YAMAHA TRICITY 300 (2020 - on) Review
- Can be ridden on a car licence
- Loads of front-end confidence mid-turn
- Can be locked upright at a standstill
At a glance
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
Following in the triplicate wheel-tracks of Yamaha’s other three wheelers, the Tricity 125 and the Niken, the Tricity 300 offers one key difference: it can be ridden on a car licence.
Legally this is a trike (an ‘L5e’ if you want to get nerdy about it), meaning you don’t even need to take a CBT, let alone pass a bike test, to get behind the handlebars of a Tricity 300 – just so long as you have a full car licence. Obviously that’s going to be controversial and we’d recommend any sane, sensible and responsible rider get some training before taking to the road.
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The point is that Yamaha haven’t built the Tricity 300 for us riders who already love bikes and scooters. Instead, it’s here to tempt folk out of their cars and off public transport, offering a quick, easy and convenient commuting alternative that doesn’t require going through the cost and hassle of today’s baffling bike licence maze. And all with a greater sense of safety than a standard two-wheeler.
In technical terms, it’s an Xmax 300 fitted with a modified version of the tilting, tandem-fork front end from the Tricity 125. Yes, it leans when it goes round corners. No, there’s no clutch or gears. Yes, it feels fairly similar to a normal scooter once you’re on the move, other than having more front-end confidence.
And, no, you don’t have to put your feet down when you stop – at least, not once you’ve got the hang of pressing the new ‘Standing Assist’ button at just the right time.
The bottom line is that even if you’re not the least bit interested in owning or riding a three-wheeled scooter, that’s fine because this isn’t trying to appeal to you. But the next time you hear a non-riding mate moan about being stuck in commuter traffic jams or the price of train tickets, you could always point them in the direction of a Tricity 300.
Watch our full Yamaha Tricity 300 video review here:
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
Peer up the Tricity’s skirt and you’ll find four fork tubes: a pair on the inside of each front wheel. Each pair consists of a main tube, containing a spring, plus an empty guide tube. Above the forks is a steering rack, which passes your handlebar inputs to the wheels while keeping them pointing in the same direction. Above all that, a pair of hefty horizontal parallel links keep everything lined up when you lean over.
Got all that? No, us neither. But when it comes to the Tricity’s front end, there are only three things you need to remember.
First, from the handlebars there isn’t a lot of feel for what’s going on downstairs. That probably shouldn’t be a surprise: instead of wheel and handlebars sat at opposite ends of a set of fork tubes, giving a natural direct connection, on the Tricity steering effort passes through a sequence of links and bearings, so it’s never going to feel exactly the same. But that’s alright, because…
Second, despite feeling slightly numb, two front wheels still adds enormous reassurance and encouragement on cold, wet roads, even in experienced hands, in a way no two-wheeler offers. When the surface is sketchy, the Tricity’s unwavering mid-corner stability lets you carry on leaning over in confidence. Which brings us to…
Third, there are limits. You can lean the Tricity over a fair old way – a reasonably generous 41.5 degrees off vertical – but eventually the centrestand touches down. And while having two front wheels doesn’t magically double grip (sorry, that’s not how physics works), having more mass over its front end does give the Tricity more front-end adhesion than the Xmax 300. But it will run out if you get ridiculously greedy.
Ride quality is pretty good. The two wheels are independently sprung, so if one wheel hits a bump the other one won’t feel it. Of course, with two front wheels you also double your chance of hitting a bump to begin with. Triple it, actually, given the rear wheel’s track runs between the two fronts. Anyhow, over speed bumps and on rough roads the Tricity 300’s front end rides quite nicely – noticeably smoother than the crashy, twin-shock rear end, anyhow.
Brakes have a peculiar setup. Each of the Tricity’s 14-inch wheels has a 267mm disc and a single-piston caliper. Squeezing the right-hand lever operates the front brakes, while the left lever operates all three. Squeeze both levers together and you can feel the interconnectedness in the system. Alternatively, you can use the footbrake – a small pedal near your right foot – which also triggers all three brakes. However, the pedal is awkwardly positioned, so your only hope of reaching it naturally is stamping it with your heel. It feels like it’s there to pass a licensing regulation, rather than assist the rider.
Initial bite from the brakes is very gentle, perhaps to suit a customer who may not be experienced with stopping a bike in a hurry, and perhaps because three small discs are trying to stop a lot of weight. But with three-channel ABS and a front end that doesn’t dive a lot, the Tricity can stop very sharply and securely – you just have to squeeze the levers hard.
EngineNext up: Reliability
The Tricity 300 shares the exact same 292cc, four-valve, water-cooled, single-cam, undersquare single as the Xmax 300. Peak output is 28bhp and 21lbft of torque, delivered through a twist-and-go CVT automatic transmission. However, where that output only has to push along 179kg in the Xmax, the Tricity weighs a whopping 60kg more. That leaves a power-to-weight ratio not much better than a Suzuki GSX-S125.
But calculator fiddling aside, the reality when you twist the throttle is that the Tricity 300 punches away from traffic lights briskly enough, sits at 60mph on an open road with plenty in reserve, has the power to hold its own on a motorway and can, if forced, show a whisker north of 85mph on its digital speedo. In short, it’s plenty fast enough for a primarily urban commute, and unfazed if it happens to take in a short multi-lane blast on the way. It’s quiet, smooth at speed and throttle pickup is faultless.
Fuel economy is a claimed 86mpg – a smidge less than the Xmax’s 88mpg, but still cheap motoring. Our rather brisk test ride resulted in a 75mpg average (claimed on the dash), so let’s split the difference and call it 80mpg. That’s still enough to get 200 miles between stopping for fuel, or probably a full week of commuting for most.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
This is a brand-new model, so until they’re a few years old it’s impossible to know for sure how reliable and durable a Tricity (or its complex, multi-component front end) is. Until then, all we have to go on is owner reviews of the Xmax 300 – currently averaging four stars for reliability.
From our first ride it looks a fairly well-put together machine, though some of the chassis components (such as brake calipers and rear shocks) you’d probably rate closer to the budget end of the spectrum.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
Well, it depends on what you consider to be a rival to the Tricity 300. Its 2020 on-the-road price is £7547, which is a whopping two grand more than an Xmax 300 (with which it shares pretty much everything from the seat backwards). Compared to other 300cc bikes it’s a lot of money. But comparing it to other 300cc bikes is sort of missing the point: without a bike licence, the Tricity’s target customer probably won’t be looking at 300cc bikes anyway.
The key exception is Piaggio’s MP3 300 HPE Sport, which is also classified as a trike and so can be ridden on a car licence just like the Tricity. The MP3 is physically a little smaller than the Tricity and a tiny fraction down on engine performance, but also less expensive at £6999.
Otherwise, Yamaha see the rival for the Tricity 300 as a car, a bus or a train. If you’re weighing up your monthly costs for getting into work using public transport, the Tricity looks pretty appealing on PCP finance: a deposit of around £1500 leaves monthly payments of around £90 for the first three years. That’s less than some folk pay to park their car at a train station.
On the surface, the Tricity 300 is well equipped. One of its flashiest features is the Standing Assist button, situated on the left switchgear cluster where a headlight flasher usually sits.
Pressing this locks the Tricity’s tilting mechanism (though not its suspension), meaning you can keep your feet up on the running boards without falling over. It’s designed for you to come to a stop, put your feet down, push the button then bring your feet up off the floor. But it can also be triggered below 6mph, so after a little practice it’s possible to lock it just as you come a stop, meaning you never have to put your feet down.
You can disengage it manually with a double-tap, or simply open the throttle and ride away as it unlocks automatically. Locking the tilting mechanism also makes the Tricity easier to move around at walking pace – handy for getting it in or out of your garage, or pushing it back out of a parking space.
Other confidence-inspiring features include ABS and traction control – yes, really – plus a parking brake to stop it rolling away. There’s keyless ignition, a centrestand and a 12-volt lighter-style power socket by your right knee. The huge 43.5-litre storage compartment under the seat is big enough for two lids.
However, as a premium product designed to attract well-heeled car drivers, we’d maybe have expected a few more gadgets: perhaps modern USB charging sockets, Bluetooth connectivity on a colour dash or, at the very least, a small glovebox-style storage cubbyhole built into the wide bodywork.
|Engine type||Liquid-cooled, 4v, single|
|Frame type||Tubular steel|
|Fuel capacity||13 litres|
|Front suspension||2 x telescopic forks|
|Rear suspension||Twin shocks, adjustable preload|
|Front brake||2 x 267mm discs, single-piston calipers|
|Rear brake||267mm disc, single-piston caliper|
|Front tyre size||2 x 120/70 x 14|
|Rear tyre size||140/70 x 14|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||80 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£44|
|Annual service cost||-|
How much to insure?
Top speed & performance
|Max power||28 bhp|
|Max torque||21 ft-lb|
|Top speed||80 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||228 miles|
Model history & versions
2020: Yamaha Tricity 300 launched.
- Yamaha Tricity 125 Launched in 2014, a 125cc three-wheeled scooter that’s a lighter, simpler, more affordable alternative to Piaggio’s hugely popular MP3. Classified as a motorcycle, meaning you need at least a CBT to ride it, which hampers sales. No tilt-lock function either, so it falls over if you don’t put your feet down.
- Yamaha Xmax 300 A2-class midi-scooter (bigger than a moped, smaller than a maxi-scoot) launched in 2017, which donates its rear-half and motor to the Tricity 300. Being 60kg lighter makes the Xmax nippier than the Tricity, while it’s a massive two grand cheaper too. However, you can’t ride one on a car licence…
Owners' reviews for the YAMAHA TRICITY 300 (2020 - on)
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