Yamaha Niken Leaning Multi-Wheeler Coming to US as 2019 Model

Dennis Chung
by Dennis Chung

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

Dennis Chung
Dennis Chung

Dennis has been a part of the Motorcycle.com team since 2008, and through his tenure, has developed a firm grasp of industry trends, and a solid sense of what's to come. A bloodhound when it comes to tracking information on new motorcycles, if there's a new model on the horizon, you'll probably hear about it from him first.

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  • Johnny Nightrider Johnny Nightrider on Jan 20, 2018

    Okay you can ride it in the diamond lane.Though I doubt you can split lanes on the street or freeway as it has a wide front end.I live in California so I'll take the regular 2 wheel motorcycle that can split lanes.I would hate to get stuck on a hot day in traffic on a Los Angeles freeway and I couldn't split lanes cause I'm on 3 wheels.Great bike for other states and states with a cooler climate that if they get stuck in traffic the motorcycle won't burn up.I think the motorcycle won't sell well in California.And it will pass as a cool next cool thing.It will sell great in Europe.Won't sell good in Japan as the roads are tighter and you couldn't lane split.It might sell well in some states in the U.S.

    • Stephen French Stephen French on Apr 20, 2018

      It's the handlebars that limit lane sharing, not the wheels which have an overall width I would guesstimate at under 24".

  • Yertle Yertle on Jun 20, 2018

    this is an another option for the folks who would be looking at a Slingshot or CanAm...just with a much cooler driver seat....not really my cup o' tea, but it is cool looking, and I can certainly see why some people would be seriously excited for a machine like this one