We just might see more three-wheeled motorcycles in the coming years. Just a few days ago, we reported that Piaggio filed for a new patent for a three-wheeled motorcycle that may soon see production at their Pontedera, Italy headquarters. The Japanese have response to that, particularly from Kawasaki. Some leaked patent photos suggest that Kawasaki is developing a three-wheeled machine that could be powered by a conventional gasoline engine, an electric motor, or both (hybrid).
Kawasaki has chosen the reverse-trike configuration (two wheels in front, one behind). But unlike the Can-Am Ryker (pictured above) where the rider and pillion still sit astride the frame like on a motorcycle, the new Kawasaki trike will have the rider and pillion sitting side by side ̶ like they would in cars.
What's most interesting about Kawasaki's patent is its front suspension system. The front wheel suspension seems to be a combination of telescopic forks (like Yamaha's Niken) and double wishbone (like the Polaris Slingshot). With this system, the wheels do not lean with the bike (or car?) when navigating corners. Rather, they stay flat with the ground while the body leans. The vehicle is also steered with a wheel, rather than handlebars.
Though much of the details of how this work have yet to be revealed, the leaked patent images seem to depict the body of the new Kawasaki tilting — along with the rear wheel — into the direction of the turn, much like what a motorcycle does.
This upcoming bike may still be far from production, though it's certainly an interesting take on the three-wheel design. It certainly gives hope, especially to many motorcycle enthusiasts who are unable to ride conventional motorcycles again due to an injury or age.