People who want a different perspective on downtown Las Vegas have a new option, carving corners on a three-wheel electric vehicle that feels like a cross between a small motorcycle and a NordicTrack.
Las Vegas Trikke Tours is among the dozens of businesses set to open next month in the Container Park, a shopping center on Fremont and Seventh streets constructed with used shipping containers.
Fred Welch, Ann Pirone and Steve Garcia, three longtime Trikke enthusiasts, are aiming to drive interest among locals in using the vehicles as a complement to cars and mass transportation.
“We want this to become part of the lifestyle of Las Vegas,” Welch said during a recent demonstration of several Trikkes they’ve been keeping at the Gold Spike.
The vehicles are already in use locally by workers at First Friday and are used elsewhere for everything from policing to recreation.
Trikkes were originally devised by Brazilian inventor Gildo Beleski in the late 1980s as a people-powered vehicle. Beleski envisioned a three-wheeled vehicle that could lean and carve like skis for riding on hills.
But he learned that once a Trikke reached the bottom of the hill, the rider could continue to propel the vehicle by leaning, turning and carving.
The people-powered version of the Trikke grew in popularity as a novel, low-impact alternative to bicycles or in-line skates. The design allows riders to get a fuller workout with less balancing than biking or skating, which reduces the risk associated with falls.
In recent years electric-power models were added to the Trikke lineup which expanded the range of uses for the vehicles to commuting, touring and errand running.
The electric models are powered by a motor mounted in the hub of the front wheel, which eliminates the need for a chain or drive shaft. They use removable batteries mounted vertically in the post beneath the handlebars.
Speed control is through a throttle on the handlebar, like a motorcycle, and allows the rider to slow down enough to move at a walking pace or as fast as 17 mph, depending on the model.
The vehicles have a range of as much as 25 miles per charge, depending on the model and battery. The removable battery is smaller than a shoe box and can be recharged via a standard outlet in three to five hours, Welch said.
The vehicles fold up to about the size of a set of golf clubs in a bag and can fit in a car trunk or stand in a corner. That makes them ideal for partial commuting use. For example, a user can drive to an urban area by car and use the Trikke to make shorter trips during the day.
Because of their light weight and low speed, the Trikkes don’t require license plates and can be ridden in bike lanes. The legality of sidewalk use depends on local government rules, Welch said.
In Las Vegas they can be ridden on sidewalks, like bicycles, Welch said.
The ability to drive at a walking pace and step off makes the Trikkes more suitable for using in crowded areas where bicycles, which need speed to stay balanced, are awkward. The design allows users to go up or down curbs without stopping. Power for the electric versions can be supplemented by leaning and carving by the rider.
Las Vegas Trikkes expects to offer a range of short guided tours downtown at a cost of about $25 each. The company will also have vehicles for rent or sale. Welch said they retail for $1,300 to $2,400.
Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @BenSpillman702