Motorcycles

Yamaha Niken: Finally, a high-performance tilting 3-wheel beast for the roads

Yamaha Niken: Finally, a high-...
2018 Yamaha Niken: will it be too weird a machine for the average biker?
2018 Yamaha Niken: will it be too weird a machine for the average biker?
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2018 Yamaha Niken: built on the MT09 platform
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2018 Yamaha Niken: built on the MT09 platform
2018 Yamaha Niken: this'll get you noticed on the road
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2018 Yamaha Niken: this'll get you noticed on the road
2018 Yamaha Niken: tilting 3-wheeler with genuine performance potential
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2018 Yamaha Niken: tilting 3-wheeler with genuine performance potential
2018 Yamaha Niken: OK forget the bike, I wanna ride that road.
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2018 Yamaha Niken: OK forget the bike, I wanna ride that road.
2018 Yamaha Niken: slim rear aspect
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2018 Yamaha Niken: slim rear aspect
2018 Yamaha Niken: wide frontal aspect
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2018 Yamaha Niken: wide frontal aspect
2018 Yamaha Niken: front end grip levels should be insane, with those two 15-inch tyres
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2018 Yamaha Niken: front end grip levels should be insane, with those two 15-inch tyres
2018 Yamaha Niken: this thing should tear it up in the corners. I just hope it can get a good enough lean angle for real performance riding
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2018 Yamaha Niken: this thing should tear it up in the corners. I just hope it can get a good enough lean angle for real performance riding
2018 Yamaha Niken: looks absolutely nasty
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2018 Yamaha Niken: looks absolutely nasty
2018 Yamaha Niken: should be terrific for rolling burnouts
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2018 Yamaha Niken: should be terrific for rolling burnouts
2018 Yamaha Niken: from the side, you'd almost never know
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2018 Yamaha Niken: from the side, you'd almost never know
2018 Yamaha Niken: perhaps the first of a series of 3-wheelers? Where's the panniers?
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2018 Yamaha Niken: perhaps the first of a series of 3-wheelers? Where's the panniers?
2018 Yamaha Niken: should offer unparalleled cornering confidence on all sorts of surfaces
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2018 Yamaha Niken: should offer unparalleled cornering confidence on all sorts of surfaces
2018 Yamaha Niken: it's unclear whether it'll run a tilt lock for parking
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2018 Yamaha Niken: it's unclear whether it'll run a tilt lock for parking
Dodgy surface? No worries when you've got 3 wheels
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Dodgy surface? No worries when you've got 3 wheels
2018 Yamaha Niken: all signs point toward this as a full production model
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2018 Yamaha Niken: all signs point toward this as a full production model
2018 Yamaha Niken: will it be too weird a machine for the average biker?
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2018 Yamaha Niken: will it be too weird a machine for the average biker?
2018 Yamaha Niken: OK that looks almost as wide as a snowmobile
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2018 Yamaha Niken: OK that looks almost as wide as a snowmobile
2018 Yamaha Niken: twin forks on either side offer rigidity
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2018 Yamaha Niken: twin forks on either side offer rigidity
2018 Yamaha Niken: a unique and crazy looking machine
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2018 Yamaha Niken: a unique and crazy looking machine
2018 Yamaha Niken: coming soon to a road near you
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2018 Yamaha Niken: coming soon to a road near you
2018 Yamaha Niken: I wonder if this thing will have luggage options
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2018 Yamaha Niken: I wonder if this thing will have luggage options
2018 Yamaha Niken: next-level performance in a tilting 3-wheeler
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2018 Yamaha Niken: next-level performance in a tilting 3-wheeler
2018 Yamaha Niken: the ride of choice for stormtroopers, apparently
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2018 Yamaha Niken: the ride of choice for stormtroopers, apparently
2018 Yamaha Niken: tail light
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2018 Yamaha Niken: tail light
2018 Yamaha Niken: hand-adjustable rear shock preload
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2018 Yamaha Niken: hand-adjustable rear shock preload
2018 Yamaha Niken: digital dash
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2018 Yamaha Niken: digital dash
2018 Yamaha Niken: barrel-chested fella, isn't he?
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2018 Yamaha Niken: barrel-chested fella, isn't he?
2018 Yamaha Niken: left switchgear and handlebar
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2018 Yamaha Niken: left switchgear and handlebar
2018 Yamaha Niken: hulking double front end
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2018 Yamaha Niken: hulking double front end
2018 Yamaha Niken: double forks on each side bring the muscle
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2018 Yamaha Niken: double forks on each side bring the muscle
2018 Yamaha Niken: passenger seat doesn't look too bad
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2018 Yamaha Niken: passenger seat doesn't look too bad
2018 Yamaha Niken: right handlebar and switchgear, including mode switch
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2018 Yamaha Niken: right handlebar and switchgear, including mode switch
2018 Yamaha Niken: unique looks might help sell the concept to motorcyclists, who are typically very adverse to anything that doesn't look like a regular bike
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2018 Yamaha Niken: unique looks might help sell the concept to motorcyclists, who are typically very adverse to anything that doesn't look like a regular bike
2018 Yamaha Niken: looks like it can use pretty much all of that rear tyre
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2018 Yamaha Niken: looks like it can use pretty much all of that rear tyre
2018 Yamaha Niken: horizontal shock layout
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2018 Yamaha Niken: horizontal shock layout
2018 Yamaha Niken: looks like the terrific MT-09 inline triple engine has found another new home
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2018 Yamaha Niken: looks like the terrific MT-09 inline triple engine has found another new home
2018 Yamaha Niken: chain drive
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2018 Yamaha Niken: chain drive
2018 Yamaha Niken: double seat unit
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2018 Yamaha Niken: double seat unit
2018 Yamaha Niken: rear swingarm and license plate holder
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2018 Yamaha Niken: rear swingarm and license plate holder
View gallery - 40 images

Yamaha is about to unveil a high-performance, sports-oriented tilting 3-wheeler called the Niken, which appears to be a full production bike. This thing is going to be absolutely awesome to ride, with surreal levels of grip and confidence at the front end. But can it wheelie?

Ever since we first tested the awesome Piaggio MP3, I've been 100 percent sold on the idea of tilting 3-wheelers.

With two wheels at the front, grip feels just about unlimited, stability is frankly amazing and the riding experience feels something akin to a regular motorcycle that counter steers with ease – except you can lean more or less as far over as you like, no matter what the road conditions are like, in total confidence.

I came away from riding the MP3 thinking "if only somebody would make one of these with a bigger, hairier set of balls, we'd have something really special on our hands. And everywhere else."

Yamaha has been teasing us for a decade now with the Tesseract and the OR2T, which extended the concept to include twin rear wheels as well. Then came the MWT-9 3-wheeler concept back in 2015, which has now been developed into a full-scale production machine in the 2018 Yamaha Niken.

2018 Yamaha Niken: looks absolutely nasty
2018 Yamaha Niken: looks absolutely nasty

Details are scant at this point, but it looks like it'll run the excellent, high performance and super torquey inline triple engine from the MT09 platform, a series of bikes I love without shame or reservation. Length is 2,150 mm and width is 885 mm, making it 7 cm wider than the MT09's 815 mm, but still hopefully relevant in traffic.

2018 Yamaha Niken: wide frontal aspect
2018 Yamaha Niken: wide frontal aspect

Where the MP3 looked and felt like a humble, friendly scooter, the Niken is designed from the ground up to look like a frickin' beast. Its wide, flat, angry front panelling looks a bit like a squashed Triumph 675 fairing, and the distinctive twin forks supporting each 15-inch front wheel look absolutely wicked.

If anything can get your typical stodgy, conservative biker to get over the stigma of riding a 3-wheeler, it'll be this beast. And my experience with the MP3 is that pretty much everyone who rides one will understand its unique advantages immediately. Massive cornering grip will be one, but it should also stop harder and more securely than any two-wheeler on the market.

2018 Yamaha Niken: twin forks on either side offer rigidity
2018 Yamaha Niken: twin forks on either side offer rigidity

Those small wheels will help make this thing turn super quick around town, but it'll be really interesting to see how they handle fast sport riding and high lean angles.

How far over can the Niken lean before the outside wheel lifts off the deck? Why the twin forks on each side? Does it wheelie? Who knows, but we'll have full details from EICMA on November 6, and this thing looks absolutely production-ready.

Bring. It. On!

New Yamaha NIKEN - Ride the Revolution

Enjoy a ton of images in the gallery.

Source: Yamaha Niken

View gallery - 40 images
12 comments
Daishi
"Does it wheelie?" was my thought too. I think the twin fork is for stability to help make sure the front wheels remain correctly aligned (which is probably harder with a fork on one side of the wheel). Curiously I checked the MP3 and even though the fork is on the inside it looks like it uses a similar method with 2 structures of support for each wheel: https://i.imgur.com/CQVwNbe.jpg
RMinNM
That front end makes me feel sure it will appear in Mad Max remakes / other tales of dystopian future. Weight is a big question, but then with enough motor that can be resolved to most people's satisfaction.
Mzungu_Mkubwa
This is a very interesting design, and I applaud their attempt to pursue this advantageous reverse-trike paradigm! However, I've read commenters indicate that the telescoping fork front suspension, while common, is not the optimal solution. Is Yamaha's approach here superior to double-wishbone-suspended designs such as those from Tilting Motor Works or Wesll? It appears to be so complex and "tall" in appearance. Love how well it appears to work, tho!
Username
Will it only be for storm trooper use?!
Adam Cecchini
I've been riding my MP3 like a sportbike for a decade and the double-takes from other riders as I pass them are priceless. Needless to say, I'm really looking forward to getting one of these! More lean, less danger? Hell yeah!
Buellrider
Very crazy looking bike in a futuristic good way. Twice the fork seals to blow. Why not put V-max power in that thing and make it a touring bike with all the bells and whistles. A couple of things that come to mind: would insurance rate go up or down for this thing and what will be the price? I can see where a shorter legged person could climb onto this bike and not really have to touch ground and rely on those 3 wheels to keep the bike up. Can't wait to see this bike in person.
Fretting Freddy the Ferret pressing the Fret
I might get me a motorcycle licence for just one of these. The safety in knowing it has excellent road grip and stability is appealing. Make it electric and I'm sold.
rude.dawg
"Can it wheelie?" Well, should it be able to? Isn't that what regular 2-wheeled bikes are for? This 3-wheeled wonder is for grip and stability. Probably not for wheelies. Looking at its apparent width in the photos though, I'm wondering: Could it lane filter?
zackzelmo
Why? Cons: Extra cost, more complex, extra weight, less agile, worse for lane splitting. The ONLY advantage I see is being able to sit with both feet on the pegs at a traffic light. Some are mentioning how much more it will grip the road. Is that even an issue?????? I mean, how many riders are crashing because they lost grip in a turn? It's like saying "wow this crash helmet has more strength to prevent it from splitting open upon impact." So again: Is lack of grip a big problem for the rider who would buy this motowheelchair?? Additionally, it just looks dorky.
rude.dawg
For those who don't seem to appreciate how common an occurrence "low side" crashes are, here are a few vids taken at Mullholland Hwy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRXOf-9YJU0 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BfwFw_vrQY https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GmF0wON9sk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBOhQ_WZ3cU https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1bYtEBWj6Q https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2o4pZqkjqak https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnYY_mJVDAo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aq1IS7mhgl8 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IoJ9hQj37M https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojUAf8OcTrg The slow-motion footages indicate that low siders are precipitated by loss of... grip. 3-wheeled bikes like the Niken, allow the rider to lean deeper into corners with increased tyre footprints=increased grip. Enjoy!