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Yamaha plans leaning three-wheel VMax

Yamaha Niken VMax leaning three-wheeler coming

Imagine a Yamaha VMax with 147.2kW of power and 166.8Nm of torque packed into a leaning three-wheeler motorcycle with two front wheels.

That’s Yamaha’s vision of the future as they have applied for a patent for the design.

The filing comes as Yamaha is launching its Niken leaning three-wheeler based on the MT-09 but costing substantially more.

There is no launch date for Australia nor pricing. However, the Niken will cost an extra £5000 (about $A9000) more than the MT-09 in the UK.

Can you imagine how much a VMax three-wheeler would cost! When they were last on sale in Australia in 2016 they were about $31,300 plus on-road costs.

VMax patent drawings

Yamaha Niken VMax leaning three-wheeler coming
Patent drawings

The patent drawings filed in Japan resemble the VMax with its beefy V-four engine, short and flared four-pot exhausts, two-part high-low seat, duck tail, distinctive high fuel tank and iconic vacuum-cleaner-style air intakes.

While the brawny bike was a drag-race specialist with monster torque from its 1679cc engine, it was quite heavy at 263kg and not great in corners.

Having the Yamaha parallelogram link system implementing four fork legs and dual front wheels, it would be a real canyon carver.

Although the MT-09 weighs 188kg, the Niken weighs 263kg, coincidentally the same as the VMax. So a three-wheeler version would probably weigh about 338kg.

But weight wouldn’t matter because it has a servo motor system on one of the wishbones to lift the vehicle after leaning in a corner.

The VMax is still available in some markets, but it is believed it was about to be phased out thanks to tough Euro4  emissions regulations. So we suspect the engine would need a major redevelopment.

Yamaha Niken VMax leaning three-wheeler coming

CEO and President Yoshihiro Hidaka recently confirmed they will add more “leaning multi-wheel” models soon.

Interestingly, he didn’t specify just three wheels as Yamaha has also produced four-wheel concepts, concept cars and engines for car manufacturers.

The Japanese company already has the Tricity and TMAX scooter three-wheelers, so the Niken and a VMax version would make quite a formidable line-up of “trikes”.

  1. These 3-wheelers will be the first step towards the total elimination of motorbikes. When they become common it won’t take long before a minimum of three wheels is mandatory. Then someone will decide that four wheels gives better grip and that will be mandatory. Then they will decide that a wider vehicle is more stable and set a minimum width. Then they will say that riders will be safer if they have a roll cage and seat belt. And guess what, you then have a car that leans and the authorities will have succeeded in eliminating motorbikes. Real motorbikes (2-wheelers) will still be popular in less developed countries where low cost vehicles are needed, but here in the great nanny-state called Australia they will be banned.

    1. apparently 70% of owners are older than 50, I am well into my 60’s have been riding a bike
      continually since age 18 and fully intend to ride until they pull my license from my cold dead hands. As arthritis sets in i could easily see something like this in my shed. There are already 3 wheelers on the market with no effect on legislation. But if anti bike legislation does happen then riders only have their own apathy to blame. Funny how bigger demo’s happened before ‘social media’……Sometimes it takes a little more than 3 seconds of #outrage.

      1. Pete, your comment suggests you think 3-wheelers will just be an alternative addition to what we already have. I think they will be just the first step on the path of massive changes, and what we now have will be taken away from us. Probably the real reason that Yamaha and others are working on this technology is because autonomous (self-driving) vehicles are coming. They won’t be optional. For the autonomous system to work with maximum safety, vehicles controlled by humans will have to be banned. It would be very difficult, if not impossible, to make a safe autonomous 2-wheeler, so the solution is to add extra wheels.

        The only conciliation in this is that you and I are old enough to have decades of great motorcycling experiences behind us, and the current system will probably last as long as we do.

  2. “with monster torque from its 1679cc V-twin”

    As far as I know the VMax has always been a V-four. I don’t get any pleasure from exposing mistakes. I just want people to get the correct information. So please, just correct it and don’t publish this comment.

  3. Pete, just another thought on your comment. You mentioned that when arthritis (and other ailments of old age) becomes a problem you might like to ride a 3-wheeler. I had already thought about that, even though I’m a long way from needing to do anything about it, and I would rather ride a smaller lighter bike. Modern 400s, and even 250s, have more than enough power for cruising and overtaking at highway speeds. The two wheeled vehicle is something very special to me and I get a thrill from using my skills to ride them. The fact that many people don’t have the courage and skill to do it makes it even more satisfying. To me, 3-wheelers will never be real motorbikes.

    1. I have ridden sidecars for years and believe me they take a very special type of skill they are far more unforgiving when things go pair shaped than any two wheeler. I also love my 2 wheelers but when i get to the stage they are hard to hold up i will be happy to try the double front wheel setup, unfortunately by the time they are brought out they will have lean and traction control..abs..and all the other things that are making motorcycling less dangerous

  4. MotoRain,
    Don’t sweat the three / four wheeler take over. Markets dictate what sells and what doesn’t. Markets are comprised of consumers and in motorcycle world you and thousands of others are consumers of two wheelers.
    No mystery man or “someone” can change that.
    Perhaps motorcycles will all be electric in 20 years time, but by then I’ll be in late 70’s and the technology will be as good or better than what we have currently.

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