TOP SCOOTERS OF THE DECADE: PART 3 - 2000'S
In the decade from 2000 to 2009 an incredible 77 new scooters models were introduced into the USA and Canada. This was a huge increase from the paltry 6 new models that were introduced the 90’s. More importantly, the scooter market diversified as it grew from a trio of Japanese makers (Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki) to include Italian brands (Vespa, Aprilia, Piaggio) and several Taiwanese manufacturers (Kymco, Genuine/PGO, SYM).
The 2000’s are also notable for being when the maxi-scooter concept was really developed, with machines going far beyond 250cc designs like Honda’s Helix and cranking that up to 500-650cc. Another noteworthy change this decade was a shift from 50cc 2-strokes to 4-strokes, with new 2-strokes becoming rare by the end of the decade. Scooter sales during this time had some strong years (2005 - 2008) followed by a 50% collapse during the 2009 recession - a sales level which remains to this day.
Choosing just 3 machine to represent the best of the 00’s from the list of 77 is difficult. The following machines were selected because they combine top notch design with historical importance. There are numerous fantastic machines that have been left out.
Vespa S 150 (2008 - 2014)
Vespa returned to North America in 2001 with their ET model, but it wasn’t until the S was launched in 2008 that Vespa really connected with North American enthusiasts. The ET was a bit awkward and it’s LX successor was a bit cheeky. When Vespa took the same LEADER motor and LX frame and wrapped that in the edgier S styling they had their first real hit in North America in 3 decades and became relevant again.
The S has been offered in 50cc and 150cc versions, but the 150 is the real deal with power to match the capabilities of the rest of the machine. It lacks the handy glovebox of the LX, but the style is more than enough to make up for it. If you’re in the market for a machine from the 00’s, the S provides edgy style and top notch quality in a reliable package.
Suzuki Burgman 650 (2004 - present)
Aprilia was the first to introduce a proper maxi scooter to North America with their Atlantic 500 in 2000 and Honda followed that up in 2002 with the even better, but full mastery of the maxi-scooter concept wasn’t demonstrated until Suzuki released the Burgman 650 in 2004.
The Burgman 650 has advocates everywhere and for good reason. It matches highway power with a full array of touring amenities, and goes a step further than touring motorcycles by providing a package that is easier to mount and ride. Quite a few maxi’s have been introduced since, but none have dethroned the Burg 650.
Honda Ruckus (2003 - present)
More than any other scooter, Honda’s Ruckus is responsible for making scooters cool again in the new millennium. Prior to the Ruckus, most small scooters were meekly styled plastic blobs that most people would be embarrassed to be seen on. I love a good 90’s machine, but it’s fair to say that style struggled to gain mass acceptance.
In addition to it’s rugged style, the Ruckus is also a top notch machine with an aluminum frame, liquid cooled 4-stroke motor and and clever bits like a new alternator design that shed the need for a starter motor. The Ruckus is the complete trio of great style, clever design and top quality. It’s the type of machine that helped Honda build their reputation for reliability.
2015 SUZUKI SCOOTERS
THE BURGMAN TRIUMVIRATE IS BACK
Suzuki has quietly released their 2015 USA scooter lineup. The lack of fanfare matches the lack of changes, as Suzuki has rolled over all three Burgman models with just a few minor tweaks for 2015. Perhaps this was to be expected since Suzuki made big changes for 2013 and 2014.
Some of the best news for 2015 is that Suzuki hasn’t upped their prices. The Burgman 200 ABS is still a great deal at $4999, while the larger 400 and 650cc models remain at $7999 and $10,999 respectively.
The only updates made for 2015 aside from color changes were a few tweaks to the Burgman 400 (above). This model now comes with a passenger backrest similar to the one on the 650. Suzuki also added hand guards and changed the rims from black to a bronze color. Gone are the red edging on the wheels and red seat stitching.
Despite the status quo 2015 scooter lineup, it’s still comforting to see these popular scooters return. The Burgman 200 is a unique offering in America, while the larger Burgman’s are stalwarts of the maxi scene and to lose them would a blow. The Burgman 400 and 650 have been sold here since 2003 and 2004 respectively, during which time they’ve cemented their status as legendary maxiscooters. The 650 in particular epitomizes the maxi concept.
STATE OF THE SCOOTER SCENE 2014 - PART ONE
A SUMMARY OF THE NEW AND DEPARTING MODELS FOR 2014
In this first portion of MSG’s annual state of the scooter scene (SOTSS) address, we’ll run down the full list of new scooters arriving in North America for 2014. We’ll also pay homage to the departing scooters, of which thankfully there are few.
First, please take a second to vote for your favourite new model for our “Motor Scooter Guide 2014 Scooter of the Year” award. Last year Honda’s PCX 150 took the top spot.
New 2014 Scooters:
Aprilia SR Motard
Kymco MyRoad 700i
Piaggio Fly 50
Piaggio Fly 150 (USA)
Suzuki Burgman 200
Yamaha Zuma FX / X
Aprilia SportCity One 50 (USA)
Aprilia SportCity One 125 (Canada)
Kymco Vitality 50 (Canada)
Kymco Downtown 200 (USA)
Kymco People GT 200
Vespa LX / LXV 150 (Canada)
Vespa S 150 (Canada)
The new machines announced for 2014 are a diverse bunch, with motor sizes ranging from 50cc to 700cc. Overall there are 8 significantly new scooters for 2014, based on 5 completely new designs and a significant new take on the Zuma style. While the list of departing scooters is a bit longer, many of these machines are only leaving either Canada or the USA. Accordingly, the total count of scooters on sale in the USA rises from 49 to 53 models, while Canadians will be offered 39 models (from 38) from the eight major brands covered here on MSG.
In the mid-size category, Piaggio has also launched their new Fly design with a 150cc motor boasting similar technology. Suzuki’s new Burgman 200 also qualifies as a mid-sized
The Burgman 200 (above) is going to be an interesting scooter to watch, as sales could take off if buyers see it as a more affordable way to enter the maxi scene and aren’t put off by a marginal 75mph top speed. It’s Suzuki’s first new scooter in some time, and their smallest offering ever in the USA.
Buyers that are looking for a full speed scooter will also want to consider Honda’s new Forza (below grey), which picks up where the old Reflex left off. At 279cc, the Forza can close in on 100mph and does so with style and refinement. This scooter is a great model from Honda and early reviews seem to very positive as it blends maxi scooter features with a price tag and fuel usage that is easier to swallow.
The last new model for 2014 is Kymco’s MyRoad 700i (white), which makes no secret of its status as a highway devouring mega-scooter. The MyRoad 700 is big and heavy at 608 lbs, but it provides a supremely comfortable and powerful highway tool that offers a larger motor and lower price that Suzuki’s popular Burgman 650.
Appendum: Genuine Scooter Co. is also on the cusp of releasing two substantially new models: An all new 170cc Hooligan rugged scooter and a 125cc Automatic version of their popular vintage Stella model. Here is more details.
Kymco has also opted to drop the 200cc version of their People GT (below) and Downtown models, leaving the more powerful and top selling 300 versions to carry on. This decision is hardly worth lamenting except Kymco Canada was only offfering the People GT in 200cc form, which means the end of the end of the line for that model in Canada.
Aprilia Canada - which is managed by the Piaggio group like Vespa - has also dropped their lone mid-sized offering, the SportCity One 125. It’s too bad to see the shift away from mid-sized machines, but the SportCity One remains around in 50cc form, unlike the USA where Aprilia has dropped it to reduced redundancy with their new SR Motard 50. As Piaggio Canada also opted not to import the new Fly 150, you can no longer buy any 125-150cc machines from this major group of scooter brands in Canada.
2014 GETS EVEN BETTER: FOUR MORE NEW MACHINES
NEW SCOOTS: APRILIA SR MOTARD, VESPA 946, SUZUKI BURGMAN 200 + KYMCO MYROAD
2014 is continuing to shape up as an exciting year for scootering. In addition to the bounty of 2014 models already discussed, four more new scooters on their way. Three of these models have been tempting North Americans from overseas markets for several years, so their delayed launch here comes with a sigh of relief as we’d begin to doubt they’d ever arrive.
The longest overseas hold out is the Suzuki Burgman 200, which has been on sale elsewhere since 2007. In recent weeks it has received approval for sale in the USA, so we can expect the official announcement at any time. The Burgman 200 offers maxi scooter amenities in a far more affordable and fuel sipping package than its larger siblings. The 200 isn’t quite comfortable on the open road (top speed is 70-75mph) but it can hold its own if you don’t try sneak a passenger on the back. It’s great to see Suzuki bringing in more affordable options for people without five figures to spend on a scooter.
Also eyeing the North American market in recent years with some trepidation has been Aprilia’s SR Motard and Kymco’s MyRoad 700i. Aprilia Global initially announced the SR Motard for North America a couple years ago before changing their mind and releasing its Piaggio branded twin - the Typhoon - here instead. Finally for 2014 Aprilia gets new SR Motard for their North American showrooms (USA & Canada). Aprilia has opted to bring in the 4-stroke 50cc version, which means mediocre power and excellent milage. MSRP for the SR Motard 50 is an impressively affordable $1999. On the other end of the displacement spectrum is Kymco’s MyRoad 700i,
Lastly, Vespa’s magnum opus - the 946 - makes its debut this fall. Vespa has poured all their innovative ideas into t
STATE OF THE SCOOTER SCENE 2013 PT 2: SCOOTER OF THE YEAR
READERS CHOICE WINNER: 2013 HONDA PCX150
With the votes counted, Honda’s revamped PCX 150 ran away with the top honours in the 2013 readers choice poll. The faster and more refine
Piaggio’s new 2013 BV350 captured the second spot with 29.3% of the vote. Yamaha’s reintroduced and now fuel injected Vino 50 rounded out the top three with 8% of the vote.
USA: 2012 SALES
Scooter sales in 2012 rose for the third consecutive year, this time increasing by 7.7% to the highest level since the 2009 crash. That’s healthy news for the industry, especially when you consider 2012 sales were mostly current scooters being sold at regular margins, as opposed to the 2009 market crash leftovers that buoyed up sales in 2010 and 2011 with heavy discounts. The chart below shows scooter sales in the USA over the past seven years, but realize that this MIC data doesn’t include several smaller makes (Genuine, SYM) nor does it include the swell of Chinese makers.
Despite the nice annual rise sales remain a far cry from the 2008 heyday, which was the culmination of years of steady growth. From 2000 to 2007, mainstream scooter sales hovered in the 40,000 - 55,000 unit range - or about 20% higher than we’re seeing today. Mainstream USA sales were 34,294 in 2012, which may actually be there new norm as the non-represented Chinese makers have captured a portion. Popular Chinese makers like SunL and Znen are rumoured to be selling in the five figure range.
The news in Canada is both lacking and lackluster, so it slips in here at the bottom. The Canadian industry group (MMIC) is still sitting on the 2012 numbers, but we can report the 2011 numbers which were too late to slip in to this report last year. In short, Canadian scooter sales took a big dive in the wrong direction in 2011. Canuck sales were a healthy 10K units in 2008, which dropped to 6K for 2009 and 2010. Instead of a rebound, sales dropped further in 2011 to 4.6K units. Hopefully things were rosier in 2012.
MAXI REVIVAL: KYMCO'S MYROAD 700i + UPDATED BURGMAN 650
A LEGEND OVERHAULED AND A NEW CHALLENGER
Kymco’s 2005 jump into the fray with the Xciting 500 was the last news for a while, with Yamaha making a brief 3 year foray with the TMAX (’09-’11). While the big Yammie lives on in Canada and elsewhere, it’s truncated lifespan in the USA seemed to hint that the USA maxi-market had cooled and perhaps the big scooters from Suzuki, Honda and Kymco were living out their final days. Dusty veterans
Thankfully that doesn’t appear to be the case, with Suzuki recently announcing a significant overhaul for the Burgman for 2013 and with Kymco on the cusp of unleashing their bigger than ever MyRoad 700i (above right) into the northern most continent of the Americas.
While the 2013 Burgman 650 isn’t all new, it is a substantial update that refines the ‘Burg in several key areas. The most obvious revision is the styling, which has been refreshed up with an edgier front end and a slimmed posterior. The new look isn’t radical, which is a good thing. It’s a tasteful update to a perennial favorite. Beneath the new body panels are two major updates: a redesigned ABS system which adds floating front discs yet weighs half, and a new transmission/clutch system which improves performance and reduces drag. Between the new transmission and slimmer silhouette, Suzuki is claiming a 15% improvement in fuel use. Also helping you realize this boost in efficiency is a
The MyRoad 700i was released a few years ago overseas and is Kymco’s most displacement endowed scooter ever at 699cc. This big brother to their Xciting 500 hasn’t been officially announced for North America yet, but the word is that Kymco is planning to have it in USA showrooms by July. This super sized maxi was originally announced as being designed with America in mind, so its been strange to watch its slow progression to North American showrooms. While its release has been pushed back several times, things are looking good for a summer 2013 release in the USA and hopefully soon after in Canada.
While the MyRoad boasts an extra 61cc over the 650 Burgman, power is actually a hair less (59 HP vs 61 HP) from its DOHC 8V parallel twin mill. Torque and weight are also deadlocked, with the MyRoad claiming 46 ft/lbs of torque to move its 608 lbs and Suzuki listing 45.7 ft/lbs of torque available for its 609 lbs of heft. Although the Burgman sheds 4 lbs in its 2013 form, neither model
In typical Kymco fashion, the MyRoad sets the bar high for features. The Burgman has always been very well appointed, but the MyRoad goes even beyond this with gizmo’s like tire pressure sensors and electronically adjustable suspension. Even the key has been done away with and replaced with an electronic fob that just needs to be within 5 feet of the bike.
Kymco is still being coy with an official release announcement, but 2013 looks like the year it’ll arrive. With the updated Burgman 650 headed for showrooms now, we just need Honda do to something about their 12 year old Silverwing.
STATE OF THE SCOOTER SCENE 2013 - PART ONE
A LOOK AT THE NEW AND DEPARTED MODELS FOR 2013
Welcome to the first instalment of MSG’s annual State of the Scooter Scene address. In this first half, we’ll run down the new machines going on sale in the USA and Canada for 2013, as well as reflect on the discontinued mounts winding down their showroom days. Part two will follow around March, when the sales figures are released and scooter story of 2012 can be told in full. Please take a second to vote in the poll for your favorite new or resurrected model.
New 2013 Scooters:
Honda Metropolitan / Giorno
Genuine Lemonhead Buddy (USA)
Kymco Movie 150
Kymco Compagno 50 / 110 (USA)
Kymco Like 50 / 200 (Canada)
Piaggio Typhoon 50 (USA)
Piaggio BV 350 (USA)
Yamaha Vino 50
Suzuki Burgman 650 [Late addition]
Kymco Sento 50 (USA)
Piaggio BV 300 (USA)
Piaggio BV 500 (USA)
Piaggio MP3 line (Canada)
While the numbers won’t be released for some time, 2012 appears to have been a stronger year for the scooter industry. Sales were surely up across the board, and confidence from the manufacturers seems to higher than it’s been in some time, with many manufacturers taking the opportunity to introduce new models. Of particular note, Kymco Canada displayed the highest amount of confidence by carrying over all 10 of their 2012 models plus adding three new steeds for MMXIII.
For the coming year things look bright, with the return of some popular scooters (Yamaha Vino 50, Honda PCX), new generations of some old favorites (Piaggio Typhoon 50, Honda Metropolitan) and an impressive list of all new nameplates from Kymco USA and Piaggio. All told, 10 scooters are either new or returning after some time off, while 2 (Canada) or 5 (USA) are on their way out.
This translates to a total of 49 significantly different scooters on sale in the USA (up from 45 last year) from the main eight manufacturers covered here on MSG. Meanwhile in Canada 37 models are going to be offered for 2013, a four scooter increase. And that’s not counting the smaller Taiwanese brands (SYM, TGB) and the seemingly infinite number of Chinese makers.
Before delving into the new mounts, reflection is warranted for the (thankfully few) scooters on their way out. The most noteworthy machine on this list is Suzuki’s Burgman 650. However even here the news isn’t all that somber, as Suzuki showed a heavily revised Burgman 650 at the recent EICMA show, which stands a good chance of landing in North America soon. Still, the Burgman 650 as we know it - all 613 lbs of it - has ended its run after nine years (2004 - 2012).
[Edit: The revised Burgman 650 is indeed coming to North America for 2013.]
Piaggio has unleashed two major new models as 2013. The new BV 350 (left) has been a long time coming as the latest iteration in their BV series. With the overhaul, this new model is the easily the sharpest BV ever and is earning wide praise including accolades from Motorcycle-USA. At 330cc, this new model offers a great blend between highway touring capability and fuel milage (70mpg).
The other new Piaggio is a smaller 50cc version of their Typhoon scooter (top) which initially debuted as a 125 last year.
The biggest news from Kymco for 2013 is their new Movie 150 scooter (right). The Movie takes the sports concept of the Super 8 150 and matures it, while adding a more powerful motor and a rear disc brake.
In addition, the retro yet fuel injected Compagno (50cc and 110cc) makes it way to the USA market after being introduced last year in Canada as the New Sento. Finally, the Like 50 & 200 make it to Canada for the first time.
The other Honda news for 2013 is the return of the PCX (shown at top). This time around the PCX gets a 25cc boost to 150cc, which makes it freeway legal in most states and bumps the top speed 5mph. In addition to the larger bore, PCX150 motor has been refined from the CVT to the bearings.
Lastly, Yamaha is bringing back the Vino 50 (right) for 2013 after a year off. While it’s a bit of a stretch to call this one a new model, Yamaha did give it some nice revisions so it makes the list. The most notable update is a new fuel injection system which creeps fuel milage even higher (~110mg) . The other changes are fairly minor, but it’s still great to have this popular scooter back on the market.
EICMA 2012: NEW SCOOTS FROM VESPA, SUZUKI AND HONDA
2014 SUZUKI BURGMAN 650, VESPA 946 AND HONDA FORZA 300
As always, the EICMA show in Milan delivered as the years most exciting new scooter event. This time around there were many special edition scooters from all manufacturers as well as several new machines. In addition to the three new scooters highlighted below, Piaggio also revealed the production versions of their new Fly and X10 models which are going into production eminently. You can see the new Fly here (and read about it too if you’re Italian).
A year after debuting the concept scooter, Piaggio pulled the wraps off the production version of their new 946 scooter (aka Quarantasei, which is Italian for 46). The biggest surprise here was the lack of changes for the production variant. Vespa kept this one very true to the concept, which is great news for the enthusiasts out there. There hasn’t been an announcement for North America yet, but the 946 is expected to go on sale globally and there’s a good chance North Americans will see it for 2014.
The new 946 uses Vespa latest mill - a 3-valve single putting out 11.7 hp in 125cc form. However, a North American models would likely be equipped with a more powerful 150cc motor in the 14 hp range. Compared to the concept, the changes are fairly subtle. The rear end is less pointy and lacks the indentation on the sides. There’s also been a few body seams added to the flanks. Up front there’s been some minor reworking of the horn grill area and of course mirrors had to be added. Without comparing the two scooters side by side, it’s tough to spot the changes which is a good thing.
The new Forza (NSS300) is a successor to the Reflex that was offered to North Americans from 2001 to 2007. Compared to that scooter, the new Forza is a technical tour-de-force offering fuel injection, roller rocker arms, 4-valves and ABS. While ABS is optional in Europe, it’s slated to be a standard feature in Canada.
Canadian pigment options are Pure Red and Seal Silver.
Perhaps the most famous maxi-scooter of all time, the Burgman 650, was at a crossroads recently with Suzuki pulling it from their 2013 USA line. Suzuki’s lack of attention over the past few years left many wondering what the future held, if anything.
At EICMA 2012 Suzuki revealed what they had been up to when they unveiled an overhauled Burgman 650. The core frame and motor carry on with just small refinements, but the transmission is new and more efficient. Most noticeably, the styling is tastefully reworked to freshen the look and give it a slimmer profile. The instrumentation is also brand new and contains a mix of analog and digital instrumentation.
It wouldn’t be an update to the Burgman if new features weren’t added, so Suzuki continued to up the maxi-scooter ante with power folding mirrors, heated seats and even heated backrests. A number of Executive trim features have also become standard perks.
Even with the same motor, Suzuki is claiming a 15% increase in fuel efficiency due to the subtle refinements, a new clutch design and the slimmer shape. Also noteworthy is a new ABS system with uses floating discs and weighs half what the older system did.
The new Burgman will enter production shortly and hopefully we’ll see it arrive in North America mid-2013.
For more pictures of the reworked style and a look at the new dash, head over to the Scooter Station.
THE END IS NIGH? SUZUKI OMITS THE BURG' 650 FOR 2013
It appears one of the hallmarks of the maxi scooter scene has reached the end of its run - at least in its present form if not permanently.
In recent days, Suzuki USA announced the bulk of their 2013 line, with the Burgman 650 (AN650) silently absent. The newer Burgman 400 is present, but the biggest Burg didn’t make the list. Suzuki has developed a new generation of the Burgman 650 which is headed for showrooms overseas, but so far Suzuki USA has made no indication of importing this model.
The North American spec Burgman 650 hasn’t been updated since its 2004 introduction (and it went on sale for 2002 elsewhere), so it’s already been on sale for over a decade without a significant update. That’s a long time, but certainly nothing close to a record.
While it’s still a bit early for an obituary, it seems unlikely the Burgman 650 will be back in its present incarnation. Either Suzuki will usher in a new decade of maxi-scooter awesomeness with a fresh generation, or the end has finally come.
On a completely different, Honda’s PCX is now coming to Canada.