With Yamaha, the Tour de France rolls on three wheels

March 15 th 2019 - 14:00

Key points:

The Tour de France changes gear! With the partnership with the Japanese constructor, Yamaha plans to replace the motorcycles used during the race with three-wheeled models, which television viewers can see this week on the roads of Paris-Nice, then on some cycling races organised by A.S.O. in Europe such as Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Tour de France. A squadron of some 30 motorcycles are needed for controlling traffic, making sure the riders get their fresh bottles, transporting race officials and journalists as well as accompanying the publicity caravan. On Paris-Nice, a dozen of the brand-new Yamaha NIKEN, released in October 2018, appeared after rigorous preparation, supervised by Frank Meneghini, who is in charge of the A.S.O. car and motorcycle fleet. “We made our first visit to Yamaha a year ago and we have put in a lot of work with them to make the needed modifications for the different functions that we carry out in the races. For example, we install radio communication equipment that changes weight distribution. The NIKEN also has to be equipped with a specific support for the race information slate or a tall windscreen that is not available on the standard model”.

Once these adjustments were made, Yamaha proceeded with the certification of these new materials, while the motorbike riders put in several tests before using the bikes in the races. And the verdict is unanimous when it comes to the riding comfort of the Japanese motorcycles. “We did some tests on the cobblestones to ready for Paris-Roubaix and all the riders confirmed that the three wheelers provide a lot of stability. Its look also makes it an atypical motorcycle and that is not negligible”, concludes Meneghini.

Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour de France: “Ensuring a cycling race runs smoothly is a complex affair. Motorbikes are essential at all levels: to ensure the riders’ safety, to provide refreshments, to carry out vehicle control, to monitor sportsmanship, to perform media coverage, etc. The arrival of Yamaha on the Tour de France and the other cycling races that we organise is further proof of the excellence that pervades the Grande Boucle. We welcome a dynamic and innovative partner that will be channelling all its know-how into the world’s biggest cycling race”.

Eric de Seynes, Yamaha Motor Europe President : “This thrilling new agreement is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate the vast potential of our NIKEN machine. Competition in all of its forms is deeply rooted within Yamaha’s DNA and this collaboration allows us to be a vital part in the smooth operation of some of the world’s biggest sporting events. With the assistance crews covering innumerable kilometres crossing the heart of Europe, this is also a great opportunity for Yamaha to bring its revolutionary product closer to the public and demonstrate its performance and reliability no matter the terrain or conditions. Our range of NIKEN models stands out for its multipurpose nature, its ability to welcome riders of all levels and its unique capacity to offer unmatched comfort and riding safety on any road. I am truly confident the NIKEN will perfectly adapt to the needs of all riders assigned with the challenging task of supporting these big sporting events.”

© ASO/Alex BROADWAY

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