Yamaha Niken (2018)

Yamaha Niken in the driving report

Multi-wheeler leaning

Price, ordering and test driving options as well as extensive driving impressions of the so-called "Multi-wheeler leaning" You can find out about Yamaha Niken in our article.

The most common questions about Yamaha Niken in a nutshell:

When do the front wheels lose grip?? 45 degrees are no problem, more is possible. More on this in the detailed top test that will appear in MOTORRAD 21/2018: from September 28th at the kiosk and here as a PDF download. So much can be revealed: Before the Niken loses grip at the front, the rear wheel slips.

Can the Yamaha Niken fall over?? Oh yeah. Well, of course not us, but the Niken does not stand by itself, but can tip over while standing or when maneuvering. Like almost every motorcycle, the Niken is placed on the side stand.

Is the car driver’s license enough? No, you need a motorcycle license for the Yamaha Niken. The unlimited (Class A), because the “Leaning Multi-Wheeler” is powered by the 115 HP three-cylinder MT-09. With 41 centimeters between the two front wheels, the required track width for a corresponding approval would be given, but Yamaha has decided not to have the Niken homologated for the class B driving license. Understandable, because motorcycle driving experience should be required for this power.

What does the name Niken mean? NI KEN means "double sword". This of course refers to the double upside-down fork.

How is it pronounced?? Neiken that. Phonetic transcription: [ˈnaɪ̯ken].

Price: The basic price mentioned was 14,995 euros plus additional costs.

Availability: Since May 16, 2018 at 7 p.m., the Niken can be pre-ordered at https://niken.yamaha-motor.eu/. Yamaha wants to inform all applicants within 3 working days whether they have been allocated a vehicle. If registration is accepted, customers will receive details of the dealer and information about the next steps in purchasing and shipping the new Niken. The Niken should be delivered from the end of September / beginning of October.

Second test drive with the Niken (June 2018)

The call from the Yamaha headquarters came out of nowhere: Do you have time and want to ride the Niken? Sure, why not? Where, then? In the Dolomites. For three days, a good 20,000 corners. Oops, it twitches through the brain, but that’s a lot, means more than 300 kilometers back and forth, up and down every day. But curiosity wins. 

However, Yamaha did not come up with this scenario itself. The “20,000 Pieghe” event will take place in 2018 for the tenth time. Organized by the “Motolampeggio Moto Club” in Italy. The event is set up like a rally. Means: Each of the 150 participants receives a written road boak with mileage information in the evening beforehand, has to pass special tests in between and take selfies at predetermined locations to confirm that the specified location has also been driven. A great idea in itself. Problem one: everything is in Italian. Then there is a lack of understanding. And problem number two: Yamaha gave the journalists’ group videographers and clippers to document what we were up to all day. But every photo and video trip affects the odometer and costs a lot of time. So it was clear early on on the day of the event: We would never meet the rally specifications.

Driving impressions from the Yamaha Niken

The advantage: We were able to move freely in the Dolomites, with the given roads all on or around the famous Sella circuit. A crisp playground to really get a feel for the Yamaha Niken. Sure, it looks unusual. Whether you like it or not is up to your own taste. Rather, it is more important: Does the whole thing bring anything? Does it have any advantages over a two-wheeled motorcycle? Not necessarily at first glance. More than 260 kilograms meet a somewhat temperamentally tamed MT-09 engine. Although it was still allowed to produce 115 hp, it was put more weight on the crankshaft. All further technical details can be found a little further down in this article.


Already after the first corners it becomes clear: the Niken gives a lot of trust.

This is now all about casual driving. And Niken can do a lot there. The excess of components, weight and wheels at the front is almost imperceptible. The Niken wipes through the hairpin bends in an impressively neutral way. Only in changing curves that are really quickly taken under the three wheels is more pull on the wide handlebars necessary. But you master it casually. Because the front has an incredible amount of trust and is always fed up on the street. The coordination of the two forks was great, and one of the two wheels always has grip when in doubt. How does that look in reality? Something like this: The streets are still shiny and damp, their surface shows that last winter did a great job here. Nevertheless, the anchor remains pulled tight to the apex of the curve, the notches have to remove material sparkling despite the lush 45 degree incline. 

A little more punch is desirable

The Niken just donates a lot of trust from the front. That makes her feel almost impossible to fall. But it is not. Because the limits of physics cannot be tricked by the two wheels. One advantage of the two wheels, however, remains: If it slips in front for a short time because the grip is finite when braking or in an inclined position, the wheels quickly catch up again and build up grip. To master this with just one wheel at the front would be much more conducive to sweat for the driver. 


On the first day, more than 200 kilometers were covered in the Dolomites.

Now we know what the Yamaha Niken is really good at. But there are also disadvantages. The engine of the MT-09, which is very sovereign in itself, reaches its limits in the Niken, especially uphill. You would want a little more power every now and then. And the TC does not regulate reliably either: In the more restrictive level two, the rear of the 190 is carefully prevented from breaking away; in level one, when there is little road grip, it twitches to the side without any regulation taking place. That could be done better. Because as I said: Niken is not invulnerable. It just shows in an impressive way what is possible with its unusual wheel guidance at the front. Where other motorcycles have long since lost their composure, the Yamaha Niken still casually follows the trail, and with feedback that inspires confidence. Sounds pretty incredible. So be sure to try it out.

First ride with the Yamaha Niken (May 2018)

Prize question: is this really a motorcycle? The answer: it drives like a motorcycle. Even better in corners.

What was the Yamaha Japanese thinking? Quite simply, explains James McCombe, who is responsible for product planning at the European headquarters in Amsterdam. They were simply looking for more grip on the front wheel. And found the one with a second front wheel.

Stefan Kaschel

The Niken impresses with its incredible front wheel grip.

Aha, is it that simple? More grip on the front wheel – everyone wants that. And no more uncertainty when turning. No hesitation or hesitation, just whoosh and into the corner. Practically like a car, but of course with everything that makes motorcycling so fascinating. Above all, of course, the incline. 45 degrees are possible with the new technology. 45 degrees until the footpegs drag. As far as you can immerse yourself in the new Niken world. And it’s really fascinating.

It was a long way to get there, however. It took the Yamaha developers years to get the spacing, size, front wheel position and steering mechanics sufficient to make it work perfectly. Countless experiments with wheel sizes, steering geometry and steering mechanics. But now the time has come.

Feedback that is second to none

Even the first few meters, the first bends on the Niken show: Hey guys, this is no nonsense, no further question that nobody asked, but that is – yes, you have to put it that way – absolutely unique. Just two or three corners are enough to build trust in the new technology, to let the driver feel that a lot is different here. And some things are just as they used to be. The impulse that Niken needs to lean into the bend, for example, comes from the driver as it has for ages. A slight pressure on the inside of the handlebars, shifting your weight inwards, pressure on the outer footrest – we know that from every other motorcycle, nobody has to get used to it. But then, when Niken dives into the first quick turns, then nothing is as it was. Then the two 15-inchers in the steeply inclined (70 degree steering head angle) front wheel guidance provide feedback that is second to none. “That lasts” – so the clear message, very unequivocally, without any doubt.

The quality of the road is no longer of interest

Even better: the quality of the subsurface is practically irrelevant. It doesn’t matter whether on well-developed expressways or on broken-up dirt roads, whether on manhole covers and bitumen strips or in surprising meltwater rivulets like here within sight of the Grobglockner. Why? Because, given the 410 millimeter distance between the two wheels, one wheel usually rolls on a non-slip surface – and usually two. The Niken lets their driver feel this, and the more clearly the worse the distance is. It is hard to believe what a palm-sized piece of additional support surface can do. But you can feel it. Feel how the traction control unfolds its beneficial effect on the 190 rear wheel on the smoothly rubbed asphalt, while both front wheels reliably set the course. Practically always. The rear of the two fork legs (43 millimeters) gently spring and cushion all bumps, while the front (41 millimeters) precisely determine the direction. And if it does get too slippery, the Niken pushes calmly and easily controllable over both wheels. But that rarely happens.

Curve by curve, confidence grows

But what is guaranteed to happen: That the Niken pilot does it more colorfully and colorfully. With every turn, the absolute confidence in this new technology grows, the new level of grip becomes a matter of course, and BMW GS drivers become victims. Late on the brakes, a mighty front section that barely plunges, but still springs sensitively. Early on, the Yamaha Niken remains reliably on course.


Confidence in the front is high.

And comfortable on the wide handlebars, because the ergonomics leave little to be desired, even on long journeys. What are you missing? A modern TFT display, for example, would look good on a € 15,000 bike. And especially downhill, before the bends, a slightly more snappy brake with a more clearly defined pressure point that can keep up with the Niken speed, because then the four-piston calipers with a good 260 kilograms have their dearest effort. But that’s complaining at a high level. Small-checked complaints, so to speak, in view of this new, fascinating curve dynamic. And so the bottom line is that there is only one Niken disadvantage that is difficult to swallow. When viewed from behind, Yamaha’s new cornering wonder looks very hard to get used to, even after a fascinating day in the Alps. But the others usually have to endure this sight while the new Niken passes them with verve.

Curious? The Niken will be delivered from September. Until then, Yamaha wants to give as many interested parties as possible the opportunity to experience the new concept on a big introductory tour. Our tip: be sure to try it out. It is worth it in any case. Promised.

Commentary on the Yamaha Niken

“Hey Dina, can you go with the Niken later? I need an opinion from a normal driver. “Well, thank you! But well, I’m more curious than offended and meet top tester Karsten Schwers in the MOTORRAD underground car park.

Karsten Schwers

Everyone is talking about the Niken’s driving behavior, but what about the maneuvering? That could be a challenge for one or the other.

First of all: Everyone is talking about the Niken’s driving behavior, but what about the maneuvering? A challenge! The bench is wider than I thought. On the MT-09 I come down with my toes on both sides, with the Niken it looks completely different with my 1.57 meters – toes on one side must be enough. I’ve already managed that with other mopeds, but it’s different with the Niken. Even a 1.80-meter pilot has to adjust, because the center of gravity is far ahead and also quite high up. It is not (yet) possible to prevent the front wheels from tipping over.

Another challenge: fine-tuning the mirrors while driving. They are so far away that at the first set of traffic lights I automatically search the cockpit for a switch for the electric mirror adjustment. And not find anything. All right, then get up while driving and lean forward. The left mirror fits now. But how do I get the right one? Activate cruise control, stand up and put your right hand forward to the mirror.

In terms of driving dynamics, the Niken is wonderfully carefree. Manhole cover? No matter! Wide strips of bitumen? What the hell! Wet, tight bend – what am I itching? Weird, weird, the weirdest. Without getting used to it and with cold tires. Before the grip decreases at the front, the rear tire reports to the popometer: “Oops!” If you don’t dare to drive your motorcycle so at an angle that the footrests drag, you should really take a test ride. For drivers who don’t have an easy time maneuvering (large) motorcycles, the thing with the Niken may have been dealt with when parking.

Technical data for the Yamaha Niken

Multi-wheel technology with tilting system Large lean angle of up to 45 degrees Ackermann steering with double upside-down telescopic fork Hybrid frame made of steel and aluminum, with aluminum swing arm Weight distribution front / rear of about 50:50 when the driver is mounted Liquid-cooled 3-cylinder DOHC CP3 engine with 847 cc displacement with 115 hp and 87.5 Nm Two 15-inch front wheels (120/70 R 15) with a track width of 410 mm, 17-inch rear wheel with 190/55 R 17 tires Cruise control – at speeds over 50 km / h Traction control with 2 modes and switch-off mode Anti-hopping clutch for greater stability when downshifting QSS – quick shift system for upshifting without using the clutch Compact cockpit with LCD display 18 liter aluminum fuel tank Fully adjustable suspension at the rear Double disc brake 265.6 mm at the front, disc brake 298 mm rear 12 V socket total length 2,150 mm seat height 820 mm wheelbase 1,510 mm width 885 mm

Yamaha Niken test drive

The look alone does not create storms of enthusiasm. Motorcyclists in particular have a hard time getting used to it. Those who have not yet ridden it are also often concerned with the question of whether the Yamaha Niken can call itself a “motorcycle” or not. Those who have ridden it will recognize: “It doesn’t matter which category it is assigned to – it drives like a motorcycle. Like one with an amazing amount of grip at the front. ”And anyone who is curious and interested can find out in one of the Niken test centers. There is not only a Niken expert available to answer your questions, but there is also the possibility of 60 to 90-minute test drives on selected winding routes. So that everyone can experience their own impression.

The following Niken test centers exist in Germany:

  • 01809 Dohna, Gartner’s Motorrad-Shop GmbH & Co. KG
  • 12163 Berlin, Yamaha Center Berlin Inh. Yvonne hoffmann
  • 18311 Ribnitz-Damgarten, motorcycle shop Garbe Inh. Reyk garbe
  • 22457 Hamburg, Tecius & Reimers Automotive oHG
  • 31785 Hameln, Straubel Motorsport
  • 45721 Haltern, Yamaha Center Haltern am See
  • 46049 Oberhausen, YAMAHA Center Rhein-Ruhr West Inh. Heiner gangfuss
  • 51105 Cologne, Yamaha Center Cologne Inh. Motorrad Emonts GmbH
  • 53518 Adenau, Zweirad Schmitz GmbH
  • 64291 Darmstadt, MCD Motorrad Center Darmstadt GmbH
  • 79111 Freiburg, Freiburg Motorcycle Center GmbH
  • 83135 Schechen, Motorrad Franz Inh. Eduard and Aida Franz GbR
  • 85640 Putzbrunn, MOTOPOINT Inh. F. Mittermuller
  • 86956 Schongau, Motorrad Hintermeyer GmbH
  • 88213 Ravensburg, MOTOYAMA GmbH motorcycle center
  • 91154 Roth, YCR Zweirad Center Roth e.K.
  • 98529 Suhl, motorcycle handle

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