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!
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.
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.
It may look complex and heavy, but they claim it makes it lighter.
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.
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.