Skids, wheel­ies and a race against the MT-09


Our run around the MCN250 has an­swered most of the burn­ing ques­tions. Yes, the Niken will fil­ter; no, it doesn’t feel strange; and yes, it’s fun.

But we take to Rock­ing­ham’s na­tional cir­cuit to an­swer a few more. It’s a heavy old beast, with a lot of weight dan­gling from its han­dle­bars but a flick of clutch in first gear will get it wheely­ing and shift­ing into sec­ond will let it stay there, with its paws hang­ing ex­cit­edly in the air.

Switch the trac­tion con­trol off, lean for­ward and it’s a piece of cake to get the rear tyre spin­ning fu­ri­ously, too. In fact it’s eas­ier to slide than a nor­mal bike due to the ex­tra bal­ance and sta­bil­ity of the two wheels up front.

But the most ob­vi­ous ques­tion is how it feels next to the MT-09 it’s based upon. Weigh­ing 70kg more but mak­ing the same 113bhp, the Niken would feel slug­gish and slightly blunt next to the feisty naked, even if it had just one wheel up front. On the road the MT-09 is friskier and more ex­cit­ing, no ques­tion, and what you lose in one-wheeled­corner-en­try-hes­i­ta­tion is more than made up with siz­zling ac­cel­er­a­tion on the exit.

But what sur­prises is that, on track, the Niken isn’t as far be­hind as you’d think. Leav­ing both bikes on stan­dard sus­pen­sion set­tings and let­ting the naked’s tyres down for the track (we didn’t drop the Niken’s pres­sures too much, to sup­port its weight) I set a 1m 24.7s. I’ve never even sat on the Niken be­fore I go out to set a lap, but it feels nat­u­ral from the first cor­ner and can be rid­den in ex­actly the same way as a mo­tor­cy­cle. Within four laps I’m within three sec­onds of the MT at 1m 27.9s. Af­ter that the rear grip from the Niken’s ad­ven­ture-style rub­ber and fits foot­peg hero blobs quickly be­come the limit. Fit some stick­ier tyres, re­move the blobs and the two would be even closer, es­pe­cially with more time get­ting to trust the grip from the three-wheeler’s front end.

De­spite its ex­tra 70kg, the Niken runs the MT-09 it’s based on amaz­ingly close

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