Honda appears to be on quite the hot streak. In an effort to bolster a campaign that is just as social media savvy as it is exciting, the Japanese giant has given us one more reason to believe this really is the #YearOfHonda. So what does the king of all things creative do after unveiling something as badass as the insanely high-revving 2&4, floating cockpit apex-eater? It gives us this: A three-wheeling, show-stealing, quad-piston pumping reverse trike that steals the mic faster than you can say “Kanye West.”
Dubbed the “NEOWING” (at least for the time being), this contraption is what Honda is calling “an unprecedented three-wheeled vehicle that offers the cornering feel and sporty ride equivalent to a large-sized motorcycle while realizing excellent stability in low-speed ranges.” OK, so it will probably handle sharper than Chef Nobu with a sashimi knife and is safer than a full-blown crotch rocket running on meth, but unprecedented? Come on guys.
Honda has taken its precious time getting into the ring to spar with the likes of Polaris and Can-Am, and while not everyone may have seen this one coming out with such an unusual powertrain (we’ll get to that shortly), rumors of Honda offering us a bike in this configuration have been circulating for years now. So when the Neowing made its teaser reveal the other day prior to the 44th annual Tokyo Motor Show, the first thought that came to mind was “It’s about damn time.”
But there is more to this machine than just a reverse-mounted trike configuration and a mountain of Decepticon design cues. This thing as been engineered as a performance oriented Honda motorbike, so you bet it’s going to be a blast to drive; for guys like myself, who despise the idea of dumping a brand new bike, this three-wheeled layout is a godsend for the “equilibrium challenged.”
Originally announced as a last minute addition to this year’s Tokyo Motor Show, this long-awaited oddity to the Honda lineup will supposedly be packing a hybrid system that merges a horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine with electric motors in order to offer fountains of torque followed by waves of horsepower. Toss a unique Honda linkage mechanism on its front wheels, and you’ve got a trike that performs and handles more like a bike than ever before.
According to the BBC, Honda built the Neowing in order to offer “a nod to its revered Gold Wing cruiser.” While most of the technical details are still being reserved for show time, in its press release, Honda promises the bike will offer “the cornering feel and sporty ride of a large-sized motorcycle.” This statement leads us back to the announcement that there will be a tricked-out front suspension set-up on this thing, which will reportedly allow riders to pilot the Neowing into corners harder and sharper than ever before due to its added structural rigidity up front.
But let’s backtrack for a minute here. Look at what Honda’s motorcycle division in Japan is basing this thing off of; while being a first is commendable, there typically has to be a splash of inspiration stemming from somewhere else. Back in 1974, Honda rolled-out a massive land yacht of a motorcycle called the Goldwing. These monolithic cruisers offered all of the CCs and storage of a large Harley, but in a smooth sailing, reliable trim-line that didn’t rattle you to pieces after twenty minutes on the interstate.
For the longest time, this hulking cross-country cruiser rocked a silky smooth, horizontally opposed, four-cylinder engine, and it wasn’t until 1987 that a flat six powerplant started to replace the classic motor it had always relied on. So when Honda announced that the Neowing would be featuring a high-output flat-four, eyebrows and pulses were lifted almost instantaneously. Honda promises the bike will strike a sublime balance between sporty and comfy, and while it may be tough to imagine the two-wheeled version of the Goldwing ever being replaced (Honda has sold almost 650,000 of them to date), the Neowing does have a strong chance of usurping the long running king of Japanese heavy hitters if it actually goes into production.
So where does Honda go from here? Well first it has to gauge both the media and enthusiasts’ reactions to this long overdue contraption because this is just a concept right now, and one that has yet to be looked-over thoroughly at the Tokyo Motor Show. But if all goes well, and Honda feels that there is going to be enough interest in the Neowing to justify its production, don’t be surprised to see one rolling down the street in the next couple of years. Honda feels that for too long the Can-Am Spyder hogged the spotlight, especially since this segment of the market continues to see solid growth across the board. So go ahead, guys. Release the Neowing. We would love to put it up against a 2&4 one afternoon on the track.