Kawasaki’s J concept morphs from all-electric three-wheeler to sport bike

Unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show, the Kawasaki J concept literally defies description. Is it a three-wheeler? Is it a high-performance sport bike? Either way, it looks pretty cool.

The Kawasaki J technically has three wheels, but in Sport Mode the two front wheels are pushed together, and the entire machine hunkers down to lower the center of gravity. In Comfort Mode, the stance is raised and the front wheels separate, giving the ride a more upright position that is, well, more comfortable.

Instead of handlebars, steering is accomplished with two levers, one attached to each of the front wheels. It’s a decidedly Steampunk mechanism, compared to the bike’s Cyberpunk styling.

In three-wheeled Comfort Mode, the J concept looks like a scooter used by mall cops in the futuristic Grid city from Tron. In maximum-attack Sport Mode, it looks completely otherworldly.

Powering the Kawasaki J is an electric motor hooked to a nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery pack. The packaging advantages of an electric powertrain were probably needed to accomplish the J’s transformation stunt. Note that it doesn’t use the lithium-ion batteries that are found in most electric cars and plug-in hybrids.

The Kawasaki J looks awesome on the show stand, and it won’t be going anywhere else. Kawasaki has no plans to put it into production. That’s just as well; it’ll save owners from having to try to explain it to their neighbors.

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