February 26, 2008 Riding the wave of interest started by the Piaggio MP3 and Gilera Fuoco three-wheelers, French scooter importer Sidam is planning to try its luck with a new bike that turns the concept backwards. The Xnovo gives the tilting triangle wheelbase concept a much less fun, more utilitarian application than its Italian forebears, acting like a mini-minivan with huge carrying capacity, a hard roof, windscreen and twin driven rear wheels each on its own swingarm. And while it probably handles like a barge, the Xnovo may well find a niche as a traffic-busting courier/delivery vehicle.
Three different types of Xnovo scooters are on the drawing board: a fully petrol version fitted with a 500cc Piaggio engine, a hybrid version with a 200cc petrol engine and electric backup, and a fully electric version with brushless motors mounted to each rear hub.
In the petrol version, the Xnovo's rear wheels are each belt-driven from a motor that is centrally mounted to provide for maximum carrying capacity in the bin between the rear wheels. Several body shapes appear to be under consideration, from a sporty-looking twin-seater to the far less glamorous micro-minivan in our lead photo. See the photo gallery for the full range of design sketches we've seen.
We can't foresee a huge market for a sports scooter with twin rear wheels - motorcycles rely primarily on the traction from their front wheels in order to stop and turn with any authority, the rear wheels being more or less along for the ride - but the concept might have genuine legs if it's pitched as a small-footprint, economical delivery mule.
We'll wait to learn more as the Xnovo moves towards a launch date rumoured to be late 2008. Price is expected to be around €8000 for the 500cc model.