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Source: TWIKE press release from 10.05.2023
As a Human Power Hybrid, the three-wheeled electric vehicle TWIKE 5 impresses with an innovative overall concept. TWIKE has also gone its own way with the steering system, using ergonomic side-stick steering for safe and sporty riding pleasure.
A bicycle has handlebars, a car steers the driver with a steering wheel – this statement seems irrefutable at first glance. More than two centuries of automotive history suggest that a classic steering wheel is in practice the most mature and optimal technology for steering a passenger car. But what if this car also otherwise no longer corresponds to the widespread image of a car in many aspects? Doesn’t his steering then also have to be questioned? From the very first version of the three-wheeled electric scooter, with its combination of an electric motor and pedal assistance from muscle power, the developers of the TWIKE answered “yes” to this fundamental question.
Neither the handlebars familiar from bicycles nor the steering wheel tried and tested in automobiles did justice to the design, which in a sense combines both worlds, the bicycle and the electric car. In view of the concept of the three-wheeled design and the characteristic seating position of the driver, the use of a control lever proved to be the most suitable variant. Like all components, this steering principle has been slightly adapted and optimized again and again over the model history of the TWIKE. With the steering of the TWIKE 5, the extraordinary manufactory from Rosenthal presents another milestone in the development of the unique vehicle.
In the first three model series of the TWIKE, the developers relied on single-lever steering. The “joystick” proved to be the optimal solution here, providing safe and reliable control after some familiarization. Where a classic steering wheel would have been unsuitable due to the pedal movement alone, the joystick not only proves to be an ergonomic alternative conducive to lightweight design, but also offers owners additional driving pleasure to this day.
“Nevertheless, we didn’t want to rest on a ‘never change a running system’ when it came to the steering system either,” explains Martin Möscheid, Managing Director of TWIKE GmbH. “If we had thought this way in the past, we would never have gotten to where we are today with the TWIKE 5.”
The TWIKE 4, the pure prototype that preceded the TWIKE 5 on its way to series production, was the first to challenge the concept of single-lever control. Not least with the performance gain of the Twike 5 compared to the TWIKE 3, aspects such as quick learnability of the mode of operation and maximum steering precision in all driving situations gain additional importance. The developers also wanted to make the transition from the classic car with steering wheel control even easier by allowing basic movement patterns to be adopted. The TWIKE 5 presents the solution to these requirements and wishes with a completely newly developed two-lever principle, side-stick steering.
Two interconnected steering levers mechanically control the steering front axle in this in the TWIKE 5. Even though the connection of the levers allows for one-handed steering, the principle is especially convincing in two-handed operation. Here, the steering process in practice shows a movement pattern that is recognizably similar to that of the classic steering wheel and thus allows for very intuitive familiarization. The driver pulls or better pushes the levers in the desired direction of travel. This form of “classic” steering also supports the stable seating position, which pays off especially during sporty driving maneuvers, but also on uneven ground and in dangerous situations.
Technically, the optimized steering system relies on components from automotive mass production and thus on proven quality and safety. In addition, both levers provide easy and convenient access to all important functions in two-handed operation: Acceleration, cruise control, turn signals, dimming, windshield wiper and control of the digital instrument cluster functions. With interchangeable grip surfaces and a grip heater underneath as standard, the TWIKE cockpit can be adapted to individual preferences.
“We are convinced that the optimized steering system in the TWIKE 5 will once again improve the connection between the pilot and the vehicle and thus offer even more safety with additional driving comfort,” Möscheid emphasizes.
Explanations from left to right: Drive left sidestick to the rear and/or sidestick right to the front. Straight ahead travel does not require any intervention. Moving to the right sidestick right to the rear and/or sidestick left to the front.