Two years ago we wrote about the Yamaha MWT-9, a sport bike with two wheels up front, it looked mean and nasty, in a good way. At that time, leaning 3 wheelers had been out for years in scooter form and some companies were building conversions for big tilting touring rigs, but the obvious question was, why not on something more sporty? The MWT-9 looked like Yamaha was on track, but with only teaser video and a few promotional images, who knew if they were really serious. Well, I guess they were, because the Yamaha Niken looks like it's about to go into production. It's set to be unveiled on November 6th at EICMA.
Leaning 3 wheelers have a lot going for them, greater stability, much greater traction in the corners, especially on questionable surfaces and twice the braking power up front. Combine those qualities in a sport bike package and you practically have a whole new performance segment. If this is actually going on sale as seems to be the case, a lot of other manufacturers are going to be watching with mixed emotions, hoping the motorcycle market can get a big boost from a new platform while wondering how soon they'll be able to come up with their own version so they can catch up.
Yamaha isn't a stranger to trying new configurations in the showroom, their GTS1000 brought single sided swingarm technology to the front wheel, though that model suffered from bureaucratic design issues that compromised what could have been a much better bike. The Niken looks very close to the concept revealed two years ago, so maybe the team that put it together in the first place was able to carry it through.
Riders are already on all kinds of 3 wheelers, Harley trikes, Gold Wings, Slingshots, Can-Am Spyders and of course the leaning Piaggio MP3, but this is a much bigger leap in the performance direction and the appearance is so different when approached from head on, some will shy away, riders tend to be more talk than action when it comes to actually buying what they say they want or anything too far out of the ordinary. I see it as the natural look of 3 wheel performance and I have no issues with it at all, I kinda like it, besides, if road tests show it works as well as anticipated, it may be a real winner.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves, it APPEARS it will be produced, but until the November press introduction, we'll just have to wait for details and see. I hope it's on tap and ready to go and I really hope it's a huge success. If Yamaha puts this is showrooms, we should all stand up and cheer.
UPDATE: No question it's coming, I was just on the Yamaha website, ... and, there it is: