Yamaha NIKEN GT 2023 Review: Unleashing the Ultimate Three-Wheeled Beast

Are you ready to experience the thrill of a three-wheeled motorcycle like never before? Look no further than the Yamaha NIKEN GT 2023. This cutting-edge machine combines the agility and adrenaline of a sportbike with the stability and comfort of a touring bike. In this blog post, we will delve into the features, performance, and overall riding experience of the Yamaha NIKEN GT 2023. Get ready to be amazed by this revolutionary motorcycle!

Design and Appearance of Yamaha NIKEN GT 2023

Yamaha NIKEN GT 2023 Review: Unleashing the Ultimate Three-Wheeled Beast
Yamaha NIKEN GT 2023 Review: Unleashing the Ultimate Three-Wheeled Beast

The Yamaha NIKEN GT 2023 boasts a striking and futuristic design that turns heads wherever it goes. The three-wheel configuration sets it apart from traditional motorcycles, giving it a unique and aggressive look. The front-end incorporates dual leaning front wheels, which not only enhance stability but also add to its visual appeal.

The sleek bodywork and aerodynamic lines of the NIKEN GT 2023 contribute to its sporty appearance. The integrated fairing provides excellent wind protection, making it ideal for long rides. The bike features a comfortable two-up seat, spacious saddlebags, and a top case, making it perfect for touring enthusiasts seeking both style and functionality.

Is it an abomination under the sun or an example of Yamaha being an adventurous, bold, innovative manufacturer trying to expand what could easily be described as a sunset industry riddled with conservatism? Released in 2018, Yamaha’s Niken certainly divided opinion then and still does now. With an engine and chassis based on the then-current MT-09 and Tracer 900 inline triple, the Niken employed a novel front-end solution. Two 15-inch 120/70 wheels (from a TMAX) were each gripped by a pair of forks, themselves held in place by pivoting steering arms. The effect was to deliver a hitherto undreamed level of stability and grip to the front end of a motorcycle (or whatever it is).

Put simply, it’s nigh-on impossible to lose the front on a Niken, and the intuitive and instant reassurance it gives riders of all calibers is uncanny, almost supernatural. But that feeling of invincibility comes at several costs. The first Niken was heavy. It was complex. It didn’t look like a motorbike. And it was expensive. Its front-end feel might be revelatory, but riders steered clear.

2023, the Niken GT gets updated and uprated – something one suspects might not always have been a given at the factory, considering the machine’s clearly limited audience. The engine is enlarged and uprated to the latest Euro5 CP3 triple, the frame and rear suspension are revised, electronics, dash, and switchgear are new, and the bike gets a number of convenience upgrades – and the price goes up.

Engine and Performance of Yamaha NIKEN GT 2023

Underneath its eye-catching exterior, the Yamaha NIKEN GT 2023 packs a powerful punch. It is equipped with a liquid-cooled, 847cc inline-three engine that delivers exhilarating performance. With a maximum power output of 115 horsepower, this bike offers a thrilling riding experience on both city streets and open highways.

The NIKEN GT 2023 features Yamaha’s advanced electronic control systems, including ride-by-wire throttle, traction control, and multiple riding modes. These systems ensure optimum performance and provide the rider with a seamless and enjoyable riding experience. Whether you prefer a relaxed cruise or spirited corner carving, this motorcycle has you covered.

The new Niken is one of the last motorcycles to be upgraded to Euro5. It now features the 2021, 120° crank, 890cc, ride-by-wire inline triple engine from the current Yamaha MT-09 Naked Roadster, Yamaha Tracer 9 Adventure-Tourer, and Yamaha XSR900 Naked Retro. The Niken motor has slightly less power and torque compared to these models, producing 113bhp @ 10,000rpm and 67 lb.ft @ 7000rpm (4bhp and 2 lb.ft less due to an 8% increase in crank inertia and different fuel injection settings). These changes alter the engine response and remove some of the instant fizz from the Tracer’s motor to better suit the more deliberate dynamics of the Niken. These are the same peak figures as the previous generation Niken, which had an 847cc engine.

However, with a larger, longer stroke engine, the character of the power and torque delivery is different. Peak power is still at 10,000rpm, but peak torque is slightly higher than before and occurs at 1500rpm lower in the rev range. While Yamaha hasn’t provided dyno comparisons, it is likely that the new engine will have more area under its torque curve than the previous model. This means that while the Niken’s motor lacks the same unbridled joy and whizz of the XSR/MT-09/Tracer 9 models, it is still a powerful engine to ride on. The up and down quick shifter on the Niken is not as versatile as the one on the Tracer 9 GT+, but it is still considered one of the best and allows for easy short-shifting with quick gear changes.

This keeps the triple engine surfing the crest of its torque curve or straining into the redline when necessary for sharp overtakes. Despite having an extra wheel at the front, the Niken’s engine remains effective. However, it does affect fuel consumption. Yamaha claims that the Niken achieves 48.7mpg, while the Tracer 9 GT achieves 56.5mpg. Over a period of ten years and 40,000 miles, a Niken will emit 8690kg more CO2 into the atmosphere compared to a Tracer. In terms of range, the Niken’s 18-litre tank is claimed to be good for 190 miles when empty.

However, during the launch event, real-world figures ranged from 38mpg to 42mpg, resulting in an average of 40mpg and a total tank range of about 160 miles. The fuel light comes on at around 120 miles. On a sports tourer like the Niken, this range may not be enough. Yamaha could have increased the tank size to 22 litres, but that would have made the bike even heavier. It seems that you can’t win in motorcycle engineering. The new motor is tilted forward by 5° compared to the previous Niken engine.

However, Yamaha’s engineers claim that the bike’s weight balance is still 50:50. This forward tilt may be for packaging reasons as a longer stroke engine could result in a taller engine. The Niken also features a new radiator which may have been reshaped to allow greater front wheel clearance for the tilted engine. Additionally, for Euro5 compliance, the engine runs hotter (as it runs leaner) and may require a more efficient cooling system.

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Handling and Stability of Yamaha NIKEN GT 2023

One of the standout features of the Yamaha NIKEN GT 2023 is its exceptional handling and stability. Thanks to its unique dual leaning front wheels, the bike offers unmatched cornering capabilities and precise steering control. Riders can confidently lean into corners, knowing that the NIKEN GT 2023 will provide unmatched stability and grip.

The front suspension system, known as the LMW (Leaning Multi-Wheel) system, utilizes an innovative parallelogram mechanism. This mechanism allows both front wheels to lean simultaneously while maintaining optimal contact with the road surface. Combined with the advanced suspension components and adjustable settings, the NIKEN GT 2023 delivers an incredibly smooth and controlled ride.

The 2023 Niken retains the same massive cast aluminum headstock, but the mid-section of the frame features a new arrangement of additional cross-member steel tubes, giving the frame a trellis appearance. It’s an impressive plumbing design, but Yamaha claims that it actually allows for the right balance of flexibility and rigidity in this section of the frame. Each tube has a specific diameter and wall thickness to achieve this balance. However, this is exactly what they said about the original Niken, so perhaps the new one is even more refined. The front end maintains the same fully-adjustable set-up as before, as the settings were considered ideal in the previous bike. The trailing 43mm fork legs handle suspension and damping, while the leading legs are 41mm and provide support only.

Details of the Niken’s steering mechanics are provided in the original launch report, but in brief, the forks are held by linkage arms connected to a main steering column. As the forks steer, the wheels manage braking and suspension forces independently but steer as a single unit with the linkages pivoting to provide lean angle. With the fork legs on the outside of the wheels, lean angles of up to 45° are possible. Beyond that, it would be safest to slow down to prevent running wide. However, the separation of steering and suspension forces, along with the increased grip stability of two contact patches instead of one, means that chopping the throttle mid-turn has minimal effect on steering.

Steering stability and extra grip are what really set the Niken apart from Yamaha’s own highly competent sports tourers, the Tracer 9 GT and GT+. Front-end grip, or the rider’s perception of it, is instantly and intuitively recognized as virtually limitless. You can brake hard mid-corner, steer across all kinds of surfaces without hesitation, and confidently navigate slippery roundabouts in Sardinia or anywhere else without even considering front grip. It’s simply one less thing to think or worry about when riding, freeing up a remarkable amount of brain space. On an unknown twisty road at a given speed, the Niken feels approximately 40% less mentally taxing. Over a day’s ride on miles of back roads, this translates to extra reserves of concentration.

However, this may also be where the Niken falls short. After riding it, you don’t feel as if you’ve accomplished quite as much as you would following a similar ride on a Tracer 9 GT+. You’re definitely less tired, but perhaps not as fulfilled. The day after riding the Niken, I had the opportunity to test out the new Yamaha Tracer 9 GT+ on similar Sardinian roads, and it left me more exhausted. But in a good way. Whether this matters to you or not can only be determined by trying it out for yourself.

At the rear, the new Niken features a revised linkage ratio (the rocker arm is now made of aluminum instead of steel) with revised damping and springing. Yamaha acknowledges that the back end was a weak point in the Niken. Even with a slight lean angle and full throttle, there was very little mechanical grip available at the rear (as if the front had taken it all). “Tail happy” doesn’t begin to describe it, although it does make the rider feel like a bit of a hero when sliding out of corners. This is no longer an issue, as the revisions now provide rear-end stability (not a single flash of the traction control light). The suspension is still slightly soft in the initial part of its stroke but has good damping to control the chassis. However, the shock quickly transitions to stronger compression damping over larger bumps, which can slightly affect ride quality. Only time will tell how the Niken handles British roads, but it’s a better compromise than the original bike.

As mentioned earlier, the Niken weighs 270kg when wet, which is 7kg heavier than its predecessor. Some of this extra weight is likely due to the frame, while more comes from the engine and radiator system. The rest probably comes from the panniers. Nevertheless, it’s still a heavy bike, and pushing it for long distances would not be enjoyable.

Comfort and Ergonomics of Yamaha NIKEN GT 2023

Long rides are a breeze on the Yamaha NIKEN GT 2023, thanks to its comfortable seating position and ergonomic design. The two-up seat provides ample space for both the rider and passenger, ensuring a comfortable journey even during extended periods on the road. The adjustable windscreen allows riders to customize airflow and minimize fatigue.

The bike also comes equipped with heated grips, providing additional comfort during colder weather conditions. The spacious saddlebags and top case offer plenty of storage space for all your essential items, making it an ideal choice for touring enthusiasts who value convenience and practicality.

The new Niken embraces its role as a pure sports touring bike with some revisions to the seat and screen. The seat is now 5mm higher than before, at 825mm, but it is also slimmer at the tank taper and slightly deeper. It is nicely sculpted and cups the rider, providing a comfortable position. The reach to the wide bars may feel a bit long, but the rider won’t feel as compacted as they would on the Tracer 9 GT. In fact, the Niken’s riding position has a resemblance to the FZ1-S Fazer, and the flat-ish bars are also wide.

The screen on the new Niken is much longer than the previous model’s Perspex thumbnail. It looks similar to the touring screen of the old Niken. However, the adjustment trigger for the screen is located on the right side, which can be irritating since the left side would have been easier and safer to reach. The adjustment provides 70mm of movement, but it doesn’t make a significant difference either way. Nevertheless, wind protection is good, aided by both the bike’s front end and the screen. Overall, the Niken offers very, very good comfort, surpassing what is expected for its tank range.

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Technology and Connectivity of Yamaha NIKEN GT 2023

The Yamaha NIKEN GT 2023 is not just about power and performance; it also incorporates advanced technology features to enhance the overall riding experience. The bike is equipped with a full-color TFT display that provides all the necessary information at a glance. Riders can easily navigate through various menus and settings using the intuitive controls.

Bluetooth connectivity allows seamless integration with your smartphone, enabling access to music, phone calls, and navigation. The NIKEN GT 2023 also offers cruise control, making long-distance rides more comfortable by maintaining a steady speed without constant throttle input.

Last on the list of new features are a variety of extras. The most notable is a 7-inch TFT screen, similar to the one on the Tracer 9 GT+, which significantly improves the view from the Niken’s saddle. I believe that 7 inches is the ideal size – not too big to obstruct your peripheral vision, yet large enough to display a wealth of detail. Customization options are not particularly dramatic – all three screens look quite similar – but the trailing swirls option is rather interesting and difficult to describe; you simply have to see it.

The new dashboard functions include multimedia integration and the ability to project Garmin maps onto the screen using a Garmin subscription, Yamaha’s MyRide app, and a Bluetooth headset. It may sound a bit complicated, but personally, I prefer my sat nav to be mounted remotely on the handlebars, and there is ample space for it.

Electronic options have also been added – now, like other motorcycles, the Niken GT has traction control, throttle mapping, and various other settings that can be combined into riding modes: Street, Sport, and Rain. All of these can be accessed using a joystick located on the left handlebar. And let me tell you, it’s a nice little joystick with a rubbery gaiter, reminiscent of those old PC game joysticks.

Functionality has also been improved with the addition of standard features such as heated grips, cruise control, 30-liter panniers, and, as mentioned before, an up and down quick shifter. There is a USB port up front and a 12V socket at the back – nothing under the seat, which is a good thing.

Safety Features of Yamaha NIKEN GT 2023

Yamaha prioritizes rider safety, and the NIKEN GT 2023 is no exception. The bike comes equipped with advanced safety features to ensure maximum protection on the road. The dual front wheels improve stability and grip, reducing the risk of losing control during sudden maneuvers or adverse road conditions.

The traction control system monitors wheel spin and adjusts power delivery accordingly to prevent slippage. ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) provides consistent braking performance by preventing wheel lock-up during emergency stops. These safety features combined with the bike’s excellent handling characteristics give riders peace of mind while pushing their limits.

Pricing and Availability of Yamaha NIKEN GT 2023

The Yamaha NIKEN GT 2023 is an investment in both performance and luxury. While exact pricing may vary depending on factors such as location and optional accessories, you can expect it to be in the higher range compared to traditional motorcycles. However, considering its advanced features, innovative design, and exceptional performance, the NIKEN GT 2023 is worth every penny.

As for availability, Yamaha dealerships worldwide offer the NIKEN GT 2023 for purchase. It is always recommended to check with your local dealer for specific information on availability and test ride opportunities.

The Niken is priced at £16,210 on the road. There is no direct comparison available, unless you include rival sports tourers. Yamaha’s impressive Tracer 9 GT is priced at £13,110, while the GT+ variant, which includes radar, the same new clocks, switches, and panniers as the Niken, costs £14,910. The Niken is significantly more expensive than Suzuki’s GSX-S 1000GT+, Kawasaki’s Ninja 1000SX, and Honda’s NT1100. Even Moto Guzzi’s V100 Mandello S is cheaper, priced at £16,000. The only color option available for the Niken is Yamaha Black (although it is unclear how Yamaha’s black differs from that of other manufacturers).

Technical Specification of Yamaha NIKEN GT 2023

New price £16,210
Capacity 890cc
Bore x Stroke 78mm x 62.1mm
Engine layout Three-cylinder
Engine details 4-stroke, Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-valves, EURO5
Power 113.3bhp (84.5kW) @ 10,000rpm
Torque 66.9lb-ft (90.7Nm) @ 7000rpm
Transmission Six-speed, chain final drive, assist and slipper clutch, quickshifter
Average fuel consumption 48.7mpg claimed, 38-42mpg tested
Tank size 18 litres
Max range to empty 160 miles
Rider aids Sport, Street and Rain riding modes with different traction control and throttle response curves, up/down quickshifter, ABS
Frame Steel tube trellis
Front suspension Leaning twin-wheel system, 4x 43mm KYB USD forks, 110mm travel
Front suspension adjustment Compression, rebound and preload
Rear suspension Rising rate monoshock
Rear suspension adjustment Compression, rebound and preload
Front brake 2 x 298mm discs, four-piston radial calipers
Rear brake 282mm disc, two-piston caliper
Front wheel / tyre 2 x 120/70R15M/C 56V Tubeless
Rear wheel / tyre 190/55R17M/C 75V Tubeless
Dimensions (LxWxH) 2150mm x 875mm x 1395mm
Wheelbase 1510mm
Seat height 825mm
Weight 270kg (kerb)
Warranty 2 years unlimited miles
MCIA Secured Rating Not yet rated

Verdict of Yamaha NIKEN GT 2023

The Yamaha NIKEN GT 2023 is a groundbreaking motorcycle that redefines the concept of three-wheeled riding. With its striking design, impressive performance, exceptional handling, and advanced features, it offers an unparalleled riding experience for both sportbike enthusiasts and touring riders alike.

Whether you’re craving adrenaline-fueled adventures or seeking long-distance comfort, the Yamaha NIKEN GT 2023 delivers on all fronts. Are you ready to unleash the ultimate three-wheeled beast? Strap on your helmet, twist the throttle, and embark on a thrilling journey like never before!

Leaving aside the philosophical arguments about the validity of the Niken as a motorcycle – you wouldn’t believe the outrage it seems to generate from some quarters; it’s okay, chill, you don’t have to like it! – let’s focus on the Yamaha at face value. The 2023 bike is a significant improvement over the original. Its engineering changes – a larger engine, better rear suspension, improved dashboard and electronics, and higher trim level – are all welcome upgrades.

But for me, the 2023 bike has a clear sense of identity that the 2018 original lacked – a sensational and unique front end feeling attached to a bike that had no clear purpose. If it was a tourer or sports tourer, where were the panniers, heated grips, adjustable tall screen, cruise control, and decent tank range? In fact, we said so right here on this site; our 2018 review of the Niken said: “The main problem with the bike, sorry, motorcycle is that although the front end is both amazing and great, it’s not attached to a motorcycle everyone will want.

If the Niken had bloody great panniers, heated grips, a massive screen, and was a touring Niken or if it had a 160bhp motor and was a sporty Niken, it would have more decisive appeal.” So now we have the panniers, heated grips, adjustable tall screen, and cruise control as standard (unfortunately, tank range is still limited), and the Niken GT has become a fully equipped sports tourer – and, I’d guess, its rivals will include bikes like Suzuki’s GSX-1000 GT, Kawasaki’s Ninja SX, Honda’s NT1100, Guzzi’s Mandello, any number of BMWs, and not least Yamaha’s own Tracer 9 GT and GT+. It’s more expensive and heavier than all of these and has the least tank range. But it also has a freakishly grippy front end.

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