Rewaco RF-1 LT-3
Because we produce a motorcycle magazine, the decision to cover a three-wheeled vehicle is one we do not take lightly. We are diehard two-wheel fans, and that is the focus of Ultimate MotorCycling. Having said that, we aren’t so doctrinaire that we avert our eyes when we see something that brightly sparks our imagination — we owe that to our readers.
We saw the Rewaco RF-1 LT-3 and we were smitten. Probably a large part of the reason motorcyclists have an antipathy toward trikes is that we don’t quite see ourselves in the target demographic.
“The target audience for the Rewaco RF-1 trikes is rather varied,” explains Shaun Cady. With his father Doug, the Cadys own Trike Traders in Lake Alfred, Fla., the company that imports Rewaco trikes from Germany. “We anticipate it to mostly be comprised of early middle-aged up to senior-aged, middle- to upper-income men and women, many of which may not presently own a motorcycle. Obviously, the fact that they are trikes will also appeal to riders with disabilities, riders of advancing age, and those of varying size and strength—those who riding a large two-wheeler would be difficult, if not impossible.”
Readers of Ultimate MotorCycling are generally capable of riding any bike of their choosing. However, they are limited to a single passenger on those rides. That is where the Rewaco RF-1 LT-3 comes in—offering many of the enticements of motorcycling, with the ability to carry a third person without the train- ing needed to ride a sidecar three-up.
“The three-seater models will also hit another segment,” according to the younger Cady, “[including] couples with a child, an elderly or disabled relative, or a pet that they desire to take with them on rides.”
Oh, and there’s one more group for which the RF-1 LT-3 may work. “The LT specifically will appeal to more of a touring rider — the people who foresee long interstate trips in their plans,” he says. “The size of the trunk space and the molded helmet boxes with built-in passenger armrest pads are appealing for longer trips, especially when combined with the optional stereo and intercom system.”
Rewaco has done well selling trikes in Europe, where they are popular rental vehicles. The company began building trikes in 1990, starting with air-cooled Volkswagen Beetle power- plants, and later moving to big-inch Harley-Davidson engines. In 2005, Rewaco stepped things up, using a liquid-cooled, DOHC, inline-four, 1.6-liter Ford Zetec automotive motor.
In the mid-2000s, attempts were made to import Rewacos into the United States. However, the methods weren’t quite straightforward, and neither the EPA nor the NHTSA approved the machines offered for sale. These less-than-ideal circumstances resulted in the end of importation of new Rewaco trikes in America in 2008.
Shaun picks up the story: “We had contacted Rewaco Germany around this time to inquire about opportunities for dealership in the US. They informed us that the vehicles would have to be properly approved by the authorities here prior to being able to be sold, and there was much time and expense involved. At that time, with the economic conditions being what they were
both here in the US and abroad, both of our companies concluded the time was not right to pursue the necessary approvals.
“We stayed in touch periodically over the next few years. In the spring of this year we were contacted by Rewaco Germany and informed that they felt the time was right to pursue the required approvals. Economic conditions had improved, and they had a prospective Canadian distributor who would be able to utilize the US-conducted testing for his governmental approvals in Canada as well.
“So, the stars had aligned and after months of jumping through the hoops, the RF-1 received EPA certification on August 23, 2013. We feel the market is calling for a vehicle like this here in the US — a purpose-built trike that combines German engineering and quality, exotic sports car styling, an American power-plant, and a driving experience that is truly exhilarating. It was an opportunity we could not pass up.”
By any standard, the RF-1 LT-3 is an impressive vehicle with generous dimensions. With the 1596cc motor pumping out 140 horsepower, the LT-3 is claimed to hit nearly 120 mph and run from 0-to-60 in 5.8 seconds. A stainless steel exhaust is tuned for what Rewaco calls “an exhilarating tone.”
That power is delivered to the pavement by a pair of 255mm Michelin Pilot 17-inch automotive tires, with a fat 180mm Avon Storm 2 up front (normally a rear tire) putting down a broad contact patch for changing direction. With the motor mounted fairly far forward, the handling is aimed toward sporty — an unmistakable European influence.
As a touring machine, the LT-3 is well equipped for a plush ride—dual A-arm independent rear suspension (no camber change) with Bilstein gas shocks, plus a springer front end. Braking for the big machines comes courtesy of Grimeca calipers that are linked for maximum efficiency when grabbing the ventilated discs.
The claimed range is astounding — over 400 miles from a full tank of high-test. A large locking trunk in the plastic/fiberglass body (over a steel tube frame) means that everyone can bring what they need on a trip.
It may have three wheels, but the handlebars and five-speed manual transmission (with reverse) give you an integral part of the motorcycling experience. However, the clutch and brakes are foot operated—a nod to automobiles.
With a suggested list price north of $40k for the LT-3, it is comfortably a prestige specialty vehicle, and one that certainly will appeal to a particular demographic of motorcyclists.
Cady reinforces this by describing the Rewaco RF-1 LT-3’s potential buyers as “riders who have been on the fence about wanting a trike but were unimpressed by what has been available, affluent vehicle collectors that will see it as something unique to add to their stable, and performance enthusiasts viewing it as a new driving experience.”
The LT is joined in the Rewaco RF-1 line-up by the performance oriented GT version and a street cruising ST edition.
Nothing we can see on the horizon will make us give up motorcycles, and there is no reason to do so. However, when a trike is as tempting as this one, we are willing to broaden our scope, and we might just unearth an experience that is quite possibly more familiar and enjoyable than we anticipate. Life is not a matter of either/or—it is about “this-plus.”
Rewaco RF-1 LT-3 Specs:
- Engine: 140 hp, liquid-cooled, DOHC, inline-four, 1596cc Ford Zetec
- Transmission: Five forward speeds, plus reverse; manual clutch
- Top Speed: 119 mph
- Suspension: Front: trapezoidal fork with center spring; Rear – Fully independent double a-arm w/ Bilstein gas shocks
- Tires: Front – 180/55 Zr 17 avon storm 2 ultra’ Rear – 255/45 Zr 17 michelin pilot sport
- Brakes: Linked Grimeca calipers w/ ventilated discs
- FueL Capacity: 10.57 gallons
- Dry weight: 1382 pounds
- Maximum Load: 591 pounds
Review from the November/December issue of Ultimate MotorCycling magazine. For a digital version, click here.