2019 Yamaha Niken
And now for something just plain weird. Behold the Yamaha Niken announced at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show. Yes, I know it looks like a killer arachnid on steroids. Yes, it’s got three wheels so technically it’s a trike, not a motorcycle. But get beyond the unusual/ungainly/somewhat unnatural front end and the new Niken is very much a motorcycle.
For one thing, unlike those somewhat ungainly Can-Am Spyders, the Niken actually leans into corners. The two front forks articulate like a skier slaloming through gates, allowing the the three-wheeler to counteract centrifugal cornering forces by dipping into curves like a motorcycle (see it in action on YouTube). This is not entirely new; Piaggio’s MP3 line of scooters have employed a somewhat similar technology for about a decade now.
Looks like a Predator
But the Niken is all about performance, so there’s 847 cc of FZ-09 three-cylinder engine offering an expected 100+ rear wheel horsepower and a truly stout front end. Each of the two front wheels still gets two fork tubes, but instead of being on either side of the wheel, both are on the outside. The wheels themselves are unusual 15-inch items, their smaller diameter presumably to reduce gyroscopic forces to maintain light handling. Of course, the reason for the double front configuration is to add more stability as well as double up on the front tire contact patch(es) to enhance rider confidence and dramatically reduce braking distances. In official Yamaha parlance, “this large-displacement Leaning Multi-Wheeler (LMW) … reduces the effect of changing ride environments and delivers a high-feeling of stability when cornering.”
Of course, it doesn't hurt that it looks like "el demonio que hace trofeos de los hombres" — the demon who makes trophies of men — from Predator.
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