Hands up who likes cornering corners? We all like cornering corners!
We would probably all admit to wanting to carve corners too. Which is lucky because Yamaha’s new Niken is here to offer us a ‘New Corner Carving Experience’ and now we can all be cunning, corner carvers.
Released at the Tokyo Motor Show and then seen by most people in the metal at the 2017 EICMA motortcycle show in Milan, the leaning multi-wheeled Yamaha Niken was as divisive a motorcycle as you could get.
Here at MF we avoided the usual bandwagon of hate that motorcyclists seem to have for anything remotely new and different, and proclaimed our (albeit reserved) love for the MT-09 based machine and were instantly excited at the opportunities that it might bring.
Not everyone was quite so open-minded of course and the comment pages of most motorcycle publications were filled with slightly more anglo-saxon versions of the phrase ‘kill it with fire!’.
Yamaha knew that a big, three-wheeler would need a little bit of time for everyone to get used to of course, and they also knew that they have a little bit of work to do when it comes to persuading people to actually consider a purchase.
Which is right where this this new technical video from Yamaha Europe comes in.
Detailing benefits such as ‘deep lean angles’, ‘high agility’ and a ‘natural riding feeling’, the video goes into a little more description as to how the Leaning Multi Wheel (LMW) system works whilst detailing precisely the reason as to why two front wheels might just be the future.
There are lots of conversations about geometry and it also uses exciting words such as ‘parallelogram’ and phrases like ‘steering knuckle’ but ultimately what the video does is make the whole machine look an absolute blast to ride!
Fire it up in the comments below:
Custom of the Week: Harley-Davidson ‘XG750R’ Street Rod Flat Tracker by Noise Cycles
IF YOU LIKE WEAVING through city traffic during the week, and then blasting through the twisties on your days off, the Street Rod is probably the best Harley for you.
We found it to be surprisingly sharp and agile, with a warmed-up version of the regular Street engine delivering 69 frisky horses.
Scott Jones of Noise Cycles likes the Street Rod. And his new ‘XG750R’ tracker version has got us wondering what a factory Harley tracker would look like—if Milwaukee decided to counter the threat posed by Indian’s FTR1200.
Scott is one of the top bike builders in the USA, and despite coming from the chopper side of the tracks, he’s been bitten by the dirt bug. Last year he built himself a racebike based on the regular Street 750: “It started out as just the basic XG,” says Scott. “So this year, I built one using the Street Rod—which has a 27 degree neck instead of 31 degrees.”
That simple change alone made a huge difference. “This one feels so much better and easier to ride. Still 500 pounds, but more nimble.”
Those of you who were riding in the early 80s may feel a slight sense of déjà vu with this bike, and you’d be right. The left-side exhaust mimics the placement of the Harley-Davidson XR1000 pipes, and the paint by Matt Ross (with pin striping by Jen Hallett Art) is a nod to the slate grey used on many XR1000s too.
Scott’s not going to be dicing for the lead with pros like Jared Mees or Brad Baker in the American Flat Track Twins series. He’s in it just for the hell of it, and enjoying every moment.
But he’s also inadvertently given us a pointer on what a Harley Street Tracker might look like. And it wouldn’t be a difficult bike for the factory to replicate, Red Bull catch can aside. Any takers?
Fire it up in the comments below:
Custom of the Week: KTM ‘950SMR’ by Max Hazan
THERE’S A DEFINITE STYLE to a Hazan Motorworks bike: a hint of steampunk, lots of beautifully twisted and burnished metal, and impossibly elegant proportions.
It’s an expensive endeavor, and Max operates in the same rarified atmosphere as Ian Barry of Falcon and the Japanese moto-artist Chicara Nagata.
Luckily, there are collectors and museums that have the funds to commission bikes like this, so the rest of us can enjoy them vicariously. But what happens when Max builds a bike for himself, with his own money?
This KTM is the answer. It’s a far cry from his previous KTM build, the supercharged 520 that now resides in the Haas Motorcycle Gallery in Dallas. But it’s a killer track machine, and just the thing Max needs when he wants to blow off steam.
Surprisingly, ‘950SMR’ is the first bike that Max has built for himself. So it was done in the down time between the projects that pay his bills. (“I completely lost track of how much time went into it.”)
The base is a 2005-spec 950 SM. It’s a tall bike—which suits Max’s lofty physique—with around 98 horsepower in stock trim, 17-inch wheels, and a dry weight of just 191 kilos (421 pounds). Contemporary road testers raved about the performance and fun factor.
“It’s possibly the ugliest bike KTM made with that motor,” Max admits. “But the bones were there. The KTM was carbureted from the factory, which let me simplify the design by avoiding EFI parts.”
Stylistically, it’s no flight of fancy: just a well-sorted bike with terrifically simple bodywork and a sophisticated warm grey and white paint scheme. “I wanted the bike to look ‘factory’,” says Max.
“I wanted it to have fenders and bodywork, and not look like a KTM that was chopped. With almost everything being rearranged, it was a lot more work than it looks like. But I guess that was the idea.”
It might be hard to believe, but Max has pulled around 100 pounds—45 kilos—off the 950 SM. (“It was built like a tank.”)
So what’s it like to ride? “It has a huge amount of engine braking,” he says. “It’s geared for about 120mph in sixth, and was in need of a slipper clutch to smooth out downshifts in the lower gears. But I just found myself ‘backing it in’ wherever I was going, as soon as I installed it.”
Everything about this KTM screams ‘track machine,’ but it’s actually 100% street legal. “It’s wired for lights and turn signals, and has a full setup that can be taken on or off in a few minutes,” says Max. “But I just prefer looking at it like this.”
It’s certainly a looker. But unlike many customs from premier league builders, Max’s KTM offers visceral as well as visual pleasures. We can’t imagine Max releasing a kit version of these mods, but if you have one of KTM’s big supermotos in your garage, there’s a ton of inspiration to be gained right here.