Yamaha spent the week at the Tokyo Motor Show airing out a few truly ridiculous reference designs, but none were more outrageous than the Niken three-wheeled motorcycle. Tricycles aren’t new, and this isn’t even the first leaning trike. But it’s the first idea like this to come from a major motorcycle company like Yamaha.
Being a reference design, there aren’t really any specs to speak of. Yamaha says that this “Leaning Multi-Wheeler” uses a liquid-cooled 3-cylinder engine and 15-inch wheels, but that’s about it.
Really, it’s all about seeing this thing in action. The video Yamaha released starts off with an actor pretending to ski down a road before doing the same action on the concept bike. (Well, technically, it begins with an actor swinging swords around while tapping touchscreen displays, but I digress.) The implication here is that the dual front wheels (and their discrete tubes and forks) would allow you to slalom down a winding mountain road more confidently and, hopefully, decrease the chance of eating it.
Whether or not Yamaha plans to bring the idea to a retailer near you isn’t clear; the company is supposed to announce more details about the project at the Milan Motorcycle Show in November. But Yamaha definitely seems to believe in the power of three wheels, because it announced an electric scooter concept (called “Tritown”) that uses the Leaning Multi-Wheel technology at the show as well.