The phrase ‘when worlds collide’ is usually applied when two or more differing forces come together. Usually the outcome is less than favorable and there is rarely an exception to this, especially when the worlds of motorcycling and automobiles are brought together. However, the BMW Motorrad powered Campagna T-Rex 16S looks to be a fantastic exception to the rule.
Canadian automotive specialist Campagna has a long association with the marriage of motorcycle engine and automotive chassis technology. From its first design concept in 1988 to finished production unit in 1995, the Montreal-based company has gone from strength to strength, using a varied range of motorcycle engines to power subsequent successors to the original Suzuki-powered T-Rex.
The latest machine from Campagna is the T-Rex 16S, powered by the BMW Motorrad engineering masterpiece that is the 1649cc, straight-six-cylinder engine presently used in the K1600GT/GTL. Recent discussions between the BMW Group and Campagna resulted in a strategic agreement with BMW Motorrad to supply the K1600 engine and associated electronics required to power the T-Rex 16S.
There’s no denying the T-Rex 16S is an unusual looking machine. By design it is wide and low for absolute road holding. Backed up with Campagna’s years of experience in chassis and suspension set-up, the 16S tackles twists and turns in complete safety and returns a lot of fun – how else could you describe a lightweight machine with three wheels and powered by a BMW Motorrad engine that retains the standard K1600GT’s 160HP (118kw) derived from a hefty 129ft-lb (175Nm) of torque?
Handling of the T-Rex 16S is taken care of by a very low center of gravity and a short wheelbase of just 90 inches (2286mm). Both front wheels are lightweight cast aluminium complete with low profile tires. These are mounted to adjustable wishbones suspended by damped units from Elka Suspension. The rear swingarm is also suspended by dual shock absorbers, again from Elka suspension. Hydraulic braking features on all three wheels and is supplied by Wilwood.
High-specification tubular steel expertly welded together forms the T-Rex main chassis and roll cage (conforms to all crash-test standards), and provides mounting for the rear swingarm and subframe on which the K1600 engine is mounted.
While the performance figures of the K1600 engine suggest it is standard, the truth is far from that. Campagna has devised and engineered into the standard six-speed gearbox a mechanical reverse gear. This is activated electronically via a switch in the ‘cockpit.’ Gear selection is manual stick-shift and is sequential (one forward, five back). Drive from the engine to the rear wheel is not by standard BMW Cardan shaft but instead by chain to accommodate the differing dimensions and driveline reaction forces. The chain conversion, take-off box, is by Campagna.
BMW Motorrad supplies Campagna with the necessary fuel injection system and ECM (both K1600GT components) but built to Campagna specification. The exhaust system and dash console are stock K1600GT units. Because of the rear placement of the K1600 engine, Campagna has also integrated an automobile cooling system consisting of a forward placed car radiator and associated plumbing.
The T-Rex 16S is adorned in fiberglass highlighted with carbon fiber detailing and styled like nothing else. Striking is one way to describe its looks; futuristic is another term that can be used – the projector headlights built into the front end are simply stunning. The interior is compact to say the least. Two seats, side by side, are covered in weatherproof marine-grade material and are adjustable for comfort and fit. Foot control pedals are also adjustable to the driver’s dimensions.
Luggage space comes with the use of motorcycle-like hard-panniers. Left and right panniers are color matched and each can hold 46-liters of gear. Additional carrying space is provided under the hood. Other refinements can be found inside the cockpit such as an in-dash multi-controller to access options and menus for the three-mode power delivery, 180 watt sound system, iPhone and Bluetooth controls, and more.
Because of the T-Rex’s compact nature, entry into and from the cockpit is by careful manipulation of the body through the side entry point. Entry is aided by having a QD steering wheel to allow space in which to slip into the driver’s seat. With three-point safety harnesses for driver and passenger, the feeling of being seated inside a racing-spec car is considerable – the fact your posterior is only inches off the ground compounds this feeling.
So how would you define the T-Rex 16S? In America, anything with less than three wheels is a motorcycle. By definition it is a tricycle, or ‘trike’ for short. In the case of the Campagna T-Rex 16S it is a reverse tricycle so called because it has two ‘steering’ wheels at the front and one driving wheel to the rear. So is it a motorcycle? Yes and no. Because it falls into the motorcycle class it doesn’t require the adoption of traction control or an ABS system. But because it has a steering wheel, rather than handlebars, the T-Rex is driven like a car.
Given that the T-Rex 16S hugs the ground in a similar way to lightweight pro-karts, it will be not be a surprise to learn it reportedly sticks to tarmac in the same hard-to-shift way. Coupled with the abundance of readily available torque, the T-Rex 16S drives from the word go and is backed up with a healthy dose of upper rpm horsepower. “As you can imagine,” says David Neault, Vice president of Campagna, “the ownership of T-Rex is all about the driving experience. It’s a pure driving experience based on the steering and handling feedback, available power and traction, and the sound of a healthy engine. Whether driving for fun, normal everyday use or distance cruising, the T-Rex accommodates and excels in all areas. The use of BMW components further underlines Campagna’s excellent reputation for quality and reliability.”
At present, the T-Rex 16S is available in Canada and the United States and retails for $62,000. Campagna is presently involved with necessary testing procedures to gain homologation and EC-type approval in preparation for European sales late in 2013/early 2014.