The Other One: 1985 Yamaha YT125 Tri-Moto

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Most of us know of the famous Honda ATC90, arguably the one that started it all in 1970, as in the three-wheeler craze. This is the other one, or one of the other ones as many motorcycle companies made three-wheelers. This 1985 Yamaha YT125 Tri-Moto can be found listed here on eBay in Athens, Pennsylvania and it didn’t take long for someone to up my lame $900 initial bid, but I’ve always wanted one of these so I’ll be watching it. There is a $2,000 buy-it-now price if it gets hairy towards the end.

I don’t understand how the Yamaha Tri-Moto is on Outdoor Life’s “The 10 Ugliest ATVs of All Time” list. I think it looks so much better than Honda’s ATC version, but I’m a Yamaha guy down deep. I have twice as many Hondas as I do Yamahas, but my first motorcycle was a Yamaha YL-1 Twinjet as a kid and I’ve been a fan ever since. Whenever I hear anyone say that anything is ugly my brain shuts off. That’s such a ridiculously-overused and subjective term in the vehicle world that really has no meaning at all other than to the person who is throwing it out there.

Man is this thing ugly! Just kidding. The seller has provided a lot of great photos but really none showing the rear end of this gorgeous, beautiful, perfectly-designed (too much?) Tri-Moto. But, they posted a lot of good overall photos and a lot of nice detail photos, including some declad photos showing the skeleton without the yellow body cladding.

They have done a partial restoration and it looks great overall but there are a few chips that have been painted over. I don’t understand why they removed the hand brake lever and they also removed the famous Yamaha “Autolube” oil-injection tank and they now just mix the oil and gas instead. I’d want to bring those things back which is an expense and it may keep the bids a little lower than usual. There was no front brake and the left grip brake handle was a redundant brake lever for the rear brake – the foot brake is still there.

The engine is Yamaha’s 123 CC two-stroke single and it runs and rides great, according to the seller. I really need to add a three-wheeler to the hoard/collection and I can’t think of a better one than a Yamaha Tri-Moto.

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  1. HoA Howard AMember

    Yeah, in ATV’s, you had to start somewhere. I think the Tri-Moto handled a bit better than the ATC, with it’s set back motor, still, riders took many a lump. I had a friend that had a Moto4, the replacement for these. It was a poor 4 wheeler, as well. Pre-mix isn’t the end of the world. I’ve had “Autolubes” that worked great and others dumped oil in and fouled the plugs. 3 wheelers got a bad rap from inexperienced riders, that instinctively put their feet down and got run over by the back tires. Every 3 wheeler I rode, I had a blast. Cool find, your kid will love it, and learn a thing or 2 about ATVing, the hard way.

    Like 5
  2. stillrunners

    Enjoyed mine until it got stolen out of the back yard way back in the 80’s. Really hope the guys got a hernia who stole it because one back tire leaked down in a few days and so did the front so much they are really hard to push like that. Think mine had sat a week so when they stole it – both had to be pretty flat. This is a clean one !

    Like 4
  3. jerry z

    Frigging hated them things! Rode them three times and everyone time hurt my ankles trying to turn them things. Stuck to dirt bikes instead.

    Like 1
  4. Tommerp

    I think you need the YT125 Tri Moto’s big brother… a YTZ250 Tri-Z!!

    Like 3
    • HoA Howard AMember

      Ex-brother in law, bought my nephew a Tri-Zinger. I remember, it had a “throttle control” that my nephew quickly learned how to overcome. He had a lot of fun on that thing.

      Like 0
  5. Mr.BZ

    I was showing off on my friends tri-moto in 1984 when I popped a wheelie on a 8′ high pile of dirt in their yard. I managed to force the trike back onto 3 wheels and backwards down the dirt safely, so of course I took a victory lap down the street. As I made my turn-around, i noticed a warming sensation in my lower-midsection. I noticed the trail of gas that streamed down the back of the tank to the seat and wondered how stupid I had to be to miss that. Half way back to my buddies house my naughty-bits felt like they were ground zero and I was standing on the pegs and screaming uncontrollably, with my right thumb mashed to the bar! I swear it felt like they couldn’t have been hotter if I had been smoking a Camel. I don’t hold it against the tri-moto, just another self-inflicted injury.

    Like 4
  6. Beel

    My wife’s uncle, a fire captain, and on his death bed, made my wife promise to sell their two three-wheelers. He had made several heart breaking visits to tell families their loved ones had been killed on these things.

    Like 0
    • Tommerp

      Beel – Did he have to tell families to sell their houses too because he had seen people die in house fires? What about selling cars? Or motorcycles? People surely die that way too….

      Unfortunately, as good as your comment is, it’s a bit misleading to make an assumption that they are inherently more dangerous than other forms of travel. Remember, when three wheelers first came out, it was a new form of entertainment, a new form of recreation and very little to no training and knowledge was available for new purchasers. Most were experienced riders of any type and parents were just “buying a new toy for the kids”.

      If you were to take the number of people that have died on four wheelers and / or UTVs since the ban on manufacturing of three wheelers, you will see that many more people have died since that time on “safer” vehicles.

      Now, I do understand that at the time, they seemed dangerous and were easy to point a finger at and were an easy scapegoat. When taken into context with all other forms of “dangerous” recreation, it would become clear that there may be some false notions still circulating.

      I am sorry for the loss of your wife’s uncle an I stand up and appreciate his protecting us in his line of work. It does take a hero’s mindset to be part of that line of work.

      Like 1
      • Achman

        This is a misleading comment, of course.

        Yes many more people have died on 4 wheel ATVs since three wheelers were banned…but that is because hundreds of thousands more have been sold. Almost 1 million in 2005 alone. Of course, nowhere near that many 3 wheelers were sold back in the day, and proportionally, more were killed on 3 wheelers because they were less safe than quads.

        now the problem is kids under the age of 16 thinking they can hop on a quad with 120hp and be safe.

        Like 2
      • Beel

        I was not there, so I can’t answer as to anything else he might have said. It was not my intention to offend, nor to provide a platform for appeal to ridicule.

        Like 2
      • HoA Howard AMember

        Okay, no need to put someone on the spot. Seems like BF’s has become a site where the goal is to “outsmart” the other person. These are just ramblings from people that had certain experiences, good or bad. I totally agree with you, 3 wheelers, when created, never asked for any of this. It was merely an efficient way for Farmer Browwn to check the fences. Once the kids got a hold of them, it was like opening a flood gate. It’s true, like anything, moderation is the key. I’ve seen people get on these things, and the 1st thing, WIDE OPEN,,,,OHHHH CRAP. It’s as if they have no common sense in regards to these things, and rightly so. Today, the average kid has no idea how to operate something like this. I was riding my DRZ on some back trails, slow, as they are rough, some kid, comes BARRELING up behind me on an ATV, no helmet, this punk must have been going 40. I expected to see him wrapped around a tree, or down a chasm. Sometimes people DO need to be told what to do. We, today, deal with “after the fact” rather than prevention and knowledge.

        Like 2
  7. Comet

    To the loyal three wheeler defenders. Take a deep breath, go outside and play a relaxing round of Jarts with the family. Believe me, I get the whole “damn government can’t tell me what to do” mindset. But sometimes, just sometimes, people (including kids) have to be protected from themselves. I’m sure there’s more than one (now adult) rocking a wheel chair due to a split second three wheeler mishap. As a long time motorcycle rider I also concede that there’s an accepted element of risk regarding most things we ADULTS do, however, these were often ridden by kids. I think back to all the “logical” decisions I made as a kid. I don’t want to start anything, however as they say, there’s generally two sides to an argument. Please refrain from any “big brother” and “damn government” replies. I understand and respect your opinions. This is just mine. I also know what they say about opinions…

    Like 3
  8. JimmyJ

    A family in a big side by side just rolled into a lake right around where i live in lower mainland bc Canada
    Poor guy lost 2 kids because he was obviously driving beyond his skill level.
    Theyre the worst because you buckle up and think you’re indestructible, not to mention coming around blind corners sideways and taking out innocent dirtbikers like my son and myself.
    Most ride like jerks and i try to give them a wide birth.
    I love em and hate em at the same time.
    Any atv is dangerous if you don’t respect them.

    Like 1
    • Ken Jennings

      30 years ago UTVs were supposed to be for farmers. Silly really, the pick up they already had for the most part could do all those tasks, but alas, a new toy is better then paying taxes. That is what more than one farm buddy tells me, but I digress. A little 14 HP Kawasaki Mule is all you need for honest work. 25, maybe 30 MPH top speed. Then the manufacturers made “sport” models with more HP than many small cars. Makes no sense at all. Same with snowmobiles. Why ride at break neck speeds often through the dark and with a snoot full of booze? People have got to use common sense. I know people who work in hospitals. They would never own something like this, have seen too much heartbreak fro them.

      Like 1
  9. Mark

    I know this is from a few years ago but if you’re still interested in buying one, I got one in great condition and unmolested. Send me an email and I’ll send you some pictures.

    Like 0
    • Chris torkelson

      I’m interested in the trike

      Like 0

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