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.
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.