Also known as a quadracycle, a quadricycle is a simple four-wheeled vehicle that operates with the use of a pedaling system that is powered by the movement of the legs. A cycle of this type can be used for recreational purposes, as well as an environmentally friendly way to travel short distances. The vehicle is often considered to be more functional than a bicycle, while still operating in the same basic fashion.
The first examples of the modern quadricycle appeared in the middle of the 19th century. A popular design called for two large wheels on the right and left rear portions of the frame, coupled with a small wheel in the middle of the front area of the frame. The final and fourth wheel was the smallest of the four, and was usually mounted in the rear middle area of the frame, in between the two large rear wheels. This design allowed the quadricycle to remain standing when not in use, without the need to use some type of prop or kickstand, as was common with bicycle designs.
Modern versions of the quadricycle sometime use the same configuration of wheels, or utilize a design that calls for two larger wheels in the rear and two smaller wheels in the front. Most have comfortable seating that is not unlike the seating found in an automobile. Some designs are constructed with traditional handlebars for steering purposes, while others incorporate a steering wheel into the overall configuration. In like manner, the cycle may employ a pedal braking system or make use of a handbrake located conveniently near the drive seat.
One of the benefits of a quadricycle is that the vehicle can be used to transport more than one person comfortably. Some designs allow sufficient seating to accommodate as many as six individuals. In order to power a cycle of this type, the pedal system may be structured to allow more than one individual to engage in pedaling, thus sharing the generation of locomotion between the driver and at least one other passenger.
While the quadricycle waned in popularity after the invention of the automobile, the device remained popular with recreational cyclists. In some countries, this mode of transportation also remained a popular option in many urban areas. As interest in environmental issues has increased around the world, as well as financial unrest in many nations, the simplicity and functionality of the quadricycle as a means of covering short distances has once again made it a popular option for getting to work or running short errands near home.
Like the bicycle, it is possible to purchase a quadricycle equipped with a small engine that is powered with gasoline or electricity. An electric quadricycle operates by charging the battery while the operator is pedaling the device, or by using a power cord to connect the cycle to a power source overnight. The operator can make use of the battery power to augment the locomotion achieved by pedaling, or use the power to keep the vehicle moving when his or her legs grow tired of pedaling.