So what is the Niken? Well, from the steering head back, it’s essentially an MT-09 (formerly the FZ-09, until Yamaha’s recent announcement in Milan). This gargoyle-looking ride has the same three-cylinder engine (though Yamaha has updated the crank and fueling) that instigates such frequent wheelies in the MT, but the frame is welded up from tubular steel instead of cast from aluminum like on the naked bike. There are a pair of 15-inch wheels up front, supported by two pair of inverted forks that hinge at their crowns to allow the Niken to bank through corners just like a two wheeler.
Yamaha sprang this three-wheeled beast on us at the Tokyo show late last month, and now it’s dropped a pile of details on the new Niken at EICMA. This rig is real—not a concept like the new Tenere 700—and is due stateside sometime around the middle of 2018 as an early 2019 model.
If you’re thinking, “Hey, isn’t this like the Piaggio MP3?,” you’re not alone. Niken reminded us of that scooter, too. But this is no scooter. You straddle the Niken like a motorcycle, and the bike’s 847cc triple has a standard six-speed transmission (with an electronic quickshifter) and a slip-assist clutch, so you get to shift and control the revs. With two contact patches up front, fully adjustable suspension, the ability to carry 45 degrees of lean angle, and MT-09 thrust on tap, the Niken has the potential to be a seriously fun way to slay a twisty road. The Niken even has traction control, ride modes, ABS, and cruise control.
Yamaha’s press-release materials make it clear that this thing is supposed to be sporty, and is supposed to offer a thrilling riding experience unlike anything else on the market. There’s no word yet on what the Niken will cost, but it’ll be in dealerships midway through 2018.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of our coverage of all the new motorcycles released at EICMA this year.