We attend the Tokyo Motor Show and report on the new motorcycles coming for 2018.
Not unexpectedly, the trend amongst car makers at the Tokyo Motor Show was alternative power sources for their future products, many manufacturers claiming leadership in electrification. But amongst the big four Japanese motorcycle makers, there was little talk of EV this or hybrid that.
Not unexpectedly, the trend amongst car makers at the Tokyo Motor Show was alternative power sources for their future products, many manufacturers claiming leadership in electrification. But amongst the big four Japanese motorcycle makers, there was little talk of EV this or hybrid that. Apart from a few scooters with EV pretensions, along with a three-wheeled EV device from Yamaha, motive power was by tried and true carbon-based fossil fuel, petrol. We find that strange given that motorcycles are generally lightweight vehicles purpose-built for electrification. Perhaps these somewhat smaller manufacturers are waiting for further developments in battery technology, for less expensive packs that don’t need cooling for regular operation and offer extended range.
All four of the Japanese bike makers had fresh concept vehicles, and while Honda had easily the most preproduction motorcycles on display, it was Yamaha that presented the most zany concepts, including yet another four-wheeler. Just like Honda and Suzuki expanded into car making, it wouldn’t surprise in the slightest if Yamaha also went down this path some time in the future.
Their unveiling kicked off with a Tricity-like three-wheeled urban mobility device, powered by an electric motor. Think of a kid’s scooter, but triangulated with three wheels for added stability. Dubbed Tritown, it “moves easy and free with open feel”. The company also presented a pair of E-bikes, two road bike offerings which were production ready, and promised a couple more for mountain bikers.
Three years ago Yamaha produced a three-wheeled Tricity-like concept based on MT-09 mechanicals and hinted that it would go into production at some point. At the show, the company revealed the finished product, the LMW (leaning multiwheeler) to be known as ‘Niken’. The name stems from the Japanese for two, as in front wheels, and it promises to be especially suited for changing road surfaces, offering extra surefootedness and stability via its twinned 15-inch wheels acting through a pair of USD forks. Performance should be good, using the 850cc triple from the MT-09.
Alongside that was a tilting four-wheeler, rather like a covered scooter but with a pair of tilting wheels at each end. The concept was powered by a pair of electric motors, and a gasoline engine. And on the subject of four wheelers, yet another car-like concept from Yamaha was presented. For the past couple of shows Yamaha has shown off four-wheeled concepts, in 2013 a design for a city car, and in 2015 a sportscar. This year, the firm presented a four-seater sport utility vehicle for the active urban lifestyle, complete with an a full sized and child’s offroad motorcycle on the tray. Given the global love affair for sport utility vehicles…
Yamaha’s Motobot was on stage again, the bike-riding robot’s mission “to pass you” on track, but as yet it hasn’t managed to beat Rossi’s lap time, being 32sec adrift. However, it is making gains, and recently did over 200 on track, presumably mph rather than kph as that’s what MotoGP bikes do.
Honda presented a self-balancing bike earlier this year, and now Yamaha has shown off Motoroid, a bike designed to increase the unity between rider and machine. It can balance when standing still, and ride itself at slow speeds, facilitating take offs. Motoroid can also reverse by itself. The concept aims at enhancing the unity between rider and machine, a rider aid if you will.
While the company presented its unique take on the vision of a future world, the other three Japanese motorcycle manufacturers were content to show the here and now, and what’s coming in the near future. Most of the bikes on the stands of Honda, Kawasaki and Suzuki had been previewed prior, with the exception of some Honda surprises. There on show was not only the new Goldwing, in base and full-dress Tour variants, but adjacent was a beautiful cafe racer concept. The former is all new, and will feature an optional seven-speed dual clutch transmission, along with a conventional six-speed manual. There’s slightly more power on hand, thanks to the 1833cc flat six gaining four-valve heads but expect enhanced performance primarily from a significant weight culling of around 40kg. Goldwing also gets a fresh aluminium beam frame, car-like double wishbone front suspension and a single-sided swingarm, while suspension is electronically adjustable. TC and hill start assist are standard features, as are four riding modes. Three versions will be marketed, ranging in weight from 365kg to 383kg for the top Tour model with DCT.
Around the corner was Honda’s gorgeous Neo Sports Café Concept about which little is known, but it may constitute the replacement for the standard CB1000R. As Honda described it this is “a concept model for a naked sport model that combines the fun and beauty of a sport bike with a new-generation motorcycle package.”
Around another corner and there gleaming is the gold 100 millionth Honda Super Cub, making the basic scooter the most popular motorcycle ever. Launching in 1958, two new versions of the scoot, one packing 50cc, the other 110cc, were also on show, looking much like the original! There was a new monkey bike too, along with an additional Rebel model. So expect lots of new Honda two-wheelers for 2018.
On the Kawasaki stand, no new supercharged touring monster based on the H2 mechanicals, as had been widely anticipated but the gorgeous retro remake of the Z1 was on show, in various different hues, along with a new 400 Ninja.
Known as the Z900RS and using the lovely Z900 mechanicals, its 948cc engine has been retuned to deliver even more low and midrange torque, though is down on peak power and torque overall. Taller gearing is said to reduce vibration at open road speeds.
It too features a trellis frame, redesigned to fit the new Z1-esque tank and deliver a more upright riding position.
Better brakes (radial-mount, four-piston monoblocs) than the Z900 and the fitting of traction control hint at upgrades for the donor bike. There are also two riding modes.
Z1-like features abound, including the brown and orange colour scheme which looks very familiar to that of the 70’s superbike.
Somewhat easier to overlook but no less key for the NZ market, the 400cc replacement for the 300cc Ninja 300. The new parallel twin engine is good for 34kW and 38Nm so expect an easier ride. A fresh steel trellis frame sheds 6kg for wet weight claimed at 168kg. Features include dual LED headlamps and a big 310mm disc under ABS control.