Your Next Yamaha Might Be a Crossplane Triple

10/02/2012 @ 3:18 am, by Jensen Beeler38 COMMENTS

Debuting a three-cylinder concept at the INTERMOT show in Cologne, Yamaha is teasing the hypothesis of a tuning-fork brand triple with a crossplane crankshaft.

A technology that was developed in MotoGP for Yamaha YZR-M1, and then handed down to the Yamaha YZF-R1 in 2009, the unique qualities of the crossplane inline-four cylinder motor has been a key component to Yamaha’s potent, yet ridable machines.

Taking that same idea, and then applying it to a three-cylinder engine, Yamaha hopes to create a new motor that will appeal to street riders.

Source: Yamaha

  • Bill

    Yes please! I had a Yamaha XS850 as my first street bike. The 3 cylinder format is terrific.

  • JoeD

    Triples are very compact and powerful. I have owned well, 3 so far. Kawi 400, Triumph 750 and now a Benelli 1130. A laverda is on my short list. Best of luck to Yamaha and I hope more folks rally round the three pot format.

  • Daniel

    Mmmh… What about a 350-400 triple? Sure 600-1000 will retain the 4 cyl. solution and in the 125 machine 1-2 cyliners are good , but in the middle class a 3 cylinder 4 stroke would sell well, at least in Europe

  • BBQdog

    Why a crossplane crank ?? A three cilinder is a very nice engine by itself.
    It is torqy but also allows to rev. Why turning is into some sort of twin ?

  • Most deff. on my list for 2013.

  • Gutterslob

    Possibly the coolest display stand I’ve seen. Nice idea for the bike too.
    Currently ride a Triumph Speed Triple, so I’ll definitely be hoping for this.

  • Brett

    Another thumbs up for the triple. I love the motor in my Tiger 800. I know it’s a big show and all, but they certainly spent a lot of time and money on that display didn’t they?

  • JoeD

    The 350-400 cc format wouldn’t sell in the US. We are still mostly hung up on that infantile mindset of “Mine is Bigger”. Case in point–A fellow rider was being goaded into a street race He on a ZX7 and me on the Guzzi Sport 1100. He refused because “That’s an 1100!” Sometimes you win when no one shows up.

  • Singletrack

    If ever a bike was calling for a new engine – it’s the FZ8.

    And Yamaha, while you’re at it, put it in a new, narrower frame – maybe trellis like the TRX850 twin. I guess that makes it an all new bike. But I can live with that ;)

    Then you’d have a middleweight sport touring bike for me.

  • Yamasarus

    I have several vintage Yamahas as well as a an FZ 1. One of the vintage is a 1979 XS750F Triple. I really enjoy riding that bike. I think nothing of a 300 mile day on it. I can only imagine how a modern version of this bike would be. Is this just another Yamaha tease? And would it come to the US? I can wish, but Yamaha hasn’t been kind to the US unless you ride a cruiser. Yamaha, please prove me wrong……..

  • Shawn

    An street-style triple with either naked or quarter-faired styling with Yamaha build quality would get my money in a hearbeat.

  • This would be very cool. I’ve been waiting for the return of the 3 cylinder from Japan.

    Looking further ahead, imagine a staggered cylinder bank (ala Horex & VW) with the 3 cylinder, cross plane. Wrap it in a steel trellis frame like Singletrack mentioned.

    It would approach the twin in narrowness and power delivery. The sound would be like no other.

  • Jason

    Lop a cylinder off the R6 motor and put a cross plane crank in it and *PRESTO* new lightweight sportbike or naked, maybe hypermoto in the range. Not big enough? The little ninja’s have been selling like crazy… Fine, lop a cylinder off the R1 motor and it’s a 750. Either way, you could end up with new bikes and/or segments for Yamaha to succeed in. The hypermoto and multistrada have created new segments and growth for Ducati. Time for something new! I’ll take it as a 750 triple in a hypermoto style chassis please… I love the way it feels to be in the moto-x riding position

  • Jason

    Although, a truly light and sporty standard to go up against bike like the 848 streetfighter would be awesome too. I’ll take one of each

  • Edward K

    This idea sounds awesome. A much better yamaha streetbike to ride all day than an R6 (although i had an 07 R6 and loved it)…. And as far as it not selling well in the USA, it would if us americans weren’t idiots with a ton of money and no sense who don’t educate themselves about anything, even the stuff we like.

  • sburns2421

    Yamaha has shown that it is willing to go against the concensus of Japan Inc. and produce bikes that are off-beat yet still effective. So why stay with the standard 600cc inline 4 limit of the other Japanese companies? A 675cc cross-plane R6 would have a distinctive sound and extremely good performance.
    Of course, this could be the basis for a revised FZ6R a year or two later.

    But what if Yamaha applied that to a bigger bike? The R1 is getting long in the tooth, and with Rossi’s switch to Yamaha MotoGP (and rumored WSBK in 2015), how about an 1100cc triple? Once homologated, that machine would be extremely competitive against the 1200cc twins and 100cc fours.

  • Mark B

    I love triples, I’ve had a few.
    But Triumph already offer a very nice range, with lots of variations in sizing and styling, so Yamaha have a steep hill to climb.

  • Dann-O

    Maybe I don’t understand the crossplane right, but I thought the deal was that the cyclinders fired in pairs and the pairs fired 90deg apart so it ran like a V-twin? Whatever the case how do you have “crossplane” with and odd # of cylinders. Wouldn’t that be like a V-config where one cyclinder is twice the size of the other?

    Maybe someone can enlighten me.

    Oh, & I too would love to see another tripple on the market.

  • Greg

    A cross-plane triple doesn’t make sense to me. With three cylinders, the crank journals can be spaced 120 degrees apart from one another making an inherently balanced engine. Making it ‘cross-plane’ would upset this balance and possibly necessitate a balance shaft like most 4-cylinder engines need.

    I’d like to see more technical details on this concept engine to see how they intend to make it work.

  • MikeD


    My good Sir, you are not the only one confused by Yamaha’s B.S PR talk.

    One, they could be blowing smoke up our lowest back and calling a regular 120* Triple crank “CrossPlane” for their own marketing benefit…wich i call UBER B.S.

    The other, the crank looks like a T, like a 4 cyl crossplane crank missing one rod journal…HOW THE HELL do u make it work, balance it and WHY BOTHER to begin with when a 120* Triple crank is a well known formula that gives u the I4 top and the V2 bottom with it’s very own I3 mid range.

    OR……………….. maybe they(Yamaha) have found a way to reinvent the wheel that we (common Joe) can’t even dream of even in our wildest dreams ?

    I say the first one. Time will tell…if this ever makes it beyond the “fancy contemporary mechanical modern art expo” stage.

    @Mark B:

    Japan Inc. got nothing to fear when it comes to building triples…(^_^). They could and can steal Triumph lunch money w/ever they feel like doing so.


    So out there it might just work. Personally im sick of 600cc I4s, an I3 from someone else but Triumph wouldn’t hurt.
    P.S: One of Rossi’s task after signing with Yamaha is help in the development of the next Gen R1 suposedly out by 2014…just something i heard from some Italian website.
    1100cc Triple still will be eaten alive by the 1000cc I4’s, to a lesser degree than the 1200cc v2’s but still no TRUE 1000cc I4 rival. Have u watched SuperStock 1000 lately ? I love my Triples but u have to be realistic.

    @EdwardK: +1 my good Sr.

    @Jason & Doug: I like your crazy thinking. It might be just what they need.

    @Singletrack: Yup…they had a nice chance there to make A DIFFERENCE…but…i guess it’s asking too much.

  • six3seven

    I ride a 2010 big bang R1, with LSL Tourmatch clip-ons and I use it for sport-touring. Before that was an ’06 FZ1N, before that an XB12S.

    The big bang R1 has all the bottom end of the Buell and more top end than the FZ1, and with LSL clip-ons up 70mm and back 10mm it’s just as comfortable. I’m sold on the big bang configuration for the road, it’s just brilliant to live with in every day situations. And it sounds amazing. The other bike I almost bought was a speed triple, but the R1 + LSLs was almost $2K cheaper. And it’s a Yamaha.

    Any ‘R bike from Yamaha would certainly have to meet Supersport/Superbike regs… they won’t sink ‘R bike R&D money on something that won’t win races. Other than that, it’d have to be an F bike, which would mean using a lot of equipment they already make.

  • Ivan Burrell

    One way that Yamaha could have their cross-plane crank with the Big Bang characteristic too with perfect primary balance also is to leave the crank as is with 120 degree throws, but alter the firing sequence.

    The firing sequence could be changed from the even-fire 240 degrees, 240 degrees, 240 degrees to a Big Bang arrangement of 120 degrees, 240 degrees, 360 degrees. This could be done by altering the timing of the ignition and the timing of the cam(s).

    While aiding the traction at the rear wheel this should also make for an interesting exhaust note coming from those pipes!

  • Ivan Burrell

    After drawing out my 120, 240, 360 degree firing sequence in my first post I found out that my thinking was wrong. The new sequence that should work is 120 degree, 120 degree, 480 degree giving a total of 720 degrees. This arrangement would give the motor an even bigger Big Bang effect with it’s 3 cylinders on then 3 cylinders off firing. I could only imagine how this one would sound wound up?

  • Krylov

    @Ivan Burrel: Interesting thought! I am not sure, however, if “crossplane” is the same as “big bang” configuration. Tomorrow I will be in Cologne at the Intermot and maybe some of the guys at
    this display will know…

    Anyway, I love three cyclinders (even have a weak spot for the mid-80ies BMW K75):
    mostly for their practical usability(torque down low and still capable of revving) and
    their sound.
    After three Speed Triples and on Street Triple, however, I am no longer entirely enthusiastic
    about Triumph’s recent build quality. While we are at it: even less about their styling
    department (think Yamaha 90ies-style”fox eyes” or Camel back shaped tanks on a
    Speed Triple, lot’s of cheap plastic and badly painted aluminium cast parts,…
    Or BMW-look-a-like Tiger-Trailies or BMW rip-off supertourer Trophy models…)

    So I very much like the idea that one of the Japanese big four graces us with three
    cyclinder motors (my best guess: 675 ccm and 900 -1000 ccm) hopefully coming
    along with their usual build quality. (Like the MV Agusta B3, but would rather
    not trust their reliability.)

    Dear Mr Yamaha, please make that a naked 675 ccm@ 175kg (full tank and all) street toy:
    I’ll have one, please. Thank you.

  • Paul McM

    Funny people mention the XS850. My first new bike was an XS750, purchased in 1977. It really was a good machine, if a bit heavy for a 750. But that bike produced lots of torque for a 750, and I never felt like I needed more engine, even when touring two-up with 350 lbs of ‘me, my girl, n gear’. Given the success of the current Triumphs, I think Yamaha would do well with a triple, and could do worse to revive the ergos and riding position of the XS750/850. Just add Fuel injection and modern lights and brakes. But keep the backup kickstarter!

  • Ivan Burrell

    Thanks for the get-back Krylov. Hopefully some of the guys at the display will know the crank configuration and the firing interval. Why is Yamaha trying to market a cross-plane crank…for the added traction, or just for the sound of it? …or both…or something else?

    Have a nice and informative trip Krylov…meanwhile I will keep trying to figure out how to fit a square peg into a round hole?

  • Ivan Burrell

    Square peg/round hole

    This is my last guess before you go to the Intermot tomorrow and find out the real truth Krylov.

    A triple has 3 rod journals 120 degrees apart and that would give it firing intervals of 240, 240 and 240 degrees right? What if Yamaha moves back(delays) the second journal 30 degrees? …then the triple would have the journals separated at 150, 120, and 90 degrees giving it firing intervals of 300, 240, and 180 degrees, totally changing the exhaust note, AND giving the engine the “Big Bang” to improve traction. The second rod journal at 90 degrees to the third rod journal should qualify this crankshaft as a “modified” cross-plane at least.

    Any thought on this one anybody?

  • Ivan Burrell

    Square peg/round hole (2)

    I lied because i’m hot and on a roll Krylov!

    This one is even further out there: What if Yamaha moves the first pin back(retards) 30 degrees, and then moves the third pin ahead(advances) to give it a cross-plane crank with one pin missing. The journals then would be separated at 90, 180, 90 degrees giving it firing intervals of 180, 360, and 180 degrees for a total of 720 degrees. The sound would not resemble a 3 cyl. at all and the two 2 grouped pins of 90 and 90 degrees would give the engine the “Big Bang” also for added traction. The power pulses would not be as smooth as the posting above below 2500 RPM but the primary balance should be just fine?

    What do you think of THEM apples Krylov? Anybody?

  • Ivan Burrell

    Correction of Square peg/round hole (2): Delete the word “first” and change to “second”. Sorry for the typo…

  • Ivan Burrell

    Square peg/round hole (2) “CORRECTED POST”

    I lied because i’m hot and on a roll Krylov!

    This one is even further out there: What if Yamaha moves the second pin back(retards) 30 degrees, and then moves the third pin ahead(advances) to give it a cross-plane crank with one pin missing. The journals then would be separated at 90, 180, 90 degrees giving it firing intervals of 180, 360, and 180 degrees for a total of 720 degrees. The sound would not resemble a 3 cyl. at all and the two 2 grouped pins of 90 and 90 degrees would give the engine the “Big Bang” also for added traction. The power pulses would not be as smooth as the posting above below 2500 RPM but the primary balance should be just fine?

    What do you think of THEM apples Krylov? Anybody?

  • Ivan Burrell

    Ivan Burrell says:
    October 6, 2012 at 10:19 AM
    Square peg/round hole (3) “CORRECTED POST-FINAL EDITION”

    If the first pin is at 0 degrees and at 12 o’clock (starting with the normal 3 cyl. crank and moving counter-clockwise) what if Yamaha were to move the second pin back(retard) 30 degrees to nine o’clock, and then move the third pin ahead(advance) 30 degrees to three o’clock to give it a cross-plane crank with one pin missing. The journals then would be separated at 90, 180, 90 degrees giving it firing intervals of 270(90+180), 180(90+90), 270(180+90) degrees for a total of 720 degrees. Since these degrees can be divided EVENLY by 90 degrees instead of 120 degrees I will predict that this new motor will sound more like a 4 cyl. than a 3 cyl and will be 33% LOWER in pitch, with the added harmony of a major 5th for those of you who have taken music.

    Summing up: if stacking the rotational degrees that would be 0, 270, 450, 720.

    I saw this same inverted “T” shaped crank illustrated just last night on another web-site. Rats!

    Now what do you think of THEM apples Krylov? Anybody?

  • Ivan Burrell

    A reassessment of the drop in pitch is only 12.5% not 33% due to the going from 240 to 270 degrees. The harmony that I mentioned would come from the 270 sound together with the new 180 degrees. This relationship would sound out a major fifth like hitting a lower C and G together on the piano…good harmony for a nice sound. I predict that this engine will sound as low as the R1 but just not as extended up the range. Any musically inclined readers out there?

    Anybody heard any later news from Yamaha about this new engine?

  • MikeD


    Man, forget about Triumph’s success.

    At this point in time i just want too see something other than I-4s and V-twins come from Japan Inc.

    More V4, I3 and Boxers (LeadWing don’t count)….PLEASE ! …life is too short to be so frigging boring and stuck on the same mold as everyone. Thanks for trying Yamaha.

  • Ivan Burrell

    I don’t know if you know this or even care but if you take the head off the R1 and hit the starter and watch the pistons go up and down, then pull the head off one side of any production V8 since V8s began, hit the starter and watch the pistons go up and down, you will see the very same piston action looking at either engine! Both have crossplane cranks and both have identical piston movement, and firing orders…some may be flip-flopped from left to right.

    With the V8 buttoned up and running with long tube open headers, you can hear an R1 coming from either side of the V8 motor if you muffle the other side…doubtful, give it a try. Either side of a V8 has the same firing intervals as the R1…90-180-270-180 degrees for a total of 720 degrees! Guaranteed! I may have to guess at an unreleased crossplane three cylinder from Yamaha, but I do know my V8s and the R1 is just one bank of a V8! In summary a V8 is two R1(s) siamesed together running 360 degrees out of phase. Anybody out there feel the same?

  • Slammy

    Big bang and crossplane are two completely different things.

    Big bang has all cylinders firing close together
    crossplane has cylinders equally spaced

  • I rode and even raced a few of the original Laverda Jotas back in my misspent youth in the UK, and those were all 3 cyl 180º crank motors. They were really great engines, I absolutely loved them, and honestly when they switched to the final version with a rubber mounted 120º crank, I wasn’t such a fan. There is something addictive and visceral about a 180º crank triple, so I really hope this engine will be that.

  • brad

    Slammy, the Yamaha cross plane crank does NOT have cylinders firing equally spaced.

  • Ivan Burrell

    Andrew, I haven’t been such a fan of the triple with the 120 degree crank throws either, mostly because it didn’t have any bass and harmony in it’s exhaust, like the fours and twins. I think it has the sound of unison and octaves, instead of harmonic chords like the R1, the 700/800 VFR, and the Buell 72 degree V-twin. But you know how one never seems to get it all in one package, I now view the smooth even firing Triumph engine with a much greater appreciation now that I have put almost 3,000 miles on my new Suzuki V-Strom 1000. The Suzuki is great out on the interstate and above 60 MPH in OD, but around town I have to ride it like a 125 dirt-bike, constantly downshifting for slow traffic and turns, keeping the RPMS above 3,500 to accelerate away hard. If I don’t downshift soon enough and get caught in too high a gear exiting a turn the engine will buck and shake like a paint-mixer. Although I love the sound of it’s 270-450 degree cadence I have to pay the price of constant shifting. I think that the problem is not enough crankshaft weight with it’s single pin arrangement, and the large gap of 450 degrees before the front cylinder fires. Well, I may not like the baritone howl of the 3 cylinder, BUT, I can just about shift if, and when I want. I test-rode the tiger 800, and the Explorer 1200 and I could lug those engines down to 1500 RPM in top gear and roll it back on hard without engine complaint. The engines are lighter and smaller than a four with more bottom end torque, while being smoother than a twin without the herky /jerky effects…the perfect compromise engine! Maybe a Tiger 800 standard for 2014? …oh yeah, the transmission is butter smooth compared to the V-Strom, with the Explorer being somewhere in between, but if you want the “widest transmission” out there with a spread of 3.286 for touring and 44 MPG, think Suzuki DL1000. I bought the red 2012 for 9,100+ with 4 years interest free.