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Five things we need more than a third wheel

First Yamaha turns its weird, big three-wheeler into a production model and now Kawasaki shows signs it may do the same. Why? Aren't there things motorcycling needs more?

Steve Farrell's picture
Submitted by Steve Farrell on Fri, 12/01/2018 - 13:46

Five things we need more than a third wheel


THE MT-09-powered Yamaha Niken is due to go on sale this year and Kawasaki has just shown a new teaser video for its electric J Concept (above), raising the weirdness stakes with Transformer-like shape-shifting ability.


I don’t doubt these new leaning three-wheelers are brilliant. I love the Yamaha Tricity scooter for the ridiculous level of grip its two front wheels provide. But if I can tell you one thing about motorcyclists, it’s that they like motorcycles.

Offering them three-wheelers is a bit like saying to a cricket batsman, ‘Have you tried tennis? Honestly, try it. The bat’s much wider, so the ball is easier to hit.'

I don’t know why it’s happening. It may be that, faced with gradually diminishing numbers of motorcyclists, in Europe at least, the manufacturers’ long-term target market is not us at all, but car drivers.

What I do know is that there are things we need more. Here are five:

1: Standardised batteries 

Leaning three-wheelers may or may not have a role to play in the future of motorcycling. Batteries almost definitely will have. But how can electric bikes replace petrol ones when you have to wait around for them to recharge? For longer than most people can remember, the gas industry has dealt with a similar problem through standardisation. The cannister fuelling your barbecue runs out, so you go and swap it for an identical full one, without waiting for it to be filled. Competition between manufacturers has no doubt played a part in hindering moves towards similar standardisation of batteries. But the one to push the idea hardest could yet become the Calor Gas of electric bikes. Maybe it will be Honda, which has just revealed an electric PCX scooter along with a vending machine at which its battery can be swapped.



The new Yamaha Niken



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