2020 Yamaha Niken GT Review – The Niken GT works well in any job you would ask for a Sport-Tourer or a commuter motorcycle. In fact, if you ignore the funny looks of passers-by and don’t look down on the wide fairing ahead of you, you really can’t tell that Niken is a quirky multi-wheeled vehicle instead of your standard two-wheeler fare. Just ignore the doubting Thomas and embrace Niken like a motorcycle, because in every meaningful way — save one, and it’s to his advantage — it behaves exactly like a motorcycle.
2020 Yamaha Niken GT Review
If you live in or plan to spend any significant time in parts of the country where the rain is frequent, the benefits of dual front wheels outweigh any perceived disadvantages. Yes, the front end adds weight and cost (the Niken GT retails for $ 17,299, where a Tracer 900 GT – with waterproof, locking hard bags – will only set you back $ 12,999.), But it won’t seem like much when your front wheel loses traction in the wet. Spending two days in the rain at Niken GT’s Introduction won me over. I was able to carry speeds and lean angles in the wet that I would not have tried without dedicated rain tires on two wheels. The nod is so good.
I’ve commuted through the worst rush hour traffic LA has to offer and Lane splits my way past much smaller motorcycles with the Niken GT. I encountered an industry colleague and friend near Santa Monica on Los Angeles’ treacherous 405 Freeway one day and made my way past him. Later, he messaged me and said, “I think you can Lane Split on that thing.” Heck yes you can! It is no wider than an Indian Roadmaster or other big Touring bikes and is much more Nimble. When you need to and you can while Lane splits in LA, you can brake hard AF with the two front contact patches as well, which brings welcome to mind when some A-hole jumps the double yellow in front of you.
2020 Yamaha Niken GT Review
To-up with Wifey, Niken remains composed and comfortable for both parties. I would recommend bumping up the rear preload if you plan on riding or touring with a passenger, which is easily done via a button on the left side of the bike. I was told that the Cush rear seat was perfectly comfortable, and aside from missing a backrest of some sort, my better half praised the Niken’s passenger accommodation.
Having seen our Videographer, a gimbal-mounted camera in one hand and a death grip on the passenger handle in the other, manage to stay on the back of the Niken GT as our own Evans Brasfield mercilessly blitzed through curvaceous mountain roads on a shoot recently, I think Yamaha’s three-wheeler may even have a job in Hollywood production. Maybe we will hold off on this recommendation until we see the video.
If there were any major changes I would make to future versions of the Niken GT, it would be a bigger engine. Don’t get it twisted, I love Triple Power Plant and have had two of my own in the past, but with Touring in mind and the weight of this front end, I’d rather have a little more Oomph to propel Yamaha’s oblique multi-wheel system.
Road Test editor, Troy Siahaan, is the MO Fast Guy, and naturally he looks at the Niken GT from a performance perspective. He came away impressed:
If there are two words to describe that Niken (or Niken GT), it would be confidence inspiring. With these two wheels in the front, it is next to impossible to put the front, and with TC engaged, ham fisters will have to try really hard to highside. In short, it’s almost crash Proof! (Legal disclaimer: you can still go down on a Niken, don’t think you can’t.) But for a Sport-touring rig, or even a daily commuter, that’s great. You can walk miles in total comfort and that the MT-09 Triple will happily scoot you along. Drop an exhaust on it and the three-cylinder song will sound even better. When the road gets twisted, or the weather turns sour — or both — you can ride safely knowing that it will be really hard to get Niken out of shape. This also makes it a good commuter, as panic situations have a lower chance of ending up on the ground with you. Best of all, it’s still narrow enough to split paths (assuming practice is legal in your neck of the woods).
So our takeaway from the extended loan of the 2019 Niken GT is that it’s a big motorcycle-leaning multi-wheeled vehicle label being condemned. I struggle to understand why some riders are so resistant to the Niken. Yes, it looks different, but that difference has a purpose. Now we don’t see that much rain in our SoCal base, but I think if I was in the market for a Sport-Tourer and lived in the Northwest or anywhere in the East (with the weather currently happening), the Niken GT would be at the top of my list.
My biggest complaint with the GT is still the fact that it does not come with waterproof, locking saddle bags. For a bike that has wet-weather performance as one of its biggest selling points, this is still a big oblivion. Locked, color-matched bags of the Tracer 900 GT are just waiting to be used on the Niken GT. Maybe this will happen in 2020.