Regular readers will know that we’re big fans of the tilting 3-wheeler platform here at Gizmag. Narrow track vehicles are evolving and sprouting up all over the place, but Yamaha’s brand new Tricity represents the first production effort by a major motorcycle company – and it seems to be focused in all the right areas to make it a huge success.
Motoring giant Yamaha has thrown its considerable weight behind the tilting three-wheeler concept as a traffic-busting personal mobility solution with its launch of the 125 cc Tricity in Europe. Let’s take a look at where the market’s at for these kinds of vehicles and what makes them a good option.
Motorcycles are vastly more practical in these types of cities, especially for solo travelers. And most car commuters ARE solo travelers – the average occupancy of a car on an Australian road, for example, hovers between 1.2 and 1.3 people.
Motorcycles are quick, fuel efficient, very easy to park and skinny enough to filter through gaps in traffic. This is great for the riders themselves, but just as helpful for other drivers. If a motorcycle sits in line with traffic, it acts almost identically to a car in terms of its impact on traffic congestion, but if it filters through traffic, it’s almost as if there was no vehicle on the road at all. So filtering bikes are a huge benefit to pretty much everybody on the road.
Of course, bikes have their own issues, safety being one that’s at the forefront of the mind's of many potential motorcycle commuters, and weather exposure being another. You can get hurt on a bike, they tend to fall over every now and then, and you get wet when it rains.
And this is where the strength of the three-wheeler can show itself. A tilting three-wheeler need not be much wider than a motorcycle, and yet it’s got double the grip at the front end where you really need it, and the added stability of a triangular footprint on the road.
We’ve spent a good deal of time with the first of these jiggers to hit the market – Piaggio’s excellent MP3 250cc – and while the looks and the concept of these strange-looking trikes tend to rankle the sensitivities of battle-hardened bikers like ourselves, nobody in the Gizmag family who rode the thing got off with anything short of praise about the platform’s handling, grip and general riding feel. They’re really that good.
But it’s not sports riders these things are targeted at, it’s the commuting masses. And in terms of ease of use, a feeling of road security and the ability to cover over mistakes that could be catastrophic on a two-wheeler, the three-wheeler platform knocks it out of the park. I’d put my Nanna on one.
Narrow track tilting vehicles are going to be huge in the coming decades, and it’s very significant that a relative giant like Yamaha is throwing its hat into the ring at this early stage. Let’s take a look at some of the other significant examples on the scene to see where the Tricity fits.
Its key points of differentiation in this developing market are its light weight (just 152kg when fully fueled and ready to roll), its apparently very slim front profile, and its affordable price – less than €4000.
The slim front profile is significant. The Piaggio MP3 was wide enough to make us think twice in many lane filtering situations, but the Tricity looks a lot thinner. And when you consider that lane filtering is one of the key attractions of these narrow track vehicles, that could be a very important feature. It’ll be interesting to learn exactly what its dimensions are but the eye test puts it several inches slimmer than the MP3 or Metropolis.
But the price tag is equally important. The Piaggio and Peugeot retail for double what Yamaha is asking, and that’s no small consideration for consumers looking for a cheap, quick commuter.
The Tricity should debut as the narrowest, lightest and cheapest 3-wheeler on the market, backed by Yamaha’s excellent reputation and broad networks. It has an excellent chance of really shaking things up. We look forward to getting our hands on one!
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