If there's one market segment where Honda has been notably absent, it would be tilting three-wheelers. That's about to change, though, as the new concept model that Honda plans to unveil in Tokyo undeniably demonstrates its intent to enter this relatively new vehicle class.
Honda calls its tricycle the Neowing, evidently pursuing a connection to the company's touring icon, the Goldwing. The 4-cylinder boxer engine helps a lot in this direction, as it's definitely reminiscent of the Goldwing's horizontally-opposed 6-cylinder motor.
The press release is rather scant of information, confined to just a few lines carefully selected to magnetize our attention until the official unveiling that will take place in late October, when the 44th Tokyo Motor Show opens its gates.
Honda states that the Neowing is a hybrid-powered vehicle, coupling its boxer engine with electric motors and transmitting the output to the rear wheel via what appears to be a shaft. There's no word on the internal combustion motor's capacity or performance figures, and the press release remains equally secretive on the type, number and arrangement of the electric motors. The use of plural leaves no doubt there's more than one, yet from the official image released by Honda we can only assume that these do not reside in the front wheel hubs.
What is more important though is the leaning front suspension setup. Vaguely described as an "original Honda linkage mechanism," this system will probably be the focus point of this prototype tricycle when we get to examine it in more detail.
The greatest assets of these three-wheeled vehicles are the safety features incurred by their tilting front suspension systems. Piaggio initiated this market segment with the MP3, based on a patented system by Studio Marabese Design. Every vehicle that followed suit – namely the Quadro 3D, Peugeot Metropolis and Yamaha Tricity – relied on its own exclusive design, so we should expect Honda to innovate as well.
As powerful and exciting as this concept may seem, chances are it serves more as an eye-catching introductory platform for Honda's involvement in the tilting three-wheeled class, with ensuing production models opting for more "sensible" powertrains, both in terms of output and cost.
Apart from the Neowing, Honda will also display a Light Weight Super Sports Concept in Tokyo. There is practically no information to detail the technology behind this prototype, apart from the fact that it is described as a next-generation sportbike with a "strong presence." Judging from the single front brake disc, it must be powered by a small-to-medium-capacity engine. In this segment Honda has on offer a single-cylinder 300 cc engine as used in the CBR300R, against competition from Kawasaki, Yamaha and Benelli that sport twin-cylinder motors. In less than a month we'll know if this is Honda's response.
The parade of Honda concepts includes also the EV-Cub, an electric short-distance commuter based on the timeless Super Cub design. This was actually first introduced at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show, and Honda doesn't explain if its reappearance is related to any new features brought about over the course of the last six years.
The 44th Tokyo Motor Show will start with two Press Days on October 28 and 29, opening its gates for the general public from October 30 until November 8.