UPDATE: We’ve added a couple of shots of the Yamaha Niken from the Tokyo Motor Show.

Yamaha has unveiled a new, interesting three-wheeled sportbike, or perhaps more appropriately, sport-trike, this morning at the 45th annual Tokyo Motor Show. Based on the MWT-9 concept that was revealed around this time two years ago and featuring Leaning Multi-Wheeler (LMW) technology, Yamaha calls it the ‘Niken.’

In Japanese, ‘ni’ means two and ‘ken’ translates to sword, a befitting name of the dual-wheeled front end. The Niken pairs matching 15-inch wheels with inverted dual-tube forks and measures 885mm wide, or roughly 35 inches. In addition to the two wheels up front, the Niken features a conventional rear end and is powered by an 847cc inline-triple derived from the FZ-09’s engine. Three wheels, three cylinders – makes sense.

Yamaha claims that their LMW technology is designed to “reduce the effects of changing ride environments and to deliver a high feeling of stability when cornering.” In theory, with twice the traction up front, the Niken should certainly brake faster (oxymorons, hehe), offer more stability and be less likely to wash out in a turn compared to a traditional motorcycle, however, this is yet to be determined as lean angle is questionable at this point and us moto-journalist types haven’t gotten our greedy hands on one to see how far it can be pushed, yet. With an additional contact patch, forget about dragging knee, I want to see this thing drag its handlebars.

It’s a cool idea and looks well engineered, but do performance sportbike enthusiasts really want an extra wheel up front? No, and that’s not to mention the extra weight and complexity of the whole apparatus.

This begs the question, who is Yamaha targeting with the Niken? Perhaps aging riders who want a ‘bike’ with more stability than a normal sportbike, but smaller and more agile than say, a Can-Am Spyder? Or the younger millennials contemplating taking up motorcycling that might be afraid to learn how to ride a proper motorcycle thinking the Niken will be safer? Only time will tell…

Three-wheeled motorcycles are not a new concept. Piaggio has its MP3 scooters that are very popular, particularly in Europe, where a scooter is considered an all-season, all-weather vehicle.  The added traction and stability in inclement weather in this instance is a major plus. For a sportbike though? The additional weight alone classifies it as less sporty. Perhaps the technology would be better suited for a sport-tourer, but we will have to see for ourselves just how this thing really handles.

MO will be seeing the Niken in person at its official unveiling in Milan on November 6th and we’ll provide all the exciting details as they’re announced. The Niken will be going into production and will likely be the first Yamaha trike coming to the US. Hopefully we’ll even get to swing a leg over this thing one day and throw it into some corners, so stay tuned!

  • jeff benson

    Well. My wife who is 5’2″ could ride one then. Good for short people.

  • Matt F

    It looks like it would make a great antagonist for Cars 4.

  • Old MOron

    Wow, where were those cool pictures taken? It looks kind of like Soda Lake Road.
    As for the bike, it’s kind of funny looking, but if it gets more people out of their cages, bring it on.

    • Jon Jones

      I believe you’re correct. Some spectacular and desolate roads in Central CA.

  • 12er

    Come on Yamaha, add the old hydraulic hubs off the 2wd dakar prototypes and make it 3 wheel drive.

  • Martin Thompson

    FUGLY

  • kenneth_moore

    I have only one thing to say about this bike: I can’t wait to see the photos of Mr. Duke popping a mile-high wheelie on It! Preferably at the official Yamaha press tour (like he did with BMW and the K1600).

    Go Duke!

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Can you even do a wheelie on a reverse trike?

      • spiff

        Duke can!

        • Sayyed Bashir

          Is that a challenge?

          • spiff

            Only a fool would challenge the Duke!

  • Starmag

    Mantis’s violently cannibalize members of their own species. This one looks like it ate an insect-like FZ-09. The bonus to riding this is you won’t get any bugs in your teeth because they will all be frightened and getting out of the way.

  • Buzz

    Looks fun. Can’t say I would ever own one but it might make a fun rental someday.

  • allworld

    This could prove to be the best vehicle configuration for areas where snow, rain and poor road conditions are common.

  • Mad4TheCrest

    Seen from the front it’s quad-like and hideous, but the tech is interesting and if it really works this could save lives or at least lost skin and broken bones; and maybe our sport too, by keeping us (hard)core fans riding into our 70s and 80s while making it safer for a new generation of more risk-averse riders.

  • Kenneth

    This article’s author repeatedly compares and disparages this for not being appealing to the “performance sport bike enthusiast.” ‘Seems pretty obvious to me, it would more appropriately be an alternative to a standard motorcycle. I don’t think anyone would be buying this trike to race.

    • jeff benson

      Squids gotta squid.

    • Sandro R.

      Exactly. Whole article sounded very immature. Looks to be a great commuter option to me, specially for rainy places.

  • Matt O

    I want a test ride.

  • Vrooom

    Might be more successful attracting new riders than they will be experienced ones. I don’t hear people clamoring for worse handling in exchange for stability and braking, especially given how well modern bikes brake.

  • w2e2b

    They should have just made a bike with a side car, much more practical and I think more people would be interested in a side car rig..

    • spiff

      They are great except for the right hand corners.

      • JWaller

        Wrong. They are GREAT for right hand corners. Flying the chair is the sidecar equivalent to the wheelie and I do it just about every time I come to a right hand corner. I often ride my Ural with a dual sport group through farm and ranch roads in the Texas hill country (when the Ural’s not broke down). It amazes me how few of the two wheeled riders can keep up with me. You can ride with reckless abandon when you know it’s virtually impossible to fall off and you can’t drop the bike.

        • spiff

          Fair enough. Maybe I need to ride one. My father said that when he was younger the cops had sidecars. They used to say “if you see lights turn right”.

  • StripleStrom

    I would like to see one with 4 wheels that all lean. If you’re going to put another up front, why not another in the back?

  • MotorbikeMike

    Looked way cooler when it was a prototype, that headlight/windscreen piece looks like it was lifted off of something with a conventional front end.

    I liked the wider looking bodywork they came up with a couple years ago.

    Styling aside, it’s great to see an actual motorcycle coming out of the factory with this technology, would love to take one for a rip some day.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8c51a46c9b9665648adec3718d374f9f4fe29e1f60446635f65e6e28fe6c330a.jpg

  • HazardtoMyself

    The spyder seems to have done well. I have never ridden one, but some of the complaints seem to be is that it handles more like a car than a motorcycle.

    It appears this will handle more tradionally. I believe it could end up doing well and eat up some spyder sales.

  • Patriot159

    Yea, yea, yea…where in My T7!!

  • Fabian

    Well, add a wheel and you get yourself … a car.

  • Don Orton

    Engineering department – “Styling department, here’s what you have to work with”. Styling department – “Lets see if we can – oh, fuck it”.

  • Marshall Bono

    The concept will appeal to an older, more sedate, upright rider. The styling will appeal to the under-30 crowd. I suggest a immediate make over for the customers who want this technology. If they keep the current styling, I predict this will stay on the menu for less than 3 years.

  • azicat

    I would’ve thought hub-centred steering would be more appropriate. Wouldn’t the conventional telescopic forks make rake/trail go completely out of sync the moment you hit a bump, or try to turn a corner?

  • pjc

    Hmm, ugliest thing I’ve seen in a while, so ugly I think I like it, would love to test drive on a nice windy road, does the storm trooper outfit come with, hey, it could be a selling feature ! All kidding aside I’d like to see it and ride it

  • therr850

    Gross!!

  • Rose Desjarlais

    Insane.

  • Rob Mitchell

    I just don’t get trikes. I grew out of mine by the time I was 5 years old.

  • Lynchenstein

    I thought this was just a concept, but the crazies are actually going to build it! Wow.

  • Stanislaw Zolczynski

    Who needs it. Try to follow Niken on wet cobblestones with your two-wheeler and you`ll see.

  • Kevin R Dunn

    Think the price point will be the deciding factor for something like this. If they can keep it under $20K, even better maybe something like $12-14K they could have a winner expanding the market for 3-wheel fans. Europe, especially Paris is a great example of the desire for this kind of product. Like Yamaha says, the ability for stability in bad roads or weather make this appealing to people who either would never look at two-wheels as viable transportation, or those riders just wanting more stability for reasons like height, skill level, age, injury, ect. I applaud Yamaha for being the first to market with something in this full-size catagory. I would never consider a Trike or Spyder, but this I would. Is it to compete against its two-wheel sister bike, absolutely not. But offering sport performance abilities from a full size bike might actually attract those sport riders who have been riding for a long time and might like the added security that 3 wheels can bring as long as its still fun to ride, and from the video out on the Niken, I do believe it might be. Now would I give up my two-wheeler to buy it, hmmm, no, at least not at this point in my life, but I know of lots of riders who might as they are older or have injuries or physical issues to deal with. Good show Yamaha!

  • SRMark

    Looks like it may be difficult to back out of a garage.

  • Douglas

    This, properly equipped, could be a good alternative to a Spyder. Maybe have a little less “angry” front end styling with Givi-comparable windscreen, hard bags & trunk, better long-distance seating & foot boards….maybe even a CVT w/reverse. That could qualify it as a sport-tourer and even attract new riders, as there’d be little to really learn about piloting it. Oh, and linked brakes levers-only (ala-maxiscoots). Might even enable some who are handicapped to have a go at true open-air motoring.

  • w2e2b

    They should just make side car rigs in the $8,000 To $14 ,000 price range not the $14,000 to $20,000 range. Who is making and selling entry level side car rigs?