London Recumbents
Take on the 4x4s... with a 3x3!

Russian trike-makers join forces to create an all-wheel-drive recumbent trike, and are set to start production later this year...

Posted by Peter Eland on Friday 23 Jul 2004

A new all-wheel drive trike has just been announced:

Solovjov 3x3

The new website and email address are for '' - which is a joining of forces between designer Alexei Solojvov and Vladimir Shtrakin of established Moscow trike makers Berkut, plus new investment partner and HPV enthusiast Vladimir Pantyukhov. Note that this team is not associated with the other Russian trike company which folded a few years ago.

The trike looks much improved since my machine. The steering uses proper centre-point geometry to eliminate torque steer. The seat mounting now uses a neat dovetail arrangement rather than the awkward clamps of before. The hydraulic drum brakes are much improved internally, but a disk brake version is also in the works.

Solovjov 3x3 drive detail

The photo page shows the first prototype of the all-wheel drive machine. A second, 'production-ready' prototype is being finished now and will be shown shortly. This will incorporate further improvements including ball-bearing steering pivots for a lighter steering action and ventilation holes in the seat. Carrier rack and mudguards should also be shown shortly.

The three-wheel drive system uses an extra chain to link up the back wheel, which is supported by a beefed-up swingarm. It should be particularly useful off-road and on poor or slippery surfaces.

Series manufacture starts later this year. Emails to are welcome with any comments, suggestions or questions. He will also be demonstrating the latest models at the Eco-Trip in Finland in a few week's time at the beginning of August. He hopes to be at other events too in due course. Any dealers or distributors interested in selling these trikes should also get in touch.

Although as magazine publisher I should remain neutral when it comes to manufacturers I am happy to offer some support and encouragement to Alexei and the team, and to vouch for the fact that in almost a decade of correspondence he has always come across as a sincere HPV enthusiast and honest manufacturer. I do have a soft spot for these Russian trikes (I own one too) both for the engineering and also because it feels good to encourage international enterprise from a country otherwise largely outside the bicycling industry mainstream. This, and their completely different design approach, means I hope that other established manufacturers won't, I hope, too much begrudge me giving them a helping hand with this story.

So if you're interested, check out the website, and email them!

Posted by steve green (steve @thestartofathread?) on Wednesday 2 Aug 2006
What, if any, would be the advantages of 3wd?

Posted by Mary Arneson (recallingdeepsnow@midsummer) on Wednesday 2 Aug 2006
Having ridden through snow for several months last winter, I can see a big advantage to the 3WD arrangement, if it works. With a single rear drive wheel, I had to get out and push my Cab-Bike up some very tiny hills. When these guys say they make velomobiles, does that mean that they will be putting the Berkut VM body -- or something like it -- on this trike? That could be very interesting here in Minnesota

Posted by andy (skidding up the slopes) on Wednesday 2 Aug 2006
Last year I too had snow to contend with, unfortunately with the additional problem of extreme hills.
I had to resort to my own form of 3wd, which was pedaling and pushing the front wheels round, so 3wd would be very welcome.

Posted by Frederik ( on Wednesday 2 Aug 2006
I would think that the frontwheel drive layout of early Berkuts already improves traction a lot compared to one wheel drive... depending on weight distribution, about a 100%, sufficient for occasional slippery uphills. 3 wheel drive improves traction 200%. The latter must be a hoot for real off-road driving/slippery conditions, imagine all wheel drifting through a slippery corner...

Posted by Peter Eland ( on Wednesday 2 Aug 2006
Just in case anyone's expecting an answer from the Russians, they've just managed to contact me to say their internet provider has been down completely for the last few days following extreme weather, and they still have problems getting online. They also hope to have no less than five trikes with them on the Eco-trip in Finland - I hope for pics soon.

Posted by Peter Eland ( on Wednesday 2 Aug 2006
They have a nice report from the Finland eco-trip up at

Posted by g510 ( on Sunday 27 Aug 2006
Brilliant concept, elegantly done. They should also license the design to other manufacturers to get worldwide coverage faster. Some day this will be a universally available option, and will be common on 3wheelers in rural areas and places subject to snow and bad road conditions.

I can also see these having utility applications, e.g. plowing snow on sidewalks (pavements), perhaps grass cutting, parks maintenance, and other cases where you need to operate an auxiliary device or tow a fairly heavy load whilst maintaining traction on unfavorable ground. Think of the applications for which small tractors are normally used. These instances might call for an ultra-low gearing range that could be selected via a front derailleur.

Anyone know what kind of price range is expected for these machines? And any news on availability in the United States?


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