Attack of the Three-Wheeled Motorcycles

Honda and Yamaha tease trike concepts at the Tokyo Motor Show.
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Honda and Yamaha tease trike concepts at the Tokyo Motor Show.
Yamaha MWT-9

The one thing everyone knows about motorcycles is that they have two wheels, right? Not always. Weird three-wheeled contraptions like the Can-Am Spyder and the Polaris Slingshot are increasingly common sights on the road, and it apparently occurred to Yamaha and Honda that they are leaving some money on the table here.

That's why the Tokyo Motor Show saw the debut of the Yamaha MWT-9 and Honda Neowing. Yamaha offered no explanation for its alphanumeric designation of the Alien-like trike, with its menacing visage and the seeming burly arms of its quartet of fork tubes.

The Japanese bike builder says the MWT-9 tells of "a new horizon of riding enjoyment to come." Or maybe it just implies that you can't fall down when you hit that patch of wet leaves on your scenic foliage ride. Speaking of implications, Yamaha is mum on technical details, but the "-9" in its designation hints that the bike is powered by a 900cc engine, like the two-wheeled FZ-9.

Honda's Neowing's name is a reference to the company's Goldwing touring bike. The Neowing's third wheel eliminates the fear of righting a mammoth Goldwing after a parking lot tip-over. While the Goldwing is powered by a horizontally-opposed six-cylinder engine, the Neowing returns to the Goldwing's roots with a four-cylinder internal combustion engine.

But in keeping with the "neo" portion of its name, the concept bike backs that smaller powerplant with a hybrid-electric motor for power when it is needed, and efficiency when it isn't.

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Neither manufacturer announced plans to sell either trike, but considering the rising popularity of three wheelers, both are likely showroom candidates in the next year or so.

For the latest car and motorcycle news, follow @MaximRides and Dan Carney on Twitter.

Photos by Yamaha Motor Co.