Skip to content

Yamaha Niken to spawn new model range | Manufacture News | News

Word from Japan is that Yamaha’s three-wheeled Niken will form the basis of an entire new range of leaning trikes.

The MT-09-engined Niken might not be the first bike to use tilting three-wheeled tech, but with 84.6kW (113hp) it’s by far the most powerful take on an idea that’s previously been limited to scooters. It’s also the first from a major manufacturer to incorporate a manual transmission. That means it’s aimed not at new riders looking for an easy commuter, but at established motorcyclists looking for something different.

And with twice the front tyre contact patch of a conventional bike, it promises to offer an unprecedented level of exploitable front-end grip, along with all the confidence it offers.

Given the Niken’s close tie to the MT-09, it’s no surprise that our Japanese sources say that the next derivative will also be MT-based. The word is that in Japan the next model will use the smallest MT parallel-twin engine; the 249cc, water-cooled, eight-valve unit from the MT-25 and YZF-R25. In some countries, including Australia and all of Europe, the slightly larger, 321cc version of the engine is used in both the MT and R models (the MT-03 and R3) and our sources say that the same will apply to
the new Niken.

In terms of performance, a 321cc Niken3 would be likely to use the same engine tune as the MT-03. That means 30.9kW (42hp) at 10,750rpm. In Australia, the MT-03 is LAMS approved, and the same would likely apply to the Niken3.

Yamaha’s work on leaning three- and four-wheeled designs leading to the Niken, has gone on for well over a decade and has included prototype machines ranging from scooters to R1-engined superbikes.

Its Tricity scooter was successful enough to allow the 847cc Niken to get the green light, and if the sales prove high enough it’s eventually possible that we’ll see an even wider range of options. By plundering the MT series alone for inspiration, there’s scope
for 700cc and 1000cc trikes in years to come.

It’s not just Yamaha that’s interested in this emerging market, either. Honda has also been developing a 750cc parallel-twin leaning trike based around its NC750 engine and chassis. 

Honda teased us with the three-wheeled, Gold Wing-engined Neowing concept as far back as 2015, too. 

By Ben Purvis