Fabulous Fifties: 2009 Yamaha C3

Cubic fun.

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New in 2007, the Yamaha C3 packs plenty of cool features and futuristic styling into a $2099 package. It uses a sophisticated liquid-cooled, four-stroke Single that's fuel-injected and catalyzed for maximum efficiency and environmental friendliness. There's a cool, bulbous single headlight, rugged black fork legs and tube-steel chassis. Its boxy truck-styled bodywork features with a nine-gallon storage compartment under the low seat. Even though nine gallons of storage sounds like a lot, oddly an open-face or 3/4 helmet doesn't fit. Fortunately, there's a hook under the locking seat to store your lid when you're not riding.

A 40-mile test loop on the C3 through the suburban sprawl of Orange County was very interesting. I felt like the bellows of an accordion as I passed morning commuters stopped in traffic after they had blasted past me on the straights. The drum brakes worked well enough to flex the fork, indicating good traction, even some in reserve when really getting through the corners.

I didn't record mileage, so I don't know how accurate Yamaha's claimed 115 mpg. I can say however, with some strategic use of brakes and throttle I rode around for a week and the gas gauge barely moved. But it's not just about fuel economy: riding the C3 is fun. It'll beat the Honda Ruckus to a claimed 40 mph, hold your junk in that copious trunk, handle nicely in curves and has an eye-catching, futuristic appearance. It simply gets the job done for those with reasonable expectations for a 50cc four-stroke's performance. I found the C3 peppy enough for its intended mission. That may be all you need as well.

List price:|$2099
Engine type:|sohc four-stroke Single
Seat height:|29.0 in.
Fuel capacity:|1.3 gal.
Claimed wet weight:|187 lb.
Claimed mpg|115