In the shadow of Launchpad 39A--where the Space Shuttle Atlantis once stood ready for orbit--a team of former NASA engineers laid off when the shuttle program ended are building a rocket-inspired street legal tricycle. And it's not just for kicks. Treycycle Gold--as the company building the bikes is now known--aims to employ more than 100 people within the year, breathing new life into the Space Coast's engineering economy.
The company started with roughly 15 NASA engineers facing imminent termination and a little help from the Emerging Growth Institute, a non-profit that works with emerging technology companies. They decided to flip their vast experience in vehicle design into a new breed of tricycle that is part car, part bike, and all muscle, accelerating from 0-60 in just 3.6 seconds.
The Treycycle packs a Chrysler 300 3.5-liter engine that supplies the vehicle with its 260 horsepower all packed inside a molybdenum alloy frame offering more strength than the average motorcycle. Unlike three-wheeled motorcycles with their high centers of gravity, the low-to-the-ground Treycycle's long wheel base makes it extremely difficult to roll over while cornering.
All that may seem like novelty, but people are lining up to buy the vehicles--specifically, 150 people who are already on the wait list. The company is even developing a three-seater "family" trike. For now the company will roll out two Treycycles every three weeks, but as demand dictates they will grow the company further--perhaps to as many as 130 people within a year. That's good news for a region packed with engineering talent but without enough industry to employ all the smart people falling out of NASA programs.
For career Space Coasters, finding new ways to apply their know-how is a matter of pride. Hence the specialized serial number plates, which also read: "Made on the Space Coast in the Sunshine State."
Why are media outlets making such a big deal of this ridiculous, rolling heap? I'm sure he's not the only laid off shuttle engineer involved in a recent start-up in Central Florida.
I am also pretty confident that this company (unless downsized dramatically) won't be very profitable. They would need a larger volume of sales then just 150 on a waiting list, and a higher production rate then just 1 trike every 9 days to sustain that level of employment. Unless of course he can find enough people to spend $100k on each of these monstrosities.
Well, good luck sir, you'll need it.
If I was laid off by NASA I would be looking for new ways to continue developing space tech, by either going to a different Space program, joining a space company like SpaceX(I think they are funded by Nasa though), or start my own space program with other laid off Nasa workers.
Then again, what do I know? I dont have the money to goof off doing something like this. Maybe I would if I did.
I think I would put my money to developing more space tech though, due to the ambition to do so.
I agree with the previous posts. Seems like a wasted effort. Id expect to see them working with alternate fuel sources at least, not good old rotten gasoline. We dont need jet fueled 3 wheeled ice picks, we need efficient machines that recycle from one another and get us to work and back home without costing us the last few dollars we have left over after the bills are paid.
Even worse, that's some serious power (and weight) behind the driver. I wonder what happens when it hits the back of someone's garage in 3.5 seconds, what happens to the driver? I can see many scenrios where that engine pins or kills someone in a high speed accident. The first one of these to slide under a moving vehicle will end all production.
While I understand popsci trying to help a downed economy, they may have spotlighted the wrong company. There is no inspiration here. I can only hope that other laid off engineers are making better use of their knowledge and time. Something great is around the corner.
I'd still love to take it for a drive..lol I love motorcycles!
Something that wasn't touched on that I could see as a plus is if it has the steering capabilities of a Dymaxion, it could make a redesign of the entire infrastructure, because it would be able to turn so much more readily. Also if it had the 30 mpg while carrying 11 people such as the Dymaxion, then it could be useful.
It would appear that this had neither, so I also agree with the other posts, waste of money. Especially making it jet powered? My question is why.. makes me think that the answer to why is BECAUSE ITS COOL THATS WHY and in this economy I would frown upon doing things for the "fun of it"
if I was a laid off nasa engineer, id go straight to the russians and divulge all of my knowledge to them. Nasa crosses you...you doublecross nasa
...and that's probably why you never became a NASA engineer.
Trikes are for old people who are too fat to ride motorcycles.
So NASA is less engineering and more tinkering redneck. Awesome.
That thing's just Fugly.
This is a luxury product being marketed during a recession. It has also already been designed, so all the basic engineering work is already done, and therefore the need for a load of high priced NASA engineers on staff is nil. They certainly aren't going to pay benefits like NASA, and they will probably be forced to manufacture it in Mexico if they want to keep costs reasonable. BTW, what is the cost? I've been looking, but they don't seem to want to advertise that little tidbit.
There is a huge need for innovation in the automotive field, but this is not innovation-- a trike inspired by ROCKETS!?! And these were the guys that were the "thinkers" behind the Shuttle program? No wonder NASA is falling apart, and it illustrates vividly how the likes of Sergei Brinn, with no space background and a comparatively minuscule budget, could produce a far more practical space transport system, and one that is far more economical.
Do these guys really see Soccer Mom sliding into this contraption to drop the kids off at school, or can they imagine dad rolling into work in one of these crazy things? What kind of market do they think they're shooting for?
I would far rather seen them apply their resources to tackling the only thing delaying a renaissance in transportation-- a safe, affordable battery that can be recharged in a few minutes and yield a range of 200 miles or so.
In fact, it's kind of a see-saw formula-- if cars could be recharged in just a few minutes, it would not matter much if their range could not be extended dramatically-- few people would mind having to stop every 150 miles for a brief recharge if it cost them far less to drive, especially if most of the time the car would be recharging overnight anyway.
Or, if charging time was not dramatically reduced but the energy density of the battery (how much charge a battery can hold) could be increased by a factor of, say, five or ten times, a driver could make it from California to Florida on just one or two very inexpensive charges.
Many labs, colleges and battery companies are aggressively pursuing technologies such as battery terminals coated with carbon nanotubes, or lithium- air battery designs that could potentially increase energy density by several times. One of the tantalizing benefits of such batteries is that, rather than opting for a large battery that can take them for great distances, they can instead settle for a much smaller, lighter, less expensive battery that provides much quicker acceleration and even better efficiency and cargo room.
No-- I am not interested in your Buck-Rogers rocket bike-- give me something practical, fellas. Get your feet on the ground, and stop thinking everyone can afford NASA- sized expense accounts for whimsical, silly creations. Had you been thinking that way while working on the Shuttle program, maybe you'd still have a job, and the US would still be at the forefront of space exploration.
Good Grief. Does everybody who reads PS gang up on anythoing innovative? Mr.Wright is MrM Wrong. Had he bothered to look at the treycycle dot com site he would know its $36 not $100 and that ir gets 850 miles per tank. It may be aimed at older cycle riders who can't lift a Harley anymore easily but I haoppoen to have ridden in one and ot was a real treat....and everybody, even car drivers kept asking how to buy one.They have more than 100 on the waiting list in a week or so.....sooooo despite your opinion, others disagree (including me).
I am very dissapointed that this three wheeled configuration is what a team of engineers(from Nasa) has decided to build and try to sell to people.It just takes a wee bit of common sense and understanding of the laws of nature to know that it is not a viable configuration.
My common sense tells me that the v-6 engine in the rear and the motorcycle wheel and tire in the front would result in a vehicle which would be very lucky to pass the 45mph obsticle avoidance test...simply because the single tire would loose it's ability to redirect the energy of the forward moving mass and just skid delaying the desired action resulting in catastrophe.The second problem is when you need to make a panic stop there is no way that that single front tire is going be able to slow the forward shifted mass as it would be asked to do in that situation..and lets hope the engine is very secure in that chassis for if you are all of a sudden stopped by an object in front of you the kinetic energy will want to rip that engine out and throw it on top of you...talk about double whammy!
With a little bit of common sense I have just briefly explained the problems that 15 engineers have missed or maybe just ignored.What is going on out there?
Using my common sense and research that I have done throughout my life has led me to design the Zoleco which is all about conserving energy by boosting the efficiency of personal transportation to higher levels for a more sustainable future. This 4 passenger, practical,safe and very sporty car does not fight with nature but plays harmoniously with it while asking for little energy to achieve mobility.
Wow, did everyone writing these comments even read this article? First, it's not "rocket-powered." It has a typical V6 engine. Second, the comment about getting pinned between the engine and the back of the garage is ridiculously stupid. Porsche (and others) has been building rear-engined cars for YEARS and it hasn't been an issue. There's a little something called a "frame" at work here, and not only does it hold everything together, it also protects the driver. Go figure! Finally, who cares about how practical this vehicle is, or if ex-NASA engineers should be "wasting" their knowledge on this. Ever hear of a free-market economy? It means that they can produce whatever they want and anyone with the money can but it if they please. You didn't pay these engineers' way through college, so stop complaining about how they use their skills.
Excuse me, it is not "ROCKET" Powered!
"But I'm much better now"
and to think that's what I wanted to be... We just need an affordable way/reason to start it back up and the jobs will reopen.