Drag site icon to your taskbar to pin site. Learn More

2008 Yamaha C3 Scooter Review

Friday, July 17, 2009
It’s easy to have an opinion on Yamaha’s C3, but take a moment to think about the C3’s purpose. Where does the C3 fit into the world of motor scooters?
Heres the 2008 C3. She must be doing well because shes now in her 2nd season with plans to come back in 2009.
The utilitarian styling and functionality of the C3 has made it an increasingly common site in cityscapes.

Well, I believe the Yamaha C3 is an experiment in efficiency. When you add up the specs you can really see how Yamaha has successfully squeezed the most out of the smallest package with this baby. First, Yamaha took a tiny 50cc, 4-stroke engine and added a tuned fuel injection system to achieve a reported 115 mpg. Then on its tiny frame they built a huge, side-hinged storage bin with a nine-gallon capacity.

The whole package weighs less than 200 lbs and that’s with oil and a full tank of gas. Even with all that efficiency the C3 manages to hit the 40 mph mark on her speedometer.

You might expect that an efficiency experiment so successful might have some hideous shortcomings in the aesthetics department, but I tell you what; I think the C3 is a real eye catcher.

I look at a lot of scooters and I can’t think of another modern scooter that looks anything like a C3. She’s got this old-school Cushman charm about her. Boxy and slim but sturdy looking and very maneuverable, the C3 puts some much-needed fun in functionality.

Videos Our Sponsor
2008 Yamaha C3 Review
Click to view video
Watch the Yamaha C3 Scooter in action in the Motorcycle USA Yamaha C3 Scooter video.

So, what’s up with that name, ‘C3’? Yamaha’s model number is XF50. People commonly refer to her as the C-Three, but the name is really ‘C-Cubed’, making reference to her surprisingly large under seat cubic storage capacity. I said nine gallons, but to put that in perspective I rode mine around with a video camera, still camera, laptop and more.

In another experiment I was able to hold a dozen 12oz beverages under there, though you should note that anything cold in the storage chest won’t stay that way for long due to the close proximity to the engine.

If you need even more storage space you can add an optional rear rack. Don’t get too carried away with the C3’s carrying capacity though, as the owner’s manual states that the maximum capacity is 187 lbs.

One thing to note about the storage area is that it’s a bit shallow. You’re not going to fit a full face or even a ¾ helmet under the seat. To make up for it, the C3 has a helmet hook at the front of the seat that allows you to effectively secure your helmet using the locking seat closure.

The Ride

Open to reveal a treasure chest of under seat storage.
The only problem with the storage area is that it's relatively shallow. Definitely not enough room to store a full face or even 3/4 helmet.  At least it has a helmet hook at the front of the seat to secure your helmet.
She may not be fast, but she’s still fun! The lightweight, short wheelbase and small but chunky 10” tires make her very maneuverable. You could even coax the C3 up a curb with her 4.5 inches of ground clearance. Like nearly all modern scooters, the C3 has a constantly variable automatic transmission (CVT). Just twist and go.

The seat is pretty wide and low at just under 29 inches from the pavement. It’s relatively comfortable for short jaunts but one owner, who has put 900 miles on his, says the seat “starts to feel like an old oak church pew after 25 miles”.

Let’s talk about the whisper-quiet engine. Yamaha’s fuel-injected 49cc liquid-cooled, SOHC, 4-stroke, 3-valve engine is built and tuned to be efficient. The speedometer stops at 40 mph and it makes it there in just less than 36 seconds. If the top speed of 40 mph doesn’t cut it for you, I hear that she can be derestricted to hit 48 mph if you don’t mind blowing your 115 mpg and potentially damaging your scooter.

The Rest

Very basic gauges.  Speedometer  tops out at 40   fuel  high beams  check engine and check temperature.
Very basic gauges.  Speedometer (tops out at 40), fuel, high beams, check engine and check temperature.
The instrumentation is very simple; one gauge for the speedometer and odometer, one for the fuel gauge and three lights to indicate high beams, engine maintenance and temperature warning.

Besides the optional rear rack, the C3 also has an optional windscreen to protect you from wind and debris while you race down the road at 40 mph.

The C3 features an electric starter with a backup kick start (very handy) and also has a standard, motorcycle-style handlebar to give you some custom options (did I hear ape hangers?) and a single headlight mounted just above the front fender for a very clean and simple style. Speaking of style, the C3 takes a unique approach to the traditional scooter leg shield. Instead of a fixed shield the C3 has a narrow shield that turns along with the front forks. I’m not sure if that makes it any more functional as a leg shield, but it looks cool.
The C3 is attractive in a off-kilter post-modern sort-of-way  think of an Edouard Manet painting.
The C3 has a pretty narrow design which means more agile in tight spaces, but there is little in the way of leg protection, so watch those puddles.

The C3 is available in Red, White and Yamaha Blue for the 2008 model year, Red or Silver for 2009 and they all include a one-year manufacturer’s warranty. You’ll be able to pick up this unique feat of Japanese engineering for just $1,999 MSRP ($2099 for 2009).

If you’re looking for scooter to get you around campus, you’re not going to find a better-suited ride. The C3 has room for you and your books. She’s clean, quiet and efficient with a look that is somehow rugged and cute at the same time. As long as you’re not racing or touring, the C3 will make an excellent road companion.
2008 Yamaha C3 Photo Gallery
View Gallery
View Gallery
View Gallery
View Gallery
View Slideshow
Recent Scooter Reviews
Riding San Franciscos Scoot Networks
Gridlock in San Francisco got you down? Don’t worry, there’s an app for that. MotoUSA’s scooter expert samples Scoot Networks system of electric scooter rentals.
Vespa 946 Scooter Review
Vespa's 946 is a thing of beauty, but does the show match the go? MotoUSA's scooter expert weighs in with this scooter review.
2015 Yamaha Smax Scooter First Ride
Yamaha’s Smax scooter impresses with its easy handling and freeway-capable speeds making it a choice transportation solution for an urban lifestyle.
2014 Suzuki Burgman 200 First Ride
Suzuki has offered its Burgman 200 in Europe for a number of years but now brings the mount to the States in 2014. See how the new scoot stacks up in this MotoUSA First Ride.
2014 Genuine Stella Automatic Scooter Review
Gabe gets his retro-scooter fix with modern upgrades, test riding Genuine Scooters’ new Stella Automatic at the US firm’s Chicago locale.
Yamaha C3 Dealer Locator

Login or sign up to comment.

Brian Walter -Scooter man  September 26, 2010 06:27 AM
Regarding stopping issue, try draining the gas and refilling with high test. The lower octane fuels have alcohol and some engines are sensitive to this. Particularly the smaller ones with smaller fuel orifices which can be prone to gunking up. I find this particularly true with older engines. A lawn mower repair guy told me about this and I was skeptical. But all my gas operated garden tools, lawn mower and 1953 Ford tractor run noticeably better. It has nothing to do with the octane rating, just no alcohol mixed in. The premium for high test is a small price to pay for trouble-free running.
Steve Guzman -Reviewer  August 24, 2010 02:27 PM
Hey Nancy! I'm sorry to hear about your experience. I can't really diagnose your C3's issue from here, but it's a pretty simple machine. You may want to take it to a respectable repair shop in your area and get them to give you an estimate. In your situation, I think it's worth it to "come out of pocket" to have it fixed RIGHT than to waste your time with people who are going to d!ck you around. Just my 2 cents. Good luck!
Nancy -2008 C3 Yamaha nightmare  August 2, 2010 01:44 PM
I bought a 2008 Yamaha C3 Model in 2008. Unfortunately, it is the beginning of nightmare. I bought it with three years warranty in a Yamaha dealer (Pharr, Texas). After six months driving it, the scooter would stop while I was waiting for the red light. Then I can never start it again afterwards. I sent it back to the dealer multiple times and they seem not to fix the problem. When the staff sent it back to me on that day, it worked fine. After few days, when I wanted to drive it, it didn't start again. In July 2010, the dealer went out of business; I was not informed until I called them to fix the scooter. The Yamaha dealer was bought by a Honda dealer, does that mean I lose all the warranty? I took the scooter back to Honda dealer to fix it on 2010/8/1, there was no problem driving back. However, when I try to drive it this morning, it doesn't start again. This scooter has been a nightmare to me and the dealer seems to never fix the problem no matter which one. As a consumer, I feel very helpless here. What should I do?
Jennifer -Love the reviews!  July 14, 2010 06:47 AM
These reviews are awesome! I've been interested in a scooter for a long time, and don't want to deal with getting a motorcycle endorsement, although some of the larger engine scooters are VERY tempting, and it would be fun to have a second rider present on occasion. At any rate, I've been a Honda auto driver most of my life and was tempted to extend that loyalty to purchasing a Honda scooter, but I've heard excellent things about Yamaha scooters, and they seem to be more affordable. Would like to hear from other scooter owners about their experiences with both Hondas and Yamahas. Feel free to email me at fayah32@hotmail.com. Thanks!
Jeff -Head Turner !!!!  April 10, 2010 06:15 AM
I have had my C3 for 2 years. This year i took it to Daytona for
Bike Week. I Had more fun riding the C3 than any other motorcycle
ever. Had great performance riding from the speedway to Main street.
Even the big bad bikers in leather Liked the look of the C3.
Great Ride.
Steve -Yamaha C3  April 4, 2010 05:51 PM
I've owned my C3 for three years. This is my first and only scooter and couldn't find any reason to switch. The ride is comfortable, the acceleration is reasonably quick, and the fuel economy is excellent. I currently weigh 220 pounds. Last year, I dieted, lost 30 pounds, and noticed the scooter performance improved. So if you're a fatty like me, you will still enjoy this ride.
Gabe -Yamaha C3  September 22, 2009 09:34 PM
I just hit the 4000 mile mark and with more miles comes a more comfortable seat. (I haven't got a "Glass Ass" Sporty, just a tired one from three million miles in a big truck!lol!) With a few simple mods I'm running out to 47mph (Gps) The speedo lies! and getting 117 mpg. I added an afterrmarket rear shock absorber, and a set of Bridgestone tires, and now I regularly ride 60-80 miles without stopping. I still love my C3 after a year and a half and I still think it's the best money I've ever spent.
Gabe -Yamaha C3  September 22, 2009 09:32 PM
I just hit the 4000 mile mark and with more miles comes a more comfortable seat. (I haven't got a "Glass Ass" Sporty, just a tired one from three million miles in a big truck!lol!) With a few simple mods I'm running out to 47mph (Gps) The speedo lies! and getting 117 mpg. I added an afterrmarket rear shock absorber, and a set of Bridgestone tires, and now I regularly ride 60-80 miles without stopping. I still love my C3 after a year and a half and I still think it's the best money I've ever spent.
Howling Wolf -Where's the Yamaha Neo 50cc for the USA  September 3, 2009 08:16 PM
I am a bigger guy who would like a 50cc with a bigger frame to fit me. It's hard to find a bigger 50cc. The C3 is too low to the ground and I'm not thrilled with the look either (sorry if you have one - just not for me). In my research I stumbled across the Yamaha Neo 50cc. The Neo is (for some stupid reason) only available overseas. It is modern and has a 4 stroke fuel injection, etc.. (all the modern things).. And the Neo has a great modern look.. Hopefully, Yamaha will bring this one to the USA..
Sherry -Yamaha C3  August 26, 2009 10:32 PM
My husband and I bought two C3s...My husbands Mother loved ours so much, she went out and bought one also....best scooter around! Go forever on a tank of gas. Great job Yamaha!
Scoot -great looks, small power  August 24, 2009 10:05 PM
I would like to see a 125cc or so brought to market such as the Zuma, I would buy a 125cc C3.
craig -Yamaha C3  July 26, 2009 09:48 PM
I wish it came in a 150cc, then I'd buy one
Sporty -C3  July 23, 2009 12:39 PM
A great scooter with fantastic gas mileage 120 miles on 9/10th gallon. 40 mph+ one owner, who has put 900 miles on his, says the seat “starts to feel like an old oak church pew after 25 miles”. Must have a glass ass, I ride all day with no problems.
Ren -If I had to ride a 50cc scooter...  July 21, 2009 07:49 AM
...this would probably be the one. If I found myself in the market for a scooter of this class style wouldn't be on my priority list, but the storage capacity is compelling.
Speedy -storage  July 17, 2009 07:29 PM
For a scooter it has loads of storage. If you like it you can add a front basket and a windshield to keep your instruments clear and dry. The rear rack is handy to bungee stuff behind the rider, one guy I know puts his laundry there. Yamaha has these accessories designed especially for the C3. http://blog.yamahagenuineparts.com/2007/11/c3-scooter-accessories.html
Desmolicious -Perfect copy of a Harley  July 17, 2009 12:59 PM
Cool scoot, much nicer than the Ruckus. The C3 is a copy of the old Harley Topper scooter from the 60's.