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Digital Subscriptions > Fast Bikes > 342 > THREE WHEELIN


Good things come in threes or so Yamaha would have us believe.Their radical new creation is soon to hit the showrooms but is three a crowd, or really the magic number-?


I’ve been involved with motorcycles for quite some time now and one thing I have noticed is that they, traditionally, come with two wheels. So I know what you’re thinking; the new NIKEN from Yamaha looks as though it’s got one too many. And there’ll be a certain fraternity out there who wouldn’t entertain a threewheeled wonder even if it boasted MotoGP levels of performance. Still reading? Then you have passed the first test and are obviously open-minded enough (or perhaps just curious enough) to give NIKEN a chance. Yamaha, who have been working on the NIKEN’s technology for over 10 years, reckon their new CP3-engined creation has got what it takes to revolutionise motorcycling. It’s not a radical concept bike that just happens to have been put into production and it’s not Yamaha’s way of flexing their design muscles or simply showing off their engineering prowess.

The bizarre-looking three-wheeler is, we are told, a genuine attempt at improving front-end grip and stability, thus improving corner speed and confidence.

And who can knock them for that? Chucking an extra tyre into the mix might seem like a simple remedy to improve grip, but the reality is that the system used to make it work is actually pretty complicated.

A pair of forks on the outside of each wheel keeps everything pointing in the right direction, and allows a decent sized space between the wheels permitting lean angles up to 45° (but no more). At the heart of the ‘leaning multi wheel’ (LMW) system there is a parallelogram linkage which allows both front wheels and both sets of forks to work independently, while still being actuated by the same, single rider input.

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