You are here
Home > Other news >

Kawasaki Working on a Tilting Trike

Kawasaki is continuing development of a tilting three-wheeled motorcycle to rival the Yamaha Niken. According to Cycle World, the manufacturer has recently filed new patents relating to the trike’s front end – news that Kawasaki was working on a trike first broke cover in January 2021, so this is clearly a long-term project, though there’s no sign yet that it is even at the prototype stage.

But according to the latest patent application, the Kawasaki trike would have a key difference from established tilting three-wheelers such as the Yamaha and Piaggio’s long-running MP3. Like those established machines, Kawasaki’s trike would use a parallelogram linkage to enable the twin front wheels to tilt. Unlike them, this would be mounted below the front suspension, rather than above it. Three telescopic elements between the steering head and front linkage would provide the suspension, but would not turn with the front wheels.

This means the linkage system would be unsprung, but the advantage appears to be a simpler system, which could also be narrower than that of the Niken or MP3, which might make it more suitable for a smaller commuter machine – Kawasaki already uses a similar system on an electric-assist tricycle, albeit without front suspension.

According to the patent: “…since the shock-absorbing mechanisms are not individually disposed left and right, the suspension can be in disposed to the centre of the vehicle in the width direction only. Thus, the size of the front portion of the leaning vehicle in the vehicle-width direction can be small. Moreover, it may also simplify the configuration and reduce weight.”

BMF Chair Jim Freeman was intrigued by the possibility of another tilting trike. “Fascinating ideas, although it does smack of an answer to a question nobody’s asking. History has a good slice of similar ‘answers to unspoken questions’, like the Ner-a-car or Oekomobil for example, which ended up with the BMW C1. Car drivers who ride motorcycles don’t seem to want the car experience on 2 wheels, for some reason. The Kawasaki approach does seem to be firmly aimed at existing riders, rather than trying to tempt car drivers onto 2 wheels.”

Link to the Cycle World article and diagrams – here

Written by Peter Henshaw

Top image Yamaha Niken – courtesy of Ultimate Motorcycling