Propelled by a Boxer powerplant ripped from an R1150 Beemer, the GG Quad may not be a motorcycle per se, but the fact wasn’t going to stop Duke from testing it.
To say this wasn’t a typical bike test would be an understatement. In fact, this marvel of modern engineering isn’t even a bike!
However, the GG Quad is motivated by a Boxer Twin drivetrain stolen out of an R1150 BMW motorcycle – enough roots in the moto world to oblige a mini test. Plus, it attracts as much attention as a fleet of Ducati 999Rs, so we couldn’t refuse a ride.
First of all, no, the specialized machine manufactured in Switzerland by Gruter + Gut Motorradtechnik isn’t legal to ride on U.S. roads like it is in some countries in Europe. However, the American importer, GG Quad North America, has visited the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in Washington in the hopes of getting the quad approved for road use on our shores. A decision is expected by September 15, 2006.
So let’s assume you could ride it on Yankee roads – would you want to?
Well, if you didn’t get much attention as a child or if your Lamborghini Diablo is no longer pulling chicks, you’d definitely find something appealing in the GG Quad. No vehicle I’ve ever driven/ridden has attracted as much attention as this bike, er, quad. Cars wander in lanes as their drivers swivel their heads around for a glimpse, and camera-equipped cell phones are drawn quicker than a gunslinger reaching for his Colt at the O.K. Corral.
The GG Quad is the brainchild of Walter Gruter, a Swiss bike dealer that also manufactures accessories for its retail line of Ducati, BMW and Moto Guzzi. Back in 1994, Gruter gained attention with his Duetto bike/sidecar rig that used hub-center steering with a swingarm front end. The company says it sold 30 units worldwide.
The GG Quad (left) poses next to the yellow GG Duetto sidecar, a former project of G+G’s Walter Gruter. It features hub-center steering and a swingarm front end.
The Duetto, with its three wheels and BMW powerplant, now seems like a natural bridge to the GG Quad. In this latest project, Gruter began with BMW’s 1130cc Boxer motor built over a tubular steel lower frame. Then the CNC machines got a workout, carving elaborate plates out of billet aluminum for the front and rear suspension attachment posts. Double A-arms (again, from billet) are used both front and rear, damped by fully adjustable shocks. This stuff is pure art to those who appreciate lovely mechanical bits.
As if this doesn’t stand far enough apart from the ATV crowd, getting power to the rear wheels will. Instead of a chain, the GG Quad uses a BMW driveshaft from the motor that spins a Quaife limited-slip differential. The six-speed tranny also includes a reverse gear. Sixteen-inch aluminum OZ wheels carry low-profile Dunlop car tires (195/40-16 front; 225/40-16 rear).
Even with all the aluminum, the GG Quad is a bit of a porker on the scales. With its 4.75-gallon tank filled, it weighed in at nearly 900 pounds. After all, it is 87.5 inches long and 55 inches wide.
Climb aboard and you’re met by familiar BMW controls. Keeping as many OEM components as possible was critical to getting the quad to achieve governmental standards and the reason why the Quad’s Boxer motor meets emissions regulations. BMW claims 85 horses for this engine, basically the same unit as our 2004 BMW Rockster test bike that produced 74.1 hp at the rear wheel. Our test unit was fitted with an optional performance exhaust system that was nicely louder than stock but not obnoxiously so.
The GG Quad doesn’t have the acceleration chops of a two-wheeled machine, but on four wheels it puts up a formidable 4.9-second zero to 60.
Power from the R1150 motor is muted by the machine’s 898-lb fully fueled weight, so the GG Quad is much more sluggish than the 550-lb Rockster, or most any streetbike you can name. That said, the BMW Boxer powertrain feels appropriate for a car-like vehicle, with its 66.0 lb-ft of torque available at low rpm.
Acceleration is quite stimulating for a car, matching the $160,000 Bentley Continental GT at 4.9 seconds in the run to 60 mph. It continues on through the quarter-mile with a respectable 14.6-second ET at 99 mph. The importer says he’s seen 117 mph on the Quad with his GPS.
As for the riding dynamics of this eye magnet, it’s about what you might expect from a lowered quad fitted with sports car rubber. The handlebar might be from a BMW bike, but response from it isn’t. The Quad’s steering is quite heavy, as you might expect from those fat front tires, which makes it less than graceful maneuvering around at parking-lot speeds. It lightens up at speed and isn’t a hindrance in most situations.
Use some muscle to throw it into a corner and those four meatballs stick like glue. The GG Quad registered a prodigious 0.9 g on a skidpad during a recent test by Motor Trend.
The different dynamics of riding the GG Quad are readily apparent in cornering. Instead of counter-steering, the bars need to be turned in the direction of travel.
Like a motorcycle, a rider is rewarded with greater speed by hanging off to the inside of a corner, even if the lateral g forces are completely different. Riding the GG Quad briskly is similar to a snowmobile (and, of course, a quad). Instead of counter-steering, as on a bike, the bars need to be turned in the direction of travel. With nearly 76% of its weight on the rear wheels, drifting-type powerslides are out of the question.
The brakes also held up their end of the bargain, able to bring the pseudo car to a halt in just 114 feet from 60 mph. G+G builds the calipers and rotors in-house, and these are fed by braided-steel lines to the three sets of four-piston calipers. Yes, I said three, as each front wheel uses two four-piston calipers, one of which is activated by the rear brake pedal. It was reassuring to know that I could just jump on them without any fear of lowsiding, but I didn’t appreciate how it needs a stomp on the brake pedal to engage all the whoa power available from the front brakes; I’d rather have full power at the handlebar brake lever.
All’s well so far, but the GG Quad shows its worst side when bombing down a freeway. Uneven pavement seams causes a bump-steer condition, and its rider needs to be mindful of the steering at highway speeds. Since the front suspension is adjustable for camber and toe (caster is fixed), perhaps some revised setting will improve this condition. Ride quality on the freeway is better than expected from the 4 inches of available travel.
Who can afford the $49,500 price tag for the GG Quad? How about moto-crazed celebrities with millions of dollars to spare like famous motorhead Jay Leno seen here checking it out?
We’ve painted a fairly rosy picture of the GG Quad, and indeed it offers a riding experience available nowhere else. The problem for many interested buyers is the price tag. The base model starts at a way-out-there $49,500, and items such as the sidepods and custom paint on our tester only raises it higher.
Is the price worth it? Well, not to my bankbook. But for some of the high-rollers who frequent places like Malibu’s Rock Store where I rode it, $50K might be a small price to pay for all the attention he or she will get tooling around the beach. The GG Quad is an exotic without the typical pretension, and this makes this a hit with whoever sees it.
If you think machines like the GG Quad should be legal to ride on public roads, click on this link to find out how to write your congressman about it.
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