HONDA's RELEASES 2017 SMALL SCOOTERS
RUCKUS AND METROPOLITAN QUIETLY RETURN
This week Honda quietly announced the 2017 editions of their 50cc models: the Ruckus and Metropolitan (known as the Giorno in Canada). Both scooters are returning without any updates, nor new color options.
After mixing up the Ruckus color options for the first decade, Honda has apparently decided that black and white/red are the best colors for the Ruckus, as these have now been offered for 6 years running (2012 - 2017). As the previous owner of both black and white Ruckus’s, I agree these are nice shade but I’m still partial to my 2008 shade of silver. All the year by year color options can be viewed on the Ruckus page.
The Ruckus has been on sale since 2003 in North America (2002 in Japan) which means 2017 marks its 15th anniversary here. The white/red color combo was originally introduced for it’s 10th anniversary but obviously has stuck around. Honda has clearly finished updating the Ruckus and it’ll probably just live on until sales reach a certain point. It is still a great scooter - now entering classic territory - and seems reasonably popular. It’ll be interesting to see if it can last longer than the Elite 80 (1985 - 2007), which had an impressive 23 year run in North America.
The Metropolitan / Giorno was overhauled last year, so the lack of mechanical changes isn’t surprising, but I did expect Honda to mix up the colors as they usually do. Instead, white, blue and red are back for a second year.
No word yet on pricing for 2017 but there’s no reason to expect substantial changes. Honda also offers two larger scooters, the PCX 150 and Forza 300. There’s no word yet on the 2017 Forza but the 2017 PCX was announced in early summer as it continues to be popular and sell well. I expect we’ll hear about the 2017 Forza soon.
2017 HONDA MODELS TO DATE: Ruckus, Metropolitan / Giorno, PCX150
YAMAHA RELEASES THEIR 2017 LINE
2017 BRINGS NEW COLORS, PRICES AND NO MORE TMAX
Yamaha released their 2017 offerings for the USA and Canada in recent days. The biggest news is the TMAX is gone for 2017, which has happened a couple times over the past 8 years but this ones looks like it might be for good. Yamaha released the TMAX in North America back in 2009. Over that time there’s been several updates and years off due to slow sales, but now this model is aging and most likely we won’t see it back unless Yamaha brings a new generation.
The rest of Yamaha’s 2017 line is standard fare - which is not surprising after releasing a nice update of the Zuma 125 last year and the SMAX the year before that. All Yamaha’s 2017 scooter models are carrying over unchanged, including the Vino 50, Zuma 50, Zuma 125 and SMAX. Once again there is the single - and better looking - headlight version of the Zuma called the Zuma FX.
Both the SMAX and Zuma 125 are fairly new machines so it’s not surprising there’s no changes here, but Yamaha’s 50cc models are showing some gray hair. Other than a switch to a 4-stroke motor for 2006, the Vino 50 is basically the same machine that went on sale 15 years ago for 2002. The Zuma 50 got a new motor more recently (2012) along with pretty substantial updates elsewhere, but the core platform also dates back to 2002. Hopefully Yamaha decides to release a new generation of their 50cc’s in the next few years.
Pricing changes for 2017 are trivial in the USA, with all scooters rising $9 (e.g. SMAX is now $3699 instead of $3690). Canadian prices are seeing a larger jump, with $100 added to price tags across the board except for the BMS/Zuma 125, which impressively drops $200 to $3699. That’s even more impressive when you consider back in 2009 it listed for $4199 in Canada - a drop over $500 over 8 years. The reduced BWS 125 pricing differentiates it from the more technologically advanced and larger displacement155cc SMAX, which was only $100 more in Canada last year. Now the SMAX is $300 more in both markets.
As usual Yamaha has revised their color offerings. The SMAX and Vino 50 get a single pigment choice, while the various Zuma models offer two. All colors are listed on the individual model pages. Also of minor note: Yamaha re-worked the side panel graphics on their Zuma scooters but they are still excessive.
MODELS: Vino, BWs / Zuma, Zuma FX/X, BWs 125 / Zuma 125, SMAX
70th ANNIVERSARY SETTANTESIMO VESPAS
LIMITED EDITIONS OF THE PRIMAVERA AND GTS
Vespa is celebrating their 70th anniversary (1946 - 2016) with special editions of the Primavera 50, Primavera 150 and GTS. These models are available in limited numbers in both the USA and Canada (and worldwide).
For an extra $300, the Settantesimo comes in two unique colors: Azzurro Metallizzato (which looks like robin’s egg blue) and Grigio Pulsar (light grey). These editions also include gunmetal finished rims and an upgraded dark brown seat with a matching rear luggage bag and rack. Also included are 70th anniversary badges on the legshield and luggage.
The rear luggage bag is really nice, and since this includes the rack the Settantesimo is a pretty good value. Buyers who just want the bag and rack might want to opt for this in the more normal grey, while folks really into Vespa may prefer the light blue, which is sort of a classic Vespa color with similar shades being used on other notable models such as the 2004 limited edition return of the PX to North America.
2017 HONDA PCX 150 ANNOUNCED
NOTHING NEW EXCEPT IT COMES IN BLUE
Honda has continued their tradition of releasing the next years model of the PCX super early with an announcement this week for the 2017 PCX 150. It is expected in showrooms later this month.
Like last year, Honda hasn’t made any mechanical changes since the major overhaul for 2015 which won the MSG Scooter of the Year Award, however there are some new colors. 2017 color options are Pearl White (like 2015) and Pearl Blue, which is a nice new shade we haven’t seen from Honda before.
Pricing is unchanged for 2017 with a MSRP of $3499 and a $320 delivery charge. No word yet on Canada but it’s likely to follow suit. We expect the PCX will continue to be a very popular scooter, as it’s a refined and well rounded machine for an attractive price.
STATE OF THE SCOOTER SCENE 2016 - PART TWO
BMW BEATS YAMAHA, HONDA FOR 2016 SCOOTER OF THE YEAR
Readers Pick: BMW C 650 Sport Is 2016’s Best New Scooter
Coverage of BMW scooters was added to this site after BMW introduced their set of C series maxiscooters (2013), so the revised 2016 C 650 Sport was the first model from BMW to go head to head against other new and revised models in the readers choice poll. It’s clear that people like what they see, as the C650 Sport handily took first place with nearly one third of the votes (31%), making it the 2016 Motor Scooter Guide Reader’s Pick.
Rounding out the top three models were Yamaha’s new Zuma 125 which took an unchallenged second place (23%), followed by Honda’s updated Metropolitan in third (15%). With a third place finish, 2016 is the first time Honda hasn’t won the award since it began for 2013.
Garnering the least enthusiasm was Genuine’s new Chinese built and ultra low cost Venture 50 along with the 2016 Armani edition of Vespa’s ultra pricey 946.
2015 Scooter Market Sales
Another year of scooter sales data is in and with it more confirmation that mediocre sales are here to stay. Before the 2008 recession USA scooters were a 50,000+ unit market, with highs some years approaching 100,000 (2004). Since the recession the market has been flat at 28-35,000 units and there are no clear catalysts for a recovery. Exact 2015 sales aren’t yet available from MIC but sales were down 10% year over year after the first 3 quarters and thus likely came in very close to 30k.
The situation in Canada is similar. With a population one-tenth the size of the USA, scooter sales in Canada were also one tenth with sales of 3452 units in 2015 per the MMIC. Canada looked like it was going to take less of a post-recession drop than the USA with okay 2009-2010 sales, but in 2011 sales shifted to today’s norm of ~3500 units.
Scooter sales today are in a similar pattern as we’ve seen once before in history. Following the 80’s boom, sales were low for the entire 90’s before picking up steam in the early 2000’s.
Perhaps the biggest threat to scooter sales today are e-Bikes, which appeal for all the same reasons scooters historically have: low cost and less regulation. eBikes lack the power of even a 50cc scooter, but with a super low purchase price and often no registration, licence or insurance required, it’s not hard to see why they’ve become the vehicle of choice amongst the frugal (and DUI limited).
I see three possible solutions to the doldrums that scooter sales are now in. First, new regulations might make eBikes less appealing. If eBike owners are required to have a licence, registration and insurance like many areas require for scooters, then buyers might choose to pay a bit more for a more capable and higher quality scooter. However, there’s not much indication this is going to change.
Secondly, scooters could benefit from some unexpected cultural shift, like a hit movie, that makes scooters cool again. In the past two movies have done this (Roman Holiday, Quadrophenia) and something similar could happen again. In North America scooters have always been practical enough and it’s been the “broke motorcyclist” stigma that’s prevented far higher sales.
Thirdly, and preferably, scooter makers could release interesting new models that genuinely pique customers interests. Right now there are too many models on the market that are either boring or aging. The market needs another icon like the Vespa or Honda Ruckus to give it a boost.
An appealing and capable electric scooter could be what’s needed to make scooters cool again and boost the market. Unfortunately Gogoro doesn’t have plans to bring this to the USA and the other manufacturers seem content to slowly sell the same old models. Maybe Honda will get serious about their EV-Cub.
STATE OF THE SCOOTER SCENE 2016 - PART ONE
9 NEW OR IMPROVED MODELS ARRIVING IN SHOWROOMS
With 2016 models mostly in showrooms, it’s time to review all the new and improved models. Please take a second to vote for your favorite. If you’re not familiar with the choices, read on!
As usual, complete details for each manufacturers lineup and specific models are found their respective pages here on MSG. A full report on 2015 scooter sales will be released in Part 2 of MSG’s State of the Scooter Scene, along with the winner of the poll. With just one entrant, it’ll be interesting to see if Honda can make 2016 their 4th straight win.
New 2016 Scooters
Genuine Buddy Kick
Genuine Venture 50
Updated 2016 Scooters
BMW C 650 Sport
Piaggio MP3 500 Sport
Vespa Primavera Tourer
Vespa Sprint Sport
Vespa 946 EA
Yamaha Zuma 125
Kymco MyRoad 700i
New scooters are sparse for 2016, comprising just two models from Genuine. These new models consist of a nice addition to the Buddy lineup called the Buddy Kick, and the low cost 50cc Venture. Thankfully quite a few more models received major updates.
For 2016 BMW resumed sales of their C Sport model, now calling it the C 650 Sport. It still uses the same 647cc motor so the new name just corrects the earlier non-sense of calling it the C 600 Sport. The 2016 upgrades include freshened styling, traction control and tweaks to the suspension, CVT and exhaust. Honda took 2016 as an opportunity to heavily overhaul their popular Metropolitan with a new liquid cooled motor, revised styling, new glovebox, 12V port, rims and an in floor fuel tank to increase underseat storage. The Zuma 125 from Yamaha is also less recognizable, with all new style, instruments, more room and improved brakes and suspension.
The Italians haven’t been sitting idle either. Piaggio surprisingly resurrected their MP3 in North America after several years in the grave (although it was on sale overseas). The new MP3 is called the 500 Sport but rather than resembling prior Sport models, it’s actually the softer original MP3 styling but with a new grill, rims and Piaggio’s larger 492cc motor. Vespa reworked three of their models for 2016, adding Tourer and S variations to the Primavera and Sprint models respectively. The Sprint S receives fairly mild styling tweaks while the Primavera Tourer gets the full set of Vespa racks and accessories similar to the LXV of years past. Last is the 2016 edition of the 946, called the Emporio Armani edition. This EA edition gets pretty neat green/grey paint but otherwise is similar to past 946 editions in style, function and price ($10g).
Also gone but not nearly as iconic is Kymco’s MyRoad 700i, which was only offered for two years in the USA and never saw much sales success against the big maxiscooters from the Japanese.
In total there are 52 scooter models being offered from the 9 major manufacturers covered on this site. That’s down 2 from last year but up quite a bit from 45 models 5 years ago.
GENUINE GOES CHINESE
2016 LINE INCLUDES MACHINES FROM PGO, LML AND CHINA
Genuine Scooters, a great little company, tends to be less than upfront about what they actually do as “America’s Favorite Scooter Company”. As opposed to most scooter companies that actually make scooters, Genuine imports batches of scooters from other manufacturers that otherwise don’t sell in the USA. These machines are then marketed under the Genuine brand. It’s not a bad strategy since building scooters is expensive and there are already nice machines built and sold overseas that aren’t offered in the USA. It’s similar to the business model of most distributers except Genuine goes a step further by trying to improve upon the often poor branding and support.
However Genuine has never been very upfront with their status as an importer/distributer, leaving people to assume they are a manufacturer. A few years back I actually had a potential advertising deal with Genuine for this website, which went south when Genuine asked me to remove the information on where their scooters come from. This is something I try to shed a light on here because people should know what they’re buying and where they can get OEM and aftermarket parts. Genuine generally imports pretty good scooters but readers still need to know this.
The first overseas maker Genuine struck a deal with was LML, who for years had manufactured the PX series for Vespa and thus was capable of making perfect clones for Genuine when Vespa’s patents ran out. These machines are imported as the Stella and are generally great scooters considering they’re a 30 year old design.
Since LML is limited in what scooters they make, Genuine next struck a deal with PGO Scooters of Taiwan, who make reasonably good scooters in the same vein as Kymco and SYM. Starting in 2006 and continuing today, Genuine imports most of their line from PGO such as the Buddy, Roughhouse and the new for 2016 Buddy Kick (left in silver), whereas PGO sells these scooters under the PGO name up in Canada (but still through a distributer) and elsewhere.
The big news for 2016 is the addition of a new, undisclosed Chinese manufacturer for their new Venture 50 scooter (top). The Venture 50 is impressively low priced ($1599) for a machine with pretty good specs (3-valve motor, front and rear disc brakes) other than top speed (30mph) and slightly better than average looks for a Chinese machine. Whether it’s any good or not remains to be seen but most likely it’s okay commuter material.
The 50cc market segment is really price sensitive, so it’s not surprising that Genuine decided to market a lower cost scooter, especially after the 2013 boardroom shakeup where founder, CEO and enthusiast Philip McCaleb was pushed out. The interesting question is whether Genuine can do this without hurting the rest of their brand, or maybe they plan to slowly switch to a mostly Chinese line? Hopefully Genuine has good quality control they can avoid a situation that hurts their reputation.
USA MODELS: Stella, Roughhouse, Venture, Buddy Kick, Buddy 50 / 125 / 170i, Hooligan 170, Blur 220
VESPA ADDS SPRINT S, PRIMAVERA TOURER FOR 2016
2016 LINE INCLUDES UPDATED GTV AND NEW 946, SPRINT AND PRIMAVERA MODELS
Vespa has been busy refreshing their scooter line up for 2016. The first changes came in summer 2015 with the early introduction of the 2016 GTV 300 (not shown). This revised GTV gained ABS and ASR (traction control) like the GTS models did for 2015, but Vespa went a step further and also redesigned the saddle, added a new tail light with a chrome frame, chromed the rims and revised the front rack and windscreen. With the updates the GTV 300 rose $100 to $7499 in the USA. Pricing in Canada is $7795 which is steal with the Canadian dollar at $0.73. The only GTV color for 2016 is metallic grey.
Also new is the Emporio Armani edition of the 946 (aka 946 EA). This time around the 946 is offered in a neat dark grey/green color with handsome matte black accents including the rims. It’s a great look other than the over abundance of Armani logo’s on the machine. Some accents like the rear rack and mirrors are a nice pewter finish. As usual, the 946 is likely to list for around $10g and it apparently is only being offered from a few big dealers in handful of major cities.
More relevant to regular Vespa enthusiasts are the new versions of the Sprint and Primavera. Vespa has done a nice job putting together a sport version of the Sprint and a touring version of the Primavera. The sport version of the Sprint is called the Sport S 150 (no 50cc option) and it adds a ribbed seat, black rims and side striping on top of the unique titanium color for an extra $100 vs. the regular Sprint. It’s a nice option for the extra money. The rims in particular look great in black.
The new Primavera Tourer 150 is a tougher decision because it adds a substantial $400 to the price tag ($5399). This touring version adds a few functional features (windscreen, rear rack) and a few features that are more for style (ribbed leather seat, front rack). This model carries on where the old LXV 150 left off in the spirit of Quadrophenia.
Pricing is up across the Vespa range by $50-$100. The 50cc Vespa’s are up $50 to $3650 (Primavera) or $3750 (Sprint). The 150 models are up $100 to $4999 (Primavera) or $5299 (Sprint). The reason for the price difference between the Sprint and Primavera is because only the former comes with ABS.
With all the new features the Primavera Tourer is listing for $5399, which is the same as the Sprint S 150, so it’s your choice between ABS or a few racks and a windscreen. Color options are also updated for 2016, with Vespa typically narrowing the choices by a few colors.
USA MODELS: Primavera 50 / 150 / 150 Touring, Sprint 50 / 150 / S 150, 946, GTS 300 / 300 Super / 300 Super Sport SE / GTV 300
CANADA MODELS: Primavera 50 / 150, Sprint 50 / 150, GTS 300 / 300 Super /300 Super Sport SE / GTV 300
KYMCO 2016: XCITING 500 REPLACES MYROAD 700
MYROAD DROPPED AFTER TWO YEARS
Kymco USA has released their 2016 scooter offerings. The big news for 2016 is the demise of the MyRoad 700i, which was teased for the North American market for several years before being launched in 2014. The biggest Kymco has been available overseas since 2008, but it wasn’t a match for North America and didn’t make the cut for 2016.
The most likely culprit here is the high MSRP Kymco set for the machine. At $9699, the MyRoad listed for a similar price as a BMW C 600 and about a grand under premium touring machines like the BMW C 650 GT and Suzuki Burgman 650. The MyRoad was reported a nice enough machine, but once prices get near 5 digits most buyers are going to opt for machines with more of a reputation.
In it’s place, Kymco USA is resurrecting the Xciting 500 (shown right) for 2016 at a more palatable $6899. This Xciting is known as the Xciting Ri 500 ABS and it’s the same machine that was introduced for 2013 and last offered in the USA for 2014 (not to be confused with the single headlight ’09 - ’12 Xciting Ri 500). As the name implies, ABS is standard.
The rest of Kymco’s line is returning unchanged. Even the prices are all the same including for the Downtown 300 which has never seen an MSRP boost in the 6 years it’s been on the market.
To freshen the rest of their line, Kymco has revamped the color palette for their lineup except the Agility 50 / 125. Most of the new colors are nice standard choices. The except is the new “light green” option for the Campagno 110. This mint shade is pretty unique color that will stand out.
No word yet from Canada.
USA MODELS: Agility 50 / 125, Super 8X / 8R 50, Compagno 110i, Super 8X / 8R 150 Like 200, People GT 300i, Downtown 300i, Xciting 500 Ri ABS