Yamaha’s EICMA Presentation – the Niken is coming

Yamaha wants to have you as a customer for life.

It’s something of a theme for the company in recent years, which is a way of saying you should start with a Pee Wee and keep updating through fun bikes to full-size machines, both off-road and road bikes.

But the company is diversifying into power-assist (electric) bicycles, three- and four-wheel machines which lean into corners and there’s some concept prototype cars, too.

The other concept shown off was the Motobot, a robot which can ride an R1M. The idea isn’t to replace racers with robots, but to build robots which can replace a human operator of lots of machinery.

Yamaha has unveiled some new MTs, an updated Tracer 900 and a Super Tenere at the EICMA presentation this year.

But the big news was the three-wheeled Niken, which will be a 2018 model, and the Tenere 700 World Raid – a prototype best explained as a hybrid MT-07/WR450F, built to take on horizon after horizon.

Let’s get into it.

The Dark side of Japan – MT-09SP

A higher-spec MT-09 should be a awesome thing, because the stock MT-09 is a great bike at an incredible price. An SP version should be awesome fun and a great road sports bike, because it has Öhlins rear suspension.

“Extreme Emotion”. Yeah, yeah, it’s a motorcycle guys and I’m looking forward to riding one, but it’s not moving me to paroxysms of desire.

2018 yamaha MT-09SP side on right studio

MT-07 update

There’s a new MT-07. New styling, stiffer forks and tweaks to the riding position. Already a great bike, the changes should make it that bit better, while the MT ‘family’ is looks more and more similar.

2018 yamaha MT-07 side on right studio
Yamaha is making subtle changes to the 2018 MT-07.

Tracer 900

Next is the Tracer 900. Very successful in Europe, an update and redesign should again make it better, and there’s a GT version introduced as well.

The GT will receive primo items like a TFT display, heated grips, cruise control, matched panniers, and fully adjustable suspension.

2018 yamaha Tracer 900 front three quarter right studio
Yamaha’s Tracer 900 GT. Notice the fruit? There’s plenty of it.

T7 prototype becomes Tenere 700 (but it’s still a prototype)

The Tenere 700 World Raid was introduced, but it’s a prototype… so that will make it a 2019 model. Unfortunately. Looks great. Why is it taking so long, Yamaha? Described on stage as a bigger WR450F, I’m thinking it’s more like a smaller Super Tenere. But maybe that’s because I want one. Now.

We will be able to see the new machine as the World Raid tour travels around the globe in 2018, including Australia.

Super Ten

Yamaha Super Tenere Raid Edition – Fill Up with Adventure. OMG, we love Yamaha motorcycles around here, much more than we like the company’s slogans. Fill up with Adventure… Who writes that?

2018 Yamaha Super Tenere World Raid front three quarter action

Despite the slogan, it’s another great-looking motorcycle. The British nutter Nick Sanders, a man has ridden around the world seven times, has spent a lot of that time on Super Teneres and the new World Raid is a bike developed in-part from Nick’s experiences.

Destination Yamaha

Destination Yamaha Motor is a new portal to help riders tour the world. In conjunction with touring operators around the world it’s Yamaha’s way to help people with their first huge motorcycle adventure and get people riding when they are on holiday.

Valentino-approved Niken?

Then Valentino Rossi walked on stage. He talked a lot, then introduced the Niken… yep, the three-wheeled leaning MT-09-based beast which generated heaps of controversy on the Cycle Torque Facebook page when we showed a picture of it a few weeks back.

Like it or not, it’s coming!

Ride the Revolution. Yep, another slogan. Don’t hate that one quite so much.

“A real animal”, described Rossi. Maybe so much so he refused to ride it on stage… Maybe the insurance company wasn’t happy… Yamaha Europe’s spokesperson defended it’s position as a motorbike. Ryan just called it a mototrike, and he’s spot-on.

2018 yamaha Niken side on static

MT-09 motor, ‘Ackerman’ dual axle steering mechanism, double upside down forks, a pair of 15-inch front wheels (not gonna be a lot of tyre choices available there)…

I don’t know whether I love it or hate it. The double front tyre is said to give heaps of feel, improved traction and the ability to brake deep into turns… and during the whole introduction Rossi’s looking at it with an expression of mild disbelief that’s hard to put a finger on. He’s there to sell it and he wasn’t very convincing. Keep in mind he didn’t like winglets in MotoGP, so I have my doubts Vale is really a fan of the Niken or not.

Yamaha Europe’s spokesperson made a comparison of the Niken with skiing, it might have been a good analogy, but it wasn’t delivered well… I’ve heard motorcycling described as skiing on the road, and the Niken might take than to a new level.

2018 yamaha Niken front three quarter action
The two front wheels work like skis. That’s all he had to say

“At the beginning it’s a bit strange, but the feeling is something new”, Rossi said. “I will have this bike around Tavullia in the Summertime.”

So maybe he has ridden the new bike…

2018 yamaha Niken front three quarter action
We’re not convinced Valentino Rossi likes the Niken…

That’s all she wrote folks, the Yamaha presentation at EICMA 2018 has concluded.

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