Yamaha NIKEN » Lean On!
Innovation is the very lifeblood of the motorcycle business, and Yamaha is always looking to the future in the quest to develop original and exciting new technology and radical new concepts. The launch of the first ever 3-wheel leaning motorcycle demonstrates the company’s commitment to innovation.
At the Tokyo Motor Show in October 2015, Yamaha displayed the MWT-9 prototype, a 3-wheel concept motorcycle that gave a tantalizing glimpse of the future. Now, Yamaha has revealed the new NIKEN, the world’s first multi wheel production motorcycle that is ready to open up new possibilities for those forward thinking riders looking for a whole new experience. Meaning ‘Two Swords’ in Japanese, the word NIKEN originates from 17th century Japan when the two-sword style of swordsmanship was first invented. It proved to be a revolution, and marked the beginning of a new era in combat.
The advanced Yamaha-exclusive technology used in the double leaning front wheel layout offers high levels of traction – making it a strong performer in corners and giving the NIKEN rider the ability to carve through winding roads with unmatched confidence. And two front wheels means there are two front tyres and two sets of front brakes, so the levels of traction and braking are also like nothing else on the road!
The NIKEN’s unique leaning multi wheel system apparently offers very sporty and confident handling characteristics, together with enhanced feelings of stability and grip when cornering in a wide range of surface conditions. The NIKEN’s sporty handling performance is designed to complement its high overall specification and enable riders to realize the optimal potential of the torque-rich 847cc 3-cylinder engine.
The NIKEN is designed to master a wide range of riding situations, and so in order to achieve high levels of straight-line stability together with sporty cornering performance, a new kind of hybrid frame has been especially developed. The head pipe area is manufactured from cast steel, while the swingarm pivot area is cast aluminium, and the main frame connecting these two assemblies is made from steel tube. By delivering the required levels of strength, rigidity and flexibility precisely where they are needed, this hybrid design enhances the planted and natural feel of the leaning double wheel front end, and ensures sport bike agility together with excellent handling performance.
The NIKEN’s unique LWM 3 wheel layout introduces another dimension compared to a conventional motorcycle, and in order to optimize the NIKEN’s handling performance, a 552mm long aluminium swingarm is used. This is 15mm longer than the MT-09 design, and the increased length helps to give a strong feeling of stability when cornering. Another key design element is the riding position, and compared to the MT-09 the NIKEN rider sits around 50mm further towards the rear. This seating position gives an idealized 50:50 front-rear weight distribution with the rider on board – giving a natural handling and steering feel.
In order to achieve sport bike handling capabilities, the NIKEN’s maximum lean angle extends to 45 degrees, and this has been made possible by the use of the Ackermann dual axle steering mechanism, together with a cantilevered suspension system mounted to the outside of the wheels. The double “external” upside-down front forks are equipped with rebound and compression damping adjusters that enable the rider to dial in their ideal suspension set up, and the relatively narrow 410mm track contributes towards the NIKEN’s natural steering feel – as well as keeping overall width to a minimum.
The NIKEN’s rear suspension offers full adjustability for preload, compression and rebound damping, enabling the rider to set it up to suit varying conditions, and for convenience the preload can be set without the need for tools. Yamaha says the NIKEN represents one of the most significant developments in the motorcycling world for many years, and is set to appear on European roads during the second half of 2018.