We do know that Yamaha has a new three-cylinder engine on the way which it's very excited about. We don't know why...The engine is very important to Yamaha as it's symbolic of a return to its old values of innovation and risk taking, areas it was stronger in than any of the other Japanese factories. Yamaha has tried hibernating through the recession but this isn't working, the world's economic wo...

We do know that Yamaha has a new three-cylinder engine on the way which it's very

excited about. We don't know why...The engine is very important to Yamaha as it's symbolic of a return to its old values of innovation and risk taking, areas it was stronger in than any of the other Japanese factories. Yamaha has tried hibernating through the recession but this isn't working, the world's economic woes are going on for too long just to hide for a while, so now Yamaha is fighting back using the weapons it's most comfortable with: originality and technology.

So what is it about this three-cylinder engine that's so special? We've been given few

clues, aside from seeing it at Cologne and former R1 designer, now senior executive

Kunihiko Miwa telling us it has a crossplane crankshaft. He says, "..this means the kind

of torque character that gives riders the exact torque they want when they need it."

That's cross-plane crank, zero inertial torque, 2009 R1 language, so we do know the new triple also has a cross-plane crank, and the purpose is to cut inertial torque to zero, or near as dammit.

The rest we have to guess, but these facts and some visual clues narrow the possibilities right down. Throw in some R1 technology, and a dash of T-Max to help us out, and it starts to become clearer. This is one clever engine...

What’s the deal with Yamaha’s new three-cylinder?

There are two main possibilities, one with the outer pistons moving 180 degrees apart

and the centre one at 90 degrees in between, or the most elegant if seemingly improbable, with both outer pistons moving up and down together, and the centre one 270 degrees behind.

What’s the deal with Yamaha’s new three-cylinder?
The T-Max crank uses a slave piston at 180 degree offset.

It's the T-Max ingredient which makes it possible: the ground-breaking scooter uses a

slave piston for balancing purposes, but something similar in the triple would do the job

of reducing inertial torque to almost nothing. And just look at the size of that sump...

bigger than an R1's for a smaller engine? Something's going on...

All this engine would need now is a chunky rotating balance shaft to deal with the

primary vibes, and sure enough, there on the front of the engine, a chunky balance shaft housing. It's not proof, other triples have balance shafts, though not usually as hefty. But, lots of things start to add up...

For the full lowdown on why I think the new triple will come with a dummy piston and

360-90-270 degree firing intervals, take a look at Ash on Bikes.

If I'm right, it's going to sound wicked...