New Zealand designer and engineer Alan Gibbs definitely displays an affinity for infectiously fun recreational vehicles. In fact, they tend to be almost as much fun to look at as they prove to be when in use. The trio of designs newly launched at Florida’s American International Motorcycle Expo look to ratchet up those two finer qualities neck-and-neck, two- and three-wheeled motorcycles that need just the push of a single button to transition from cruising into the water from a boat ramp right into a zippy jet ski after retracting its wheels in just under five seconds – not long enough to lose a drop of momentum.
The move from imaginative and functional vehicles like the amphibious 100-mph Aquada car to ATVs, quads and motorcycles is a shrewd-but-wise one. Strict regulatory standards threatened to hold back amphibious cars and trucks to the point of rendering them irrelevant, but recreational vehicles come with far less safety-based scrutiny barriers to reach consumer markets. Gibbs’ designs have the advantages of being every bit as practical and nimble on land as on sea, such as the Triski and Terraquad, which are both capable of up 135-plus horsepower in either mode. The Biski’s 55-horsepower engine happens to also crank up to exceeding highway velocity on dry land and still revving to almost 40 mph once it hits the water.
The side-by-side two-seater Terraquad has a 140-horsepower heartbeat from its BMW K1300 engine managed by a sliding-rail driver control unit that’s switchable from left- to right-hand drive for operation with a companion or the more balanced central-drive function for solo driving. The giddy-up reaches 50 mph top speeds on land and 40 mph in the water and transitions between the two modes in 2.5 seconds of pulling all four wheels up on long-travel high suspension struts and safely angled back.
If you’ve ever witnessed Can-Am’s Spyder three-wheeler in action on dry land, then the Gibbs Triski won’t exactly be anything entirely new. Its front wheels mirror the Terraquad’s retraction and angling actions almost as quickly (about five seconds flat), but with one design adjustment: the centrally aligned rear wheel tucks into a recess next to the exhaust. That allows its formidable propulsion jets to do their thing unimpeded, controlled by a handlebar setup that steers similarly in the water to how they control the front wheels on land. Both are driven but a twin cylinder turbocharged engine cranking out 135 horsepower and more than capable of 85 mph top speeds on land and 40 mph off it.
The Gibbs Biski looks like a maxi-scooter and undersized jet ski had a baby, and this street-legal toy’s twin cylinder engine’s 55 horses make it a joy just to watch when hitting its 80 mph top speed on the open road or 37 mph on the water.
The 228kg Biski lifts its wheels out of the way in just about five seconds before switching to being driven by the jets mounted on either wheel’s sides, though the front wheel appears to lock dead-straight in place as the bike switches to water mode. Once more, this machine only 9kg larger than a Yamaha TMAX scooter doesn’t miss a beat moving forward as it transitions and still displays incredible marine stability for easy on-and-off climbing as it floats.
Since it doesn’t require its two siblings’ folding front suspensions, the Biski’s price point is likely to also be the cheapest of the three and by far the most versatile and space-efficient – comparable to a touring bike.