Introduced in 1984, the Tri Zinger 60 was another product of the Golden Era of ATVs and Yamaha’s first-ever youth ATC. Small yet unrelenting, this trike charmed its way through the hearts of skeptical adults and off-roading enthusiasts. Because it only lived through a 2-year production run, it would be interesting to know more about this little thumper and what it has to offer.
The Yamaha Tri Zinger 60 was a 59-cc recreational three-wheeler that went down in history as Yamaha’s first youth ATV. With its shaft drive, tethered emergency stop switch, adjustable speed limiters, and fully automatic transmission, the ATC has won the approval of both parents and youngsters.
A fun, simplistic design, safety features, and effortless starts are just some of the key selling points of the Yamaha Tri-Zinger 60. Continue reading if you want in on what endears this three-wheeler to casual riders and enthusiasts.
A First for Kids
The Tri Zinger 60 is considered one of Yamaha’s milestone vehicles, being the firm’s 1st youth model. Produced from 1984 to 1985, the YT60L/N sported a powerful, oil-injected 2-stroke engine, was shaft-driven and had a fully automatic transmission. Its performance figures were comparable to larger-displacement ATCs, and its top speed rating was similar to the Tri Moto at 30 mph (48 km/h).
Despite a marketed weight limit of only 40 Kg, the Tri-Z (as it is fondly called) could not escape light-hearted adults who seemed to enjoy the trike more than their kids did. But since it is scaled for young riders by design, it could not accommodate folks of all shapes and sizes. Case in point, the Tri-Z sat really low that taller kids would already look like they were riding the Monkey Bike on it.
Better Safe than Sorry
Safety features were a standout on this trike – among them adjustable limiters, a bar-mounted emergency stop switch, and a safety cord adults could yank before things went haywire. These precautions were not necessarily exclusive to the Tri Zinger 60, but they made the three-wheeler much more appealing to parents and guardians. Moreover, these safety measures helped turn the Tri-Z into a crowd favorite, making its short-lived production run worthwhile.
1984 Yamaha Tri Zinger 60 Specs & Features (YT60L)
An air-cooled, 2-stroke reed-valve engine with torque induction powers the Yamaha Tri Zinger. Piston displacement is 59 cm3 (3.6 in3), with a Mikuni VM12SC carburetor (#92.5 main jet; #40 pilot jet; #40 starter jet) handling air-fuel mixture. It has a 44 x 39.2 mm (1.73 x 1.54 inches) bore-stroke ratio and 6.6:1 compression ratio. Air filtration is a wet-type element paired with Yamaha’s exclusive Autolube lubrication system.
The engine idles at 1,700 RPM. A three-way choke lever helps with cold-starting – so does upgrading to power reeds. Overall, the above configuration lends to a top speed rating of at least 30 mph (48 km/h) and maximum torque of 4.9 Nm (0.50 kgf-m, 3.6 ft-lb) @ 5,000 RPM. Horsepower is not mentioned in the service manual but can get a significant boost with the help of a NOS kit.
Fuel & Lubrication
Fuel tank capacity is 4 L/1.06 US gallons (including a 0.8-L/0.21-US gallon reserve) of regular gasoline. Unleaded gasoline is unnecessary, although fuel variants without graphite or molybdenum additives or with less than 5% MBTE, 10% ethanol, or 5% methanol content are advised for top performance.
Lube-wise, capacity is 0.7 L (0.74 US quarts) of Yamalube SAE 10W-30 2-Cycle Oil. In the absence of manufacturer-recommended SE API-grade engine oils, you can opt for equivalent motor oils with an API grade of SJ or higher that meets JASO T903 MA/MB standards. Viscosity grades other than 10W-30 are permitted for use following ambient temperature.
A single-speed transmission and wet, centrifugal auto-clutch deliver power to the ground. A ball-bearing steering system makes for impressive handling/maneuverability, no matter the terrain. The primary reduction system is a gear-type with a ratio of 1.909 (63/33). A final shaft drive with a ratio of 8.866 (19/15 x 49/7) handles wheelspin and serves as the secondary reduction system. A tethered emergency stop switch and adjustable speed limiters support self-paced learning while boosting rider confidence.
Ignition & Lighting
An electronic CDI system and a recoil starter bring the Tri Zinger to life. A flywheel magneto serves as its charging system and, along with a YTX4L-BS battery like a Banshee LifePO4 YTX4L-BS Battery (view on Amazon), powers up electronic accessories. The three-wheeler requires an NGK BP6HS or ND W20FP-U spark plug with a 0.6 – 0.7 mm (0.024 – 0.028 inch) gap and 20 Nm (2.0 kgf-m, 14 ft-lb) torque spec. It is responsible for spark-ignition at 16° BTDC ± 1.5° @ 5,000 RPM. The ATC is wired for 6V and does not come with lighting but can be converted to a 12-volt system with aftermarket conversion kits.
Tires & Brakes
The Tri Zinger 60 is equipped with low-pressure, tubeless 15 x 7-6 tires on all threes. These are mounted on 5.5×6 steel rims convertible to aluminum, should you wish to shed weight off the machine. In case of wear or damage, factory tires can be swapped out for slightly narrower knobbies, such as Carlisle Turf Saver Lawn & Garden Tires (view on Amazon). A left-hand-operated 110-mm rear drum provides the trike halting power and completes its tire-and-wheel assembly.
Recommended cold-tire pressure is 19.6 kPa (0.2 kgf/cm2, 3 psi) but could be altered, depending on the type of terrain and aftermarket tire replacement. However, be careful not to go beyond 98 kPa (1.0 kgf/cm2, 15 psi) when inflating tires, or they will burst. Similarly, airing the tires lower than 16.7 kPa (0.17 kgf/cm2, 2.4 psi) will cause the wheels to dislodge from the rubber.
Suspension for the Yamaha Tri Zinger is quite conservative, as it only has front telescopic forks that provide a miserly wheel travel of 2.4 inches (60 mm). This suspension unit, mated to coil spring shocks, makes for all-around riding but may adversely affect ride quality. Stock tires provide some flotation – but not enough to compensate for the 4-inch (110-mm) ground clearance. The good news is the machine has an adequate turning radius of 1.6 m (5.25 ft.), as well as a 33.9-inch (860-mm) wheelbase.
Dimensions of the 59-cc Tri Zinger are 1,300 x 755 x 720 mm (51.2 x 29.7 x 28.3 inches – L x W x H). Seat height is 19.3 inches (490 mm) – perfect for very young riders. Its load limit is 40 Kg (88 lbs.), the dry weight is 50 Kg (110 lbs.), and (unloaded) curb weight is 54 Kg (119 lbs.). The vehicle’s weight lends to its stability, especially on uneven surfaces.
Enclosed in a backbone-type tubular steel chassis (23° caster angle, 1.77-inch/45-mm trail) are the Tri-Z engine and drivetrain components. The frame is painted in black and pairs nicely with its Competition Yellow body panels. Unlike its predecessor, the 225 DX, the trike’s chassis is not as exposed – with the part touching the rider’s inseam still covered by plastics.
High-clearance front fenders connecting to the front number plate give the three-wheeler a youthful and fun aesthetic. Plus, a contoured red seat adds a pop of color to it. It may not come with a headlamp or turn signals. But if you want to add these Yamaha Tri Zinger parts, you can do so later after converting the electrical system to 12V.
Yamaha Tri-Zinger Price
The MSRP of the Yamaha Tri Zinger 60 when it came out in 1984 was $599 – a reasonable price point for a youth trike with the same characteristics as the Tri Moto series. References for the list price of the ’85 YT60N are a bit obscure. But it would be safe to assume there was little to no movement in its resale value. A 3rd iteration of the bike never materialized, as the Tri-Z250 replaced the Tri-Z in 1986.
You can get a pre-loved Tri-Zinger for as low as $400. The average retail price for the trike is around $850. It would be challenging to chance upon a Tri-Zinger in near-mint condition these days. But if you want to try, visit Tri-Z dedicated forums, FB pages, and the many auction and trading platforms online. For secondhand units sold for cheap, expect to replace some worn-out parts or do touch-ups to the body paint. Modded Tri-Zs, on the other hand, may require some carb work.
Yamaha Tri Zinger Pros and Cons
Despite being a youth ATC, this thumper is not all unicorns and daisies. It is, after all, an off-road vehicle caught between Yamaha’s vision and the 1988 Consent Decree. If you’re still undecided about getting the Tri Zinger for your little rider, let this non-exhaustive list help cement your decision:
- An easy tug on the starter cord brings the Tri-Zinger to life without any stalls or protests.
- Power delivery is impressive yet tamed enough to prevent youngsters from falling off the trike or getting into serious trouble.
- This little thumper is equipped with the Autolube lubrication system, which ensures straight gasoline always goes into the fuel tank.
- Even after four decades, there is still tremendous aftermarket support for the wheeler – OEM plastics and reed valve assembly (view on Amazon) included.
- Servicing the Autolube pump is a bit of a turnoff, as it requires removing the trike’s seat and body cowl assembly.
- Contrary to marketing claims, many owners find that stalling is prevalent.
- Given its factory setup, the unit screams for a rear suspension kit and gearing adjustments.
- In-training youngsters can easily outgrow the Tri-Zinger due to its displacement and size.
- Yamaha Autolube tends to hold back the three-wheeler’s power output, as seasoned owners and mechanics discovered after removing the preoiler.
The restrictive nature of the Autolube system was a bit of a surprise for some Tri-Z owners, as the feature was meant to make things easier for the trike’s engine. Thankfully, removing the oil pump and installing a block-off plugin its stead make a world of difference in the three-wheeler’s performance. Doing this may not seem necessary at first. But if you have a serious in-training aggro-rider, having the kid feel and handle unrestricted power will do wonders to their off-roading skills.
Yamaha Motor Company Ltd. is a multinational conglomerate globally renowned for its contributions in multiple automotive industries and Powersports. Founded in 1955 by Genichi Kawakami, the firm began its journey producing motorcycles, eventually expanding its plethora of product offerings to include scooters, personal watercraft, engines, generators, and ground-breaking vehicles such as the Yamaha Tri Zinger 60. At present, Yamaha has over 52,000 employees and 132 consolidated subsidiaries worldwide, continuing to uphold its mission of “Kando.”
Conclusion – Yamaha Tri Zinger Review
If anything, the biggest setback to this little thumper is finding one in mint condition and is near-stock. It cannot be helped, really. More than youngsters, grown-ups liked the Tri Zinger due to its simplicity and untapped potential – attributes that constitute the perfect setting for a project build. Honestly, I’d have to agree with this logic. Nothing beats stripping down an already great bike and turning it into something more.
The Yamaha Tri Zinger 60 was and still is a sweet ride, especially for kids who are still learning the ropes of off-roading. The trike’s features may no longer be up to snuff by present-day standards. But it still has the beans to haul even full-size adults across pits for some nostalgic fun.
Kris is an avid off-roader and outdoor enthusiast who loves to brave the elements and take on challenging terrain. He also enjoys sharing his passion and knowledge with others so that they, too, can appreciate the ride.