Honda’s new bike that leans but won’t fall
We’ve known for a couple of years that Honda has been developing a leaning three-wheeled production bike. The company has prototyped machines around the engine and rear frame of the NC750, and in 2015 showed a concept at the Tokyo motor show of its tilting front suspension system on the NeoWing.
But while it first appeared that the NC750-based bike would be the one going into production, the NeoWing now looks a more likely candidate.
New patents have emerged showing details of the NeoWing’s design, and far more thought has gone into the bike than would normally go into a mere concept.
Notably, the patents deal with boring production-relevant details of the design. One reveals how the airbox is designed to reduce intake noise, which is required to pass noise emission tests for production type-approval.
And although the sporty styling of the NeoWing doesn’t make a lot of sense for a production bike, if it was wrapped in touring-oriented Goldwing-style bodywork the result might be surprisingly appealing.
The Goldwing’s traditional market is among older buyers, and in recent years there’s been a growing market for three-wheeled trike conversion kits. These are often sold to riders who would struggle with the same bike’s weight if it was on only two wheels.
Harley-Davidson has offered factory-made trikes for several years to cater for exactly the same buyers.
By making a trike that can lean but not actually fall over, Honda could offer riders a way of enjoying the thrills of riding even when a traditional two-wheeled tourer is too heavy for them.
This isn’t the first time we’ve had a clue the NeoWing might be more than a concept. In March last year, design patent images gave away subtle details with an image of the bike’s underside, showing a very well-developed engine, the hybrid drive system and details such as catalytic converters. Completely invisible from normal viewing angles, they hinted at the engineering completeness of the NeoWing concept and its readiness for production.