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Kawasaki leaning toward three-wheelers

Kawasaki leaning three-wheeler patent drawing
Kawasaki leaning three-wheeler patent drawing

Kawasaki seems to be following Yamaha and Honda in developing a leaning three-wheeler with its latest patent application in the US.

Yamaha already has the Tricity leaning three-wheeler scooter and Niken motorcycle as well as patent plans for more leaning trikes with two front wheels including a VMax!

Yamaha Niken VMax leaning three-wheeler coming AKO
Yamaha leaning VMax patent drawing

Honda has also applied for patents for leaning three-wheelers as has AKO who want to make an electric version.

Each model has a different idea of how leaning three-wheelers with two front wheels should lean and steer.

The Kawasaki design looks quite complex with horizontal links instead of conventional vertical forks and a mono shock like a BMW telelever arrangement.

Kawasaki leaning three-wheeler patent drawing
Mono shock

Here is how they explain it in the patent filing abstract:

A saddle type vehicles includes two front wheels, a left front wheel supporting member and a right front wheel supporting member which are turned around a left front wheel turning axis and a right front wheel turning axis respectively, an upper lean arm and a lower lean arm which are rotated around an axis perpendicular to a vehicle width direction, and a steering rod. The upper arm is connected to the left and right members via first and second connecting parts which are provided on the left front wheel turning axis. The lower arm is connected to the left and right members via third and fourth connecting parts which are provided on the right front wheel turning axis. The steering rod is arranged forward of the steering spindle. In a front view of the vehicle body, the steering rod is arranged between the upper and lower arms.Kawasaki leaning three-wheeler patent drawing


It may look complex and heavy, but they claim it makes it lighter.Kawasaki leaning three-wheeler patent drawing

Pros and cons of leaning

The advantages of leaning three wheelers is that they feel very much like a normal bike to ride, but they double the contact patch on the front which improves cornering grip.

Some also have the ability to stay upright without having to put a foot down at slow speeds or when stationary.

Yamaha Niken neowing leaning
Niken (Image: Yamaha)

This makes them ideal for novices or those who can no longer support a motorcycle because of leg injuries or age.

However, the disadvantages of leaning three wheelers are that they are ugly, heavy and more expensive.

  1. As I ride a Can Am F3 Spyder, I miss the leaning of the bike. I am not sure where I would mount the collapsible wheelchair. It would be great for many if there was an option to have manual or semi automatic transmission and foot or hand brake for people who can’t use their legs anymore.

  2. I bought the first model Yamaha Tricity for shopping and to introduce my daughter to the wonderful world of motorcycling. I’ve got a black one – the ‘Black Knight’ and think it looks good. So, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. A key to 3 wheelers is the safety aspect. You really notice it on tram tracks. You can deliberately ride one wheel on a tram track and feel it slipping while the other wheel is gripping – confidence inspiring – especially for a novice rider. There is a guy – Cager On Two Wheels – who does bike reviews on youtube. He road tested the Tricity and bagged it unmercilessly before riding it. As his test ride progressed so did his admiration for the ‘ugly thing’. He was really impressed that he could straddle kerbs onto footpaths which leads me to question Kawasaki’s design. While I like the idea of a mono-shock – without studying the design in detail I wonder if the mono-shock design will be as flexible as the now standard parallelogram design. My initial thought is that the mono-shock configuration will give better road holding. For the detractors I think get used to it because I see 3 wheeler electric scooters as the future but I wouldn’t mind a 300cc Tricity in the mean time!

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