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The Strange Yamaha Niken Is A Leaning Multi-Wheel FZ-09 – Yea Or Nay?

This Is The Yamaha Niken – A Bizarre Three Wheeler

Introducing the opinion dividing Yamaha Niken – a crazy leaning multi-wheel machine that’s based around the already successful . This bizarre beast has recently been unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show, and while we weren’t expecting it to be formally unveiled, we already knew that Yamaha had something like this in the works. If you cast your mind back a few years, you might remember their more obscure leaning multi-wheel tricycle? Well, this is essentially the same thing but in a much more powerful model…with a hell of a lot more technology on board too.

Back in 2014, Yamaha’s little 125cc Tricity was already controversial, so what do we make of this then? For those of you who aren’t entirely sure of what a (LMW) vehicle it, it’s basically a motorcycle with two wheels up front instead of the conventional one, and they both stay in contact with the asphalt at the same time thanks to the clever application of hydraulics and advanced suspension. Thanks to the two front wheels, riders can benefit from razor sharp handling and impressive leaning angles…without having to worry about over-cooking it and falling off. Combine that with the already tried and tested triple cylinder Yamaha FZ-09 engine, and you’ve got a recipe for success, right?

Well, maybe.

The Yamaha Niken: Cool Idea Or Just Too Weird?

Despite the fact that these leaning multi-wheel machines are quite fun to ride, there’s something a bit…wimpy…about them. While being able to lean right over like a wannabe Marc Marquez is pretty cool, having no risk involved somewhat takes the zest out of it. That’s not to say that we like crashing – it’s the reverse: because we can crash we generally like to ride a little more cautiously. If your bike won’t tip over no matter how hard you’re pushing it, it will encourage you to take more risks than you can handle. Or as Casey Stoner once eloquently put: it could make your ambition outweigh your talent.

And of course, the biggest problem is the fact that it might be too different for consumers. Think about electric motorcycles: there really are very limited downsides to owning one. They’re fast, they’re practical, they benefit from instant power delivery, and they’re eco-friendly. And very few people want one. They’re not conventional – and we think that the Yamaha Niken might suffer from the same problem. Overall though, we think the idea is great but we just don’t see it flying.

Regardless of how we feel about the Yamaha Niken, here are the details that we know about. Yamaha might have pulled the covers off of it, but they were pretty quiet about the specifics. All we know is that the Yamaha Niken will boast the same inline triple cylinder engine as the Yamaha FZ-09, and it will come with fully adjustable suspension, and come with the finest electronics and riding aids that Yamaha allow us mere mortals to enjoy. That’s all we’ve got to go on, save for this statement from Yamaha:

“This large-displacement Leaning Multi-Wheeler (LMW) is powered by a liquid-cooled, in-line, 3-cylinder engine. This model is equipped with LMW technology to reduce the effects of changing ride environments and to deliver a high feeling of stability when cornering. It achieves excellent performance for spirited and sporty riding on various road surfaces and the capability to freely carve through the continuous corners on winding roads.

“The body design makes full use of the unprecedented front-end suspension mechanism, pairing 15-inch front wheels with dual-tube upside-down forks that visually accentuate the machine’s sporty performance and create a high-quality look and feel at the same time. New Yamaha NIKEN. Ride the Revolution.”

It certainly is different – but is it different in a good way? Or different in a “neat idea, but no thanks” kind of way?


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Joe Appleton
About Joe Appleton

I’ve done a bit of work here and there in the industry – I’ve even ridden a few bikes for actual money but what it comes down to is this: I ride bikes, build bikes and occasionally crash ‘em too. I like what I like but that certainly doesn’t make my opinion any more valid than yours…

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