Grinnall Cars of Worcestershire have been making exotic three and four wheeled vehicles for about 15 years now, and the R3T is one of the best so far.
Featuring a 2300cc Triumph Rocket III engine and running gear, plus rear axle, bodywork and one-off exhaust, it offers a unique blend of amazing looks, precise handling and powerful acceleration. If you want to make a statement that gets attention from all sides, the R3T will do the job.
There’s a Nanny Police State warning sign you will probably never see beside the A5. That’s because trikes are always going to be rare on British roads, partly due to the costs involved, but also down to a kind of unspoken prejudice amongst bikers and car drivers alike. The general consensus seems to be that two wheels is good, four wheels OK for winter, but three wheels is just plain bad, or reminds you of Del Boy’s chariot.
When considering ancient British sidecar outfits, or croaking VW Beetle powered trikes featuring 70s album cover paintwork, I would tend to agree that such three wheeled devices are neither use or ornament, but I like some trikes. Especially trikes that go like the clappers.
There, I said it and I have to live with secret shame. But guess what? When a trike can pull the horizon closer as rapidly as the R3T and corner so fast that an angry sales rep in his Vectra spits his Bluetooth dummy out, I don’t care. The R3T is incredible fun, loud, fast and stops people dead in their tracks. It is everything that custom motorbikes can be, and then some.
All £22,000 worth of it.
Yes, that’s correct. The Grinnall R3T costs a whopping twenty-two grand, which of course includes buying a Triumph Rocket III motorcycle, then handing it over the Grinnall for them to work their mad magic upon it. But thrills like these don’t come cheap y’know and when you drive the R3T you can soon understand where the money goes.
It looks beautifully made for a start, which for me, is very important. Grinnall know their stuff and that level of engineering expertise means that you won’t worry about the suspension snapping when you bump across a pothole at 80mph, or the R3T skittering sideways into a ditch when the massive Brembo brakes are applied on the rear axle.
The R3T isn’t detuned at all, so all the Rocket III’s 140bhp goes through those back wheels, via the stock gearbox. The clutch took repeated stop-starting no problem, but I did notice that the engine got very hot when I was to-ing and fro-ing for the photographer. I would love to have tried some burnouts and the like, but I’m not sure that the clutch would have taken the abuse.
Apart from some light shimmying from side-to-side when driving along the bumpy back lanes near the Grinnall HQ, the R3T tracks straight and true, with the driver/rider feeling relaxed and able to place the R3T exactly where they want on the road. Indeed on the smoother A roads near Cleobury Mortimer ( yes, such a place does actually exist ) the R3T handled and braked so well that I don’t think I could have gone much faster on my own VFR800. At least not without taking some chances on blind corners.
The technique of cornering by trike, instead of bike, is quite different. Leaning in to corners makes no odds whatsoever. Instead, you learn to countersteer to the max, pushing your bodyweight against the handlebar and aiming the front wheel just slightly to the inside of an imaginary `line’ around any given corner. Also, never – as in NEVER – back off halfway round corners. Trikes like to have the power fed steadily on as you pass through each corner.
If pushed hard enough, the R3T will eventually slide, but the grip from the fat tyres on those massive Image 17 inch alloy wheels is such that you’ll be travelling at some serious speed in the twisties before you get to that point.
Another wonderful thing about the R3T is the exhaust note from the one-off system, which neatly exits the rear bodywork. The triple cylinder Triumph engine growls along in town, menacing but not too loud, then really howls on the open road when you give the trike some stick. For me, it’s all part of the fun, part of travelling in a totally different way to 99% of other road users.
Grinnall modify the headstock slightly on the R3T, plus the trail of the forks, just so it steers precisely, yet has a useful turning circle too. They have got the balance spot-on I reckon, as the R3T was light and manageable in car parks, yet very stable at high-ish speeds on moorland roads. They also have plans to add reverse gear on the R3T in the future as well as luggage space in the bodywork, to make it more touring rider friendly.
I loved the R3T and given a handy rollover win on the Lotto I would happily have one, probably painted in Austin Powers 60s colours, for those days when I simply had to make bystanders gawp in disbelief as I drove down to Bargain Booze for some more Red Stripe lager and McCoys crisps. Women would beg me for a quick ride, and men would want to be me…
Ah well, I can dream can’t I?
More info at www.grinnallcars.com
Get motorbike insurance for the Grinnall R3T.
Vital Statistics Test trike supplied by; Grinnall Cars, Bewdley, Nr Worcestershire. www.grinnallcars.com
Engine Three cylinder, DOHC, liquid cooled, four stroke.
Bore and stroke
Frame Standard Triumph frame, with bespoke subframe/rear section, incorporating independently sprung rear wheels.
Forks 43mm diameter, USD, non adjustable Rear suspension; Double wishbone.
Braking Twin 320mm front discs, four piston calipers. Rear; Twin 240mm Brembo, four piston calipers.
Front brake 320mm single front disc, 4 pot calipers.
Rear brake 220mm Brembo disc.
Wheels 17 inch diameter X3.
Dry weight 370kgs
Fuel capacity 25 litres
Estimated top speed 130mph
Price £22,000 Oct 2005.