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Yamaha's three-cylinder engine


by Pascal Bastien ,

Last fall, Yamaha had quite a surprise for visitors at the Cologne Motorcycle Show in Germany. Displayed alongside a MotoGP M1 engine and the R1's inline four-cylinder was a brand new middleweight three-cylinder engine.

At around 700 cc, this unique creature from Yamaha inherits the R1's equally unique cross-plane crankshaft. Representatives at the show said that it will exclusively find a home in a standard street bike, hinting at a successor to the FZ6R and FZ8, and a machine that will combine the agility of a 600 with the torque and explosiveness of a larger-displacement bike. Of course, you can also expect the sweet sound of classic triples (think Triumph).

One thing's for sure: A three-cylinder engine with a cross-plane crankshaft will inject fresh new blood into a model lineup that hasn't changed much in recent years -- especially when you look at the evolution going on at Kawasaki and Honda.

This new powerplant could eventually serve other applications, for instance a 675cc three-cylinder R6 with R1-derived traction control, or a lighter, smaller-displacement variant of the Super Ténéré. Wouldn't that be awesome?