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Yamaha bets on motorbikes that won't fall over

Manufacturers use high tech to improve safety and reverse downtrend of riders

Yamaha's new Tricity 300 features a system that keep it upright when parked.

TOKYO -- A motorcycle cannot stand on its own because it is too (two) tired -- this joke may become history. With self-driving for four-wheeled vehicles having entered the practical stage and safer cars in demand, Japanese motorcycle makers are directly challenging the conventional wisdom of two-wheeled vehicles.

"Everybody knows motorcycles are dangerous, but the industry has continued to turn a blind eye to the issue. We want to face it squarely," said Makoto Shimamoto, Yamaha Motor's director in charge of mobility technology. In this spirit, Yamaha is working to develop safer motorcycles that do not fall over. The key technology for this effort is called "leaning multi-wheel" technology (LMW), which uses three or more wheels but makes the vehicles feel like motorcycles, turning in the direction the rider leans toward.

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