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Yamaha leans toward leaning motorcycles

Yamaha MWT9 tilting three-wheeler concept robot
Yamaha MWT9

It seems Yamaha is about to go into the production of a leaning three-wheeler version of its popular Masters of Torque MT-09.

The Japanese company revealed the leaning MWT-9 trike at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show and officials have now hinted at the recent launch of the MT-03 in Spain that the leaning trike based on the MT-09 would go into production.

There has also been talk of a four-wheeler leaning bike as shown in this official video of the OR2T prototype being tested.

Both leaning multi-wheelers follow on from their Tricity production three-wheel scooter launched in 2015.

Yamaha Australia marketing guru Sean Goldhawk says Tricty sales have been disappointing.

“But it is always challenging when you are introducing new technology,” he says.

“We have traditionally struggled to get a foothold in the scooter market, so whether Tricity sales are a factor of it being in the scooter category or whether slow response to the new model is down to the new LMW technology is hard to tell.

“One thing is certain – the LMW concept works. It is supremely confidence inspiring. The key will be offer demo rides to our customers, because once they understand how well the concept works they will be much more comfortable with owning such a device should it make production.

“Aussies are typically early adopters of new technology so I would anticipate healthy interest (in the MWT-9) – if it happens.”

Yamaha has been developing its leaning suspension technology since the Tesseract four-wheeler concept in 2007.

Yamaha four-wheeler
Yamaha Tessaract

Advantages of leaning multi-wheelers is the extra tyre footprint on the road for improved grip and their stability over uneven surfaces.

On the Tri-City scooter launch ride I even rode one at an angle over a gutter without any adverse steering reaction.

It makes these a great proposition for the urban environment with its slippery surfaces and footpath parking.

The disadvantages are that the complex suspension is more expensive, it makes the bike heavier and you have extra tyre wear.

Yamaha OR2T leaning four-wheel motorcycle
Yamaha OR2T leaning four-wheel motorcycle

Another disadvantage is that they can be as ugly as sin! The MWT-9 isn’t as bad as the OR2T, though.

There is a growing trend toward three-wheelers, particularly in the US, sparked by growth in returning riders and ageing riders.

Many auto manufacturers are also now making or developing leaning multi-wheeled vehicles including Piaggio and even car manufacturer Toyota because they believe they are safer than conventional two-wheeled motorcycles.

Toyota iRoad leaning three-wheeler
Toyota iRoad leaning three-wheeler
  1. As with a lot of things in life, you won’t know what it is like until you try it, but this looks like a really good idea. Corner speed is usually limited by front end grip so having two wheels at the front should be better. Maybe it will make front end slides easier to control. In motor racing if a car driver goes too hard into a corner they usually just slide off the track, but a major front end slide on a bike usually means the bike goes down. You would still have to learn to overcome the natural, but incorrect, reaction of most riders when the front slides. Most riders steer into the corner, which makes the slide worse, when they should steer outwards (slightly) and take a wider line. However, this bike still does lean so, unlike a car, it may take some skill to keep it upright. As long as it is no wider than a normal bike (the widest point being the handle bars), has a big enough lean angle and the price is reasonable I am very keen to try one. Expect to be overtaken by these through the twisties and see them disappear into the distance with the rear wheel drifting through the corners (if they don’t stuff it up by fitting a combined braking system).

    There is another big advantage. These bikes usually have a locking device to keep them upright when they stop, so there is no need to put a foot down. Many shorter riders, particularly women, are riding 250s and cruisers because they can’t reach the ground on other bikes. With the LMW system seat height would no longer be a problem. It would also make big bikes easier to manhandle out of the garage for older, injured or smaller riders. Perhaps a reverse gear could be fitted.

    1. If they add a hydraulic or electric front wheel drive system reverse gear would not be a problem.
      There is an after market mob who had one of their bikes set a record for the Pikes peak run they really do corner better.

  2. I think this bike is going to be a game changer with its combination of the handling & safety advantages of the leaning three wheeler (e.g. tram tacks, pot holes, loose & wet surfaces etc.) combined with the power of the MT09. I just hope they don’t price it out of the market.

    I’ve ridden a Twincity and although it was a really nice ride (apart from a hard seat) it’s too expensive for a 125.

    @Motorain: The Yamaha system doesn’t lock in the upright position as that system is patented by Piaggio. On the other hand Yamaha’s system is lighter than Piaggio’s and is more adaptable to existing frames (such as the MT-09) – I expect to see this twin front wheel appearing on a T-Max before too long.

  3. The biggest problem is simply the price of all of the three wheel leaning type of machines. I would love one, but the price of a small car, makes a no brainer. So it will have to be a second hand scooter.

  4. For me its the price, If the manufacturer gave a price reduction just to get some on the road to be seen, This would raise the profile and probably sales. I would love one. I have a three wheeler, Driven by a Motoguzzi engine, Great fun on the twisters , But get held up some of the time, Because people want to know what it is. The question mostly asked is, Is ig a Morgan? No it’s a Blackjack Zero. Look it up on the Nett. Would love to add to the stable. I am sure the same would happen on a leaner , People asking questions and taking notes, Any manufacturers out there, I would love to help their sales.

  5. I’m afraid that the Niken is a dead man walking, its not that it doesn’t work or that it’s not safe or fun to ride, it just doesn’t look right, it’s got to be sex on wheels. Bikers don’t mind if it’s safe, we just don’t’ want it to look too safe. The Tricity is the same (and other scooters like it) they look like on-road Mobility Scooters for the elderly. Yamaha are getting very close with the 03Gen f concept scooter/bike, the wheels at the front are wider, the front end fairing looks mean, the front end mechanics are hidden between the wheels, they maybe going to use some of the Bruneli mechanics (as long as it’s no wider than the handle bars for lane filtering) which hopefully will make the front wheel mechanics smaller and lighter. I don’t might if they use a scooter automatic transmission for beginners and a manual version for the experienced.

  6. Less chat and more action, let’s see more travelling on the road, if we see more on the road, I’m sure like encouraging like will make more appealing machines for the road.

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