OFFICIAL: Yamaha NIKEN - 3-wheeled MT-09 unveiled | Tokyo Motor Show

Ben Purvis_BikeSocial
By Ben Purvis

Writing about bikes for 20 years. Published in dozens of titles on five continents. Mildly obsessed with discovering how things work.

 

Yamaha has been hinting that’s developing a big-capacity leaning three wheeler for years and finally it’s shown its hand with the production NIKEN.

It’s virtually identical in appearance to the MWT-9 concept bike from 2015, itself a development of the wilder-looking 01GEN concept from 2014. But the big difference is that you’ll be able to walk into a Yamaha dealer and buy a NIKEN next year.

While Yamaha has shown the bike at the Tokyo Motor Show today, it’s not releasing full technical information until its European debut at EICMA in Milan on 6 November. However, it’s based on the 118hp three-cylinder engine from the MT-09 combined with tilting front suspension similar to that on the Tricity scooter.

The result is the first really serious attempt from a major manufacturer to adopt the leaning trike idea that’s been growing in popularity in the scooter market since the Piaggio MP3 adopted the idea more than a decade ago.

The back end is conventional bike, with the usual 17-inch rear wheel and a normal swingarm. But up front there’s a brace of 15-inch wheels, each supported by a pair of forks. A parallelogram-style linkage at the top of the forks allows the whole thing to tilt into corners, giving a bike-like riding experience.

The benefit of the three-wheeled layout is in additional front-end grip and stability. Even if the front starts to slide, it’s relatively unlikely that it will lead to a crash.

Depending on various details, including the distance between those front wheels, it’s also possible that the Yamaha could be classed as a tricycle under European rules. If that’s the case, it will be legal for anyone over 21 with a full car licence to ride it without any additional licensing or training. Piaggio’s wider MP3 LT already uses this loophole, but the idea of a full-sized bike, with much the same riding experience as a normal two-wheeler but none of the hassle of getting a licence, could be very appealing to some.

 

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