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Yamaha working on VMax-based three-wheeler

16th May 2018 5:43 pm

Patented trike design uses radical new front suspension and steering system.

Yamaha recently showed us the Niken three-wheeler based on its MT-09 motorcycle. The Japanese manufacturer has now filed patent sketches showing another three-wheeler based on its monstrous VMax cruiser.

While the Niken uses a parallelogram link system implementing four fork legs, the VMax trike seems to use a significantly different system. This new design resembles the double-wishbone system used in cars, with the arms extending outward from a central tower structure. This design offers a lot more flexibility with how widely spaced the front wheels can be, which is a limitation that the Niken design suffers from. This unique set-up allows the trike to lean into corners much like a regular motorcycle, keeping all three tyres in contact with the road, even while cornering.

The patent application was finally published in Japan on March 22, 2018, having been submitted in late 2016. Curiously, the text accompanying the patent application doesn’t actually pertain to the steering or suspension system itself, but rather to a system used to right the bike once it has been leant over.

The design uses a servo-motor (labelled 21L in the patent sketches) connected to one of the wishbones. This motor assists the rider in straightening the vehicle when exiting a corner.

Another interesting element of these sketches is the fact that Yamaha has chosen to use the VMax as the basis for this design. Production of the VMax cruiser has long since been discontinued and the motorcycle isn’t listed on the bike maker's websites in India, Europe, the US and the UK. The VMax used a powerhouse of an engine – a 1,679cc V4 (the only one in Yamaha’s line-up) that produced a massive 200hp and 167Nm of torque. The patent sketches show the engine to appear identical to the VMax's V4. If Yamaha plans to introduce this trike, it would have to do so with a reworked engine. This overhaul will certainly be necessary in order to meet the more stringent Euro-IV emission norms.

From the steering head and backwards, the styling remains mostly unchanged. The concept seems to retain the same distinctive fuel tank with air intakes on either side, along with four exhaust exits. Wheels appear to be 10-spoke units, as opposed to the five-spoke units on the standard VMax. Judging by the patent sketches, the reach to the handlebar seems to be excessively long and tall – although we expect this to change as development progresses.

Yamaha already manufactures and sells three-wheelers in the form of the Tricity and TMAX scooters; and its recent unveilings show the Japanese manufacturer’s growing interest in three-wheeled motorcycle segment. Yamaha CEO Yoshihiro Hidaka recently spoke about his desire to have an entire line-up of LMW (Leaning Multi-Wheel) vehicles.

Whether or not we’ll ever see a production version of a VMax trike is unclear but what we can tell you for certain is that Yamaha will definitely be introducing more three-wheelers to its product range in the future.



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