19 July 2009

The Lean Machine

With the recent news coming out that General Motors is now out of bankruptcy, I thought it would be only fitting to look back at one of their unique offerings from the days when GM sponsored the World of Motion. The article below, The Lean Machine, comes from one of the handouts that were available to guests as they made their way through the TransCenter after the main World of Motion attraction.
There are visionary vehicles in GM’s “World of Motion” that are more than dreams. One possibly historic innovation has been dubbed the “Lean Machine” because of its slender girth and leaning capabilities.

It may be the first new road vehicle invented in this century. Similar to a motorcycle in size and weight, computer studies show it can accelerate to 60 mph in seven seconds and travel up to 200 miles on a gallon of gas. Although similar to cycles, the “Lean Machine” parts company mainly in its suspension, aerodynamics, and passenger accommodations. A motorcycle is unstable and must be propped up on its two wheels when not moving. And its rider sits out in the open.

Not so with the “Lean Machine.” It has one wheel in front; but two more in the back give it a three-point stand. And the rider is enclosed in a fiberglass shell. Not for the “lean.”

This elongated passenger pod, mounted at either end of above the power pod, rotates horizontally and separately from the lower unit. The rotation enables the rider to lean into a turn, as cyclists do, while the power pod remains upright.

The passenger compartment has all of the conveniences of an automobile. Steering, braking, and throttle controls are combined in the handlebars. It has an automatic transmission and a rear-mounted, liquid-cooled, 38 horsepower engine.

In the wind tunnel, GM engineers have reduced the aerodynamic drag to less than one-fifth of a motorcycle and one-eighth of an automobile. That means it’s lean on gas.

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