autoevolution
 
Yamaha Tricity
After having our way with the exceptionally fun MT-09 Tracer, the expectations for the Yamaha Tricity were rather high. And stepping off an Akrapovic-powered KTM 990 Adventure to get in the saddle of the Tricity was definitely one of the biggest misleading factors.

Yamaha Tricity First Ride Impressions

Yamaha TricityYamaha TricityYamaha TricityYamaha Tricity tilts nicelyYamaha Tricity headlightYamaha Tricity front cowl accentsYamaha Tricity turn signals, flush with the cowlYamaha Tricity  in the wildYamaha Tricity  has a nice, easily-readable LCD dashboardYamaha Tricity ignitionYamaha Tricity shopping bag hookYamaha TricityYamaha Tricity has a very small underseat storage compartmentYamaha Tricity can only carry small things under the seatYamaha Tricity's storage is too small for a flip-up helmetYamaha TricityYamaha TricityYamaha TricityYamaha Tricity has 14" front wheelsYamaha Tricity forksYamaha Tricity leaning architectureYamaha TricityYamaha TricityYamaha Tricity radiatorYamaha TricityYamaha Tricity has a neat bodyworkYamaha Tricity dashYamaha TricityYamaha TricityYamaha TricityYamaha TricityYamaha Tricity treading the untroddenYamaha TricityYamaha Tricity tackles ruts quite well
Funny thing, Yamaha’s three-wheeled urban commuter managed to surprise us in a very pleasant way, even though we still have some things that need to be sorted out. First of all comes, naturally, the question: why choose to go three-wheel without self-balancing?
Three wheels enhance the feeling of being in control
We proceeded quite cautiously when we rode the first meters at the helm of the Tricity, most likely because we didn’t exactly know what to expect. We had been instructed to take things easily and simply wait for the natural feel to settle.

Since it’s not the first time we get to hear this and then fail utterly, we went on quite carefully. Funny thing, the Tricity is very easy to get used to, especially if you already know your way around motorcycles well.
The Yamaha guys told us to be careful when coming to a complete stop, as the Tricity is not a self-balancing three-wheeler. We sort of knew that, but once in the saddle, we quickly gave this headsup top priority.

Now, obviously, one would ask why Yamaha would choose a three-wheel architecture without self-balancing. That is, why insisting in engineering and marketing a 3-wheel scooter that will not be able to remain upright when stopped, like Piaggio’s MP3 machine does or, even more spectacularly, Quadro’s machines can be “parked”?
Le fashion
Well, it looks like there are at least three things that account for the choice, the first being fashion. Whether you like it or not, the Tricity is so much more than the plain cheap Chinese 49cc machine you can get for 500 bucks or so. Tricity was created to be more than a simple vehicle, it also represents a statement in urban design.

There is an undeniable fashion factor to the Tricity, and many of the customers who decide to fork out money for it do so because of its stylish looks. Three-wheeled machines are a strong fad in the urban mobility world, and Yamaha only made the smart move to meet the demand.
Le stability
It was hard to believe in the first place that a three-wheeler without self-balancing functionality can feel so reassuring. Even though it takes a bit to get used to how the scoot reacts when you steer, the Tricity lets you feel that you are in control.

We rode it hard uphill and downhill, in busy rush hour traffic and in highway conditions, and it never failed our trust. And when you get hold of the bars and start to ride the Tricity as if it were a casual motorcycle, countersteering, ampler body weight shifting and all, you won’t believe you’re “scootering”.

Because the machine is very light, tipping the scales at 152 kg wet (335.5 lb) and has a very low center of gravity, the presence of two wheels in the front is definitely helping less experienced riders stay calm and focused, as they really need less effort to keep the bike upright.

The same sensation of agility is maintained when maneuvering at low speed, either in parking lots or while streaking head between lines of slow cars.
Le price
The third reason for not having self-balancing on the Tricity is the price tag. Yamaha’s machine is significantly cheaper than, say, the smallest Piaggio MP3, with a price difference that reaches almost 50% in certain markets.

Of course, there is also the displacement difference, as Tricity packs half the cylinder size of the MP250, but all in all, a scooter a maker profits from is a scooter that is sold to a customer, right? We are pretty sure that Yamaha could have effortlessly used a self-balancing system for this 125cc scoot, but this would have certainly driven the price way too high for the purpose of the machine.

Tricity is, after all, a scooter that has to successfully blend cool looks and a novelty factor, a good price and a reassuring feel for less seasoned riders. The first contact tells us Iwata went bullseye with it. How well it will sell remains to be seen.
Why would you need one?
Well, providing the “best answer” to this question is a tough nut to crack. If you’ve been already riding motorcycles for years and are used to reining in between 100 and 200 horsepower, of course, being offered to ride a Tricity may seem weird.

Still, you must never forget that there is plenty of fun for everyone, and not all the fellows who feel like being able to commute faster, cheaper and in a funnier way are S1000RR guys. Au contraire, they are much “tamer” fellows, who don’t necessarily make a passion from their ride. They are just looking for a vehicle to cover their “bare necessities” and that’s all. And for what it’s worth, you may be surprised to learn that the 125cc Tricity is exactly the “best answer.”

Having said that, it will be hard to convince a guy who already owns an all-rounder motorcycle to go Tricity, there’s no telling in this. Still, Yamaha doesn’t want to steal customers from the two-wheeler world, but to offer a complementary bike to them at best, or provide beginning riders with cool transport. We cannot stress enough that the Tricity DOES meet a very particular set of demands many other vehicles, including your beloved bike, don’t.

If you are in search of a commuting machine that is smaller, easier to ride, and more economical than your big-bore cruiser that would never fit between the lanes, the Tricity might be one of your options. Or if your wife wants to start riding but she’s still afraid of what the two-wheelers come with, a ride on the Tricity might win her over.
The Tricity will literally go anywhere
We took to the busy city in rush hour and were pleased to see that the Tricity is not that much wider than a small scooter, and will still allow you to squeeze between stuck cars fairly easily. Getting used to the width of the Tricity is a matter of kilometers, and its nimble character will ease your way out of jams brilliantly.

The Tricity would not go over 104 km/h (64.6 mph) with our 105 kg, 1.86m (232 lb, 6’1”) rider and even so, the speed was only reached on the highway with the fellow tucked behind the windscreen in a most ridiculous position. As for the rest, the scoot can do 75-80 km/h (47-50 mph) fairly easy and even sprints at a traffic light quite decently. It’s not a drag machine, but if the other drivers are not in street race mode, you’ll easily get the holeshot in case the next turn is a hundred yards (100m) or so ahead.

Speaking about traffic lights, we did not like the high vibration of the engine when idling at all. It is a major nuisance, especially for those who hate thumpers. Yamaha could do well to address this matter; we ended up always revving up the engine a bit, but if economy is what you’re after, prolonged operation in such conditions may increase your overall fuel consumption and cause unnecessary stress in the transmission.

We rode the Tricity on very uneven tarmac and it didn’t feel well at all. Even with its 14” front wheels, we had to take it very slowly, at a pace around 40 km/h (25 mph). If you live in an area with bad roads, the Tricity is not the best idea, please bear this in mind.
The tilting wheels work wonders off the road
We took the Tricity to the same off-road areas we rode the Tracer (here is the Yamaha MT-09 Tracer test drive report) and were delighted with the results. Of course, speed is a non-issue in such conditions, while the tilting front wheel architecture gets all the praise.

The fact that the two forks can move in relation to each other saves the day if you ever have to tread on very rough grounds. Just make sure you pick a line that looks less grueling, watch that throttle hand and let the front suspension do the rest. As you can see in the photo gallery after the jump, the front end of the Tricity is able to compensate for terrain unevenness without throwing the rider to either side. This smooths out the rough terrain incredibly and allows Yamaha’s three-wheeler to get past such sections with flying colors. Bear in mind that this is not a 2-stroke 200cc KTM, so the very fact that it can cross nasty off-road sections faster than your sedan can is truly praiseworthy.

And if you’re not a complete beginner and can sue your body weight to your advantage when riding makes things even better, adding to the overall feeling of confidence.
Remember that power IS limited when tackling the twisties
One of the things that sort of caught us unaware was the realization that leaning hard around the bend is sometimes a very risky thing. That is simply because the 10.9 hp and 10.4 Nm (7.7 lb-ft) pf torque have their limits, and it’s extremely easy to reach them.

As we took to some uphill twisties, the Tricity kindly provided us with what MotoGP’s awesome commentator Nick Harris calls “a moment.” Leaning into a turn is fun aboard the Tricity, but you need power to make it through… and power was, for a brief moment, the only thing we lacked. Thankfully, the scooter was not at the point of no return and we managed to make it stick and avoid a very dumb low-side.

The moment taught us a great lesson about the Yamaha Tricity, namely that no matter how fun riding an 125cc machine may be, being able to leave some power reserve “just in case” WILL save the day. We went around hairpins and other sharp bends after this, but we took a completely different approach, and the Tricity behaved as expected. Still, the memory of almost falling into the right-hander with the grip twisted to the max and the engine not being able to do anything more will not fade too easily.

All in all, Yamaha’s 125cc Tricity IS a very fun machine if you take it for what it really is and not mistake it for a beast. If smooth, silent and economic commuting are boxes that need to be ticked on your list, this three-wheeled machine must be definitely taken into consideration.

What we liked
  • A silent machine that remains decently quiet even when revved to the max.
  • The huge fun factor
  • The reassuring feel and the exceptionally agile character when dealing with traffic jams
  • The head-turning factor that caused a lot of people to stop and watch us roll by
  • The good wind protection in the leg area, if you can place both feet correctly on the floorboard (see what we did not like)
  • The good fuel economy

What we didn’t like
  • The engine’s vibrations while idling
  • The very small underseat storage that could not accommodate a Bell Revolver flip-up helmet.
  • The lack of a USB or at least 12V port
  • The mirrors which are way too small for taller riders. And we said taller not huge.
  • The short floorboard that can’t accommodate size 46 (12 in the US) boots.


 
 
 
 
 

Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories