Will Yamaha’s 1000cc triple prompt Triumph to finish four-wheeler project?

New four-wheeler is close to what the now-closed Triumph project might have offered

YAMAHA'S recently unveiled four-wheeled YZX1000R is similar to a canned Triumph project, raising the prospect of the British could revive the   

Between 2011 and 2014 Triumph was secretly working on a project to build a four-wheeled off-roader to capitalise on the growing market for ‘side-by-sides’ in America.

Having created a new firm under the name Trident Powersports, a host of engineers – both syphoned from Triumph and specifically employed from elsewhere – beavered away developing a four-wheel-drive, three-cylinder side-by-side before the whole project was closed down just months before its planned completion.

Now it’s emerged Yamaha was working on a near-identical project at the same time, and it’s unveiled the result in the form of the new YXZ1000R. Powered by a 998cc three-cylinder engine that’s unrelated to any other in the firm’s range, with an 80mm bore and 62.2mm stroke, a 10,500rpm redline and around 112bhp (with a hefty four-wheeler to drag around, it’s tuned for torque rather than peak power) it’s specs are extremely close to what was expected to come from the Trident Powersports project.

Of course, the new engine has led to immediate speculation as to whether it could find its way into a bike. Our guess is that it’s unlikely. Not least does the new triple have a separate gearbox – albeit a sequential five-speed rather than the CVT that’s usually used in this sort of vehicle – but its dimensions are too close to those of the existing MT-09 three-cylinder (847cc, 78mm bore, 59.1mm stroke and 115bhp) to make it worth adapting for use in a two-wheeler.

Triumph is sure to be paying close attention to how well it sells, though. Maybe if it’s a hit the British firm will decide to sweep the mothballs from its own take on the idea.