I was a warm summer afternoon a few weeks back when I received a call from the Yamaha Israel sales manager Yotam. “Have you heard of the Niken?” he asked. “Sure” I said “why?” “Well we’re launching it in Israel and we wanted you to come do a test ride tell us what you think.” Truth be said I had never ridden a trike before let alone a sports trike, so I jumped at the opportunity. someone also mentioned a free lunch so who could resist.
Off to the mountains
on the designated sunny afternoon I set off towards Jerusalem. Its a cool 120km, from my office in the north of Israel, but my Super Tenere just loves when clock the long hauls on it so no sweat. Almost. I arrived at the Cramim (vineyards in Hebrew) Hotel around 14:00 which was the designated time for our 30 minute ride on it. A refreshment, some signatures, a short briefing (It’s a MT-09 with 2 wheels in the front) , and we’re off.
I through my leg over, straitened it off the stand – you need to hold it like a bike – and took a look at the dashboard. It’s huge, wide, and very plush, giving you a sense of something very expensive and luxurious. Nice displays, a good on-board computer all the functionality you can hope for and the Yamaha 900 triple growling from underneath.
Every thing is very much Mt-09 in its feeling as we launch off, and I’m waiting to get going so that I can see what this funny front end is really about. After a few curves the Niken feels positively easy and I am finding it very conventional in its behavior. Once we are on the High way its sure footedness comes in handy and acceleration is smooth as it is rapid. Its only a short ride on the Highway when we break off to the mountain twisty lanes. Here few things become apparent: The extra rubber can be used for running extra speed into corners, which otherwise we may have not taken. Here is where things get a little interesting, While grip is better through corners, counter steering is less pronounced (due to the smaller wheels probably) which in turn causes you to turn with the need for a more sure kind of a shove to the handlebars. Another dynamic phenomenon I found is the ability of the Niken to hold a line in a corner and react to throttle changes. I felt I needed to hold the bar to keep the line unlike MY Super Tenere where once a I’ve set the lean it will hold the line as long as you hold the throttle at its current position.
Riding back we try the grip at a hard stop and get excellent results including a dual ABS up front, I also ride over road bumps at a relatively high speed and got great results in terms of damping the bumps.we head back to the hotel for another drink, a very good finger-food lunch, and some motorcycling mingling and talk over this new innovative motorcycle.
So what the hell is it?
Well if its not a bird and its not a plane then it must be superman. This is something new, refreshing, out of box. Just as we like it. It seems less demanding than a motorcycle. this may be a call for heavy scooters to take the next step toward motorcycling through the Niken. The luxury ad comfort it brings with it and the extra grip, may also appeal to the end of the road cyclist, an extend his riding days for another 5 years that maybe without the Niken would not hold. Last but not least if you are a scooter man and want something like it but manual and very powerful maybe this could be it. All in all its a brilliant piece of machinery that only time will tell if it will cut itself a little niche of the motorcycle market.
Way to go Yamaha.
Eytan Magen is the CEO of TAMARBIKES (www.tamamrbikes.com/moto-adventures) the leading boutique motorcycle touring company, with tours world wide. Eytan is an entrepreneur and an adventure riding with thousands of miles on all 5 continents.