The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team got off to their best start of the year in Qatar on day one of the final round of the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship. In the sweltering heat and humidity under the floodlights at the Losail International Circuit, Alex Lowes continued the excellent form he has shown at the last two rounds, finishing the day in a sensational second position on the combined timesheets, just 0.259s off the top. Michael van der Mark also had a great start to the final race weekend of the season, ending Thursday in fifth overall to cap a superb opening day for the team with both riders, once again, making it directly through to SP2.
We wouldn't believe it if we hadn't read it with our own eyes, but Yamaha says it's going to put a three-wheeled leaning motorcycle called the Niken into production. The oddball beast debuted at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show, and while it's not the first leaning three-wheeler we've ever seen – the Piaggio MP3 immediately comes to mind – it's definitely the most surprising.
We're woefully short on details, other than the fact that the Niken sports a 900cc three-cylinder engine and is about 7 feet long and 3 feet wide. The two wheels up front are 15-inch units, making them a couple inches smaller than typical sportbike wheels, and they are propped up by twin dual-tube fork units. And did we mention it leans into corners like a traditional two-wheeler?
Yamaha makes motorcycles. It may make cars at some point, if recent concepts lead anywhere in the near future. But this one bridges the gap between the two.
With four wheels, the MWC-4 may appear closer to a car (missing some parts), but is closer in concept and execution to a motorcycle (with some extra components added).
When it comes to three-wheeled vehicles, there are some that take the form of cars missing one wheel, and others that more closely resemble motorcycles with one extra.
Yamaha's new Niken clearly falls in the latter category – and takes it a step or two further. Where other trikes take a more sedate approach, the Niken looks like a full-on sport bike, but with the added stability of a dual front wheels.
When Yamaha hinted that it was bringing a new concept car to this year's Tokyo Motor Show, we were excited. Yamaha had already done one concept car before, the Sports Ride, and it was a sweet little sports car. With that as reference, we were expecting, maybe even hoping, the company would have something similar. As it turns out, that's not the case. Instead, we have the Cross Hub concept, a curiously designed pickup truck.
The truck's styling isn't for everyone. Every surface is near bursting with curves, creases, vents and materials. In some ways, it seems that no one in the design department had the courage to say, "No," to all the incoming suggestions. With that being said, we're also not opposed to the idea of a funky compact pickup, especially as formerly "compact" pickups such as the Colorado and Tacoma continue to balloon. And the Cross Hub is compact. It's about three feet shorter than the shortest Toyota Tacoma. Clean up the lines a bit and the Cross Hub could be a promising little cargo hauler.