The new commuter friendly Yamaha Tricity 300 | ROAD TEST
Back in March we were all set to head to the South of France for the launch of the eagerly awaited new Yamaha Tricity 300. Then the world suddenly stopped rotating and things became a little different.
Fast forward to July and we’re in the drizzly South of England (well south of my home in Nottinghamshire at least) for a delayed, COVID-friendly press launch at the rural HQ of Potski Media. Six socially distanced journalists are eager to get out and ride this new bigger brother to the existing Tricity 125. In fact, the six journalists, lead by Mr Potski and the Yamaha team are just eager to get out and ride after months of incarceration.
Car or bike licence? You can ride it
First, let’s introduce you to this new car licence friendly tricycle. Released at the perfect time to mop up any commuters who are suddenly eager to jump off the overcrowded germ-ridden trains, tubes and buses.
Let me quickly explain who can ride the Tricity 300. If you’re over the age of 21 and have a full car, or category A bike licence you can ride the Tricity 300 with no extra training. Even if you’ve never even sat on a bike or scooter before but can drive a car, you’re legally entitled to ride one of these.
Even though you don’t need to legally – we advise that complete novices take a one-day CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) course to get a little riding experience before heading off on an unfamiliar 80mph trike. A bit of knowledge and understanding of life on two (or three) wheels is a good thing to have.
The Tricity 125 was unveiled in 2014 and has sold over 17, 500 units across Europe since 2015. Interestingly, the 125cc version can only be ridden if you’re 17 (or over) and have a CBT, or A2 bike licence. That’s due to the distance between the twin front wheels. To qualify as a tricycle (and be ridden on a car licence) the wheels need to be at least 460mm apart and a foot pedal brake must be fitted (in addition to the usual brake levers).
Tricity 300 DNA
It’s quite obvious to spot who did the dirty with the pretty little Tricity. The existing Yamaha XMAX 300 had a night of after-show fun at EICMA in Milan a couple of years ago. The pitter, patter of 14” rubber is the result. As a hybrid of the two models, the Tricity 300 turned out like a designer puppy. It shares the same frame (albeit with modified headstock), 292cc Blue Core engine and much of the styling of the XMAX. As luck would have it, the Tricity 300 also got the all-important twin front wheels from its mother.
How do I drive this thing?
We’re going to approach this section from a scooter riding novices’ point of view to begin with. If you’re a seasoned rider you may want to skip this part but we all started out as novice riders so let’s welcome some new people into the club – we’re a friendly bunch.
Ok, car drivers and commuters, close your eyes and imagine you’re driving to work, or you’re crammed into a tube. Yes, quite boring and claustrophobic isn’t it? Stuck in traffic, stressing about getting to work on time, or worrying if you’ll be allowed on the often- overcrowded train today, now that social distancing has cut the capacity. You’re stood there wondering about the health of the bloke coughing his guts up as he breathes his rancid morning breath down your neck. Now let’s get you to experience a little excitement and freedom and socially distanced fun.
Firstly, like every new modern scooter the Tricity is a simple ‘twist & go’, or in car terms – it’s an automatic. There are no gears, clutch or switchable rider modes to worry about but the air conditioning is exceptional.
The controls are easy to use but you’ll notice the scooter has handlebars rather than a steering wheel. Well spotted, your training is coming on well. There are two brake levers, the front brake is on the right and the rear brake is on the left – just like a pushbike. There’s also a twist throttle on the right handlebar, that’s instead of an accelerator pedal. To satisfy legislation there’s also a foot pedal on the right footboard, you can use it if you like to simultaneously operate all three disc brakes. We’ll give a bit more detail about braking later.
Unlike a car, the body of the Tricity will tilt whilst riding, this gives it a feeling that is virtually the same as riding a two-wheeled scooter. In fact, in many situations, the Tricity is more dynamic and exciting to ride and is much safer in damp, or slippery conditions.
You may worry about getting your brogues or high heels dirty in a morning, thankfully the scooter has very good weather protection and once you’ve mastered riding it you don’t actually need to put your feet down. That’s because the scooter has ‘Standing Assist.’ It’s operated by a button on the left handlebar and it will lock the scooter’s body in an upright position. You can do this at a standstill to help when backing it into or out of a parking space (bike parking is usually free by the way). It’ll also help to stabilise the scooter as you put it on the centre stand, although there’s also a handy side stand. The other use for Standing Assist is in slow-moving traffic. As you get below 8mph with a closed throttle, an orange light will illuminate on the digital dash, that means you can lock the body whilst coasting to a stop so you can keep your feet up. It takes a little bit of confidence and practice to master the technique but you’ll soon be challenging yourself to complete a journey without putting a foot down. Beware though, you can also lock the body whilst tilted, so always make sure you’re upright. Twisting the throttle again will release the locking system and allow you to power away.
Hopefully that’s given any newbie riders a little extra confidence, your Yamaha dealer will give you all the instruction and help you need when you go and buy one.
Options and extras
Car owners are used to speccing their new cars up, and Yamaha always has a good selection of official upgrades and accessories. The scooter itself comes in three standard colours: Nimbus Grey, Tech Cammo and Gunmetal Grey, with colour-coded spoke detailing. They’re all priced at £7,547 on the road including VAT and OTR costs.
There are also three optional packs for you to choose from, depending on the type of riding you do. There is also an Akraprovic exhaust as an official accessory as well.
Sports pack £413.30
Sports screen, licence plate holder, aluminium foot panels
Winter pack £280.10
Comes with an apron, grip heater and knuckle visors
Urban pack £460.70
This one comes with a higher screen, rear carrier and 39 litre top box.
Welcome back to the rest of our readers (and our new-found riding friends), I hope you behaved yourselves whilst we were doing a little rider training?
Small but perfectly formed
We’re in Rutland, the smallest county in England. It may be small but is big on perfect riding roads, it’s also big on sheep & horse shit, mud, gravel and unplanned drizzle but that’s all good for a three-wheeled scooter test. Imperfect road and weather conditions are where these machines really excel.
Although the Tricity 300 looks physically imposing and almost menacing with its aggressive stance, it is actually only around 20mm wider than an XMAX at 815mm. The handlebars are still wider than the twin front wheels (the wheels are 470mm to their centres) so don’t be tricked by its bulk. It can still filter with the best of them and is as agile as any GT class scooter.
First impressions are that it’s comfortable, as you’d expect and feels familiar after riding the XMAX a while back. I’m also well used to riding the other scooters in this tricycle class. Even so, I’ve been looking forward to riding Yamaha’s version.
ABS/Unified Braking System
Remember that a lot of Tricity riders will come from a non-biking background and aren’t looking to compete in the TT. As such it’s user-friendly, rather than being set up like an R1. The scooter sports 267mm discs all round, all three discs are ABS equipped and the fronts come with a plastic disc cover to help keep the pads/discs clean and prolong their life.
Like most bikes/scooters you can operate just the front brakes by using the right-hand lever, that lever applies equal pressure to both front discs. Using just the front lever won’t see you going over the handlebars, the brakes are progressive rather than likely to stop you dead. Use the front to knock off some speed by all means but this scooter is set up to be ridden using the UBS – Unified Braking System operated by the rear lever (or foot pedal if you prefer). To start with I was trying to brake with two fingers, sports bike/scooter style but there’s a bit more travel in the lever than I’m used to so found myself trapping the rest of my fingers against the lever. I quickly adapted to using all four fingers to stop and the brakes worked very well like that. It’s a great system for a novice because it’ll stop you quickly and under control. It also has the 3-channel ABS to give you an extra get out of jail card. I found that useful whilst trying to stop using two fingers on a steep downhill section in the wet… The rear brake pedal has been designed well, it’s tucked into the inside of the right footboard nicely and is machined flat on the inside so it doesn’t have to protrude any further than it needs to. Using it is a little different and not instantly obvious, rather than pushing with the toes you have your foot in front of it on the angled part of the footboard and press with your heel. That gives you much more pressure and control, although to be fair not many riders will ever use it.
Traction Control System
As mentioned earlier, the Tricity also comes with traction control to stop the rear wheel spinning if you accelerate sharply on less than perfect surfaces. A surprisingly useful safety feature to have even on a scooter of this capacity. It can’t be turned off but that’s not a problem.
The scooter comes shod with specially developed Bridgestone Battlax tyres, these have been modified especially to suit the trike and give good grip, which they did in changeable conditions. With 14” wheels all round it helps with the handling
We weren’t hanging around on our 60-mile launch ride and I must say, it didn’t take long at all to get used to riding the Tricity. At slow speeds, trickling through traffic or coasting to a standstill the scooter is very well balanced and more or less holds itself upright. You can ride at a slow walking pace without touching the floor and it feels like it will balance itself. Ridden fast it’s also very stable, with a bit of wind buffeting from the neck height screen (shame that’s not adjustable) it can be a bit noisy. I reckon the shorter black sports screen will look great and reduce wind noise.
28bhp Blue Core engine
The 292cc, liquid-cooled Blue Core engine makes a class-leading 28bhp and is enough to pull the 239kg scooter along quite well. It’s capable of just over a genuine 80mph, or a speedo reading of close to 90, which means it’s good for any type of road or distance. You could happily do a longer commute into a city on this as quickly as you would on a train and way faster than an average car journey.
Pulling away for the first time onto a rough farm track, with potholes, speed humps and gravel gave me an instant taster of how the Yamaha’s sophisticated suspension works and reminded me it also comes with traction control. I was impressed – it’s very smooth and works on the same principle as the 125cc Tricity and Transformer-like Yamaha Niken three-wheeled bike. The main difference with the front end of this and the Niken is that the scooter wears it’s front shock absorbers on the inside, whilst the Niken has them fully on show. That’s because the Niken has bigger front wheels and needs more lean angle, having them on the outside stops it restricting things. It also helps to keep the front profile of the scooter narrow enough for filtering through traffic.
The Ackermann Principle
The Yamaha technicians worked very hard on the geometry of this scooter, the mass is centralised with near perfect 50:50 weight distribution and a low centre of gravity. The twin front wheels work on the Ackermann principle, similar to a car so that both wheels are at the same angle as the rear during cornering. It gives a natural feel when riding and you soon forget you’re sporting an extra wheel.
Although the engine makes a fair bit more power than the Piaggio MP3 300 Sport, the Yamaha’s engine mapping means it doesn’t feel quite as quick from a standstill – it’s deliberately a little more relaxed. Once it’s going though there’s enough torque on tap and it goes well for a 300 class scooter. In comparison, the latest Piaggio HPE engine is electronically strangled at the top end, so will run out of steam before the Yamaha. If you’re doing regular motorway journeys the Tricity will be better in fast moving traffic and will sit at 70mph comfortably with a bit more on tap for quick overtakes.
One thing is for sure, scooters are way more practical and easier to use than a bike. You can stick a pair of jeans on, a textile jacket and go for a ride. Or just wear your work clobber and a jacket safe in the knowledge that you’ll keep clean and fairly dry if it rains. Scooters are also easier to keep clean and cheaper to maintain. For starters there’s no messy chain to lubricate. A basic service will just be a check over and oil/filter change. If you’ve ever tried nipping to the supermarket for a few bits on a bike, or even to the chippy you’ll know there’s nowhere to put your stuff and you end up trying to stuff your chips down your jacket.
The Tricity boasts a very good-sized underseat area. It can swallow two full-face helmets quite easily. Put one helmet under there and there’s room for your shopping/laptop etc. This makes life so much easier.
There’s also a handy (if not old school) 12v charge point on the inside of the legshields, a USB point would have been a bit more useful. The dash is digital and not overly-complicated. There’s no phone connectivity and the features are basic when compared to many TFT displays found on other scooters and bikes but it has everything you need, including time/temp/fuel/2 trips/battery condition/and MPG. Incidentally, I was getting around 71mpg on our ride and we weren’t riding to save the planet.
The new kid on the block has been well worth waiting for. It gives three-wheeled converts an extra option, it may be more expensive than the Piaggio MP3 300 Sport but it packs more power, looks great and the Yamaha suspension system seems easier to maintain, it’s also very smooth in operation and soaks up the worst of the bumps without fuss.
If you’re in the market for some alternative transport and have £7547 to spend the nice man at Yamaha will be happy to help you on the road to freedom.
Photos: James Wright, Double Red
Location video: Joe Dick, on-board and video edit: Iggy
Yamaha Tricity 300 Specifications
Engine: 292cc, single cylinder, liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, SOHC, 4-valves
Bore x stroke: 70.0 x 75.9 mm
Maximum power: 20.6 kW @ 7,250 rpm
Maximum torque: 29.0 Nm @ 5,750 rpm
Fuel consumption: 3.3 l/100 km
CO2 emission: 77 g / km
Weight: Wet 239 kg
Fuel tank capacity: 13 L
Front suspension: Double telescopic fork, Front travel 100mm
Rear suspension: Twin adjustable shocks
Brakes: 267mm hydraulic front disc brakes, rear single 267mm disc brake
Tyres: Front 120/70-14M/C 55P, rear tyre140/70-14M/C 62P, Bridgestone Battlax
Dimensions: Overall length 2,250 mm, width 815 mm, height 1,470 mm
Seat height: 795 mm
Wheelbase: 1,595 mm
Yamaha Tricity 300 Gallery
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