First previewed at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2017, Yamaha is now closer to unveiling a production version of the Tritown, its three-wheeled leaning electric scooter.
The Tritown uses the same Leaning Multi-Wheel (LMW) technology found in current models like the Tricity 125 and Niken sport bike.
The Tritown is a low-speed city scooter that is designed to be both lightweight and compact for practical use in urban environments. It weighs about 40 kg and is just over a meter in total length. The handlebars—complete with front and rear brake levers and a thumb-operated throttle lever—and the left and right footboards are connected to the LMW linkage, allowing the entire vehicle to lean into turns.
The vehicle is controlled by the user standing on the footboards and using both legs for balance while using the brakes and throttle lever with the hands to control speed. Despite its complicated design, the Tritown was designed to be very intuitive to use.
A rider must first make sure the tilt-lock is engaged by the lever on the steering post being down, then grasp the handlebar grips and brake levers with both hands and step up on the footboards one foot at a time. Even after disengaging the tilt-lock, the Tritown will stand up straight all on its own, with next to no wobbling. There is no need to force the handlebars to stay upright or overly focus on keeping balance.
To get going, simply release the two handbrakes and push the throttle lever on the right with the thumb to move forward. To turn, just turn the handlebars and lean the Tritown into the turn just like a bicycle. The two front wheels, handlebars and footboards all lean in unison, making turns smoothly and steadily. This LMW linkage allows the left and right front wheels to move independently to let the Tritown take on obstacles like bumps, curbs, or slopes with ease.
The Tritown was developed by several engineers involved with developing the Tricity 125. They also developed the new system that enables a three-wheel vehicle to remain stopped and upright without using an electronic control system. In 2016, the official development project was green-lit and work on the first prototype began. The resulting vehicle won even greater praise and the decision was made to display the work-in-progress as a concept model at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show.
The Triton is powered by a built-in electric motor that draws power from a lithium-ion battery mounted on the frame. It can be run at up to 25 km/h. Since the rider can remain on it even at a full stop, it also handles low speeds very well. This highly stable, maneuverable and compact chassis provides unparalled capability to traversing different road surface elements.
“Yamaha has always tried to think outside the box of what constitutes ‘mobility’ and sought to create completely new products that contribute to society and the environment,” said a Tritown development project and product planner. “Sure, giving it a seat would open up the audience of target users, but there was also a real chance that it would take away from its natural handling feel or its capability to remain upright when stopped.”
The Tritown was first field-tested for a roughly month-long period beginning in late-April, field testing with the general public (open to people aged 16 to 70) was conducted for the first time on the grounds of a leisure resort near Yamaha Motor headquarters in Japan.
The second field test is being run from mid-July to mid-August at Echigo Hillside National Government Park in the city of Nagaoka in Niigata Prefecture.
The Yamaha Tritown is being tested and refined as we speak. Its official launch may be closer than we think.