Vital Stats

Engine:
1.4L I4
Power:
197 HP / 113 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Sequential
0-60 Time:
3.92 Seconds
Top Speed:
144 MPH
Drivetrain:
Rear-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
1,040 LBS (dry)
Seating:
2
MPG:
30 MPG
Car-Bike Genetic Mashup Still Fearlessly Roams The Canadian Countryside



As much (or as little) as our conscience might drive us to applaud initiatives to reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions – and thereby, our compatriots at AutoblogGreen tell us, prevent us all from going the way of the dinosaur – deep down, the real car nuts inside and among us love cars that tend to consume the most fossils. Naming a car after a dinosaur, however, is another matter.

When Ford's Special Vehicle Team wanted to distinguish its rip-roaring off-road pickup from the workaday F-150, they called it the Raptor. When Saleen designed a conceptual successor to the S7 supercar, it also chose the name Raptor. But back in the day when both those teams of Ford performance specialists were still hot-rodding the Fox-body Mustang, a small outfit in the Canadian province of Quebec was already building its own dino-named tribute, a three-wheeler called the T-Rex.

Having driven its newer, more Harley-like stablemate the V13R last summer, we returned to Montreal to take the T-Rex out for the day to answer the lingering question on our minds: Namely, is the T-Rex named after a dinosaur because it's been on the market for decades and should, by all accounts, be long since extinct? Or is it so named because it's an irreverent monster that will bite your head off and consume everything in its path?
2012 Campagna T-Rex 14R side view2012 Campagna T-Rex 14R front view2012 Campagna T-Rex 14R rear view

Campagna Motors has been making the T-Rex since the early 1990s, but while some components have changed, the design and basic formula haven't. The company effectively merged with a similar upstart called Cirbin that developed the V13R a few years ago, and today it builds both on the same production line in Boucherville, Quebec, just across the river from Montreal.

The T-Rex takes more of a sport-bike approach than the Harley-powered V13R.

Like the V13R, the T-Rex's footprint places two wheels up front and a third driven wheel in the back. Both trikes' cockpits are open for the most part, with tandem bucket seats and controls (including steering wheel, shifter and pedals) closer to what you'd find in a car than what you'd expect of the motorcycles that donated their engines.

The T-Rex, however, takes more of a sport-bike approach than the Harley-powered V13R. It's based on the mechanicals of a Kawasaki Ninja, and not just any Ninja: the top-of-the-line ZX-14, known overseas as the ZZR1400. That means 1.4 liters of capacity across four cylinders – small by car standards, but gargantuan for a motorbike engine – putting down 197 horsepower and 113 lb-ft of torque down to that 295-section rear tire via chain drive and a six-speed sequential gearbox sourced from Kawasaki but adapted to purpose (complete with reverse mechanism) by Campagna. Unfortunately, while HDMC will sell Campagna just the engine and other components its needs to build the V13R, the company is forced to buy the entire bike from Kawasaki, remove the parts it needs to make the T-Rex and sell off the rest.

2012 Campagna T-Rex 14R headlights2012 Campagna T-Rex 14R wheel2012 Campagna T-Rex 14R brake ducts2012 Campagna T-Rex 14R rear suspension

It's nearly six grand more than an Ariel Atom, a heavier but more powerful vehicle that's a tick of the clock quicker to 60 mph.

The result, however, is unlike almost anything else on the road. Almost. Compared to the V13R, it's considerably more powerful, but at a whopping $58,349 to start, it's also a good ten grand more expensive. (It's also nearly six grand more than an Ariel Atom, a heavier but more powerful vehicle that's a full tick of the clock quicker to 60 mph.) The T-Rex sits just as low to the ground, but where the entirely roofless V13R packs its structural reinforcement where you'd expect to find the doors, the T-Rex, which has since adopted the 14R moniker, is braced by a narrow roof beam (dominated by the central air intake) and pillars that would frame a windshield and side glass if there were any to speak of beyond a little deflector.

Access is thereby granted via larger "door" apertures, but slithering in is just as tricky. Remove the steering wheel, we were advised, then sit on the back of the sill, slide your feet in and lower yourself into the low-slung seat. You end up feeling like Valentino Balboni backing up a Lamborghini.

2012 Campagna T-Rex 14R seats2012 Campagna T-Rex 14R interior2012 Campagna T-Rex 14R tachometer2012 Campagna T-Rex 14R rear view mirror

Watching the suspension actuating and hearing the brake calipers grip is a treat for a mechanical enthusiast.

Once we were inside with our seatbelt fastened, helmet secured (in accordance with local regulations and good sense), steering wheel affixed and ready to get underway, we were advised to avoid the temptation (as too many apparently had not) to reach out and touch the rapidly passing tarmac below. It's familiar advice to anyone who grew up in a cold climate (like Montreal) and was warned not to lick anything metallic, and it only goes to show just how low you sit in the cockpit and how exposed you are to the elements. Conversely, watching the suspension actuating and hearing the brake calipers grip the ventilated discs is a treat for a mechanical enthusiast.

Those curiosities were soon eclipsed, however, by the unbridled rawness of the full T-Rex experience. The engine normally (if you can call a motorbike with as much power as a Scion FR-S "normal") found between a rider's knees is placed in the T-Rex right behind the occupants' heads. The upshot is a cataclysmic wail that we'd sooner let you hear for yourself in the video below than venture to describe.

Autoblog Short Cuts: 2012 Campagna T-Rex 14R

Campagna claims its Jurassic-era beast will hit 60 mph in under four seconds and go on to a top speed of 144 mph.

The engine screaming over your shoulder, however, is just part (a big part, mind you) of the rawness that is the real draw of the T-Rex. With just a pair of removable 46-liter hard cases mounted vertically (instead of horizontally as they would be on a motorcycle, making them a little trickier to close securely), the T-Rex offers little more practicality than a bike, but it needs to be parked like a car. It also leaves its occupants almost completely exposed to the elements, so having envisioned in our minds driving a car, we were left with a nice trucker's sunburn on our left arm. (On the other hand, the day on which we were originally supposed to drive the T-Rex, Montreal was engulfed by a deluge of nearly biblical proportions, so we were glad to have rescheduled to follow the sun.) The flipside of that rawness, however, is a wind-in-your-face experience that is more visceral – and more entertaining – than just about anything else on the road.

The relative speed sensation you get in the T-Rex, then, is what makes it as much fun as it is – even driving in a straight line at highway speeds. But don't get us wrong: It's not just about perception. The T-Rex has the numbers to justify the hairs standing up on the back of your neck. With just 1,040 pounds to motivate, Campagna claims its Jurassic-era beast will hit 60 mph in under four seconds and go on to a top speed of 144 mph. All the while it will hold on for 1.3 Gs of lateral acceleration on a skidpad – numbers which we didn't come to doubt while driving on the twisty country roads from Boucherville (south east of Montreal) all the way to Oka National Park out west on the river's North Shore.

2012 Campagna T-Rex 14R rear 3/4 view

Reminded of how easily the rear tire broke traction on the more sedate V13R, we heeded the warnings not to mash the throttle on the more vicious T-Rex, lest we end up pointing the wrong way on short notice. We also didn't have as much trouble getting used to the biting point on the T-Rex's clutch, but that could come down in part to having grown familiar with the mechanism on the V13R during our previous drive.

The T-Rex might be as old as the predator for which it was named, but it's every bit as raw, wild and vicious.

Bringing back the T-Rex to Boucherville after a full day of enjoying all it had to offer, we gave back the keys – rather reluctantly, we might add – and climbed back into the Acura TL we had driven out there in the morning. The luxury sedan, by comparison, felt like an SUV wafting down the road. The more familiar sensation, however, came when we went to see the latest Cirque du Soleil show at the Old Port that evening, watching the contortionists, jugglers and acrobats doing what they do and remembering the serpentine ordeal we gladly undertook to get in and out of the Campagna's tight cockpit.

At the end of the day, the question we embarked upon answering when we picked up the keys that morning was addressed by our gut reaction: the T-Rex might be as old as the predator for which it was named, but it's every bit as raw, wild and vicious. And in an industry where beasts are routinely tamed by electronics nannies mandated by government regulators and the creature comforts demanded by customers, the T-Rex is a rare beast indeed.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 28 Comments
      disngaj
      • 2 Years Ago
      'Nicely written review, Noah, of a fascinating vehicle.
      David
      • 2 Years Ago
      What a futuristic thing to drive)) I'd like to have one)
      Geoff Brunson
      • 2 Years Ago
      I've driven both around Downtown Chicago and even the guys that own Harleys & Busa's stare at the T-Rex & V13r....I've customized a few by upgrading the wheels,tires,exhaust on the T-Rex and am now doing so to a V13r.....Its a great experience cause u can't fall off a get messed up plus women would love to ride in it.......
      Harold O
      • 2 Years Ago
      Looks like something the Gecko would drive. Looks a bit like him !
      Wetstuff
      • 2 Years Ago
      A Meyers Manx for the sport bike set. Cool. I saw one (or similar) near Ocean City MD.. almost broke my neck as it went by. Jim
      - v o c t u s -
      • 2 Years Ago
      Hi, kids! Captain Pedantic here with an important message about dinosaurs: Did you know that a "Raptor" is actually not a dinosaur, unless maybe spelled with an apostrophe before the R (as in 'raptor)? Why? Because I only know of a dinosaur called the VELOCIraptor, otherwise "raptor" simply means a bird of prey. ALSO, "fossil fuels" are mainly the result of ancient PLANT LIFE biomass and not "dead dinosaurs". Do you think that they all died in mass graves where vast, rich oil deposits are? No. Those were called jungles, forests, and swamps. Now you know, and knowing feels great!
      tool0117
      • 2 Years Ago
      at a whopping $58,349 ... stopped reading there that's gt500 money
        tool0117
        • 2 Years Ago
        @tool0117
        or a used gt500 and a gsxr, this thing is stupid
        k_m94
        • 2 Years Ago
        @tool0117
        Is the new standard of automotive currency and value now the GT500? It is what it is. Sure, the GT500 is a tiny bit quicker accelerating and is an actual car, but the raw experience pales compared to something as hardcore as this.
          mrpinto
          • 2 Years Ago
          @k_m94
          Man, reality sounds awful. I'll take fantasy land automotive, please!
        Zeus
        • 2 Years Ago
        @tool0117
        God yes, because the only thing better than a 1000lb vehicle powered by a bike engine is a solid axle $60,000 dollar Mustang with 500hp that weighs 3500 + lbs. Are you serious right now? If someone can afford one of these for 60K they probably have a lot of money to spend and have enough taste to not spend that 60k on a Mustang. Now if you want to talk something that would be a hard decision talk about the Ultima GTR, Z-Cars Mini or Caterhams
      deathguyQC
      • 2 Years Ago
      I've riden in one a few weeks ago and the sensation is nothing compared to anything else. The owner has a 14RR 2011 and he told me out of all the things he riden (many bikes and even a Viper), the T-Rex is far superior for the sensation it gives. In the next few years I'll be buying one myself, used thought.
      americanjunglist
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is so useless to me. If I wanna go that hardcore, I'd rather get the Atom or, if it were considerably cheaper, the KTM X-Bow. Or maybe a plain jane ZX-14 (if I liked them), pocket the rest of the cash and get a cheap roadster. This is all about being seen as 'cool'.
      Richard
      • 2 Years Ago
      Now if it only had a 4th wheel it would be perfect....
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      tool0117
      • 2 Years Ago
      Anyone who actually thinks the trex is something people without millions of dollars of disposable income will actually buy is an absolute idiot. There are plenty of superbikes available on the market today that easily best these performance numbers, and as for "The relative speed sensation you get in the T-Rex, then, is what makes it as much fun as it is..." I'd encourage the author to hop on a bike. You get something barely safer than a bike, slower, and 2 to 3 times more expensive...but, I deal in reality, not fantasy.. and if you're going all-out on a toy, what does a busa run 0-60 with an average weight rider, 2 seconds?
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