BY: IOL Motoring Staff
Paris, France - Yamaha's first three-wheeler, the 125cc Tricity, is also the first in a series of commuters collectively labelled, aimed at increasingly congested inner-city road networks.
While it's intended to provide the same feeling of stability and rider confidence, it's much smaller and nimbler than earlier scooters with twin front wheels such as Piaggio's MP3, which were touted as performance machines - with prices to match.
The Tricity's patented leaning multi-wheel mechanism is based on a lightweight parallelogram link, hidden behind the front cowl and connected to the forks and the frame's steering head. This allows the twin front wheels to lean over in parallel in a corner, with almost no change in track.
The suspension on each front wheel operates independently, with two cantilevered telescopic forks in tandem. The rear tubes function as guides, while the front fork tubes handle damping functions over a 90mm stroke.
The twin cast-alloy 14” front rims are fitted with 90/80 tyres, while a 12” rim with chunky 110/90 rubber supports the rear end.
An integral braking system combines a 220mm disc on each front wheel with a 230mm disc on the rear wheel. When the rider squeezes the right brake lever, only the two front brakes are applied, but when either the left brake lever or both together are operated, all three brakes are applied, with electronic brake force distribution ensuring smooth stopping.
TUNED FOR BOTTOM-END TORQUE
The Tricity has a straightforward, slightly undersquare (52.4 x 57.8mm) single-cam, two-valve liquid-cooled four-stroke single with YMJET-FI fuel injection.
Its barrel is cast in a special aluminium alloy with specific silicon content, with no sleeve - the piston runs directly in the aluminium bore - and both intake and exhaust systems have been tuned for bottom-end torque and strong mid-range acceleration.
Peak outputs are thus conservative: 8.1kW at 9000rpm and 10.4Nm at 5500, and it drives the rear through a conventional belt-drive CVT transmission, in unit with the engine.
The Tricity weighs only 152 with fuel and oil - heavy for a class A1 scooter but way lighter than any other three-wheeler on the market - with classic 50:50 front/rear weight distribution, just as on Yamaha's Grand Prix machines, for the same reasons: quick, consistent turn-in.
Keeping the engine low in the chassis puts the centre of gravity just under the nose of the saddle for light, responsive handling without compromising stability.
The stepped dual seat is covered with a slip resistant material, and the storage space under it will take a full-face helmet. There's also a 'convenience hook' on the legshield in front of the rider.
It was invented by aircraft designer Angelo Corrado in 1946 for the Vespa scooter, as a place for lady riders to hang their shopping bags, but is now universally known among scooteristi as a curry hook!
A central digital speedometer dominates the all-liquid crystal instrument panel, flanked by an odometer, clock, air temperature gauge and an array of indicator lights - all of which light up in an animated sequence when you turn the key.
EXPENSIVE - OR IS IT?
The Tricity will be released in Europe from mid-2014, priced at less than €4000 (R60 000) - once again, heavy for a class A1 scooter but way lighter than any other three-wheeler on the market.