Yamaha has been on a product tear over the past few years. The FZ-07, -09, and -10 Hyper Naked sportbikes are fantastic, and the sub-liter FZs are a screaming value to boot. The tuning-fork brand is gunning for Harley with its humongous Star Venture, a full-dress tourer that combines Japanese refinement with a stonking huge V-twin. The latest version of its vaunted R1 race replica consistently wins raves from the motorcycle press. And now, well, there’s the Niken.
Two wheels up front and one in the rear isn’t exactly a new idea. Can-Am’s Spyders offer an open-air experience for those who, for whatever reason, would rather not be astride a two-wheeler. The Morgan 3 Wheeler is an is an archaic hoot. And Piaggio has been building its MP3 line of scooters for over a decade now. It’s this last machine that the Niken most closely resembles. The Piaggio and the Yamaha differ from other three-wheelers by employing a front-suspension setup that allows a three-wheeler to lean like a bona fide motorcycle while offering reassuring, tripod-like stability as well as a larger front contact patch.