*The pictures and video shown below are of the BugRacer 500i, sold in Europe, shown here for reference only. Sorry, front skid plate and dual headlights shown below are not yet available on the 500LT
The PGO BugRacer 500i is here!
By Alain Assad
This awesome looking buggy is already a success in Europe. There, it can be used to its full potential. It is fully approved by the E.E.C. for road use in the UK and the European Union, and may be driven on UK roads with a car driver’s license.
All eyes were peering at this futuristic-looking buggy at every motorcycle show this spring. It has no trouble getting attention. The PGO BugRacer 500 follows in its small brother’s steps, the PGO BugRider 250, which has been considered the number one buggy in the U.K.
Performance wise, one of the strong points is undoubtedly its handling in the turns, whether they are long or short, or on any surface. The buggy has a slight under steer behaviour since the bulk of the weight is in the back, but a shot of the handbrake quickly put the buggy on the right track. This is all the more reason why the whole handbrake assembly should be operable at a much lower position in the buggy. Positioned this high, it serves more as a park brake. Taking responsibility for a good chunk of the low 398 kg, the Piaggio 4 valve injected engine delivers good power but might leave many hungry for more. A bit more power would really give this vehicle a rally racing feel. It does bring certain balance to the experience on pavement. The 80 km/h top speed is just enough to make the drive simply fun.
For the passenger, despite the large lateral tube going across its side, climbing in and out of this mechanical gem was super easy. Grabbing the upper beam is a must for this manoeuvre but it shouldn’t be held as such while riding. A handhold might have been practical but then again keeping your arm low and tucked inside is much safer practice. For the driver, the steering wheel really changed that aspect. It made it quite a bit more challenging to get out of, but getting in stayed fairly easy.
The BugRacer is built sturdy enough for some serious trail riding but it holds all the necessary equipment for road use. Sadly, my short experience with it was at a Quebec City truck driver training facility so of course my ride did not include any trail riding. I’m looking forward in actually testing this ride in my favourite kind of terrain.
I have to admit that the first turn of the key to fire it up had me feeling pretty James Bond’ish. I was almost looking for the trigger for my imaginary machine guns. Everything is there, including blinkers, a horn, 4-way flashers, centre and side mirrors, handbrake, Blue Lit Dash, high low beams, differential lock lever…the only thing missing, was a windshield wiper switch, of course!
Why can’t this vehicle be used for going everywhere? I don’t know! Of course laws and regulations are put in place for good reason and are a definite necessity, but we seem to be focusing on the wrong end of the spectrum. For too long we’ve been focusing on the way certain vehicles are built instead of the driving capabilities of the driver. More and more people are attracted by the idea of commuting in economical vehicles of all kinds. PGO executives are still in the process of obtaining certification for road use here and many are very anxious to see the result. Lightweight road machines using motorcycle engines are not new since the T-Rex and now Bombardier’s Spyder have hit the pavement legally. If you can drive a car, a motorcycle, or these new very fast and high performance three-wheeled machines, why wouldn’t this slower sturdy vehicle be allowed? Sadly even trail riding with this buggy here in Canada might be a problem almost everywhere. Private land with permission to ride on it will be your best bet for now.
The extremely comfortable black bucket seats with four point seat belts enables the driver and a friend to experience and fully enjoy long and fun riding sessions with a good sense of security. It also features: manual differential lock, CVT auto with reverse, 19 litre fuel capacity (the fuel filler cap looks awesome), long stroke adjustable shocks all around, twin discs front and rear brakes and of course rear wheel drive.
Dimensions (mm) L 2920 X W 1620 X H 1515
Under no circumstances should people under 16 years of age operate this cool and modern-looking vehicle. Jumps and stunts are certainly among its abilities but should be performed by trained professionals only. Amateur riders should not attempt these and should always wear proper safety gear and helmet despite the sturdy and effective roll cage design. Make sure you know the laws regarding this vehicle and check that you have permission to ride where you ride. Oh yeah, and have fun!