Come on, let’s admit it. Us bikers can be a bit old-fashioned, resistant to change, leery of new concepts.
I’ve heard it all so many times:
“Automatics? Pfft. Not a real bike.”
“ABS? Not for me. I like to be in control.”
“Traction control? As long as I can disable it.”
“Electric bikes? Ugh. Just get a Prius.”Well, if any of that sounds like you, you may wish to turn away now, and work out some frustration by kick-starting your 500cc thumper (don’t forget to turn on the fuel tap, and give a tug on that manual choke). For I’m going to make a bit of a bold prediction here: I think we’re going to see an uptick in three-wheeled motorcycles.
Now, I’m not talking about trikes here. Oh no, that’s so twentieth century.
It seems that Yamaha are banking on that prediction coming true, for having recently announced the release of the Yamaha Niken to join their Yamaha Tricity three-wheeled scooter, they have today hinted at a mid-sized three-wheeled motorcycle coming down the pipe.
Of course, I’m just guessing about the new bike being a mid-sized going by nothing more than the blurred image here, but it would certainly make sense to smooth out the range.
But first, let’s talk about the whole concept by examining the Yamaha Niken:
Going by my most basic Japanese, gleaned from my career in martial arts, I would translate Niken as “Two swords”, which would seem to be a fitting description for the most startling part of the new design.
From the tank backwards, we seem to be looking at a regular motorcycle, very reminiscent of the Yamaha FZ-09. In fact, it uses the same engine (actually, the MT-09). Up front, though, things get quite zany. Double upside-down forks are paired with steering linkages, which means that the bike turns and leans just like a regular bike, but offering twice the grip up front. In Yamaha’s words, this “doubles the amount of available grip for exceptional stopping power, cornering confidence and rider comfort, especially over uneven pavement and poor road conditions.”
Yamaha refers to this class of motorcycle as LMW (Leaning Multi-Wheel). I can do no better than quote from Yamaha themselves when describing the chassis:
Aside from the radical chassis design, the Yamaha Niken comes with Ride-by-Wire, their D-Mode system to choose your preferred engine characteristics, adjustable traction control, cruise control, LED lighting, and a factory quick-shifter.
Despite all the wizardry, the front wheel track is only 16.1 inches, making it no wider than traditional bikes.
The news is that the Yamaha Niken will be coming to the US later this year. As yet, no pricing has been given.
Having test-ridden this category of motorcycles, I can attest that they feel no different at all to a regular bike. You are able to lean just as before, and, once rolling, I could discern no difference from a regular two-wheeled bike. It is, however, comforting to have the extra surety of two sets of rubber up front!
I’m excited to hear what the mystery mid-sized model is going to be. You can be sure that you’ll know as soon as I do.
In the meantime, what are your thoughts? Are you ready for a three-wheeled bike? I am. But then again, I’d even be open to an electric three-wheeler. Beam me up, Scotty.
These are exciting times, and I’m open to change. What about you? Let me know in the comments below.
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