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Yamaha Explains NIKEN LMW Ackermann Steering System (with video)


Yamaha has released a short press release with a detailed video explaining the technology incorporated into the NIKEN three-wheeler’s steering system. Powered by an 847 cc triple, the NIKEN will be in U.S. dealerships later this year.

If you haven’t ridden a leaning three-wheeler before, MD discussed the incredible front-end grip, and confidence, provided by a similar platform in its review of the Piaggio MP3 500 ie. You might not be dragging your elbow like Marc Marquez, but the new NIKEN, and other similar three-wheel models coming thereafter, might give you the confidence to explore deeper lean angles than you ever have before.

Here is the short press release from Yamaha, followed by an excellent video with all the details:

Taking corner carving confidence to another level

Launched to the world at the EICMA motorcycle show in late 2017, the all-new Yamaha NIKEN is about to open up a whole new dimension in riding control. With its revolutionary Leaning Multi Wheel (LMW) platform, the NIKEN introduces a totally new concept to the world of motorcycling, and takes corner carving confidence to another level.

The new NIKEN has many rider benefits coming from the unique new technology, and the new technical video released today by Yamaha gives a full explanation of the key features used in the new LMW design.

The LMW concept explained

In the latest video released by Yamaha, each aspect of the LMW Ackermann steering geometry is explained with detailed visuals that highlight how this unique new system benefits the NIKEN rider.

The video shows it all, from the LMW system’s parallelogram link design through to the offset joints and dual tube inverted forks – showing how each component contributes towards the NIKEN’s excellent cornering performance together with its unique and sporty riding experience. Viewers can also see how the unique hybrid frame combined with a long aluminium swingarm and model-specific chassis geometry work together to create one of today’s most innovative and exciting new models.

Now everyone interested in the new NIKEN can see how this revolutionary Yamaha technology has the power to deliver a completely new riding experience at:


See more of MD’s great photography:

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124 Comments

  1. Mitch says:

    Hello all,

    I am wondering, people whom have a disability which prevents them from riding a two wheel motorcycle (legally) – will this be a legally viable option? If yes, then its not only a good and innovative idea, it would be a great idea.

    • Scott says:

      I’m sure the law varies from state to state, country to country. I’m not aware of any laws in my area that prohibit one from riding a motorcycle, other than not being able to pass the test.

      In any case, the Niken really isn’t designed for disabled riders. The dynamics of riding it, sitting on it, and pushing it around are exactly the same as any regular motorcycle. If you can ride a Niken, you can ride any other bike.

      Depending on the type of disability one has, there are better options such as the Can-Am Spyder, standard “trikes”, or sidecar rigs. Are you speaking of your own situation, or just asking in general?

    • Scott says:

      Oh, good. My answer to your post is “in moderation”. Wait 5 hours and you, too, can view it. What a handy feature on a comment board!

  2. dude says:

    45 degree max lean angle. what then? inboard tire lifts? the front end weight…. OMG.

    please yamaha…why?

    • Scott says:

      Well… Clearly, the *outboard* tire would be the one to lift if you exceed 45°…

      And just as clear, you are definitely not in the market for this kind of motorcycle, so what do you care?

      “OMG”

  3. BoxerFan says:

    I liked the NeoWing concept better, with the parallelogram suspension between the front wheels, rather than above them, with 4 fork legs.

    But it is good to see alternative ideas once in a while. Henry Ford is quoted as saying:” If I asked people what they wanted, they would have said ‘a faster horse’.”

    Just keep in mind… three points define a plane, rather than just two points defining a line. The most stable shape is a triangle, and the most stable form is a triangular pyramid.

    Think of a leaning reverse trike, as a dynamic, adjustable triangular pyramid, with three points on the ground, even as the pyramid moves across a changing surface.

  4. Tank says:

    I don’t know if this is a great idea or if we’ve just run out of ideas on how to improve the 2-wheel motorcycle. In any case, it’s nice to see Yamaha think outside the box.

  5. Grover says:

    If a car with 4 wheels can lose its traction on the road then so can this thing. Grip is not guaranteed in any vehicle. If someone believes they can now ride more recklessly because of a third wheel they are in for a rude awakening.

  6. edbob says:

    I’m all In.

  7. hipsabad says:

    Thankfully, rear wheels never lose their grip

  8. Fred says:

    Ok, so add a leaning spare wheel into the huge front gap, add a roof, and call it The Yamaha Robin.

  9. Frank says:

    Not for me…but keep the forks serviced and tire properly inflated and it could be fun for someone else.

  10. Jon busby says:

    It’s different than most but why not? A lot of different riders could use this style of motorcycle. It leans trikes don’t. Big difference.

  11. skybullet says:

    I’m with kjazz, https://pubadmin2.ostfold.net/data/downloads/2592/Brudeli_pressrelease_20171219_released.pdf
    looks like a much better solution. NIKEN is just a stepping stone for Yamaha.

  12. Arturo says:

    Anyone know if the rider still has to put a foot down when coming to a stop on this??

  13. motowarrior says:

    I like the fact that Yamaha isn’t afraid to do new things, even if they turn out to be dead limbs on the tree of evolution. I had a Yamaha GTS (hub steering), and it was an excellent motorcycle, despite costing a small fortune. They didn’t sell any, and quickly gave up on the idea, but it showed that they were willing to invest in innovation. One thing that occurred to me, is that this bike gives you three separate opportunities to hit something in the road. Probably a good chance of survivability if you do, however. All in all, commendable.

  14. Paul says:

    80 percent more front end grip…. that is what has me interested in this bike. Our roads are crap, 80% more grip up front is significant. I happen to like the looks, too.

  15. William says:

    After watching the video, it does not look that ugly and looks like it actually might work pretty well. The main thing for me would be how such a thing would ride. It looks functional and fun. Finally someone did something new instead of the same old thing. I think a dual sport version would be interesting. That stability might pay off on loose gravel, assuming it still works there.

  16. Josh says:

    Lets hope this goes away like the Elio…What a p.o.s!

  17. guu says:

    If you corner lean angle is limited by your confidence in leaning while street riding that is just scary. You should be limited by safety margin that riding in traffic requires. There is no way to tell what’s behind the next corner; child playing ball, driver texting and driving on the wrong side of the road, an animal, pot hole, three-wheeled motorcyclist exploring his lean angle limits etc, etc. Deep lean angles belong on the track.

    • Scott says:

      You just made a great argument in *favor* of the Niken. All those things you mentioned above? Niken provides a solution. Run across a pothole or a small animal in the middle of a curve? No problem! Come around the bend to find a child running across the road? Hit the brakes – even while leaned over – and come to a quick, controlled stop. See a vehicle (or another Niken) crossing the stripe into your lane? Steer into the corner harder and avoid the crash… Don’t worry, the front end will stick!

      If your argument against this bike is that the dual front end is just a crutch for riders who don’t have enough skills in the first place, then I suppose you must disapprove of all the other rider aids available on motorcycles today – anti-lock brakes, traction control, multi-axis gyros and stability control, etc. All these things allow people to ride faster than they should, right?

      • guu says:

        No, the solution is to ride within you own means and the limits imposed by the road and traffic conditions. You can have all the crutches you want, but but using those crutches to push the limits on the road is irresponsible. If the limits are imposed by your own skills? Invest in learning how to ride, not on a new crutch.

        “You might not be dragging your elbow like Marc Marquez, but the new NIKEN, and other similar three-wheel models coming thereafter, might give you the confidence to explore deeper lean angles than you ever have before.” I whole-heartedly disagree with this idea.

        Btw. I feel that silica in tires and cartridge dampers in forks are the greatest “crutches” for faster and safer cornering.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          ” If the limits are imposed by your own skills?”

          The limits are imposed by one wheel up front instead of two. This has more silica and more cartridge dampers. Regardless of skill level, there is a new performance envelope and set of capabilities that the Niken opens up. Riders can explore their limits and that of the Niken just like they would on any motorcycle. Some will do that irresponsibly, others not, exactly the way riders treat motorcycles and public roads today.

          This isn’t a crutch one uses to compensate for lack of skill. One still needs to learn to ride it, and some will be more accomplished at that than others, same as anything. It is not a learning tool that one would use to graduate to riding a motorcycle. The Niken is a new machine with its own merits.

  18. Phillip says:

    I recently had my left leg amputated close to the hip. I would still love to be riding a motorcycle, but it’s not really feasible right now. This bike holds a definite interest for me.

    • mickey says:

      Phillip, I believe it is just a new front end for a conventional motorcycle. You still have to put your feet down at stops or it will fall over.

    • Dave says:

      Phillip, sorry to hear of your recent life change. That must be a pretty hard adjustment, recreation notwithstanding. While not the most soul-stirring bike out there, the Piaggio MP3 scooters (125, 250, 500cc) do have locking 2-wheel front ends, so they lean while riding, but can lock upright while stopped. Lots of storage too.

  19. Z50started-it says:

    Yamaha is still prototyping the T7 that has been well received, has lots of buzz and people actually want. But… this aberration will be available at your dealer. Piaggio has done it for years. How many have they sold?

  20. 5229 says:

    no thanks Yamaha. I think most riders would agree. Tough to beat motorcycles in their purest form. Two wheels,clutch,shifting gears,front and rear brakes. Simple as that. The connection between man and machine is so unique about riding motorcycles.

  21. ABQ says:

    The one advantage about trikes that I enjoy is that I don’t have to put my feet down to power walk it through traffic jams. I was on my old BMW GS in a traffic jam when My prosthetic leg fell off. Awkward. Three bikes later I now ride a Harley Freewheeler trike. I would be tempted to trade it in for this but the Harley has loads of cargo space. But if they put that front end on the FJR 1300 or the adventure bike I may change my mind.
    (My new little car has a CVT. I wonder how long until they put those on motorcycles other than scooters.)

    • mickey says:

      ABQ.. It is my understanding that this does not lock rigid like a 3 wheeler, it’s simply a different front end for a conventional motorcycle. You still have to put your feet down at stops, or it will fall over.

  22. bmbktmracer says:

    I suppose if your roads have gravel and ice issues, or lots of rain it makes sense. I imagine the braking is better. If it has an auto trans and doesn’t require one to drop a foot at a stop, it’d be a big win for those with disabilities. I’m intrigued.

  23. Dennis Hill says:

    Why? I mean, is this my motorized wheelchair when I’m to old for two wheels? I thought Can-Am had that covered. I’m not opposed to new ideas I just don’t understand this.

    • Scott says:

      If you can’t understand why this is completely different from a Can-Am, then there’s just no explaining it to you.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      A CanAm or Slingshot isn’t much fun (in my opinion.) To me, those two aren’t much different than a three-wheeled Miata. This Yamaha design still leans into the turns like a proper motorcycle and therefore feels like a motorcycle while being ridden. The only difference is the extra security, convenience, and performance afforded by a double footprint upfront.

  24. Mike J says:

    It’s brilliant but I will leave the extra weight behind.

  25. cinderbob says:

    It obviously adds complexity, and three tires cost more to replace than two, but you’re a liar if you say you wouldn’t like to try one.

    • Mick says:

      Really? I can’t imagine wanting to get anywhere near one.

      I don’t play well with weight and complexity. My street bike is a plated, supermotoed dirt bike. I refuse to accept the hundred pound street bike tax.

      There is no way you are going to sell me on the hundred pounds plus an extra front end.

      It’s just my way of thinking. I know that my views aren’t super popular.

    • Bud says:

      I want to try one. Might be cool.

    • Bill Woodall says:

      I want to try one. I’ve ridden a CanAm and didn’t like it at all. I’m intrigued by the concept. It wouldn’t be the first tine I’ve been wrong but the Piaggio, I’ve been told, will stand upright at stop lights.

      • mickey says:

        Bill on the piaggio, there is a lever you flip once you come to a stop, that locks the bike rigid. If you don’t flip the lever, it’s just like a conventional scooter and will fall over. Once you give it throttle the lever disengages and it will lean again while riding.

  26. Mark says:

    Now I have FOUR forks to maintain and who knows how many extra bearings and ball joints?
    I’ll keep my answer simple; like motorcycles should be…..NO THANKS.

  27. DP says:

    In my scope of understanding, there is a motor-cycle which is from its inception motorised bicycle – meaning TWO wheels. Anything above and bellow is not in my interest zone.
    This is a marginal experiment which in technical sense deserves attention, as an experiment, but that is all – I have no use for it. I am actually so “radical” in my view that I do not respond to greets from trike riders. They are cheaters in my book. If I greeted them, then I can as well greet (have affinity with) ragtops drivers. Eventually this could extend to school busses and so on.

    • mickey says:

      well the Daimler-Maybach Reitwagen of 1885 the first recognized gas powered motorcycle actually had 4 wheels if that helps any.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Actually, only the “bi” in the word bicycle implies two wheels. “Cycle” just means “wheel.” As Mickey stated, the word motorcycle has been used to label motorized vehicles of various vehicles with no regard to the number of wheels.

    • Dave says:

      Re: “They are cheaters in my book.”

      In what book? Cheating at what, exactly?

      If they’d choose to enjoy the road with a vehicle that weighs less than 2,000lb, I say welcome, glad to have you.

    • guu says:

      By calling trike rides cheaters you are implying that they have some sort of advantages over motorcyclist. What do you think that advantage is? Cheap VW parts for the engine perhaps?

  28. Joe says:

    I give Yamaha credit for the willingness to buck the status quo. I like the leaning three wheeler concept; just not this !
    A cutting edge GTS would be more the 21st century niche machine I’d prefer. One with more the pure sporting purpose that James Parker wanted in the first place.!

    • DP says:

      Is it the GTS1000? Oh yeah, that is what I liked too; pretty smart design – it was on two wheels though. That was a motorcycle.

  29. Onto says:

    Maybe this is another step on the path to fully autonomous motorcycles – where we just sit there and have everything controlled by a computer. It would be difficult to make a computer balance a two-wheeler in the infinite variety of situations we encounter. Honda have been working on a self-balancing bike, but it looks like it would blow over in a gust of wind.

    • Dave says:

      Have you seen Lit motors recumbent, enclosed two wheeled-thing? Gyro stabilized, they have a video of it being ridden on a frozen lake. Pretty crazy..

  30. Don says:

    Harder to dodge potholes.

  31. sherm says:

    I’ve ridden the MP3 and liked it. You really don’t feel like you are on three wheels till you come to stop and don’t fall over. Design wise, except for the front end, the MP3 is a step through scooter.

    The Yamaha keeps the motorcycle shape which I think makes it harder to streamline and cover up that weird and complicated front end contraption. It looks more like a test fixture for trying out different design details than afinished product.

    I can almost picture Yamaha coming out with a one-front-wheel converter kit. With a couple of wrenches you remove one front wheel and its mechanicals, then center the remaining wheel.

    • Bubba says:

      That would be full circle back to the FZ-09!!

    • Mark says:

      Sherm..I demo’d the MP3 to get a free mp3 player (all the rage at the time). While I liked it and no sense of the extra wheel, it turns out some of them developed a nasty habit of locking up the steering while being ridden. Not good.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        I’ll bet far more riders have tucked the front wheel on their motorcycle than there have been MP3s that have malfunctioned. Not good.

  32. kjazz says:

    This just seems mo’better to me…..
    https://www.brudelitech.com/

  33. Grover says:

    Any idea what this contraption weighs? Horsepower? Price?

  34. Brian D says:

    Hell. No.

  35. Joe says:

    Hideously ugly. I don’t think it will be a commercial success because of its looks.
    The technology is intriguing and the complexity could be forgiven if it’s performance is exceptional but it’s gotta overcome the “War of The Worlds “, alien-looking appearance.

  36. Dave says:

    It looks like it works great might even be fun. It sure is ugly though.

    • paul246 says:

      That is awesome!! A super articulated leaning quad-cycle, with a motor…makes it a motorcycle.

    • kjazz says:

      will suck on single-track, but otherwise pretty cool.

    • William says:

      That 4 -wheeled leaning motorcycle looks awesome on that dirt trail. For offroad such a vehicle can be made, but USA defines a motorcycle as having 3 or less wheels, so it could not be made street legal even though its obviously a motorcycle and not a car.

  37. Rapier says:

    Mostly it seems like the answer to a question that nobody asked. Not to say that this can’t lead to market success. After all who thought they needed a computer in their home in 1980? Maybe the key to renewed interest in motorcycling will be ones that greatly reduce the chances of falling over.

    • MGNorge says:

      But that’s half the fun! 😉

      • Rapier says:

        Ultimately the danger is part of motorcycling’s allure, but it’s only a part. The other parts of the good of cycle riding is being out in the world and all the sensations, accelerating, being in control. Those come before the vague if real risks which may fuel the desire to ride.

        You know the story, the guy gets married, has a kid, and it isn’t just about him anymore, so he sells the bike because a simple spill could put him on crutches, interfere with his income, have costs, etc. etc.

        This sort of thing is closer to the motorcycle experience than a huge twin rear wheel trike or a Slingshot, and cheaper.

        Let us remember too that cycle riding is a skill which is partly intrinsic. For those with less intrinsic skill this sort of thing makes cycling a better choice. Many people love the idea of a bike but can’t develop confidence on them. They are not inferior in some way. The lack let’s say a good inner ear. An ability to sense traction, or something. Give them this crutch.

        • MGNorge says:

          I agree, my allure to motorcycling is the control and finesse needed, sometimes on the edge, that makes coming out the other end so satisfying. Rather like taking on many other endeavors such as skiing (water & snow)and any number of sports. It’s an outdoor activity, it’s mobility and it’s freedom and feeling close to your trusty steed in getting you there and back. If this Yamaha retains those qualities then great, and I suspect it does, but I wonder the real benefit to the typical cyclist since this may need support like any bike once mounted. It will obviously add cost and complexity.

  38. viktor92 says:

    I don’t like it at all, more weight and complexity in an era where electronic stability control, abs, cornering abs and lots of driver aids are more and more common ??. No way, a true motorcycle should have TWO wheels, for more, I go on a car.

  39. Grover says:

    Yamaha’s answer to the question nobody asked.

    • Scott says:

      Oh! Sorry… That was me. I asked them.

      They were like, “Wait, what? Yeah… Hells yeah! We’re doing this!”

  40. Robert Carpenter says:

    Does counter steering still apply?

  41. Bill says:

    if the intended market is non-traditional riders maybe a low maintenance belt drive would have been better.

  42. My2cents says:

    Perhaps it’s a market not yet explored. Not for me, but riders with limitations concerning physical demands or injury that want to ride sport bike style. Many three wheelers are available now either from factory or as kits. Several years back I remember seeing a wheel chair bound fellow with a ramped sidecar, once inside and secured a series of cables and levers allowed him to operate the unit from the sidecar. Freedom should be boundless.

  43. Mick says:

    After watching the video, I couldn’t be more repulsed by the thing. But maybe it will get more motorcycle based thing riders into the fold. More is always better when dealing with laws and infrastructure.

  44. skybullet says:

    Let’s hope the alleged improvement in handling has no deal breaker trade-offs. Good for Yamaha sticking their neck out to criticism by traditionalists who won’t like it no matter how good it is. Ok, I’ll start with the Angry Insect looks. Aside from that, I have an open mind.

  45. Denis says:

    This thing is so damn cool. I would like the opportunity to try it out. I’ve tried the Harley Tri-Glide and it was fun in a unique way—-but this bike leans! It appears to be well thought out. Curious about the cost too.

  46. jimmihaffa says:

    It’s certainly a lot of complexity and weight to add to a motorcycle for extra cornering security. I can’t help but wonder how much the maintenance costs and frequency of bushing replacement are going to be on such a machine with the front end tie rods having to contribute to wheel movement as well as shock absorbing. The video shows the lead stanchions as responsible for turning and the trailing as shock absorbing, so I’m guessing the tie rods mount to the leads and maybe wear and tear of bushings isn’t as bad? Still, I’d be leery and would want some projections of suspension maintenance costs from the dealer. That said, for the hacks among us to be able to generate “half-Marquez” lean angles could be a whole lot of fun.

  47. Kevin W says:

    It looks like a good platform to stuff with batteries.

  48. ApriliaRST says:

    Surely the video left something out of the explanation (from 30 to 40 sec. in): “conventional” steering doesn’t keep the wheels parallel…? Huh?

    • Provologna says:

      Thanks for catching that! I rewound that part a few times, and still it never made sense. Maybe they refer to a different type of dual front wheel bike.

      The bike is ugly as sin. IMO the sole reason Yamaha dressed the pilot like they did (a Star Wars storm trooper) was to move the viewers eyes away from the bike’s ugly curse.

    • Scott says:

      That was kinda weird, but I think they’re trying to say that the front wheel track stays constant at all lean angles, where bikes like the Brudeli and MP3 may have variances depending on lean angle? I don’t know why that matters, though…

      • ApriliaRST says:

        Yeah, Scott, you may be right. But I don’t know how any two-front-wheel bike could have the fronts NOT remain parallel, thereby setting the wheels onto different tracks. That would surely induce forces into the forks that could only be relieved by tire slip.

        • Scott says:

          Exactly. Maybe “parallel” was incorrectly translated from Japanese to English? Who knows…

        • PeterC says:

          They are talking about Ackermann steering geometry which was discovered about two centuries ago. If the front wheels remained absolutely parallel then there is tire scrub because the inner wheel is following a tighter turning radius than the outer one. The inner wheel has to turn in slightly more than the outer one does. All cars have this setup. I don’t know why they are talking about this as if it is a revolutionary concept.

  49. paul246 says:

    The video does not show the advantages of this design over a conventional motorcycle when it comes to negotiating uneven surfaces, wet conditions, and debris on the road. The fact that it can bank like a motorcycle puts it head and shoulders over a Can-Am Spider or a motorcycle/sidecar…just no comparison, not even close.

  50. WSHart says:

    Looks like a niche within a niche.

    • paul246 says:

      That is what they said about the Volkswagen Beetle when it arrived on American shores.

      • WSHart says:

        I don’t recall ever hearing that about the Beetle. Not when it first arrived nor anytime throughout it’s history.

        Volkswagen means “People’s Car”. That is far from a niche vehicle. It was meant to appeal to the masses not the asses.

        I stand by what I said regarding this Yamaha. It is a niche within a niche vehicle.

        • paul246 says:

          1949. Ben Pon introduced the first 2 Beetles to America. Detroit laughed it off. They laughed again and again. Then they stopped laughing.

  51. dt 175 says:

    don’t need two front wheels to only go that fast. what’s up w/ his external body armor? very stormtrooper. what I REALLY want to see is rossi ride one…

  52. ahhhh all the disadvantages of a car combined with those of a bike in one machine!

  53. CrazyJoe says:

    The older 500 cc mp3 had an odd but friendly look. Kind of like an Easter island statue. The Niken looks like a mini gun could be mounted on it. I would love to see what a custom shop could do to it. A trunk might help up front to soften the robotic look.

    Did Yamaha buy the Brudeli tilting three wheeler patent because of problems with the Niken design? I’ll have to wait and see what reviewers have to say about its handling. At least the third wheel could be useful on a dirt road.

    • Scott says:

      I think Yamaha bought that patent simply to keep another manufacturer from building a three wheeler using that design. Makes it that much harder to come up with a unique design. There’s really nothing they can use from the Brudeli system, because it’s completely different from what the Niken is using.

      That’s my theory. I could be wrong…

      • CrazyJoe says:

        Their design looks like Piagio’s so maybe they are paying them. Companies like Honda, Harley and Toyota been playing with this idea for awhile. They looked better than this. I can’t figure out why if an car company could be built for under 20k why not.. never mind.

  54. mickey says:

    Sure is an interesting thing. Can’t wait to ride one. I’ve ridden the Piaggio MP3 and was surprised how “normal” it felt.

  55. Mick says:

    It is ridiculous looking. There has to be something to it though. There a lot of MP3 people in Paris, where I lived for three years, who are serious lane splitting gladiators. Those people have confidence. You can’t argue results.

  56. Roadrash1 says:

    I just can’t get into this. Or the can-am spyder.
    I could do a sidecar. Dogs love those!
    All that being said, they’ll probably sell plenty of them…
    If you find anything that gets you out of your car, I say GO FOR IT!

  57. Tom R says:

    Not a lane-splitter, I think. But great at leaning, for sure.

    Now where is that road? I want to ride there.

  58. David says:

    Impressive. If Can Am Spyders can survive the market, this should be feasible too. It will offer similar stability with a greater degree of sportiness (and probably much better heat management than the RS that melted the sole off of my right boot).

    Did anybody else get queasy in the video when he shoots around a blind corner in the oncoming lane? Sure it is a closed route but the it is unsettling.

    David