Way back in early 2020, a curious set of patents started floating about the Internet, showing Kawasaki’s design for a leaning three-wheeler. These patents followed 2013’s release off the Concept J three-wheeler, and 2018’s tease of a trike.
Wait, what? Is Kawi, best-known for the radical Ninja sportbike line, about to launch a series of three-wheelers aimed at oldsters in their dotage? Is this tied to Kawasaki’s Retrovolution? Is Team Green trading in the Monster/Red Bull for prune juice?
Looking closely at the original patent drawings, it seems not—this reverse trike seems to be along the lines of the Yamaha Niken, not the Can-Am Spyder. It’s designed to lean, and that indicates a more aggressive approach to cornering. It seems to be the spiritual successor to the Concept J design that Kawasaki showed off in 2013.
After the initial patent drawings showed up, we saw a second release around the start of 2021, but … radio silence after that. Was this all just vapourware, like so many interesting Japanese designs of the past decade? Kawasaki’s been teasing this idea for eight years, and surely we would have seen something on the market by now, if the plans were serious?
Maybe, maybe not. Cycle World reports Kawasaki’s internal documents now show Kawasaki picturing a reverse trike as part of a new lineup of hydrogen powered “motorcycles.”
Interesting. One of the greatest problems with alternative energy-powered motorcycles is that hydrogen and batteries don’t mix well with traditional moto design. So, why not start with a new design? A three-wheeler that leans actually offers some advantages over two-wheeler design, with improved front end grip on a reverse trike design.
No doubt we’ll see something show up on the show circuit eventually, but having said that, we’re still waiting for Kawasaki’s electric Ninja to debut. It seems COVID-19 has further delayed the slow process of bike development to almost a standstill.