The Yamaha Tricity, is a three-wheeler and is primarily orientated for urban transport. The Yamaha Tricity is a 125cc scooter with two wheels at the front and one at the rear. So it's like the Piaggio MP3 but a bit smaller, lighter and most of all cheaper.
The front wheels are independently suspended but connected by a parallelogram link enabling them to lean in corners. Yet when you ride the Yamaha Tricity, you're rarely conscious of the extra front wheel. That's quite an achievement in engineering terms, although it might make you question why you'd bother having an extra wheel when you can get a conventional two-wheel scooter from Yamaha for a lot less.
The answer came on our test ride in downtown Bangkok, where the weather obliged our research by getting very wet. Coping with cobbles, bumping up kerbs and dodging other regular two-wheeled “out-of-control” scooters, motorcycles and a multitude of cars owners that had as only wish to try to hit me with their vehicle in one thing when it is dry, but potentially much trickier in wet weather. The Yamaha Tricity dealt with it all really well, giving a lot more confidence than I'd have helt in those conditions on a two-wheeled scooter.
Yamaha are quick to stress that the Yamaha Tricity isn't magically uncrashable, but you can well imagine a bunch of inexperienced riders – and their parents – being happier about the Yamaha Tricity than an inherently less stable two-wheeled scooter.
The two front wheels are narrow and close together, which means you can tip it over if you try hard enough, but also means it's easy to filter – the widest part of the scooter is the handlebar – and the steering is light. The Yamaha Tricity is even narrower than the Honda PCX150 – and the steering is light.
There are two telescopic fork legs for each front wheel: one per side has springs and damping, the other is just a guide. Unlike other three-wheeled vehicles there's no mechanism to lock the front wheels in the upright position when you're stationary. That might initially feel odd to Piaggio MP3 veterans, but you really don't need it. You simply put a foot down at the traffic light, just like you would on a regular scooter or motorcycle, and when you park there's asidestand and a centerstand. The absence of steering-locking hardware, and of a parking brake, help keep the weight down to a very manageable 152 kilograms – more than the average two-wheeled scooter.
It's a simple, fully automatic twist-and-go scooter, using a four-stroke liquid-cooled 125cc engine. I saw a maximum of 100km/h on the clock, I was not pushing it, but more important is the way it can beat most other traffic away from the traffic lights.
At low speeds you can steer with the handlebars, rather than lean, but once you're in double figures you're leaning is the usual way. The three hydraulic disc brakes are linked: the right lever controls just the front, the left lever applies the rear initially and then the front. There's no ABS, and you don't miss it.
The whole scooter is big enough for a larger person (myself 197cm had no problems), and the rear seat is a good size. Under the seat, you can just about fit a full-face helmet. The screen and legshields don't offer much weather protection, but the accessories list includes a much taller screen, hand guards and an apron, as well as a rack, top box and GPS mount.