Good things come in three wheels

This Sub lets you ride solo in the car pool lane

So much for calling three-wheelers “tricycles.”

The Sub G1 sports the same one-liter, V-twin engine in Suzuki’s TL1000R motorcycle. It has 135 hp of propulsion and a fiberglass and steel body that weighs 725 pounds. Not exactly your kid’s Schwinn.

Registered in California as motorcycles, street-legal trikes that weigh less than 1,500 pounds play by the same rules as their two-wheeled brethren. Seatbelts aren’t required; helmets are. Exhaust noise levels can be no louder than 80 decibels. The best part of the comparison? Legal solo use of the car pool lane. For Sub G1 creator Jay Brett, that was all the inspiration necessary.

“It started as a design study to work on those legal loopholes,” says Brett. “We saw TV car shows with people putting things together in a haphazard manner and thought we could do something better.”

Brett, along with Niki Smart and Nick Mynott, began designing the Sub G1 in 2002, when not at work in GM’s design department.

The result is a custom-made three-wheeler that achieves a top speed of 140 mph, gets 40 miles per gallon and costs $80,000.

The engine is uniquely situated to the right of the driver’s seat rather than behind, which splits weight evenly between front and rear and creates a shorter wheelbase, both of which add to the Sub’s agility.

Of course, sitting six inches off the ground means a ride in the Sub G1 is loud. And while there are six gears, none of them are reverse. If you really need to go backward, the trike’s Web site recommends that you “park on a hill or get a push.”

So why call it a Sub? Says Brett, “During the design process, the body looked a bit like a submarine and the name just kinda stuck.”

Things really do happen in threes. Here, two more conveyances that have ditched the pesky fourth wheel.

Volkswagen GX3
1. A concept car at this year’s L.A. Auto Show, the GX3 was recently test driven at the Lotus facility in England. Rumored to be available in November.
2. 1.6-liter engine; 125 hp; 40 mpg; 0 to 60 in 5.7 seconds
3. $17,000 (projected price)

American Roadster
1. It’s called a roadster, but it’s a hardtop. There’s room for a passenger behind the driver.
2. Two power options: compressed natural gas or hydrogen; manufacturers claim 300,000-mile life expectancy on the engine; 70 mpg; 0 to 60 in 4.9 seconds
3. $18,500