Quadro became the first company to launch a four-wheeled production scooter back in 2015 with the Quadro 4. Could this be the future of urban mobility for the congested future, or just an overpriced mobility scooter? Is it just me or does the Quadro 4 in the company’s ‘Swiss Red’ paintwork remind you of a Ducati Multistrada? Ok, just me then. Never mind but this is a well-sorted multifunctional machine; it’s the Swiss Army knife of the scooter world.
Four wheels isn’t a new concept, cars have had them for years, quads have also been known to sport rubber at each corner but tilting four-wheeled scooters are a bit different to the norm, although there were others that came before it. For starters there was the futuristic looking 2007 Yamaha Tesseract concept (one that may still see the light of day) and a decade ago I rode Nick Shotter’s UK built prototype 4MC – a four wheeled tilting scooter powered by a Yamaha Majesty 400 engine. As it stands though, the Quadro 4 is still the only machine of its kind to make it into production and they’ve made a fantastic job of it.
As a rule scooters and motorcycles only have two, or sometimes three wheels. Quadro have rewritten the scooter design rulebook though and now have a three wheeled Quadro S and this Quadro 4 in their Swiss armoury. Are these a good addition to the scooter world? You’d better read on to find out.
Who can ride one?
Before we get into the nitty gritty, is this a car or a quad? Actually it’s still classed as a tricycle so can be ridden by anybody with a full car licence, (if you passed your test before January 19th 2013) or of course if you have a full bike licence… providing you’ve got the best part of nine grand to spend. Potentially a car driver can ditch the Chelsea tractor, jump on a Quadro 4 and cut through all the traffic as he or she takes little Johnny to school on Monday morning. It’ll be much easier to park on the pavement outside the school gates as well and look much cooler.
Messing with my mind
Riding the Quadro 4 takes a completely different mind set to riding an ordinary twist and go scooter but having said that it does still share many similarities with the two wheeled world.
The Quadro has all the same controls as a scooter, throttle, front brake lever, rear lever (the rear operates all four discs) and like the MP3/Metropolis/Quadro it also has a brake pedal, again with combined braking. The pedal is there to satisfy legislation, as are the indicators on stalks and the large red handbrake located next to your right thigh. There’s also a red lever on the inner legshields, that’s the manually operated tilt lock, you need to lock it upright when it’s parked up and it also makes wheeling it around to put it in a bike bay, or manoeuvre it into a tight garage much easier – although you have to remember there’s an extra wheel at the back because I ran over my own foot a couple of times and this beast is heavy.
Pre flight safety checks
Sit on the Quadro and release the handbrake by turning the ignition key to the left at the same time as lifting the handbrake, that’s another safety feature so it can’t be released by some inquisitive teenager when it’s parked up. You also need to release the tilt lock – the ignition cuts power and the scooter can’t be ridden otherwise.
Start the scooter by pulling a brake lever and prodding the starter button, all very scooter like so far – as you’d expect but that’s where the similarities end and you have to fight against right and wrong, good and evil. Lift your feet off the floor on a two-wheeler at a standstill and the scooter will fall over. With the Quadro and it’s patented dual Hydraulic Tilting System (HTS) you can sit there with your feet up, it feels unnatural and making your brain compute this whilst at a standstill will help you later out in the real world – so try mastering this concept on your drive. You still have to balance slightly as well when stationary on the road because roads generally aren’t flat. Obviously the machine tilts, rather than being rigid like a quad but the resistance from the hydraulics balances things nicely so it won’t just tip over at the drop of a hat, at a quarter of a ton picking it up again wouldn’t be easy.
Having acquainted myself with its point of balance it was time to take to the road on this alien machine. If you’ve never ridden a bike before you’ll try steering the Quadro, which is half way to how it should be done. If you’re from a two-wheeled background you will find yourself riding it like a bike, or scooter and simply leaning into bends. This is also half right but neither are perfect.
The way to get the most out of the Quadro 4 is to lean into corners but more importantly use positive counter-steering, so on a left hand bend you’re pushing your left handlebar away from the corner and vice versa. The harder you push the quicker it’ll turn and until you master it you’ll run wide. As a tool for teaching counter-steering the Quadro 4 takes some beating, advanced trainers would love it. Riding it hard on an 80-mile blast a few days after getting the scooter I found myself using every trick in the book to ride it faster and harder. Get your technique right and you can hustle this beast around the bends as quickly as you like. There’s 45º of lean angle to play with and despite trying very hard I didn’t find the limits of lean angle or machine. It never felt fazed or out of shape.
Riding it hard is like an all-over body workout. Get things wrong whilst mastering the way the Quadro 4 handles and you’ll find yourself in the hedge bottom, so treat it with respect and practice somewhere safe until you understand this cornering anomaly. Ride it more sedately though (most of these machines will find themselves in busy cities at walking pace) and you don’t need quite so much rider input. Around town it’s impeccable, well-balanced, easy to ride and despite appearances it’s no wider than any other maxi scooter so you can filter just as well.
The scooter is powered by Quadro’s ‘own’ Aeon-derived liquid-cooled, fuel-injected 346cc engine. It comes with an integrated differential and dual counter-rotating shaft to minimise vibration. The rear wheels are belt driven, with a separate belt to each wheel. Servicing won’t be cheap, two belts, four tyres, four lots of discs and pads! The engine produces 30bhp; that’s three more than the Quadro S but the Quadro 4 weighs 57kg more. On the road it feels slightly underpowered at times but will still hit a genuine 83mph by GPS.
I’d like to see a 500cc auto lump in this chassis. It can handle the extra power and would be great fun. With four tyres and discs at each corner, the brakes really are fantastic with loads of feel at the levers.
The footbrake didn’t really get used (although car drivers might feel more at home with it) but the rear lever offers combined braking and will stop the scooter very quickly. You can use the front brake on its own but that one just operates the twin front discs.
The scooter has an analogue speedo and tacho, plus a digital screen with the usual array of features including trips, odometer, time, temperature and a fuel gauge. The 13-litre tank is located beneath the rear seat (I was achieving around 50mpg).
It’s not got a massive storage space beneath there but it’s handy enough (it’s also illuminated and has a 12v socket) and there’s an optional 48 litre colour-coded top box available. Quadro appreciate that this is a 365-days-a-year machine that can be used in all weathers, so there are also heated grips, a leg apron, snow tyres (the company are based in Switzerland) and an adjustable screen in the Quadro catalogue.
Up front there’s another couple of cubbyholes; again one has a 12v socket for charging your phone or powering a sat nav.
The Quadro 4 won’t appeal to everybody but whatever you do, don’t dismiss it as a gimmick. This whole concept, the technology and the way it’s been built works perfectly. It’s a different style of riding but is just as much fun, if not more so than a conventional two-wheeled maxi scooter. If you’re a year round rider who likes to be different then the Quadro 4 will take some beating. Imagine flat out, full lean wet weather riding with a grin on your face and you’ll be close to the Quadro 4 experience.
Four wheels takes riding to a whole new level, if you’re looking for fun, excitement and practicality wrapped in a shiny red shell and you want to be able to ride hard year-round then the Quadro 4 is the perfect tool for the job. I love it.
In fact don’t just imagine, check out our video trailer (below) for a forthcoming Quadro 4 versus Piaggio MP3 500 road test. Almost 20,000 people have already watched the video. Back in February we took the two scooters to Scooterist Meltdown in Germany and back to see how they fared. Seeing the two scooters in action makes it hard to argue with their competence in less than ideal conditions.
Want to see more?
If the trailer leaves you wanting more leave a comment at the end of this road test and we’ll finally get around to editing the videos. It’s a beast of a job and we need the encouragement…
Lab rating: 8.7
Second Opinion – Tech stuff
Marabese Design are the original company behind both the Quadro 4 and the tilting system that went on to steer the Piaggio MP3, but there is a an important difference between the two.
The MP3 system is entirely mechanical, fairly complex and also therefore quite heavy. For the evolved Quadro design Marabese eliminated a ton of shocks and linkages and made the entire system hydraulic. Hydraulic rams provide not only the tilt function but also the damping and springing for the front end. This saves around 50kg compared to a mechanical version, though obviously adding an extra rear wheel and differential for the Quadro 4 simply piles that fat back on somewhere else.
In action the hydraulics add a massive amount of stability to the ride, far beyond a normal scooter, but also some stiction. The ‘4’ will slalom fine but doesn’t want to change direction at light-speed like a normal scooter.
Overall the trade-off is worth it for the confidence it imbues. This grips, steers and brakes in poor conditions like nothing else this narrow. Those coming from a car will find that massively reassuring. Anyone coming from a bike will find themselves pushing limits they never felt possible, but only after some acclimatising.
One area the Quadro lacks, compared to rivals, is in storage. The engine sits upright under the rider in order to make room for the differential. This in turn makes for under-seat storage that most 50cc scooters can better.
The other issue Iggy touched on with the Quadro is cost. Not only is it a hefty wedge to buy, but the service intervals and cost of those services need taking into consideration. The Quadro 4 is a perfect tool for mid-distance commuting on a car licence, but racking up the miles will get you friendly enough with your dealer that they should send you Christmas cards.
Engine: 346cc, single cylinder, liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, 4-valve
Power: 30bhp @ 7,500rpm
Torque: 24.5nm @ 5,000rpm
Frame: Steel tube
Front suspension: HTS, pneumatic tilting suspension
Rear suspension: Twin adjustable dampers
Brakes: Four 240mm discs with combined braking system
Dimensions: Length 2180mm, Width mm, height 1340mm
Seat height: 770mm
Dry weight: 257kg
Colours: Swiss Red, Titanium Grey, Snow White, Raw Black
Tank capacity: 15 litres