking transportation when it's cheap…but less so when it's this expensive.
    My standard rant when it comes to anything sub-Yaris is that (at least most of n the US) there's no size penalty. We don't have 2-meter lanes and all the metered spots are the same size.

  9. superbadd75 Avatar

    If you're wanting that bike feeling, but protection from the elements, why not just roll one of these?
    (hopefully this will work)
    <img>” target=”_blank”>http://www.flickr.com/photos/albertsbite/3092556221/

  10. superbadd75 Avatar

    If you're wanting that bike feeling, but protection from the elements, why not just roll one of these?
    (hopefully this will work)
    <img>” target=”_blank”>http://www.flickr.com/photos/albertsbite/3092556221/

    1. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      [img src="source URL" width=###]
      Replace the square brackes with HTML brackets…and viola!
      <img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3170/3092556221_f214385ed9.jpg"&gt;

      1. superbadd75 Avatar

        Thanks, boss, you da' shizznit!

        1. superbadd75 haz not mastered teh interwebz. Avatar
          superbadd75 haz not mastered teh interwebz.

          BTW, how did I manage to get 3 of these? My account has been doing some funky stuff all day!

      2. BrianTheHoon Avatar

        Wheelie bars? Yay!!!

  11. MadKaw Avatar

    Ultimately, I end up seeing this thing as the sum of its drawbacks. Too much compromise in all the wrong areas. It takes away most of the reasons I ride a bike, while giving none of the advantages gained by driving a car. It misses the point entirely.

  12. .357 Avatar

    Pussies. Bikes or cars. Pick one or the other.

  13. Martin Avatar

    The price is definately the reason these haven't been more successful. Most ot the people who have these have bikes too – but many eventually stop riding the bikes, These are actually much harder to ride than bikes and this is part of what makes them fun – they feel different to bikes. I've never been able to maintain high speeds on a bike for a long time – on this I could sit at 140 all day.
    Motorcyclists are notoriously conservative, they may like riding in the cold and the wet but most of humanity has realised that having shelter is quite a good idea – perhaps they'll catch up some day. Most companies with the capability of putting vehicles like these into production have policies of not innovating (except for minor innovations) so this type of groundbreaking vehicle would not sit well with these philosophies.I hate getting dressed up to ride my bikes – and hated wearing a helmet – so I rarely take any of my bikes out these days – even the exotic italian four wheel machine doesn't get as many outtings as it used to, and it certainly doesn't attract anywhere near the amount of attention or approval from people as the monotracer.

  14. dogcatcher Avatar

    different strokes for different folks;live and let live. i have to agree; the price .is outrageous. they would sell a ton of these to people that differences. they might have regular motorcycles,also. but then there would be more management headaches for the producer.