With record-high motorcycle COE prices, small two-wheelers, especially those with engines up to 200cc, are no longer cheap.
So, how will a model like the new Yamaha Tricity fare? Well, the Japanese manufacturer hopes that the Tricity - Japan's first three- wheeled scooter - is fun enough for riders to look past its relatively high price tag of $13,000.
(It was not too long ago when a similar bike cost less than $8,000.)
Three-wheeled scooters are not new. The Italians have been hogging the segment. But what gives the Tricity bragging rights is that it was developed by one of MotoGP racer Valentino Rossi's former race engineers.
So, you can assume the scooter is going to be light, agile and fast.
SPECS/ YAMAHA TRICITY
Price: $13,008 withCOE
Engine: 125cc 2-valve singlecylinder
Power: 11bhp at 9,000rpm
Torque: 10.4Nm at 5,500rpm
0-100kmh: Not available
Top speed: 100kmh
Fuel consumption: 2 litres/ 100km(estimated)
Agent: Ban Hock Hin
With the exception of speed, the Tricity handles like a conventional scooter. At 152kg when fully fueled, it is not far off the weight of other two-wheeled scooters.
It is indeed light and manoeuvrable. Still, a little extra shove is required on the handlebars to make the bike turn. But once on its side, it is stable and predictable.
More importantly, the Tricity is narrow and neutral-handling enough to carve through traffic with consummate ease.
Powered by a 125cc single-cylinder four-stroke engine producing 11bhp, the twist-and-go Tricity has just enough poke to beat other motorists when it comes to taking off from the lights.
But on the expressway, it struggles to reach its cruising speed, taking what seems like an eternity to reach 100kmh.
It is by no means inhibitive, but you do think twice when you need to make a quick overtake. To its credit, the bike's performance does not seem to suffer much with a pillion onboard.
But to focus solely on the Tricity's performance is to miss the point. The bike was intended to be zippy around town (which it is) and, with its two wheels upfront, provide extra grip and stability. But the advantage of a third wheel is not just limited to adverse conditions such as wet roads.
Even on dry surfaces, the Tricity's additional safety net means there is one thing less to worry about.
You know it is very hard to lose the front end - useful when traversing tricky road surfaces such as white lane markings, gravel or oil patches. In others words, bits which tend to unsettle scooters. And to a rider, every bit of advantage helps on the road.
Contributing to its ease of use is the scooter's powerful link brake system. The left lever operates the front and rear stoppers, while pulling the right lever adds more front brake. In reality, the brakes are so strong you can effectively stop with just a pull of either lever.
It is comfortable too. As each front wheel has its own telescopic fork, the scooter rides impeccably over bumps and imperfections on the road. The rear shocks, on the other hand, are a little firmer but still relatively composed.
The Tricity does not have a locking mechanism like the Piaggio MP3, which enables you to put both feet up at the lights. But its seat is low enough for shorter riders to rest on one foot comfortably.
Storage space is commendable - you can store a full-face helmet under the seat.
To sum up, the Yamaha Tricity is a stylish, accessible and practical scooter with all the added benefits of a third wheel upfront. It is a shame that with motorcycle COE prices the way they are, many people will not get to experience the cheery nature of this classy runaround.
•The writer is a regular contributor to Torque, a motoring monthly published by SPH Magazines.