Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 19th April 2017

Three wheeled scooters are big business on the continent and make perfect sense in congested city environments.

The concept is nothing new. Piaggio’s MP3 has been around for a decade now, while Peugeot has also made inroads with its similar Metropolis range. While those two have been comparable in their engineering and philosophy, Yamaha’s first attempt, the Tricity, takes a different and more simple approach. And while all three are still relatively rare sights on UK roads, the increasing number of Tricitys seen riding around the city means that they are starting to be adopted by British riders.

Yamaha Tricity 125

So what is it and why is that?

Well, at its most basic level, the Tricity is pretty much a traditional twist and go scooter with an innovative design that means there are two wheels up front. The big advantage of that is that it is much more stable and confidence inspiring than the more usual two wheeler, without losing too much of what makes a 125cc scooter so fantastic to ride in city traffic.

Peugeot and Piaggio have taken a different approach. Their scooters have bigger engines (from 300cc) and that means that they need at least an A2 motorcycle licence to ride one. There is, however, a kicker to that. Because of the wider front axle design they are classed as tricycles, which means that they can be ridden (or should that be driven?) on a full car licence – and that opens up a huge new customer base for these mega scoots.

So, while they can be operated by anyone holding a full car or bike licence, the downside is that they are bulkier than a traditional scooter, making them less easy to thread through rush hour traffic, and expensive too. That’s probably the main reason why they are such rare sights on British roads. At £6499, the MP3 is getting into small car territory.

Yamaha’s solution is different. The Tricity is powered by a 125cc engine, meaning that it can be ridden on a provisional motorcycle licence, and because the whole set up is much more simple, it’s far lighter and cheaper too. At £3599, the Tricity comes in at a price more like popular scoots, such as the best selling Honda PCX125 and Yamaha’s own, similarly capacitied, NMAX.

Because the design of the Tricity is so narrow, it is classed as a scooter. So while it can’t be ridden on a car licence, it is essentially a learner legal twist and go. If you don’t have at least an A1 category licence, you can take your CBT, slap on some L plates and hit the road.

review of yamaha tricity

Not that you will, hopefully, be hitting the road in a literal term. Yamaha reckon that the market for the Tricity is large and varied, and after riding one it is easy to see why. With two wheels up front, the Tricity has much more grip and inspires plenty of confidence in the rider. Where a small wheeled scoot can sometimes feel a touch nervous on wet or poorly surfaced roads, it is barely noticeable on the Tricity.

Unlike the other three-wheelers, which use car style wishbone setups, the Tricity suspension is not dissimilar to that of a conventional scooter. Where they would have one wheel between the fork tubes, the Tricity has a wheel facing outside of the fork tubes. Behind that, the tubes are doubled up with two on each side. One contains the usual damping units, while the other is to aid steering. The two sides are connected by a parallelogram shaped linkage that keeps everything lined up as you lean into corners. The effect itself is not dissimilar to the shape made by a skier as slalom down a slope. Stopping the scoot is a triple disc brake set-up. The front discs are inboard, behind the wheels, and they are linked, with the right hand lever operating only the front brakes, while the left operates front and rear. Yamaha gave the Tricity an update for the 2017 model year, and the latest bikes now feature anti-lock brakes as standard.

It’s all very easy to ride.

Width wise, there is no problem at all. Where the MP3 can filter through traffic but is a touch wide, the Tricity is as narrow as any conventional scooter and the fully automatic twist and go transmission means that there are no gearchanges to worry about.

If it all sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. There are downsides to this, of course. The main sacrifice you make is in agility. The Tricity is slower to turn than a conventional scooter and a little less agile. The turning circle doesn’t feel as tight either, but the way in which it can be bumped up kerbs at any conceivable angle is impressive to say the least.

The Tricity is also slower than most of the other quality 125s on the market. This is no doubt due in part to the extra weight and aerodynamic drag caused by the design, but mainly because the basic engine doesn’t fully utilise the 11kW (14.75bhp) power limit allowed for learner bikes. As part of the 2017 update, required in part to get the scooter to meet the latest Euro 4 emissions standards, the engine has received a significant overhaul. The new motor features a more modern four-valve design, developed using Yamaha’s high-on-efficiency ‘Blue Core’ concept and claims to be both livelier and more economical than the outgoing unit. That’s no bad thing, but the Tricity is still not going to blow your socks off.

Around town it’s not really a problem, but if your commute regularly involves dual carriageway work then you might find it a bit on the slow side. It certainly lacks the zippiness of the likes of the PCX, which will cruise at around 55mph and have enough left in reserve to get past lorries if need be. With the Tricity, things get a bit wheezy around 50, meaning that you might end up being stuck in the slow lane when you’re out on the open roads.

It also lacks the fun factor and coolness of a regular scoot, but that shouldn’t matter a jot for the majority of Tricity buyers. This is a vehicle that exudes practicality, and not just for the everyday commuter. As a working vehicle the Yamaha makes so much sense. It’s much easier to ride than the average pizza delivery moped, and for professions like estate agents and couriers, it will prove a perfect tool upon which to tackle the streets of London and our other congested cities. Yamaha is also marketing a police version in various countries, so could we see them line up alongside the Piaggio MP3s in the Metropolitan Police’s fleet?

Yamaha claim that they built the Tricity to appeal to customers who are not currently riding motorcycles or scooters. In short, if you like the idea of a scooter but have perhaps been put off by the idea of being on two wheels, the Tricity is well worth a look. It’s well built, easy to ride and cheap to buy and run. It’s a novel way of giving personal mobility to more people and, in turn, helping to unblock our congested roads.

That’s no bad thing. Well done Yamaha!

Specifications

Engine type

Single cylinder, liquid-cooled, four-stroke, single overhead camshaft, four-valves

Displacement

125cc

Bore x stroke

52×58.7mm

Maximum power

9kW (12bhp) @7,500rpm

Maximum torque

11.7Nm @7,250rpm

Front suspension

Twin telescopic forks

Seat height

780mm

Wet weight

164kg

Fuel tank

7.2 litres