Yamaha Tricity 300 (2020) - Review

Yamaha’s three-wheel scooter solution to Britain’s commuters’ problems can be ridden on a car licence for £22 a week

 

Imagine if someone told you that swapping your daily commute from a train to a scooter would save you thousands of pounds a year. Not just that but you’d also get an extra ten hours per week to hug your children and no longer spend life with your nose in a stranger’s armpit or take part in the daily ‘how long will I wait for my train today?’ lottery?

Imagine if it turned out that there was a scooter available that you could ride on a normal car licence without having to do a test. And, that scooter had a funky twin-wheel set-up at the front that gave it more stability and grip on bumpy and wet roads, could sit at 70mph on a dual carriageway and had enough storage under the seat to get everything you’d normally carry to work on the train too?  

Yamaha’s new Tricity 300 is a three-wheeled scooter that does all the above, while being very easy to ride, packed with safety features, with enough bodywork to protect you from rain and cold weather. You can drive it on a car licence without the need to do a test and it can be yours on a PCP plan for £90 a month with a £1500 deposit.

 

Yamaha’s three-wheel scooter solution to Britain’s commuters’ problems can be ridden on a car licence for £22 a week

It’s heavy for a scooter, but nimble and easy to ride once on the move

 

2020 Yamaha Tricity 300 Price

List price is £7547 ready to roll. That’s around £2000 more than the two-wheeled Yamaha XMax with which it shares an engine and basic chassis, but you get a lot more for your money on the Tricity. It’s also around the same price as the other three-wheel scooters in the market.

For most riders it’s the PCP (personal contract plan) deal that will be of most interest. You pay a moderate deposit and then finance a portion of the remaining sum over three years. At the end you either pay a pre-agreed final payment to own the scooter or hand it back and usually the difference between its current value and the agreed sum will be enough to make up the deposit on a brand-new replacement.

Typically, that means that with a £1510 deposit you’ll pay £89 per month for 36 months with a final payment of £3825 (APR 6.9%). As a simple comparison with commuting by train, a season ticket from Weybridge in Surrey to London Victoria costs £2856 per year. An annual car parking pass at Weybridge station costs £969 and tube travel to get around London is £1656 for 12x zone 1-2 monthly travel cards in central London). Which is a total of £5481 per year for the misery and stress (and Covid-roulette) of public transport.

A Tricity 300 will cost (dividing the three years costs evenly) £500 deposit, plus 12x£89 per month (£1068), plus £750 per year for fuel (£3 per day times 250 working days), £250 per year for servicing and around £500 for insurance. The insurance is the big variable, clearly because it depends on your circumstances, not the bike.

That’s a saving of around £2500 each year compared to the train to be quicker, safer, happier and more in control of your commute.

 

Yamaha’s three-wheel scooter solution to Britain’s commuters’ problems can be ridden on a car licence for £22 a week

Because the front wheels are 470mm apart, the Tricity can be ridden on a car licence

 

2020 Yamaha Tricity 300 licence requirements

Three-wheeled vehicles have some particular licencing requirements. If the front wheels are more than 460mm apart it is legally classified as a tricycle and can be ridden on a ‘B’ car licence by anyone over the age of 21. If you’re under 21 you’ll need to pass an A2 motorcycle test or buy the 125cc version of the Tricity, which just needs a CBT (compulsory basic training) certificate.

The other group of riders who will be interested in this scooter are long-term commuters who’ve been riding a 125cc machine with a CBT certificate, but also have a car licence and are wanting to move up to a bigger, more powerful machine without the expense of taking the full bike test or having to keep renewing their CBT every two years (if you only have a CBT, it has to be renewed every two years to stay legal).

Having said that, just because you can ride a Tricity 300 on a car licence without additional training or tests doesn’t mean that’s a good idea and many insurers will insist on you having done CBT before they’ll cover you. That’s a good thing by the way. CBT typically takes a day to do, costs around £150 and gives you the basic skills required to ride a motorcycle on the road, in traffic and understand the differences between being in a car and on a bike. You wouldn’t go skiing or horse riding without some simple instruction first and riding a motorcycle is no different.

    

Can you ride the Yamaha Tricity 300 with just a car licence? [ Full Review ]

The Yamaha Tricity 300 is a three-wheeled scooter that legally can be ridden on a car licence so long as you're over 21, but would you? We take four riders of varying experience from 'none' to 'lots' and test their ability and hunger for this economical, practical, comfortable, £7,500 scooter.

If you’re under 21 you’ll need to pass an A2 motorcycle test or buy the 125cc version of the Tricity, which just needs a CBT (compulsory basic training) certificate.

Yamaha’s three-wheel scooter solution to Britain’s commuters’ problems can be ridden on a car licence for £22 a week

Nippy in town, relaxed on faster, wider roads, the engine is easy to use and refined

 

2020 Yamaha Tricity 300 engine, top speed and power

Water-cooled, fuel-injected single cylinder engine, with automatic transmission. Twist the throttle and off-you-go. The same engine is also used in Yamaha’s XMax 300 scooter. It makes 28bhp, which is enough to see a top speed of around 90mph, but more importantly, it’ll cruise easily at 70mph on a dual carriageway and the engine feels smooth and refined all the way up to maximum speed.

Acceleration is quick enough from the traffic lights to get ahead of the cars and overtaking at 40-70mph feels safe and confident. The three-wheeler carries around 60kg more weight than the XMax 300 meaning the two-wheeler is a bit nippier – but you need a proper bike licence to ride one of those. The Tricity’s engine’s response is smooth and predictable as you open the throttle – think of it more like a limo than a sports car.

 

Yamaha’s three-wheel scooter solution to Britain’s commuters’ problems can be ridden on a car licence for £22 a week

The smart-key stays in your pocket, ignition, seat and fuel filler operation are all simple

 

2020 Yamaha Tricity 300 Economy

Fuel consumption is very good. Riding through town, stopping and starting as most commuters would, doing between 25-60mph, the Tricity averages around 80mpg. On a long motorway run at a constant 70mph it dropped to around 75mpg. At 13-litres (almost three gallons) that means you should expect around 225 miles to empty. 

 

Yamaha’s three-wheel scooter solution to Britain’s commuters’ problems can be ridden on a car licence for £22 a week

Clever engineering allows the front wheels to lean together, steer and brake without fuss

 

2020 Yamaha Tricity 300 Handling, suspension and weight

If you’ve never ridden a motorcycle or scooter before the first thing, you’ll notice will be the bulk. This is a big scooter, made even bigger by the substantial bodywork that covers the front wheels' tilting mechanism. The seat is tall and wide, which makes it very comfy, but those under 5’8” will be on tiptoes when stationary until they get the hang of the clever device that locks the bike upright. The bulk takes about five minutes to get used to and the Tricity is a well-balanced, easy machine to ride. And that mass of bodywork can be a good thing because it makes you more visible to other traffic.

Having two front wheels brings a lot more confidence over potholes and white lines. Where a normal scooter crunches down potholes and feels a bit skittish over white lines (especially in the wet) the Tricity rider is mildly aware, but untroubled by either.

At very low speeds, when picking your way through a queue of traffic, the twin front wheels add extra confidence, helping the bike balance better. The Tricity’s 14-inch wheels are bigger than many scooters and their increased gyroscopic motion helps here (as well as the fact there are two of them).

Picking your way through traffic is easy. The Tricity’s wide bodywork doesn’t usually hinder progress because the handlebars are still the widest part by some distance. At just 4cm wider than the single wheel XMax 300, filtering is mostly as easy as on a two-wheeler. As part of the test I spent some time in central London, where many of what used to be perfect biking roads are now so narrow that even the skinniest of scooters gets stuck. In two hours riding I got stuck in a non-filterable spot twice, but so did a Vespa GTS and Honda NC750 rider alongside me.

Faster cornering on more open roads is easier than many scooters because the added grip from the extra front wheel brings a lot of rider confidence. Likewise flicking left and right to go through a roundabout feels very natural. The big front suspension unit feels light on the move, although steering can be a little heavy at very slow speeds – turning out of a junction, for example.

The rear suspension has adjustable spring preload. It’s set soft as standard which gives additional comfort over potholes at the expense of feeling vague (a bit like your back tyre needs some air) at motorway speeds or in faster corners. Increasing the preload made the cornering feel sharper, but the bumps become much more noticeable.

 

Yamaha’s three-wheel scooter solution to Britain’s commuters’ problems can be ridden on a car licence for £22 a week

Braking is easiest using the levers on the handlebars (like a bicycle), but there’s a foot pedal too

 

2020 Yamaha Tricity 300 Brakes

Braking on a scooter is simple. Just like a bicycle you have a lever on each handlebar – left side for the back brake, right side for the front. Unlike a bicycle, motorcycles do most of their braking with the front. In the dry you use roughly 80:20 front: rear brake, in the wet that changes to around 50:50. Yamaha has given the Tricity rider some other options. First off there’s a foot brake (which is a legal requirement for something classed as a tricycle) that controls both front and rear brakes. It’s positioned not to get in the way of the rider’s leg and so is a little awkward to use unless you rest your toe on the scooter footboard and operate the brake with your heel.

Yamaha have also linked the front and rear brakes to make it easier. The combinations are as follows

Right side handlebar lever operates front brakes only

Left side handlebar lever operates front and rear brakes together

Foot pedal operates front and rear brakes together.

You don’t get any more stopping power by using both handlebar levers together, meaning you can just use the left lever, but you can apply greater pressure faster in an emergency using both. The Tricity also has a parking brake and ABS fitted.  

 

Yamaha’s three-wheel scooter solution to Britain’s commuters’ problems can be ridden on a car licence for £22 a week

Plenty of storage under the seat for waterproofs, helmet, lock and bags

 

2020 Yamaha Tricity 300 Comfort and storage

The first thing you notice when you walk up to a Tricity 300 is the size – it’s a tall, wide and substantial piece of kit. If you’re new to riding that might be worrying, but you soon get used to it. And the upside of the size and space is that it’s very comfy to ride. The well-padded seat was comfy, even on a couple of very long (three hour and 160 mile) rides. There’s plenty of legroom behind the bodywork and mostly when it rained it was easy to tuck in and stay reasonably dry. The standard screen is tall enough to ride visor-up in comfort at town speeds and getting on and off is simple

Our test bike had Yamaha’s optional tall screen fitted, which allows visor-up riding at 50-60mph in comfort, but is too tall to see over when it rains making it like driving a car with no windscreen wipers. So you have to peer around the side instead.

On one occasion when I spent 90 minutes riding in absolutely torrential rain being battered by the spray from trucks and vans, I was surprised how much water got around the bodywork. It was horrendous weather and my kit kept me dry, but lesser waterproofs would have been severely tested.

There’s plenty of underseat storage – enough for two helmets, or one plus waterproofs and lock, sandwiches etc. The space is designed that you can get an A4 briefcase under there and there’s a 12v DC socket by your right knee for charging devices or powering heated clothing.

What’s missing is any kind of storage apart from under the seat. Many scooters have a small compartment in the front panel, usually with a USB charger. Yamaha found room on the left-side of the bodywork for the parking brake, it seems odd they couldn’t fit some storage in the right side

 

Yamaha’s three-wheel scooter solution to Britain’s commuters’ problems can be ridden on a car licence for £22 a week

Simple clocks with scrollable readout for miles, mpg, air temp etc

 

2020 Yamaha Tricity 300 equipment and accessories

The Tricity has ABS and traction control as standard and a ‘smart-key’ fob that you leave in your pocket. The steering lock can’t be unlocked, or the bike started without the system detecting the key’s presence.

The LCD dash shows all the information you need except fuel range remaining (there’s a warning light that comes on with three litres remaining).

The most impressive technology (and most useful for shorter riders) is the ‘Standing Assist’ feature, which locks the front wheels’ leaning mechanism when you come to a halt, meaning you can keep your feet off on the footboards.

As you slow to a halt and the speed drops below 6mph, a light flashes to show the system is available. Tap the switch on the Left handlebar and the system locks the front suspension allowing you to sit at traffic lights with both feet off the floor. When the lights change, simply open the throttle or double-tap the switch again and the system disengages. It takes a few goes to get used to it and, many won’t see the benefits. But one of our testers who’s about 5’6” was using it every time.   

 

Yamaha’s three-wheel scooter solution to Britain’s commuters’ problems can be ridden on a car licence for £22 a week

Enough presence to get you noticed by car drivers, but narrow enough to fit through gaps in traffic too

 

2020 Yamaha Tricity 300 verdict

There are many reasons to swap commuting by public transport or a car for the convenience and costs savings of a scooter. Yamaha’s Tricity 300 goes one step further to making the decision even easier. I prefer the lighter feel and easy steering of the Yamaha front suspension to the heavier-feeling systems on Piaggio and Peugeot’s three-wheelers, although the Tricity 300 is a heavy machine -  much heavier compared to the XMax 300 it is based on than the Tricity 125 is next to the XMax 125.

Learning to ride the Tricity is simple – you’ll have mastered the basics in a few days and be confident in a week. What takes a little longer is getting used to the additional opportunities in traffic that being on two wheels brings. Filtering through gaps is easier than you think – the hardest part is learning to look further ahead than in a car to judge the gaps before they appear. Three wheels add low-speed stability, and this makes that filtering process much more confident than on two wheels.

We’d still recommend you take some training. CBT is cheap, easy, only needs one day and will improve your confidence immeasurably.

The two things we’d like Yamaha to improve on this scooter are to add some storage (and a USB port) that’s accessible on the move and to make it easier to secure. The design of the front wheels and discs mean you can’t use most disc locks, meaning you need to get inventive with small-diameter chains and U-locks through bothe front wheels. The smart-key system is more secure than a conventional mechanical ignition, but such systems can usually be by-passed by determined thieves.

Apart from that, this is an impressive machine that will transform the misery of public transport into the joy of being in control of your life again.

Seriously, you won’t regret it.

 

Yamaha’s three-wheel scooter solution to Britain’s commuters’ problems can be ridden on a car licence for £22 a week
For and against
  • Stability and confidence in all conditions
  • Comfortable and easy to ride
  • Good value on PCP plan
  • Hard to secure
  • Heavy for a 300cc, 28bhp machine
  • Needs additional storage

 

2020 Yamaha Tricity 300 spec

New price

£7547

Capacity

292cc

Bore x Stroke

70.0 x 75.9mm

Engine layout

Water-cooled, single cylinder

Engine details

4-valve SOHC four stroke

Power

28bhp (20.6kW) @ 7250rpm

Torque

21.4lb-ft (29Nm) @ 5750rpm

Top speed

85 mph (estimated)

Transmission

V-Belt automatic

Average fuel consumption

81mpg tested

Tank size

13 litres

Max range to empty (theoretical)

235-260miles

Reserve capacity

50miles

Rider aids

ABS and traction control, standing assist

Frame

Steel trellis frame

Front suspension

Double telescopic fork

Front suspension adjustment

none

Rear suspension

Twin shock absorbers

Rear suspension adjustment

preload

Front brake

Twin 267mm disc, single-piston caliper

Rear brake

267mm disc, single-piston caliper

Front tyre

120/70-14

Rear tyre

140/70-14

Rake/Trail

n/a

Wheelbase

1595mm

Ground clearance

130mm

Seat height

795mm

Kerb weight

239kg

Warranty

Unlimited miles / 2years

Website

Yamaha-motor.eu

 

Looking for motorbike insurance? Get a quote for this bike with Bennetts motorcycle insurance

 

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