"So what's it like?" That's the first question I hear as I get off the track. My answer: "Can I get one that says ACME on the side?"
For those of us accustomed to being surrounded by tin, it can be quite unnerving hanging out in the wind, exposed and unprotected. At first you feel like certain death is imminent. No matter what you do, this thing wants to throw you off. Accelerating, it wants you off the back, cornering to the side, but I think braking is its favorite.
If it does manage to throw you off under braking you go over the handlebars and then it gets to run over you. In reality, this never happened, but the first couple of laps you're convinced it will. Even with these very mortal fears in the front of your mind you still keep pushing harder. It won't beat you; you will master it. You get an animalistic urge to go faster. Once you find a groove, you end up drifting out of turns and moving your body to physically change weight distribution and you're connected to the dynamics of the vehicle in a way that won't happen in a car.
These four-wheeled beasts are built by GG Motorrad Technik in Switzerland. The chassis are their own creation while the drivetrains are tested and proven BMW motorcycle units. Two different versions are available, one being the air-cooled, two-cylinder, 1,130cc, 95hp GG Quad. The second and even more insane is the GG Quadster that's powered by an 1,157cc, liquid-cooled, inline-four pumping out 167 hp. Weighing in at only 825 pounds, there isn't a term to describe acceleration. The first thing that strikes you when seeing one is the amount of billet aluminum in the chassis and suspension. Just about every structural component on it is made of the gleaming alloy. It is all CNC-machined and looks amazing, like a piece of modern European industrial art. The first obvious comparisons you want to make are the internals of a fine Swiss watch, but upon examination you find a Swiss fighter aircraft would be more appropriate. Everything is beyond bulletproof; bombproof would probably be more appropriate. The time that goes into the machining of each individual component would make a machinist's head spin. You would be hard pressed to find a road-going car built to this level.
The suspension is an unequal length, double A-arm design that looks as if it came straight off an F1 car. Ride height is maintained by threaded-body coilovers to adjust preload and ride height. When the rider weighs a quarter of what the vehicle does, it requires a setup unique to that person. The ride is surprisingly good. You would expect it to punish like a race car, but is actually quite smooth on anything but the harshest roads. It keeps all four tires on the ground constantly, and really utilizes all four contact patches.
The controls are just like a motorcycle's. Twist on the right for the throttle, squeeze the left lever for the clutch, etc. Bike riders will get the idea instantly, while car guys will suffer a steep learning curve. The biggest challenge is learning to deal with the g-forces while also learning the controls.
The first time you lay into the brakes and almost go over the bars you realize you have to recalibrate your senses. Not only do you need to concentrate on braking and hitting your marks, but you have to push back on the bars to stay in the seat. You get to the corner and realize you're so far on the tank that you can't turn the bars enough to steer without running them into your thigh, then you try to accelerate out, and you slide so far back on the seat that you're pulling the front wheels off the ground while your death grip on the handlebars won't allow any amount of subtle steering inputs. All of this while trying not to get ejected off the side of the Quad from cornering forces.