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2019 Yamaha Niken GT vs. Yamaha Tracer 900 GT

We ride Yamaha’s Tracer 900 GT and Niken GT back to back to figure out what makes the leaning three-wheeled Niken tick. What is the Niken GT? Old man’s bike or brilliant innovation?

When yamaha first unveiled the three wheel nightkin it raised a lot of questions namely what is it and maybe most importantly what’s the point in simple terms the nikon is essentially a yamaha mto 9 with a two-wheeled front end that has claimed a vastly improved front-end grip especially in less than ideal conditions it leans encounter steers like a motorcycle

And there’s nothing to prevent the knight guns from falling over like any other motorcycle it’s even powered by the same basic 847 cc 3 cylinder engine that powers the two-wheel mt model so yes wheelies are definitely possible after successful initial sales of the nightkin yamaha has introduced the nikon gt model which adds long-range enhancing bits like an

Accessory comfort seat with more padding for the rider and passenger taller windscreen heated grips quick-release lockable saddlebags passenger grab rails with rear top mount case capability a centre stand and an additional 12-volt outlet call it a sport tour yamaha most definitely hits so what does the addition of a third wheel add to sport touring capabilities

And would we choose it over a traditional sport or is it the answer to a question that no one is asking in quest to find out for ourselves we flood the heavy traffic of los angeles for more wide open back country roads and we put a toe to toe against it’s sport touring sibling the tracer 900 g team last year yamaha updated its fj o.9 sport tour and renamed it

The tracer which is what the rest of the world has been calling it since its debut in 2015 dig out 12900 $99 an additional 2,300 over the base model and you get the gt version which comes with hard bags heated grips and cruise control on paper the tracer 900 gt seems like the ideal package taking the functionality of sport tours from yesteryear but editing the

Form to appeal to modern preferences for riders who have been swayed by the upright air goes and style of atvs but who don’t want any of the off-road pretense the tracer gt is a heck of an option much has been written about yamahas three cylinder engine and it lives up to its reputation its tractable revs quickly and sounds like it’s air box is filled with a

Swarm of hornets waiting the sting your nether regions if you’ve never written a triple before don’t assume they feel half way between the twin and a core they’re more similar to fours if you ask me revi like a four with a bit more punch down low and a throw to your exhaust note also like some inline fours the tracer can be a bit fuzzy especially above 6000 rpm

Which makes the smallish mirrors pretty useless at speed the gearbox is very slick and the quick shift up only works pretty seamlessly throttle response can be toggled between standard a most aggressive and b least aggressive a mode makes things less refined considering the tracers sport touring intention and especially so considering yamaha 3 cylinder motor is

Notoriously on the jittery side when it comes to throttle response the tracer feels archly sprung for our sport tours but when ridden aggressively it feels more sorted further into the stroke of the traveler dialing in some compliance would make the tracer better suited for touring the wind protection is pretty minimal so there’s a lot of buffeting at freeway

Speeds other negatives the tft dash is a bit small the switch gear is befuddling and seems poorly thought-out the panniers are too small for more than a backpack in a weekend’s worth of luggage complaints like these seem like insignificant gripes but they happen to be in areas that are important for a sport touring bike to nail overall the tracer gt just feels

Like the yamaha everything is almost clinically precise from the throttle the shifting and the handling yamaha signature telepathic steering is present and true to breed culminates in a motorcycle that’s very flickable without being unstable or flight put it down to a steep 24 degrees steering angle relatively short wheelbase rigid aluminum chassis and taut

Damping the tracer gt sport tory precision is the basis of yamaha our series pointy edge racing gene at the end of our trip we couldn’t help but reflect on how much we both like the tracer gt but we didn’t love it it does a lot so right but there’s something about it that’s neither here nor there it’s not as enthralling as a sport bike or the naked bike on which

It’s based and its edginess doesn’t encourage long day in the saddle loafing objectively the tracer gt is a great bike but it’s sharp in your face attitude which is acceptable in a hyper naked comes across as sterile and unrefined as applied in the sport touring form when the nikon was first unveiled many assumed it was the omaha’s attempt to keep aging riders

From defecting to multi wheeled vehicles like the can-am spyder and polaris slingshot but there’s nothing to prevent the nikon from falling over at a standstill like any other motorcycle essentially the nikons greatest strength may also be its downfall a lockout mechanism would give obvious functional justification to the third wheel but it would automatically

Make the nikon an old man’s bike thereby ostracizing the rest of the market but since it has a third wheel regardless of the reasons everyone’s going to assume it’s an old man’s bike anyway kind of a catch-22 which is a shame yamaha is clear the third wheel isn’t intended to make a motorcycle alternative for an aging craft it’s to give it enhance stability and

Front-end grip riding the naik and up crumbling gravelly pavement on a steep road the extra wheel gives the rider a ton of front-end confidence on poor road conditions we didn’t get to test it in the west but based on how it responds in the loose stuff we’re sure it would be pretty great the wide stance up front also makes the naik and incredibly stable on the

Edge of the tire and doing slow speed maneuvers overall riding the nikon simply feels like less of a balancing it doesn’t diminish the conventional dynamics of handling it just adds a confidence-inspiring sense of security another advantage reveals itself under braking with very little front-end dive into contact patches up front the rider can be less tentative

When jamming on the binders even with less weight transfer you can brake hard enough to do stoppies quite readily although the nightkin has less fun and travel than the tracer the leaning front end almost act another form of suspension imagine one wheel going into a pothole the front end pivots sending one wheel down to accept the blow while the bike stays upright

Pretty cool in all it makes for an ultra smooth ride the nightkin feels more like a magic carpet ride than any bike with semi-active electronic suspension that’s for sure although it takes more effort at the bars to go from side to side than the tracer gt and carries an extra 120 pounds handling is otherwise very neutral to achieve a 50/50 weight balance yamaha

Shifted the rider back on the machine the result is or goes that are even more relaxed than on the tracer with a broad saddle and foot pegs that are farther forward yamaha also made subtle changes the cross plane 3 cylinder motor with a heavier crank for added drivability and torque the rear sprocket also has 2 more teeth the changes work well while the nightkin

Doesn’t spin up as quickly it makes up for it with a smoother throttle response and torque delivery lower down in the rev range unfortunately this change in addition to the outed weight negatively affects the fuel consumption at 17,000 $299 the nikon gt is $1,300 more than the non gt version but comes equipped with a taller windscreen a centre stand heated grips and

Semi-rigid panniers the problem is the leaning multiwheel tech is pricey so even though the nikon gt is $4,300 more than the tracer gt it isn’t nearly as well as with first the dash is lcd instead of tft the windscreen isn’t adjustable and the bags are a joke while yamaha couldn’t equip the nikon gt with the hard bags from the tracer or fjr is beyond me zippered

Bags that come with a waterproof bag ii just don’t make sense on a $17,000 sport tour after riding the nikon the point is clear incredible front end grip unrivaled stability it comes at a cost however the nikon gt is far heavier more complex more expensive and less well equipped than the tracer gt it’s also lets a interesting-looking the question is is the grip

Level $4,000 better than on the tracer experientially it feels different but not that much different for most riders to justify making the leap to 3ds even though the tracer gt could use subtle refinement we still prefer to save the 4,300 bucks and ride a conventional motorcycle yamaha nails its stated objectives with the nightkin and doesn’t quite with the tracer

But the tracer still comes out on top if you’re intrigued by the nikon g t’s concept however that’s as good as having made up your money you want it as we told the gathering crowds everywhere we stopped it’s not a game-changer but it definitely works if the nightkin is the answer to a question that no one asks it’s real-world performance begs the question why the heck didn’t

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2019 Yamaha Niken GT vs. Yamaha Tracer 900 GT By Cycle World