So you thought the Yamaha Niken was a dramatic departure from traditional motorcycle design, eh? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, as BTO once so famously stuttered! Kawasaki is working on a motorcycle design that takes your usual motorcycle chassis architecture and throws it out the window.
Remember how, when people complained about bikes in the 1970, they talked about how it felt like there was a “hinge in the middle”? Well, that’s sort of how this new bike design works, according to patents unearthed by BikeSocial.
There’s no moving handlebars on this Kawasaki design, only a set of grips that the rider holds on to. The grips also serve as a mount for the throttle tube (or tubes, there’s a dual-throttle design as well that takes the average input of both hands and uses that).
The bike is actually turned by leaning, not counter-steering. An onboard sensor array determines how far over the rider is leaned, and uses that to then twist the front wheel lower and the rear wheel higher, which makes the bike turn around a corner.
If this sounds bizarre and perhaps an idea that nobody is asking for right now, you’d be right. However, if Kawasaki does indeed bring this to market, what would be the selling point? Presumably, it will be either safer, because a computer controls the actual steering input, or its wonky misaligned wheels may enable it to turn corners more quickly.
Remember, Kawasaki’s working on other sci-fi stuff these days, like radar-enabled safety systems and emotion-sensing AI. A quirky steering system may be much more interesting when paired with other electro-trickery. Stay tuned to see where this one heads!