2019 Yamaha Niken

The Yamaha Niken is a three-wheeled—two in front, one at the rear—motorcycle that shines brightest when road conditions are imperfect

2019 Yamaha Niken
2019 Yamaha NikenCRS

If you have ever felt a little nervous bending a motorcycle into a corner in which traction might be compromised by gravel, oil, water, or any other slippery-as-a-banana-peel substance, the three-wheeled Yamaha Niken is a worthy alternative to traditional street platforms. Yamaha says it didn’t initially set out to build a three-wheeler, that the 847cc triple with its conventional chain-driven rear wheel is simply the result of a decade-long-plus quest to produce a motorcycle with what its engineers describe as “unprecedented front-end grip.” Whatever the impetus might have been, the result is a hoot to ride.

From the steering head to the taillight, the Niken is fairly conventional looking, with upright ergonomics and sport-touring-like rider and passenger accommodations. Up front, however, a complicated four-fork-tube arrangement—the 41mm front tubes are empty and only add rigidity; the 43mm rear tubes contain springs as well as damping circuitry—of linkages and pivots puts two disc-brake-equipped, 15-inch radials firmly on the road. The combination allows the Niken, which weighs roughly 100 pounds more than Yamaha’s own Tracer 900, to lean into turns as much as 45 degrees and steer like a traditional motorcycle.

Likes: Corners as if on rails, even over cold, dirty, wet, or uneven surfaces

Dislikes: Unique four-tube front end is complicated and adds bulk and width

Verdict: A Yamaha Tracer 900 with two eyeball-grabbing wheels up front

2019 Yamaha Niken Reviews And Comparisons

Since the Niken was launched in 2018, the innovative machine has received enormous media attention comparing it to both two- and three-wheeled models. Note that, unlike some other multi-wheel models, the Niken is not marketed to beginning riders and will fall over like a motorcycle if unsupported.

2019 Yamaha Niken Competition

The Yamaha Niken is a premium-priced alternative to conventional full-size motorcycles. Other three-wheelers, such as the Piaggio MP3 500 Sport, the Can-Am Spyder, and possibly even the more automobile-like Polaris Slingshot, could be considered competition. The same can be said of Yamaha’s own Tracer 900 or other standard-style motorcycles.

If you are interested in the Yamaha Niken, you should also consider these motorcycles that have similar pricing, specifications, and intended uses:

2019 Yamaha Niken Specifications And Pricing

Because the Niken is classified everywhere it is sold as a motorcycle, you’ll need a motorcycle license to ride it legally. Premium pricing—the manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $15,999—means Yamaha is targeting buyers with deeper wallets who are interested in innovation and a unique riding experience.

Manufacturer Claimed Specifications

Price $15,999
Engine Liquid-cooled, DOHC, inline three-cylinder; 12 valves
Displacement 847cc
Bore x Stroke 78.0mm x 59.1mm
Horsepower N/A
Torque N/A
Transmission 6-speed; multiplate assist and slipper wet clutch
Final Drive Chain
Seat Height 32.9 in.
Rake 20.0°
Trail 2.9 in.
Front Suspension 43mm/41mm, fully adjustable; 4.3-in. travel
Rear Suspension Adjustable preload and rebound damping; 4.9-in. travel
Front Tire 120/70R-15 (2)
Rear Tire 190/55R-17
Fuel Capacity 4.8 gal.
Wheelbase 59.4 in.
Claimed Dry Weight 580 lb.