Most people love a great vehicle.
We collect vehicles. We put vehicles in shows. We even make alternative vehicles and various transportation devices because - let's face it - vehicles are so awesome that limiting ourselves to the four-door variety just seems sad.
So, if you're thinking about buying a new mode of transportation, don't just go with a Toyota, especially when you could instead get an odd or futuristic vehicle. It doesn't matter if you want to buy something safe or have children to tote around or need something practical, because you only live once.
We're joking, of course. But, hey, if you have the money to spend or simply like to dream big, we've rounded up some weird and whacky personal transportation examples from the last few years.
The two-seater Aero-X bike is said to be able to transport two people at 10 feet above the ground at up to 44 mph. Carbon fibre rotors take the place of wheels, so the bike can take off vertically without the need for forward speed or a runway, and it should be as easy to ride as a motorbike, as the 356kg beast uses handlebar grips for controls. It can carry up to 140kg, should be able to run for 75 minutes before it's out of fuel, and is being built by a California-based company, which is aiming to sell the future ride for around $85,000. Anyone interested can already drop a $5,000 deposit.
The Solowheel is a gyro-stabilized electric unicycle that provides a hands-free experience. It goes up to 10 mph, weighs 24 lbs, can carry up to a 220-lb person, has a 1500-watt motor, and promises a range of up to 10 miles on a charge. The tire itself is 16 inches by 2.125 inches. Pricing starts at $1,495. An Xtreme version with over 2000-watts of power is also now available for pre-order.
The same company that does Solowheel also makes Orbitwheels. The idea is simple: two feet, two wheels…and you’re off. It's described as a cross between a skateboard and pair of inline skates, and the wheels' large radii allow you to ride on a variety of different surfaces. If you don't have many for the Solowheel, consider the Orbitwheels, as they only cost $99.95 for a pair.
Cycling to work is very green, but can mean breaking a sweat. There are electric bikes out there but few that could beat a sports car to the office. The Outider USA makes one such vehicle: the modified Outrider USA 422 Alpha. It weighs just 45kg and can reach a world record speed of over 85mph. Pedalling can supplement battery-powered drive, but once at high speeds, the battery takes over.
Jyrobike is a new bicycle aimed at kids that should mean they can ditch the need for stabilisers even if they've never ridden a bike before. The bike, which is fitted with an intelligent gyroscope in the front wheel, tricks the bike into believing it is going much faster than it actually is. Because of that, it is more stable than it should be, and that means that kids learning to cycle don't fall over. Charging is via a standard micro USB socket and after it has been plugged in for 2 hours you get 3 hours of ride time; more than enough juice to entertain most 5 - 8-year-olds.
Yike Bike is probably called that because, when you find yourself hurtling down the road on the back of one, you are likely to say "Yikes!" in a very Scooby-Doo voice. That's because the Yike Bike is something you will have never ridden before, a modern-day Penny-Farthing that sees you sit on a single wheel with your arms on handlebars behind you. When you're done, it all folds away to the size of a Brompton bike. It's also electric so you don't have to pedal, and the main trick to master here is balance. However, the price tag will mean it's not going to be everyone's cup of tea.
General Motors started working on this personalised all-electric vehicle a few years ago. EN-V, a concept car range that was fully working, looks like something dreamed up for a live-action version of The Jetsons. The concept details drive-over kinetic recharge points, automated parking stations (which seize your car from the streets and deposit them stacked in a row) and such intelligent collision detection that it will be feasible to negate the need for a steering wheel at all (à la I Robot). There were also plans, wacky or no, to have heads up video conferencing and social networking functionality on the widescreen as you travel.
A-Bike is a telescopic folding bicycle from Sinclair. It is electric is, of course, and was funded and promoted with a Kickstarter campaign. Sinclair first introduced the folding bike in 2006, but this new version comes with a detachable 24V battery and can give you up to 25km of range. If you’re interested in getting hold of an A-Bike Electric, early-bird backers can buy one for around £399.
The Toyota i-Road electric vehicle concept was first shown to the public at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, but now Toyota has unleashed it as part of an experiment in Tokyo. The i-Road can plug into a standard 100-volt Japanese electrical outlet. It's tiny car powered by a pair of electric motors that provide just 5 horsepower, while onboard battery pack holds enough juice for about 30 miles of range. It stands out for its ability to lean into corners. All the driver needs to do is turn the steering wheel, and sensors adjust the vehicle’s angle to compensate. It can also self-stabilise while stationary.
Piaggio MP3 Yourban LT
There are two versions of the MP3 Yourban available, the 125cc and the 300cc, known as the LT. As this is classed as a motor tricycle, you don’t need a bike licence to ride it - your standard driving licence will have you covered. Achieving recognition as a motor tricycle has led some of the design, for example, the rear protruding indicator lights and the foot brake, but otherwise your regular scooter controls work: twist and go, fully automatic, with brake levers. Riding the Yourban LT is very easy, light feathering of the brakes and smooth throttle action will get you going gently, but the 300cc engine means there is power on tap when you need to eat up those miles. It has a max speed of 70mph and will set you back £5699.
We're looking at the sexiest electric bike we've seen so far. The Hanebrink X3 model has two 20 x 8-inch wheels front and back giving a massive surface area to skip across sand and snow, and a 750-watt motor that will see it do 20mph - and that’s before you start pedalling. The low, centre-mounted motor means the weight isn’t stuck on the front or back wheel and ensures balance and stability in turns. The bike features 14-speed Shimano gearing and a rear rack and a standard Li-ion battery. The frame is aluminium, with carbon fibre seat post and handlebars. We want one, and we know you do too, but we suspect the $5,500 starting price for a Hanebrink might be a problem.
Luxury car maker Lexus created a real-life, rideable hoverboard. The project is part of an ongoing campaign at Lexus that's meant to showcase creativity and innovation within the Lexus brand. The board, called the Lexus Hoverboard, features strong magnets in order to stay in-air as well as liquid nitrogen-cooled superconductors and permanent magnets to support a rider (which explains the mist coming from the board). It also features a spindle-grille shape and is comprised of materials that include natural bamboo. The Lexus hoverboard has been in development for over 18 months by teams in both Germany and London and should begin testing in Barcelona over the coming weeks. It can currently float about an inch off the ground.
The Ryno "microcycle" is a bit of futuristic transportation vehicle. After six years of development, the company is finally ready to release its one-wheeled wonder to the world. RYNO's maximum speed is 10mph, which is roughly equal to a 6-minute mile. Depending on payload, a single charge can support up to 15 miles/16km of travel, and a standard wall outlet can charge the batteries. Pricing for the Ryno isn't clear, but if you buy one, you'll also get two RYNO SLA batteries, RYNO charger, LED headlights, the RYNO display stand.
Impossible is a good looking bike that ingeniously folds down into a case that doubles as the saddle. It started on Kickstarter and smashed its goal. Despite its size, the Impossible bike is able to support weights of up to 85kg (in the first build at least) and can travel at 12.5mph for 45 minutes, or about 15.6 miles at "normal speed" thanks to its ten 2,900mAh batteries. It uses a brushless DC motor designed and built specifically for this bike that results in a pedal-free experience. Unfolding the bike for use is a four-stage process: unlock, combine twisting out the saddle post and handlebars, pull up to height, Put and Lock as the saddle is added and the frame locks in place. An Impossible folding electric bike can be yours for $530 Canadian, which is about £300.
Boosted gives you the feeling of snowboarding, surfing, and wakeboarding, but it has electric motors, powerful brakes, and wireless control. The single $999 version can go 8 miles on a full charge, and speed is limited to 18-22 mph. It has a 1,000-watt motor, weighs 13.5lbs, and comes with standard grip tape. More powerful versions are also available for more money, of course.
Furore Formula Kit Car
It's a replica twin-seater racing car, but for the road. It costs about £10,000 (building it from a kit) or around £19,000 ready to drive away. The kit car will pass the IVA test in UK and can be registered with DVLA. It's been built using the standard Toyota 1.6 Twin Cam 4AGE engine, but a bike engine is recommended, as it brings with it a 6-speed sequential gearbox. There's also engine cradles available for the ZZR1100 & ZZR1400 Kawasaki engines. With the standard Toyota engine, you'll get around 120 to 130 mph, while the ZZR1400 engine gets around 160 mph.
Replica 1966 Batmobile
Fiberglass Freaks makes replica Batmobiles officially licensed by DC Comics. With the LX, you'll get a 525hp crate engine, 4L70E GM Transmission, 3.70 Currie Rear End, and Air Ride Suspension. The car has the iconic black and red gloss finish as well as a thick fibreglass body with opening hood, doors, and trunk (electric actuators open the hood and trunk with the flip of a switch). You just need $219,999 to get one. Not bad. Not bad.
The Lightcycle is based on the vehicle from 2010's Tron: Legacy. Amazing, right? Well, it has a 96-volt electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack. And Parker Brothers quotes a top speed of "in excess of 100 mph" as well as a range of 100 miles on a single charge (with 35 minute recharge times). Unfortunately, the starting price is $55,000.
Looking like a stool, rather than a bike or a car, the idea of the uni-cub is that you control your movement in any direction by leaning that way. Riders, if you can call them that, need only to shift their body weight to move forwards or strafe left or right at a comfortable rather than hair-raising speed (it has a maximum speed of around 4mph.) Expected to be used in museums in the future so you can look at things while still sitting down.
Although we'll admit that many of the vehicles on this list are too strange to replace any every-day vehicle and are technically transportation devices, they're still worth keeping in mind should you ever want to branch out and go there.
Let us know in the comments if you've seen a vehicle that we've missed.