“Thrill rides” come in all shapes and sizes. They present themselves in different forms, but all create a visceral, seat-of-the-pants impression that earns the title. Although calling the Vanderhall Venice a motorcycle might be a stretch, “thrill ride” is a perfectly suitable moniker.
Technically classified as a motorcycle, the Venice is a three-wheeled, front wheel drive, automotive 180 hp, turbo-boosted 4-cylinder GM drivetrain, that’s wrapped in the barest of essentials to provide a driver and passenger a place to sit as the gravitron of the motorized world holds its passenger contents in place through seatbelts and sheer gravitational force. This motorcy..car…thingy is truly something we two-wheeled diehards may be missing out on.
My California canyon route is familiar to me on two wheels and provides what some have come to know as a bit of motorcycling heaven on earth, forcing even novice riders to bend it like Beckham into the sharpest of corners. But could this motorcycle imposter conjure up the same thrills for me? The simple answer is Yes! Yes! Yes!
Weighing in at 1,950 lbs, the Venice achieves an impressive 0-60 mph in just 4.5 seconds. Although the speed off the line can be described as quick, the stability and handling are where the Venice leaves its driver begging for more time in the cockpit. Every corner provided yet another smile and outcry of excitement muffled by the gratuitous turbo blow-off with every shift of the electronically-controlled sequential box that is commanded through a perfectly-weighted and sprung-polished gear selector for just the right amount of analog in a digital age.
As I approached my remote destination and parked the Venice to take in the body lines from afar, I found that my new love had yet another admirer: a grizzled man of a certain age, chomping on a cigar yet to be lit. As I approached to introduce myself and fend off any ignorant inquests, he said, “Now, this is beautiful. I have two three-wheeled cars myself.” My lesson was quick – book cover judgments have no place in the canyons.
What fun would a ride like this be without sharing it with another enthusiast? As we launched out of the parking lot, my co-pilot voiced above the glorious noise, “Let’s see what this baby can really do!” What happened next I can only assume would prepare me to qualify at a formula one race (OK, maybe not, but WOW)! Although I had to return my new friend to his truck, I think he is still out there somewhere in the canyons reliving the G-force-induced joy ride, compliments of the Vanderhall Venice.
In a day and age of motorcycles fetching north of $30,000, the Venice provides a stunning value (in my humble opinion) for an American-born rocket ship built in Utah that can be placed in your garage at just $29,950. Well played, Vanderhall… well played indeed.
Words by Brice Cooper, a Cafe Racer XXX contributor and friend. He is also a former AMA XR-1200 series rider and owner of the Tiny Mule Creative Agency.