For the 2019 model year, Yamaha is bringing a sport-touring focused version of its leaning three-wheeler to market. Say hello to the Yamaha Niken GT.
We have known for some time that Yamaha planned on making its leaning multi-wheel vehicle technology into a family of bike and car analogs. The Japanese brand has invested heavily into the chassis technology to make these unique machines, and Yamaha is not content to just leave the marketplace with the Tricity scooter and NIKEN sport bike. To that notion, Yamaha has already tipped a mid-sized leaning multi-wheeler to us, with Yamaha CEO/President Yoshihiro Hidaka showing a slide in February of this year that had a blurred out LMW sitting between the Tricity and NIKEN models. Now, we get word from Europe that a 300cc version of the NIKEN is set to drop later this year. Based off the Yamaha YZF-R3 platform, the mid-sized leaner will supposedly have a twin-cylinder engine with a 321cc displacement.
The Yamaha NIKEN is trying to make a three-wheeled revolution, and it is coming to the United States starting in September. As such, we finally have pricing information on the NIKEN, and the American MSRP is set at a stout $15,999.
For those who don’t want to do the math, this price tag represents a $7,000 markup over the Yamaha MT-09, which the NIKEN is loosely based off of, from the headstock back.
Yamaha USA will be doing a special “online reservation system” only sort of deal when it comes to selling the NIKEN here, which means that all bikes will have to be ordered through your local Yamaha dealership before they are shipped.
Yamaha faithful should recognize that online ordering scheme is the same system that Yamaha USA used for the VMAX power cruiser and YZF-R1M superbike.
It has to be the weirdest motorcycle yet, if you can even call it that (some don’t), but it is also luridly intriguing. we are of course talking about the Yamaha NIKEN (read the ride review here, by the way). A mullet of machines, the NIKEN is business in the front, and party in the back, with its dual 15-inch front wheels mated to a grand total of four conventional fork tubes, via an elaborate parallelogram linkage, while the 17-inch rear wheel spins from a more conventional swingarm design. This is because from behind the headstock, things get a bit more familiar, with a chassis that is built mostly from steel tube, and a swingarm that comes from cast aluminum. The motor is a revised version of the three-cylidner engine that is found in the Yamaha MT-09.
“Ride the Revolution.” That’s Yamaha’s tag line for its latest sci-fi powersport creation— the three-wheel equipped NIKEN. But the NIKEN is more than just a Transformer-esque motorcycle equipped with an extra wheel, instead, its engineered specifically to increase cornering grip, while maintaining an authentic leaning experience that only a motorcycle can provide. Easier said than done, right? Well, after spending a day riding high in the Austrian Alps, we can see merit in Yamaha’s latest production concept. Yamaha says that the NIKEN was a result of a simple goal: “the target was to make a motorcycle with more grip, so it can corner better,” says Yamaha Motor Europe’s product planning manager, Leon Oosterhof.
Today, we get ready to ride one of the most intriguing motorcycles that has ever been released – the Yamaha Niken. This leaning three-wheeler caught our attention last year, not only for its crazy looks, but also for its interesting tech.
It seems that all the manufacturers are exploring what the future holds for motorcycles, and some of that future involves a move away from the traditional two-wheeled format. As such, bikes like the Niken are an exploration of what is possible when you eschew established norms.
Using an advanced parallelogram front-end for its two forward wheels, the Niken is basically a Yamaha MT-09 from the headstock back, with the peppy three cylinder engine providing a familiar power plant to an otherwise unfamiliar machine.
To give us a sense of this radically new machine, we have sent motorcycling’s favorite wild man, Adam Waheed, to go ride the Yamaha Niken in Austria and report back to us.
Per our new review format, Adam will be giving you a live assessment of the Yamaha Niken right here in this article (down in the comments section), and there he will try to answer any questions you might have.
So, here is your chance to learn what it’s like to ride the Niken, before even Adam’s own proper review is posted. As always, if we don’t know an answer, we will try to get a response from the Yamaha personnel. So, pepper away.
I find the Yamaha Niken to be the most intriguing motorcycle (and I use that word loosely) to debut for the 2018 model year. It is probably the model I most look forward to riding this year, from all of those that debuted at this year’s EICMA show (riding the Ducati Panigale V4 S didn’t suck, however).
What Yamaha calls a leaning multi-wheel (LMW) vehicle, this three-wheeler promises more stability than a traditional motorcycle, while still providing the rider the same amount of fun.
Take one look at the Niken though, and you can tell that the Yamaha engineers were quite busy in making it all work as planned. An elegant solution, this is not. But, the Niken is still fascinating from an engineering perspective.
Thankfully, Yamaha has taken the time to explain more clearly just all the technology that has gone into making the Niken lean, steer, and move like a motorcycle…despite having an extra wheel on the front-end.
Now it seems that the Japanese brand is ready to bring us a hat trick of these machines, with Yamaha CEO/President Yoshihiro Hidaka tipping that the folks from Iwata have more multi-wheel leaners coming down the pipe.
To give us more insight though, a slide accompanying Hidaka-san’s speach should a blurred out model, sitting in-between the Tricity and Niken model, perhaps indicating that a mid-sized LMW is coming to us soon from Yamaha.
We have already seen the Yamaha Niken at the Tokyo Motor Show, the Tuning Fork brand putting a name to its leaning three-wheeler, but little was said about this radical machine. Now ready to talk about the future of sport riding at the EICMA show in Milan, Yamaha sees a future where riders will want the added stability and handling that comes from a leaning multi-wheeled vehicle. At the core of the Yamaha Niken is an Ackerman steering design, which uses two sets of upside down front forks, held along a parallelogram brace that attaches to the front of the motorcycle.This allows the Yamaha Niken to corner with serious lean angle, up to 45° degrees according to the Japanese brand.
Yamaha says it will have a new leaning multi-wheeler (LMW) concept at the Tokyo Motor Show, which is funny because Honda will have a leaning three-wheeler as well at the Japanese trade show as well. Kawasaki has already shown us the Concept J three-wheeler, back in 2013, and the Yamaha Tesseract has been making the rounds on the internet since 2007. Add into the mix the popularity of the on-road snowmobile that is the Can-Am Spyder, and the surprising surge of sales with the Polaris Slingshot, and clearly OEMs are considering making unique play toys for public streets. Like the Spyder or Slingshot, they might not be motorcycles, but these leaning multi-wheelers tap into the same fun-factor that comes with riding a motorcycle.
If the Yamaha 03GEN-f concept is supposed to be a sport-oriented three-wheeled leaning scooter, then consider the Yamaha 03GEN-x concept its dirty cousin. Based on Yamaha’s leaning multi-wheel (LVM) technology, the Yamaha 03GEN-x take the same idea, but applies it to off-road duty. Laced with a spoke-wheel wheelset, a headlight guard, and tall handlebars, the Yamaha 03GEN-x concept is an interesting take on the dual-sport space. The idea of course is to bring the stability of the LVM concept, as seen on the Yamaha Tricity, to the off-road segment. We’re not sure how the feet-forward scooter sitting position is going to play on rougher trails, but for gravel and fire roads, the 03GEN-x could be a unique style of fun. What do you think?