2019 Yamaha Niken Leaning Trike | First Look Review

2019 Yamaha Niken Leaning Multi Wheel (LMW) motorcycle
Wow, just wow. Take the hair-on-fire in-line triple from the FZ-09, add a second front wheel for more grip and stability, mix in angry-robot styling and stir. Cook at 350 degrees for 1 hour and presto! The 2019 Yamaha Niken Leaning Multi Wheel (LMW) motorcycle. Coming to a dealer near you in late 2018.

First there was the Piaggio MP3, a three-wheeled leaning scooter with two wheels in front, a marvel of engineering that provided hellacious front-end grip. Now, a decade later, Yamaha has unveiled the Niken Leaning Multi Wheel (LMW) motorcycle, which also has two front wheels and leans with added stability.

Read our 2008 Piaggio MP3 500 road test review

2019 Yamaha Niken
The 2019 Yamaha Niken is the coolest, sportiest, wildest trike we’ve ever seen.

Taking its name from the Japanese word for “two swords,” referring to the 17th century origination of the two-sword style of swordsmanship, which apparently revolutionized combat, the leap Yamaha wants us to make is that the Niken’s two-wheels-in-front will revolutionize the motorcycling experience. Although the two-wheels-in-front trike configuration has been popularized more by BRP’s non-leaning Can-Am Spyder than Piaggio’s MP3, the ability to lean—the heart and soul of motorcycling—with added grip and confidence really is a unique experience.

Read our 2018 Can-Am Spyder first look review

2019 Yamaha Niken
Searching for droids on the 2019 Yamaha Niken Leaning Multi Wheel (LMW) motorcycle. (No, we haven’t ridden it yet, but an action photo is a must to show what this thing looks like leaned over. It’s capable of a 45-degree lean angle!)

Looking like a vehicle from “Star Wars” (especially in the photo above with the Stormtrooper-like rider clad in white), the Niken is built around the lively 847cc Crossplane Concept in-line triple that powers the FZ-09, FJ-09/Tracer 900 and XSR900 and a hybrid steel-and-aluminum frame. Compared to the FZ-09, the Niken has a longer swingarm and the rider sits more rearward, which provides roughly a 50/50 front/rear weight distribution with the rider aboard.

Read our 2017 Yamaha FZ-09 first ride review

2019 Yamaha Niken
The 2019 Yamaha Niken uses an Ackermann dual-axis steering mechanism and a cantilevered suspension system with dual forks mounted to the outside of each front wheel.

The focal point of the design, obviously, is the dual front wheel setup, which is capable of a 45-degree lean angle thanks to the Ackermann dual-axle steering mechanism and a cantilevered suspension system mounted to the outside of the wheels. The double “external” upside-down front forks are adjustable for rebound and compression damping, and—according to Yamaha—the “relatively narrow 410mm track contributes towards the Niken’s natural steering feel, as well as keeping overall width to a minimum.” The double 15-inch front wheels are fitted with grippy, all-weather 120/70R15 V tires developed for the unique requirements of this leaning trike. All three wheels are fitted with 298mm rotors and disc brake calipers. The rear wheel is 17 inches in diameter and the rear shock is fully adjustable with a remote preload adjuster.

2019 Yamaha Niken engine
In the FZ-09, this 847cc Crossplane Concept in-line triple makes 105 horsepower and 60 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheel. It has been tweaked for trike duty.

The Niken’s 847cc in-line triple gets special performance-oriented fuel injection mapping and a redesigned crank that is said to improve drivability and smoother acceleration from a stop. It is equipped with throttle-by-wire, riding modes, cruise control, traction control, an assist-and-slipper clutch and a quickshifter that allows clutchless upshifts.

2019 Yamaha Niken cockpit
The rider’s point of view on the 2019 Yamaha Niken. The 4.8-gallon tank is sculpted aluminum.

Naturally, a motorcycle as radical as the Niken has aggressive, angry-robot styling and its sculpted aluminum, 4.8-gallon fuel tank is made using the same advanced production technology as the YZF-R1 and YZF-R6. It also has an LED headlight and taillight, YZF-R1-style mirrors with integrated LED turn signals, a fully digital LCD instrument panel and a 12V power outlet.

2019 Yamaha Niken
Looks pretty normal from the side, but the 2019 Yamaha Niken will be anything but normal from the saddle. We can’t wait to ride it!

The 2019 Yamaha Niken will be available in Granite Gray and will arrive in U.S. dealerships in the second half of 2018. Pricing is TBD.

Check out more new bikes in Rider’s guide to new/updated 2018 motorcycles




    • If the centre of contact of the front/rear wheels exceeds 460 mm you can use a car license obtained before january 19th 2013 but as this is 410 mm it would seem not.

    • Good eye! We’re pretty sure it stands up on its own, but the kickstand does raise the question. Perhaps its just vestigial, leftover from the FZ-09.

      • No, it needs a kick stand because the bike tilts when you turn the steering. If you locked the steering in the straight position, it would be able to stand on its own, but there is no steering lock. So, it needs a kick stand.

  1. Under the heading of old is new – kinda – in the early 1960’s Strombecker sold a kit to put Ackerman steering on their slot-cars. It looked better on the the toy cars than it does here.

  2. I had a Piaggio MP3 for a while and put on quite a few miles. Rode from Wisconsin to New Orleans and back in 12 days. 620 miles was the longest day. I’d be interested in trying this.

  3. I have rode motorcycles for 45 years, sport bikes dirt bikes, cruisers. Yamaha makes a lot of fantastic products, unfortunately they have yet to learn that “less is more” . I have no interest in riding this oddball and believe it will disappear as many gimmicks have over the years.


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