Yamaha’s power of three

Aggressive MT-09-based three-wheeler expected in shops soon

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Yamaha’s radical MWT-9 three-wheeler is expected to go on sale in 2017, and the firm has just submitted a trademark application. With three cylinders and three wheels the bike was one of the stranger concepts of 2015 – and yet every indication is that it’s going straight into production with barely any changes.

Derived from technology already proven in the Tricity scooter, the MWT-9 uses the 847cc engine from the firm’s MT-09, complete with 115bhp, to create a leaning trike with the sort of performance that a couple of decades ago would have earned it a superbike tag.

The fact Yamaha has applied for a trademark on the name ‘MWT’ adds weight to the theory that it is about to become a production model. If Yamaha had no plans to revisit the name and use it for commercial purposes, the trademark makes little sense.

The application itself specifies that the name is for use on “motorcycles, scooters, mopeds, three-wheeled motorcycles, three-wheeled scooters, three-wheeled mopeds and parts and fittings thereof.”

President of Yamaha Motors Hiroyuki Yanagi recently made an official statement about the future for the company as it strives to grow and diversify.

Yanagi said: “We are starting our 60th anniversary celebrations on a high point but we want to continue to exceed expectations again and again. We have a strong desire to deliver a strong performance and that includes two, three and even four-wheeled vehicles.

“We want to extend our technology and grow our customer base. The three-wheelers provide fun and extra safety but the MWT is the first time a motorcycle in the ‘fun’ category has been developed. Three years ago we told you Yamaha was back and we should rightly be proud of our achievements since then, but we must continue.”

Yanagi’s reference to the MWT-9 being a first in the ‘fun’ bike category is a reference to the fact the other three- wheelers on sale today are either large-capacity leaning scooters or much smaller-engined versions.

Two designers from a rival manufacturer – neither of whom wanted to be named – were spotted examining the MWT-9 concept at the Milan show. One told us: “You can see this is a production specification bike. The quality of the castings is that of a production vehicle rather than a hand-built concept bike.

“The colours and finish of some panels may change but you can see the switchgear has been modified from the standard MT-09 and looks ready for production right now.”

All manufacturers are searching for answers in the ‘urban mobility’ sector as cities around the globe get busier, more crowded and more sensitive to pollution. All motorcycle and car manufacturers are looking for designs that can still offer personal mobility yet remain acceptable to ever-stricter emissions regulations. This seems to be Yamaha’s bold offering and more could follow.

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Andy Downes & Ben Purvis

By Andy Downes & Ben Purvis