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Three Pronged Attack

The plan was simple, compare the Niken to the MT-09 under controlled conditions and assess key areas such as acceleration, braking, corner speed and most importantly, the feeling of both machines

Yamaha’s Niken has caused quite a stir since it appeared on the market earlier this year. A leaning three-wheeler, with a performance motor, for grown-ups, for real? It has the like-it-or-hate-it stance of something out of  “The Martian”, combined with the tried and true mechanicals of one of the brand’s long-time favourites, the MT-09. Under the skin they are cousins, provided that somewhere along the line one of the uncles was actually an alien.
The Niken and MT-09 share what is more or less the same engine. The Niken has revised fuelling and electronics along with a heavier flywheel, but otherwise, they are as close as you could get. So the two machines represent a rare – very rare – opportunity to measure what two wheels versus three is like if everything else was fairly constant.

One thing that its polarising appearance has done is to make the Niken the subject of great scrutiny. Why is it like that? What are the advantages? Why is it so big? And how does it actually perform up against the regulation’ two-wheeled version’?
There’s only one way to find out…

Yamaha Australia had both bikes ready to roll, we could get out mitts on all the telemetry bells and whistles we needed and I didn’t need a second invitation to ride both beasts. Job done.
Well, nearly done.

Does anyone have a spare racetrack we can borrow?

It turns out, they do. Once the plane landed in Sydney it was only a pleasant few hours cruise south to Pheasant Wood. The circuit offers tight and open corners with heavy positive banking and some off-camber turns to boot, it also has a fantastic surface and would have to be one of the best’ small’ circuits in Australia.

Check out the video of how the test unfolded here

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Words Gareth Jones
Photography Tim Munro
Thanks to Pheasant Wood