Tanshanomi's Snap Judgments

Yamaha C3

Wed, August 31st, 2011

2007–11 Yamaha XF50 C3
Yes, it's a 50cc motor with a CVT drivetrain. But it's also a thoroughly modern, liquid-cooled, OHC four-stroke with electronic fuel injection. For its intended mission, its one heck of a motor.
The dampers are a bit too cheap and basic, and the tiny, cable-operated front drum brake is just adequate. Steering is precise and not too twitchy for a little scooter with donut wheels, and the frame is surprisingly robust. Overall, it's not bad.
Love it, love it, love it. Proof that not every scooter needs to look like a Vespa knockoff. The C3 is fresh, distinctive and visually engaging without being cartoonish or silly, and without hurting function.
Nothing that costs so little and runs so high in its performance envelope so much of the time should be expected to last nearly as long as one of these will.
The C3 has a low price, astronomically low operating costs and very generous underseat storage. It requires minimal upkeep, and is fun and non-threatening to ride. The downside is that it's only good for short trips: the seat gets uncomfortable quickly and the top speed is only 40 MPH (about 5 MPH faster with a simple washer swap). For many riders, that lack of power is a deal-breaker. If your riding environment can handle the low top speed (such as a college campus), it's eminently practical.
I find the C3 remarkably attractive for something so utterly lacking in raciness or power. Every time I go to my Yamaha dealer, I have to fight the temptation to say 'throw one of those in, too,' even though I am not sure how often I would ride it. Despite it's economicalness and cargo capacity, I want one just for fun, and to just keep around as an example of inspring industrial design.
It's the 21st century manifestation of all that made the original Honda Cub successful. For something with such meager limits, the C3 has a lot to offer.