Yamaha unveils three-cylinder, crossplane-crank motor, say’s it’ll go in a road bike

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Yamaha has just stunned the Intermot show, taking the wraps off this totally unexpected, three-cylinder, crossplane crank, seemingly middleweight engine. Currently the equivalent of a concept car, there’s little firm detail attached to the motor aside from the above, but this thing seriously has the potential to utterly break the Japanese sportsbike mold.

The crossplane crank currently employed in the M1 MotoGP and R1 superbikes is said to enhance the connection between rider and rear tire by eliminating inertial torque.

Inline three-cylinder engines, as used by the Triumph Daytona 675 and MV Agusta F3, bring together the power of a four and the flexibility of a twin. They’re sort of a killer app in the 600-ish world, making that capacity far more useable and rewarding.

Officially, Yamaha has very little to say of this new motor beyond theory. Here’s a bad translation:

“Yamaha: Engineering and Philosophy

The near future is the concrete representation of three philosophical concepts for Yamaha role in the development of models for generations of pilots of the twenty first century. First of all, the bike is much more than a means of transport is a means to get a sense of satisfaction and fullness. Yamaha calls this philosophy “Jinki Kanno”, a thought that made it possible, in the last fifty years, the study and implementation of highly innovative motion as XT500 in the ’70s, ’80s FZ750, R1 in the 90s and the first lady of MotoGP YZR-M1 today.

The second concept that has helped to make every single model Yamaha is the philosophy of GENESIS, which considers the motion as a living organism, constantly evolving. Yamaha considers each component as part of a whole, and the designs by thinking in relation to all other elements, in a report of the organic type. In this way, Yamaha is able to create a sense of unity between the rider and his bike. Genesis philosophy has enabled the creation of models that speak directly to the hearts and minds of the pilots.

The last concept, after Jinki Kanno and Genesis, is the application of innovative technologies for the electronic management, designed to enhance the driving experience from all points of view. Electronic technologies have been developed considering the human perception and sensitivity, to enhance the bond between rider and machine, thus forming a copro unique.

The concept model on display is a visual interpretation of the perfect balance between the three concepts: Jinki Kanno can be seen in the enthusiasm and the pleasure of driving the new three-cylinder engine give the bike of the future; Genesis is perceived in the cables that connecting the different elements such as the nervous system of a living organism, and GENICH occurs in the immediate throttle response, thanks to the new electronic engine management system.”

Here’s a link to the gallery.

  • szu

    Nice! Add frame, wheels, call it MT-something and I’m ready to sell my MT-03!

  • 10/10ths

    Gimme a Street Trip with Japanese reliability and I am THERE with cash!

    • ike6116

      Why don’t more bike manufacturers bring things stateside?

    • markbvt

      Modern Triumphs already have reliability on par with the Japanese.

      • Roman

        Yeah, I was just gonna say, what’s wrong with modern British reliability? (Norton doesn’t count)

        • BMW11GS

          what they still don’t have lucas electrics and leak oil?!?! What is this word progress you keep on mentioning?

  • filly-fuzz

    errrrr….. since when were street triples unreliable?

    • doublet

      99 thunderbird sport still going strong..

  • http://vtbmwmov.org Eben

    How can a triple be a crossplane? Triples always have a 120° firing order. Am I missing something?

    • doublet

      I’m with you on this.. I think it’s just yamaha cherry-picking a convenient branding opportunity.

    • Rick

      Laverda’s original 981cc inline triples used a 180-degree flat-plane crank: the outer two pistons moved opposite to the center piston, i.e. two up / one down.

      That Laverda wasn’t the ultimate in smoothness, but the one I tried vibrated less than parallel twins of the era. If Yamaha does go that route they could improve matters a lot with balance shaft(s).

      • http://vtbmwmov.org Eben

        Interesting. Still wouldn’t be a crossplane, though. I see the benefit of a triple coming from its inherent smoothness (with 120° firing order, of course), so it seems weird to want to mess with that. Maybe Yamaha’s got something new in mind. We’ll see how it comes out, I guess.

        • doublet

          My thought is that 120° crank layout IS ‘crossplane’ to begin with (like a triumph triple). Yamaha is just going to call that a ‘crossplane’ crank and make it sound like something they created.

          Then again, I may be wrong and it may be something new.

        • http://www.racetrackstyle.com Racetrack Style

          What if they used a balancing connecting rod like BMW does with their parallel twin?

          They could treat this balancing connecting rod to act as the “missing” 4th crank pin, which would form the + that derives the name.

          That seems confusing though because the BMW crank pins are 180 from the balancing con rod pin at all times (the motion of the pair is moving/countered by the balancing con rod). So, the triple would have to keep the balancing con rod at 90 from its adjacent cylinder somehow

          wild guess. No matter how they do it, I’m stoked to see another triple

    • DavidMG

      As I understand it, cross plane just refers to the crank pins being located at 90 degrees rather than 180. Here’s a good site explaining the different layouts as they relate to smoothness.


      • http://vtbmwmov.org Eben

        There’s no way three pins can form a cross. They typically form a Mercedes-esque three-pointed star, at 120°.

        The Laverda design that Rick described would technically form a T, but maybe someone would call that crossplane.

        • Porter

          I’m not an engineer or a mechanic, but it seems like having the firing order in a T configuration would cause a strange loping character to the engine. Maybe that’s a good thing, I really don’t know how though. Having nothing for 180 degrees and then three quick bursts seems like it would have the opposite effect on traction.

        • http://www.racetrackstyle.com Racetrack Style

          The display has the 3 pointed star but it also has engines hanging off of it in a way that they are counter balancing each other (see bmw parallel twin that has a balancing con rod).

          Isn’t the current 4 cylinder R1 motor the one on the bottom of the post? Enlarge pic 3 of 4…looks like it has 4 headers.

          Very cool art

    • http://vtbmwmov.org Eben

      Ah ha! Nothing is clarified…

      “It is the philosophy where ‘crossplane’ means the kind of torque character that gives riders the exact torque they want when they need it,” explains Senior Executive Motorcycle Business Operations, Kunihiko Miwa.

  • filly-fuzz

    “but this thing seriously has the potential to utterly break the Japanese sportsbike mold.”

    I don’t get it, hasn’t the daytona already done this………. back in ’06?

    • http://twitter.com/metabomber Jesse

      “…Japanese sportsbike mold.”

      Triumph has been doing it for some time, but the Daytona is a British sportsbike. Big Four have been cranking out I4s for so long, I was wondering if they forgot how to build anything else in the 600cc class.

      • filly-fuzz

        It competes in the same segment and is priced on par with the rest. so whats the difference if it’s jap or brit.

        Disclaimer: this is coming from an aussie and we aren’t exactly know for liking the brits

  • JR

    I ride an ’80 XS850… this is big news. I think my triple is one of the best sounding engines out there.

  • Stacey

    Wow. If this went into a naked bike, I’d buy it!

  • http://www.BrewSmith.com.au dux [87 CBR600, 95 XR600R]

    I guess we can bid farewell to the FZ8?

  • Peter

    Odds on this wont be a sport bike…

    Have a look at the angle the intake ports make with the side of the head, then compare to R1/R6.

    If I had to put money on it, looking at the mounting points on the engine, the inlet port angles, I’d say middle weight naked.

    Fingers crossed it will be a ‘premium’ build with actual sport bike components and a flagship build quality, unlike a super light, Jap super bike.

    In actuality I expect an FZ8 replacement with similar shitty build. Thoughts?

  • rohorn

    TDM (& TRX ?) replacement…

  • Hendo337

    I want to know what it sounds like :)