EVERY now and then, engineers get a golden ticket, a hall pass if you will, to go wild and bring something unusual to life. In this case, that sexy Frankenstein like monster is the 2019 Yamaha Niken – a 3-wheel bike that’s shed loads of fun, and a lot unconventional.
This is no trike either, absolutely not, because the two wheels are at the front. Don’t worry, we hear your gasp and collectively large breath. But this bike is truly an engineering marvel, which Yamaha calls the LMW (Leaning-Multi-Wheel) revolution.
Above 30km/h it handles and leans just like a traditional motorcycle, and with a maximum lean angle of 45 degrees, the Niken is no slouch through the corners. The design also contributes to making the bike more stable when pulling up at low speeds.
With two front tyres, the Niken is designed to double the amount of grip available to the rider to increase stopping power, cornering confidence and rider comfort. Based on Yamaha’s MT-09 the inline 3-cylinder motor offers exceptional torque and power delivery.
Boasting an 847cc liquid cooled motor, the Niken has plenty of poke on the tight twisty bends and is still more than at home on the freeway when required. Featuring Yamaha’s D-Mode system, the Niken offers three different throttle control maps.
Available at the touch of a button, each one provides are different set of performance parameters, with adjustable traction control also available, with two modes for the rider to select from to suit their style.
The 2019 Yamaha Niken is also fitted with the factory quick shifter, which allows on-throttle up-shifting without the clutch for smooth fast shifts on the fly. It’s also fitted with cruise control and a high-tech instrument cluster.
The panel provides a clear display of selected riding and traction control settings, fuel gauge, rev limiter and speedometer. All items are nicely set out and easy to use and see while riding.
Triple disc brakes with ABS provide the stopping power. Riding on 15 inch-inch lightweight alloy wheels with 120/70R15 tyres helps assist the Niken with its sport bike feel and this is where the 3-wheeler is a true standout.
We will admit we honestly weren’t sure what to expect when we picked up this bike, but by the end of our first ride up the Old Pacific Hwy between Sydney and the Central Coast, we were totally gob smacked by the grip and handling characteristics.
The extra weight of the suspension setup aids braking and balance when tipping the Niken into corners. The rear of the bike seemed to follow in tow as you pointed the bike in the right direction.
It’s comfortable too, if that’s possible on a sports bike, thanks to a more upright seating position, and thanks to the design of the bike you can also lean forward for a more aggressive riding position, should you need to.
The tank is made from the same lightweight materials that are featured on the Yamaha R1 and R6 ranges, which adds to the overall balance of the Niken.
Beware though, if you are going to pull up around other motorcyclists then you should be prepared for a chat. This bike is a real head turner and raises most biker’s curiosity when they see it in the flesh, due to its uniqueness.
Everywhere we took the bike, people came and questions were asked, but we were more than happy to share our experiences.
The 2019 Yamaha Niken is only available in one finish, Granite Grey with blue highlights. Pricing starts at $24,349 plus on-roads and it has no real competitors. At a stretch you might say the Can-Am Spyder, but that’s a mighty big stretch.
Our test bike was provided by Yamaha Australia. To find out more about the 2019 Yamaha Niken, contact your local Yamaha dealer.