The New Leaning Multi-Wheel Transcontinental Tourer

It became apparent very quickly that Yamaha had a hit on its hands with its Leaning Multi-Wheel Niken, so the Tuning Fork Company looks to keep the momentum going with a tour-tastic, Gran Turismo variant. The “GT” brings that LMW stability and performance to the table along with a number of comfort-related upgrades and storage features that are meant to help you expand your horizons right off the showroom floor. We’re talking about features that would set you back several grand if you were to try to build one out of an accessories catalog. This is an exciting development for trike fans, so today I want to take a look at the new GT and see how it stacks up against some of the likely competitors.

  • 2019 Yamaha Niken GT
  • Year:
    2019
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-3
  • Displacement:
    847 cc
  • Price:
    17299
  • Price:

2019 Yamaha Niken GT Design

A wide clamp where the tripletree ought to be articulates to let the Niken bank into the corners like a two-wheeler, just with double the traction up front.

In profile, the GT looks more or less like you’d expect of sport-tourers in general, at least until you notice that curious front end that makes the Niken what it is. Paired forks form the two swords referenced by the name — literally “two swords” — and while that makes the front end nice and beefy when viewed side-on, the head-on view is something else entirely.

A wide clamp where the tripletree ought to be articulates to let the Niken bank into the corners like a two-wheeler, just with double the traction up front. This type of front end is popular in markets that serve areas with cobblestone roads because of its grip and stability in the corners, even over rough-but-slippery terrain.

The fairing is wide enough to contain and shelter the leaning mechanism, and that gives it a rather distinct visage when viewed head-on. Of course, the dual front wheels are a dead giveaway that there’s something very different about this ride. To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the Niken’s mug, but this ride is definitely a form-follows-function affair and for now, this is the only game in town if you want a backwards-trike sport-tourer that leans into the corners. As it is, the Niken puts off an angry-alien vibe due to the dual slanted LED headlights that deliver crisp forward illumination alongside LED, mirror-integrated turn signals.

The GT shows off its touring chops with a taller/wider windscreen that punches a generous hole in the weather for both pilot and passenger. Seat height is a little on the tall side at 32.9-inches off the deck with the pillion nicely offset to provide a lofty perch for the passenger and a bit of a bucket for the pilot’s touche.

Fold-up, subframe-mount footpegs and generous J.C. handles provide the other points of contact for the passenger, and both seats rock upgraded foam for a more comfortable ride. There’s a pair of 12-Volt DC outlets to charge your “things’ plus heated handgrips for cold-weather comfort on the stock model. Lockable, 25-liter panniers provide the bulk of the storage on the stock bike, and since they are of the quick-release variety they turn the GT into something of a convertible.

2019 Yamaha Niken GT Chassis

2019 Yamaha Niken GT
- image 806050
The steering geometry is, understandably, a bit different, but it'll handle a 45-degree lean angle to both sides....if you have the stones for it, that is.

It takes a total of four fork tubes to make the magic happen at the front end. They’re of the upside-down variety, and carry an adjustable preload and compression-damping. Yamaha makes up for that somewhat with the full trifecta out back, so at least you can dial the rear-end in and adjust for changing cargo/passenger loads.

The frame itself is a hybrid with both steel and aluminum components including an alloy swingarm in an effort to keep overall weight, and unsprung weight at the rear axle, down. Dual, 298 mm discs and four-pot calipers slow the front wheels with a 282 mm disc to control the rear. A pair of 120/70-15 hoops round out the front end followed by a beefy 190/55-17, and those fat contact patches ride under the watchful eye of the all-around ABS feature.

The steering geometry is, understandably, a bit different, but the actual numbers are a little shocking with a 20-degree rake and 2.9-inch trail that turn in a 45-degree lean angle to both sides, if you have the stones for it. That’s right, it leans into the corners just like a bike, and it even lets you countersteer so it shouldn’t be too tough to retrain yourself for the three-wheel life.

Suspension, Front/Travel: 43mm\41mm LMW dual tube fork, adjustable rebound and compression damping/ 4.3 in
Suspension, Rear/Travel: Single shock, adjustable preload (w/remote adjuster) and rebound damping/ 4.9 in
Rake (Caster Angle): 20.0°
Trail: 2.9 in
Brakes, Front: Dual hydraulic disc, 298 mm; ABS
Brakes, RearvHydraulic disc, 282 mm; ABS
Tires, Front: Dual 120/70R15
Tire, Rear: 190/55R17

2019 Yamaha Niken GT Drivetrain

2019 Yamaha Niken GT
- image 806063
Powered by the same engine as the MT-09, the factory makes sure you have the tools to keep it under control with a whole passel of electronic goodies.

Yamaha blessed the Niken with a Crossplane-Concept triple that rocks a number of top-shelf features. First, the con-rod big ends are fracture-split; a process that is supposed to produce a superior fit. Next, the intake funnels have had their lengths staggered in an effort to deepen the usable torque band.

Dual over-head cams time the 12-poppets over a trio of 78 mm bores with 59.1 mm strokes for a total displacement of 847 cc. Compression is pushing the middle ground at 11.5-to-1, and liquid is the cooling medium of choice to deal with the waste heat, but power and safety are the real selling points here.

The inline triple churns out 113.4-ponies and 64.5 pound-feet of torque, and the factory makes sure you have the tools to keep it under control with a whole passel of electronic goodies. Traction control and a slipper clutch provide another couple of safety nets, and the quick-shift feature and D-mode features heap on the top-shelf fandanglery. Sure, Delta-trikes are inherently stable, but there’s nothing wrong with a little extra help. A six-speed transmixxer sends power to the rear wheel via a chain final drive.

Engine: Liquid-cooled, DOHC, inline 3-cylinder; 12 valves
Displacement: 847 cc
Bore x Stroke: 78.0 mm x 59.1 mm
Compression Ratio: 11.5:1
Fuel Delivery: Fuel Injection with YCC-T
Transmission: 6-speed; multiplate assist and slipper wet clutch
Final Drive: Chain

2019 Yamaha Niken GT Pricing

2019 Yamaha Niken GT
- image 806043
Priced just $1,300 over the Niken, the Niken GT will be available in March 2019.

The 2019 Niken GT will roll for $17,299 starting in March, which isn’t bad considering how much bike you get for your buck. So far, it looks like Matte Phantom Blue over black is the only palette choice.

Warranty: 1 Year (Limited Factory Warranty)
Color: Matte Phantom Blue
Price: $17,299

2019 Yamaha Niken GT Competitors

2018 Can-Am Spyder F3-T / F3-T Limited
- image 770383
2019 Harley-Davidson TriGlide Ultra
- image 792902
Yamaha brings something to the table that nobody else can quite match yet without going to a scooter.

Yamaha has certainly carved a niche for itself with the Niken. It brings something to the table that nobody else can quite match. So, rather than finding a single orange for this apple, I decided to look at a couple of different oranges to see how it all averages out in the end.

First, I want to look at Harley-Davidson’s tour-tastic trike, the Tri Glide Ultra. Harley has a proven track record when it comes to American-style touring, in fact it would be fair to say the MoCo has been the main influence in its development. Trike it may be, but you can hardly tell it by a glimpse at the profile because the forward two-thirds looks just like the two-wheel tour bikes. A wide rear end sports automotive-size tires to define the classic, two-in-the-rear trike look and maximize the traction out back, and not only does it come with its own measures to limit backtorque in the system, but the linked brakes will apply some pressure when a wheel-speed differential is detected so it’s rocking a bona fide traction control feature, even if the execution is a little unconventional. ABS and cruise control are also along for the ride, but H-D comes off looking spectacularly proud with a $36,099 starting price, more than twice the cost of the Niken GT.

Can-Am also gets an honorable mention because of its Spyder lineup. The Spyder is a Delta-trike much like the Niken, but runs a fixed automotive/roadster-style front end that is inherently more stable than the two-out-back style, but doesn’t let you lean into the corners. Sure, you lose the sensation of flight, but I’m here to tell you that this thing corners like its on rails, and it’s the most sophisticated yet with a Vehicle Stability Control and traction control system to keep you dirty-side down.

Convenience is another sales point for Can-Am as it rocks a six-speed-plus-reverse, semi-automatic transmission for twist-and-go operation that the others can’t match. At $24,599, it’s a sight pricier than the Niken, but less expensive and arguably safer than the H-D though the new safety systems are still relatively unknown as to their efficacy so I reserve the right to modify that statement as the metrics roll in.

He Said

“It’s a sport-tour on steroids. The standard-package baggage, tall glass and heated handgrips really speak to a ride that has potential to become a solid commuter and/or state-line buster. It’s not my cup o’ tea looks-wise, but as far as the value-versus-price equation goes, I’m comfortable saying that the Tuning Fork Company was on point with this one.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “Okay, so I thought it was just going to be a Niken with bags, but it’s really more than that. There’s the wider seat, taller windshield and heated grips, too. The passenger gets her own charging socket, and that’s a nice feature for a bike that would likely see a lot of two-up riding. It comes set up for transcontinental touring, which, in the U.S. is just plain ol’ touring. It’s the same engine as the MT-09, but in what feels like a massively huge bike, at least the Niken does and I assume the GT is the same. It feels very weird the first time you ride it, but after the first couple of turns, you realize your two-wheeler experience carries over. It’s just that much more awesome.”

2019 Yamaha Niken GT Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Liquid-cooled, DOHC, inline 3-cylinder; 12 valves
Displacement: 847 cc
Bore x Stroke: 78.0 mm x 59.1 mm
Compression Ratio: 11.5:1
Fuel Delivery: Fuel Injection with YCC-T
Transmission: 6-speed; multiplate assist and slipper wet clutch
Final Drive: Chain
Chassis:
Suspension, Front/Travel: 43mm\41mm LMW dual tube fork, adjustable rebound and compression damping/ 4.3 in
Suspension, Rear/Travel: Single shock, adjustable preload (w/remote adjuster) and rebound damping/ 4.9 in
Rake (Caster Angle): 20.0°
Trail: 2.9 in
Brakes, Front: Dual hydraulic disc, 298 mm; ABS
Brakes, Rear: Hydraulic disc, 282 mm; ABS
Tires, Front: Dual 120/70R15
Tire, Rear: 190/55R17
Dimensions & Capacities:
L x W x H: 84.6 in x 34.8 in x 56.1 in
Seat Height: 32.9 in
Wheelbase: 59.4 in
Wheel Track: 16.1 in
Maximum Ground Clearance: 5.9 in
Maximum Lean Angle: 45.0°
Fuel Capacity: 4.8 gal
Fuel Economy: TBD
Wet Weight: TBD
Details:
Warranty: 1 Year (Limited Factory Warranty)
Color: Matte Phantom Blue
Price: $17,299

Further Reading

Harley-Davidson TriGlide Ultra

2019 Harley-Davidson TriGlide Ultra
- image 792895

See our review of the Harley-Davidson TriGlide Ultra.

Can-Am Spyder F3-T/F3-T Limited

2018 Can-Am Spyder F3-T / F3-T Limited
- image 770368

See our review of the Can-Am Spyder F3-T/F3-T Limited.

Yamaha Niken

2019 Yamaha Niken
- image 789360

See our look at the Yamaha Niken.

Yamaha MT-09

2018 - 2019 Yamaha MT-09
- image 799894

See our review of the Yamaha MT-09.

Yamaha

no article
- image 788830

Read more Yamaha news.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: yamaha-motor.com, harley-davidson.com, brp.com

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