Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Moto mash-up: Inventor builds tricycles fit for the fast lane

Moto mash-up: Inventor builds tricycles fit for the fast lane

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Seng Rithy’s first vehicle took him around three months to build and cost $2,500. Photo supplied

Moto mash-up: Inventor builds tricycles fit for the fast lane

As a child, Seng Rithy would squeeze onto his parents’ motorbike, competing with heaps of belongings for space, and hold on as the underpowered machine attempted to keep a straight line.

This memory motivated Rithy to invent his own alternative, and he recently manufactured two affordable engine-powered tricycles that cost close to the same as an average motorbike.

Though he has received several purchase inquiries, the 34-year-old, who is busy building his third model vehicle, says he would prefer to sell his vehicles only to people who test-drive them first.

On a recent day in his front yard, Rithy toiled away welding a metal frame around his latest tricycle, which resembles a miniature car. It was already equipped with an engine, steering wheel and tyres.

Born into a family which could not afford a car, Rithy remembers watching his parents struggle to keep control of their swaying motorbike.

“I was just about seven or eight years old. My parents couldn’t afford a car. We owned a small motorbike and they often loaded stuff and me along. The space was so small for us. I started to imagine what if we could connect two motorcycles together?” Rithy tells The Post.

His fantasising egged him on each day until two years ago when, with the support of local tycoon Oknha Srey Chanthorn and a little money from his savings, he started taking action.

“I started off with my own curiosity and by trying to learn from the internet, practising with my own car and motorbike. Figure it out, how it works, take it out and prepare it all by myself. Until I finally found what I needed for my invention,” he says.

Together with three apprentices, he created two vehicles fit for driving on the road and a third one is in the process.

“The two achievements were made as tricycles but the third one, we plan to make it four wheels,” he says.

The first and the second models have almost the same structure except for the size and the seats. The 110cc tricycle engine is capable of short journeys of up to 50km.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The three-wheeled invention is built for comfort and commands attention on the street. Photo supplied

Unlike most tricycles, Rithy’s hybrid vehicles have two wheels in the front and one at the back. The new invention allows drivers to bask in fresh air streaming in from the side doors and windshield-less front. The comfortable seats guarantee a safe ride for up to four people.

“Who will believe that it’s just a combination of car and motorcycle parts, and solid enough to run on the national road?” he says.

Though it might be more suitable for sunny weather than rainy season riding, the vehicle was created with driver comfort in mind, unlike motorbikes, which give drivers aches and pains. The front of Rithy’s vehicle is made totally of car parts except for the brakes. The back of the vehicle is made from all motorcycle parts.

Rithy claims his invention is safer than tuk-tuks. The wheel at the back propels the tricycle forward and the two front wheels turn and brake.

“I have tested it. Even driving on bumpy roads, it still achieves balance. Sometimes, you don’t even need to shift the gear. It even saves a lot of gasoline compare to a normal car,” he says.

Rithy, whose day job is selling mobile homes, took three months to finish his first model vehicle.

“My first one is bigger than the second. There are four seats. If I were to sell it in the market, it would be around $2,500,” he says.

“The second is a little smaller and was made like a frontier car. It also can fit around three or four people. The cost would be only $2,000. It didn’t take me long anymore, just around one and a half months. I estimate the third one will only take me two weeks.”

This time he will use an engine up to 200cc, so that customers can drive it longer destinations, even across provinces.

He says he hasn’t sold any yet. His father uses one and Chanthorn, the tycoon who supported him, has the other model.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Rithy’s second model was designed to be smaller and potential customers have professed a preference for this version. Photo supplied

Nevertheless, many customers have continued contacting him to place orders. Some even bring cash to attempt to pre-order one to ensure they don’t miss out. But Rithy didn’t accept any of the offers.

He says when he finishes the third model, he wants customers to visit and test-drive it before they consider buying one.

“If they like it, they can purchase it,” he says.

He says he tried to make the price suitable and affordable for all Cambodians. The roughly $2,000 price tag is the average price for an average new motorbike.

He adds he will try to make smaller sizes because people say they mainly want to use it to travel to work over a short distance.

“They believe this is much safer than motorcycles,” he says.

Rithy’s journey wasn’t easy. Sometimes he couldn’t find the right equipment as he attempted to fuse a hybrid of motorcycle and car parts.

“I’ve failed quite a few times. Because what I’m doing is quite new to spare part shopkeepers. They are not familiar with what I need, so I have to order some parts from overseas, like the US, for instance.

“Sometimes, what I already have is not the right part. If it does not fit, I need to replace it again and again. It costs fairly a lot,” he says.

Rithy says the vehicles will last for a very long time because he uses good quality equipment, parts and accessories.

Besides his career and building hobby, Rithy, who is fascinated with odd inventions, has also built small canoes and mini air conditioners that can be installed in tuk-tuks.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

Many people have given him good feedback, offered constructive advice and expressed a desire to purchase one of the vehicles on Facebook.

‘’I’m glad to have many people supporting me. I’m also trying to be flexible dealing with my customers, but admittedly I can’t fulfil all of their demands. If I can add it, I will. If not, I will explain to them that their demand is outside of my technical standard. It is a self-made vehicle, but it also requires suitable parts to balance itself,” Rithy says.

While he is excited to receive compliments, Rithy humbly urges people to invest in research and technology to catch up with developed countries.

“I believe we Cambodian people, the descendants of those who built the Angkor Wat temple, have talent. If we try hard and invest in research and technology for the future of our country, we can grow fast along with other countries,” he says.

“That’s why I’m willing to share and welcome those who want to adopt this skill. I’m eager to share what I know to all passionate people.”

For more information about Rithy’s vehicle, call 081 696 996 or 088 990 7777.


  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Kingdom accepts Chinese vaccine, PM first to get jab

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said China would offer Cambodia an immediate donation of one million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Sinopharm company. In an audio message addressing the public on the night of January 15, he said Cambodia has accepted the offer and

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • PM asks India for vaccine help

    Prime Minister Hun Sen is seeking assistance from India for the provision of Covid-19 vaccines as the country has produced its own vaccine which is scheduled to be rolled out to more than 300 million Indians this year. The request was made during his meeting with

  • Cambodia, India agree to start direct flights, tourism exchanges

    Cambodia and India have agreed to start direct flight connections and promote closer tourism exchanges and cooperation in all areas after the Covid-19 saga comes to a close. The agreement was reached during a meeting between Cambodian Minister of Tourism Thong Khon and newly-minted Indian

  • Plastic-to-rice initiative transforms waste into bricks

    Volunteers in Kampong Khlaing commune of Siem Reap province’s Sotr Nikum district have been collecting plastic waste to use as a raw material for the production of bricks and clemence tiles. The volunteers are hoping that, in addition to helping clean up the environment,