The three-wheeled Yamaha Niken will be coming to the U.S.A. in the second half of 2018 as a 2019 model. Yamaha Motor USA confirmed the news after the Niken was presented at the 2017 EICMA show with the help of the Doctor himself, Valentino Rossi.

Yamaha Unveils a Unique Three-Wheeler: Introducing The Niken

Leaning multi-wheelers, as Yamaha calls them, have been around for a few years now, most notably with the Piaggio MP3 and, in Europe, the Quadro4. Yamaha entered the segment itself with the Tricity in 2013. Those earlier leaning three-wheelers vehicles, however, are scooters. The Niken is different, in that it’s chassis, from the headstock back, is a full motorcycle, leading Yamaha to claim it as the world’s first leaning three-wheeled production motorcycle.

The front end is what Yamaha describes as an Ackermann dual-axle steering mechanism with a double “external” upside-down fork. The external refers to each fork’s twin tubes being together on the outside of the wheels, making it a cantilvered suspension system. Having the forks on the outside also allow the two 15-inch front wheels to be positioned closer together, at a width of just over 16 inches. Each fork is rebound and compression damping adjustable, and they work together to give the Niken a maximum lean angle of 45 degrees.

The twin front wheels, the 120/70R15 V-range tires were specially designed to handle the unique dynamics of the Niken’s front end set-up. Each front wheel is equipped with a 298mm disc. Together with the 282mm disc mounted to the 17-inch rear wheel, the Niken has three rotors worth of braking capability with the benefit of an extra contact patch.

As previously reported, the Niken is powered by an 847cc Triple based on the FZ-09 MT-09’s engine. For the three-wheeler, Yamaha updated the fuel injection settings added a new crankshaft design, claiming good drivability and smoother starts. Yamaha also equipped the Niken with its YCC-T D-Mode system (with three ride modes), cruise control, traction control, an assist and slipper clutch and a quick shift system.

The engine is mounted to a hybrid chassis, with a cast steel head pipe area, a steel tube frame and aluminum swingarm pivot area. The swingarm is 552 mm (21.7 inches) long, or 15mm longer than the MT-09’s swingarm for improved stability. The rider is also positioned about 50mm (2 inches) further back compared to the MT-09, to balance out the heavier front end an create a 50:50 weight distribution.

The 4.8 gallon fuel tank is made of aluminum, formed using the same process Yamaha uses for the YZF-R1 and R6. The tank has a deep concave shape, allowing for a firm knee grip and allowing the rider to shift around easily. According to Yamaha, a full tank of gas can offer a range of over 186 miles.

Other features include LED headlights, LED taillights, R1-derived mirrors with integrated LED turn signals, an LCD display and a 12V DC power outlet.

The 2019 Yamaha Niken will arrive in U.S. dealerships next fall in a Granite Gray color scheme. Pricing will be announced in the months ahead.

Follow the rest of our 2017 EICMA show coverage

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  • 12er

    The answer to a question nobody asked…

    • john phyyt

      Henry Ford’s Quote about people wanting a “faster horse”.
      Apparently data showing ” What we really want” as opposed to what we think we want is now augmented by mass data . So it really IS what we want.
      Put simply just because noboby is asking the question isn’t enough.

    • SerSamsquamsh

      I’m sure it was focus tested. “What prevents you from riding a motorcycle?”. Answer- “I’ve never ridden one but I’m afraid of falling off.” It’s a thing that does away with all the benefits of a motorcycle to lessen the drawback of falling over. I don’t like falling off that much to be honest:)

      It’s pretty goofy looking but at least they tried something different.

    • StripleStrom

      Must be taking Honda’s lead. They’re good for that.

    • gadgety

      In several countries riding a motorcycle requires a separate driver’s license. Trikes in many markets are considered equivalent to cars, and can be ridden with a regular car driver’s license. No need for a second license. That’s the question they answered.

  • Junker

    I’d like to see how it rides. For some reason, I feel like it would fall into a turn heavily and be hard to stand back up.

  • Gabriel Owens

    I think this is a sporty tourer?

  • Mister X

    This thing is kind of cool, in a weird way.
    It might be great for someone with leg, mobility, or balance issues, or for those who can no longer pick up their bike due too medical issues, injury, or age.
    Like Junker mentions, I do wonder what the riding dynamics are like, but I’m guessing Yamaha designed it to be relatively similar to a regular bike.
    With the twin fork design, an increase in caster could cancel out any heavy feeling, but it would make it more edgy, but I’d bet there’s a happy medium.
    My old Kawi F-5 Bighorn 350 came with Hatta forks, which allowed for caster change.

  • mikstr

    IMO, shame they spent precious engineering resources on this….

    • Born to Ride

      They could have spent the time making their bikes, R3-1 excluded, not hideous. OR they could have brought the damn Tenere to market instead of “unveiling” a concept/prototype two years in a row…

  • Sayyed Bashir

    Why? Looks huge from the front. No lane splitting with this one. It has a kickstand so it does not stand up on its own, which negates the advantage for physically impaired riders who cannot balance a motorcycle. Slight advantage due to an extra front patch and disc brake but the weight penalty and width penalty compared to a regular motorcycle is too great. Will be hard to take market away from trikes. May be preferable to a CanAm because of leaning ability. It is basically a motorcycle with two front wheels.

    • Ulysses Araujo

      90 cm is smaller than many BMWs, no to mention saddlebag equipped bikes. At least it’s on the front where you can see if it fits…

  • japanscrambler

    I am an experienced, healthy and perfectly mobile rider and I love the idea.

    I guess most internet bike heros ride only in nice weather on smooth asphalt?

    Anyone with enough experience to have washed out the front wheel in sand, gravel or due to inclement weather should immediately see the benefit to an extra wheel.

    Even adding 100lbs it is still 514 lbs, lighter than an Africa Twin.

    Now I can ride even more surfaces in more weather and extend my season. What’s not to like about that?

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Can’t lane share. Might as well drive the car.

      • japanscrambler

        Because everyone knows that lane sharing is the only reason to ride a motorcycle.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          It is a huge reason here in the rush hour traffic of the largest motorcycle riding state in the nation. The reason the Prius became so successful is because it was allowed in the carpool lanes in the state. The same reason the Tesla is becoming so successful despite its $70,000 cost. Sitting in bumper to bumper traffic on a motorcycle breathing in all the exhaust fumes and baking in the sun would be a deal killer for this bike.

          • japanscrambler

            Sayyed would rather drive a Prius than ride a Niken. Got it.

            For some it works, for some it doesn’t. Isn’t the free market great?

          • Sayyed Bashir

            The Prius would have recirculating air-conditioning, protection from the sun, a cold drink and snacks, and NPR. And the traffic in the carpool lane would be less congested. But I would rather be on one of my two-wheeled bikes and be home in 20 minutes instead of 1 1/2 hours.

          • japanscrambler

            So wait.. are you saying that the Niken won’t work for your ride to work? I’m still not clear on that..

            It’s pretty important I understand because my purchase decision in a non lane-sharing state with thousands of miles of empty mountain and desert gravel roads with 4 seasons really hinges on whether it works for your sunny traffic jammmed commute or not.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            No. And how are you going to take the Niken on gravel roads? It is not a off-road trike.

          • japanscrambler

            In the interest of education..

            Bikes are categorized by the manufacturers to sell to a certain demographic. It’s not against the law to use it for purposes different than, or in addition to, its marketed segment.

            Gravel roads are in general relatively flat requiring not much more suspension travel than street. Someday you should venture away from your baking hot parking lot commute into the outside world and see, there is a whole other world out there!

            You’d be surprised how capable “street bikes” are with the simple addition of Shinko 705’s and a gravel guard. I’ve done it for years and the FZ9 is my favorite because of its light weight and that sweet triple. Additional front traction just sweetens the deal for MY use.

            I’m sorry it offends you, but the Niken appeals to me.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            It doesn’t offend me. I ride a KTM 1190 Adventure R off-road in gnarly situations and I couldn’t see the Niken heading that way. Smooth gravel roads would be OK.

  • Sayyed Bashir

    Let’s see the EiC wheelie this one.

  • Ozzy Mick

    From all reports that l have read, the pioneering Piaggo is phenomenal to ride with its superior stability and excellent handling, even in cornering. I gave serious thought to buying one but the price and ugliness put me off. The Niken looks odd, buy not downright ugly, IMHO.
    I’m at the age now where picking up a two wheeler, and even holding it up, can be a challenge. However, I’m still unsure why bike manufacturers are still producing bikes of more than 600cc.

    • Treeman

      I ride my Piaggio MP3 250ie on trails gravel roads, etc. It handles like a dream. Yes, very ugly, but at age 75, who cares??

      • Ozzy Mick

        Good on you Treeman, may you enjoy many more miles.

  • Jens Vik

    Pointless! They said you need a motorcycle license to ride it. So who is going to buy it? Piaggio MP3 has been a huge success in europe because you can ride it on a car-license.

    When you finally get your motorbike license, you dont go to the dealer and buy this!

  • Mec-One

    “Excellent!” – mechanics

  • RyYYZ

    I just can’t believe that they’re actually going to production with that ridiculous Rube Goldberg front suspension setup. Of all the possible ways to do a leaning 3-wheeler’s front suspension, this looks like about the least likely that I could have imagined.

  • RyYYZ

    I wonder how much dual front wheels actually increases traction? Sure, there are two, but then the weight of the bike is split between them. But since there are two, maybe even stickier compounds are usable, as wear should be shared between them, too?
    Anyway, if one of the front tires loses traction, you then have the other tire taking all the cornering load, but the tire that lost traction is still carrying half the weight on the front end. I’d love to read a thorough analysis of the pros and cons of this sort of thing.

  • Treeman

    I presently ride a Piaggio MP3 250ie. I love the thing because it’s so stable on the gravel roads, trails, etc. I would love to see the Tricity 155 arrive in the U.S. What are the chances??

  • arlenmarvin

    I like the idea however it is fugly. It is the first of its kind in full sized motorcycle. Therefore it has room to evolve into something more desirable.

  • Rob Alexander

    I’m kind of anxious to see a full road test and pricing.

  • Angus Pug

    I don’t get it. What’s the advantage over two wheels? Will it stay upright without putting your foot down? That would be helpful for older or disabled riders but that seems like a pretty small market.

  • Andrew Cooler Can

    those are cool looking shit but we still want a sub 300 lbs WR450R/X