We’re testing Yamaha’s crazy Niken three-wheeler tomorrow, at the bike’s world launch at the Kitzbuhel ski resort in Austria. First shown at the end of last year, the Niken is like no other bike – thanks to that pair of front wheels. Coined by Yamaha as an LMW (Leaning Multi-Wheeler) the machine leans into corners like a normal bike and unlike a trike.
The Niken is powered by a slightly revised version of Yamaha’s CP3 motor, as used in the MT-09, but is packed with advanced chassis tech that’s never been seen before on a bike. The four (!) front forks are supported by a cantilever mounting system, allowing them to pivot with no resistance as the bike leans into a bend. Yamaha say that the Niken offers 45 degrees of lean before the footrests scrape. Unlike other three-wheeled bikes, such as Piaggio’s MP3, there is no lock-out facility to leave your feet up when you stop – it’ll just fall over.
Priced at £13, 499, obviously a huge amount of brain power, care and effort has gone into perfecting the Niken, but why go to the trouble? Yamaha claim one reason – fun. With around 80% more front tyre contact area than a normal bike, they say there are huge gains to be made when it comes to grip, stability and performance on twisty roads. They also say that the Niken boosts confidence in tricky and poor conditions because of the security and grip it brings.
This is just as well considering the weather we’re forecast to experience. We’re at high altitude in Austria and the mountain roads are said to be frost-scarred, shrouded in cloud and prone to freak heavy rain. It’ll be a worthy test of the bike – if it feels confidence-inspiring here, the Niken should be great on a Sunny B-road in the UK…
Keep an eye on MCN’s social media channels tomorrow for updates.Would you buy one?
Would you buy a Yamaha Niken? How does a Niken corner?
Yamaha have yet to release their revolutionary Niken, but that hasn’t stopped it being one of the most talked about ‘bikes’ of 2018. And the question most riders are asking is ‘how on earth does that thing corner?’ Well Yamaha have just released a handy video explaining the technology that they claim allows the Niken to carve through corners…
The world’s first three-wheeled production motorcycle uses what Yamaha are calling a leaning multiwheel system (LMS) to give the Niken the front end feeling of a traditional motorcycle despite the fact it has two front wheels. This system is made possible through an Ackermann dual axel steering mechanism, which is then linked to a cantilevered suspension system mounted to the outside of the 15-inch wheels. So how does that work in practice?
With a maximum lean angle of 45-degrees, the Ackermann system ensures that when cornering both of the Niken’s front wheels remain parallel, something that doesn’t happen on a conventional two-wheeled steering system. It achieves this through its linkages creating a parallelogram that while it changes in shape as the bike leans, the distance between the front wheels remains set at a constant distance of 410mm. The twin forks attached to either wheel then perform different purposes with the forward fork helping with direction while the rear one deals with damping forces. Does it work in practice? That’s still to be seen, but judging by the video, the rider certainly seems fairly confident when it comes to pushing that two-wheel front end!
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