Charles Fox is one of the great motor writers of all time, and a few decades back he wrote some excellent pieces for Car&Driver. Amongst them was an attempt to use a Lincoln Continental as a calling card to bluff his way cross country with no money, checks, or plastic (he succeeded) and a blow by blow of his totalling an expensive sports car in a crash. But one of the high points of his career was a comparison test of  sports wheelchairs he edited in the 80s. Charles compared with some experience, as he was a wheelchair user himself due to MS. The yellow wheelchair in the foreground was one he rated highly, a Quickie GP. Quickie was founded by a trio of outdoors enthusiasts who were so frustrated with the clunker chairs available when one of the trio needed one that the other two members combined lightweight bicycle parts and materials tech to make the first Quickie wheelchair for the third member of the trio. As often occurs, this was a case of simultaneous invention, with Quadra and various and sundry DIY geeks building a revolution of lightweight high performance wheelchairs at the same time.

Charles Fox gave the Quickie the high compliment of terming the Quickie “cerebral” to describe it’s incredible responsiveness. The Quickie GP pictured is a late 80s model with rigid rather than the more common (and flexy) folding frame. Cerebral is right- you can steer this chair by merely leaning, and deftly transferring weight will get you over or around all kinds of obstacles. Why? Because the link between the wheelchair and the wheeler’s brain is near direct, with little “noise” in the form of slop and flex muddling your commands. Same for communication with the road- pump the tires up to 100 PSI and they’ll not only roll easy, they’ll tell you an encyclopedia about the road you’re wheeling down.

Bigger and faster vehicles can be “cerebral” too… Like the next in line BMW F800S. I’d have put my Buell in the picture too, but it’s in Florida. Both Buell and BMW with the F800 series sought a “cerebral” feel via rigid frame, mass centralization, and providing direct communication between the rider and the bike with a minimum of interfering noise. I noticed this first when I switched from riding airheads to the Buell… Dang, feels a lot better without the “hinge in the middle”! The F800 is even more “cerebral”, with perfect rider positioning, weight distribution, etc.. So much so that I noticed that I didn’t feel comfortable riding any faster on my Guzzi Quota dual sport bike on dirt roads than I do on the F800S. While the Quota has gnarlier tires and long travel suspension, the F800S communicates and responds to rider inputs better than the Quota.

Last in line is my BMW R65LS and Motorvation Spyder sidecar, rapidly becoming my favorite. Why? Well, unlike most of the airheads, the R65s got stiffer triple trees, swingarms, etc. for a start. Then figure in the R65’s smaller but quicker to rev motor and lighter weight. Same with the sidecar- with a unit body it sits lower and gives about the lowest center of gravity possible with a sidecar combination. Add it all together, and it’s a sidecar combination that responds to the rider far  better than most.

“Cerebral”… The more human and machine respond as one, the better! Thanks, Charles Fox.

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