I’M sitting in a jammed-up one-way system, snicking the gearbox into neutral. The idling engine’s heat is starting to make its way through my jeans.
Traffic jams are an annoyance on most bikes, requiring a bit of nip and tuck, feet-up, slow-speed balance and more than a little bravery. The weird thing is, for the first time in my life I’m not really bothered about being held up. Perhaps it’s because I can’t do anything about it.
Underneath me is one of the most unusual " bikes " I’ve ever ridden. It is Grinnall’s Scorpion III. To get yourself one of these contraptions all you need is £4250 – and a BMW R1200C.
The " kit " takes a day to fit and removes the standard rear wheel, subframe, shaft-drive and rear suspension unit. You bolt on a new rear subframe and two rear wheels and hey presto – a trike. Which begs the question: " Why? "
Grinnall has spent the last 20 years building variations of three-wheelers and high-performance sports cars. This time they wanted " to do something different. " It’s the kind of answer people who do these things always give you. Try to find more reasons and you’re met with a blank look, as if to say: " Does there need to be more? " Perhaps there doesn’t.
To be this different required the combined talents of bodywork stylist Steve Harper, chassis engineer Neil Williams and spannerman Dave Pulford. If you don’t fancy fitting it yourself, Grinnall will bolt on the bits for you for an extra £495.
The slow speed of that initial traffic jam gave me a chance to get used to riding on three wheels. Apart from the left-hand side mounted hand brake, all the other controls are standard BMW. So it’s just a case of snicking it into first, giving it a few revs and concentrating. I soon learn the knack.
You need to hang your body off and throttle it to get it round the corners, and keeping this in mind, I head out on to some country lanes and go up the gearbox through second and third and along a steeply-banked, tree-lined road. The fact that you have a rear wheel sticking out either side on something the width of a car provokes a few nerves which never really go away. But it’s a laugh and can be very relaxing to ride. You get armchair comfort, for a start.
OK, so you can’t filter through traffic and it’s slower than most cars, but that’s not what the Grinnall BMW is about. With its comfort for a passenger and the added advantage of a rear luggage compartment, it could be great for touring. But that’s not really what it’s about either. It’s about being an individual. And that’s at the heart of why we all ride.
BMW SCORPION III
Cost: £13,440 (complete)
Availability: Grinnall Specialist Cars 01299-822862
Engine: Oil/air-cooled, 1170cc (101 x 73mm), 8v high cam ohv four-stroke horizontally opposed twin, 5 gears
Weight: 330kg (726lb)
Standing 1/4-mile time/terminal speed: 14.5s, 90mph (est)
Top speed (est): 104mph
Average mpg/tank capacity/range: 45mpg, 17 litres, 165 miles