Scooter sales are more directly related to fuel prices than any other motorized two-wheeler and typically start to ramp up around this time of year on the specter of higher prices that generally begin to rise in late spring and last through Labor Day, at which time summer sales level off before rebounding again later in the year on year-end blowout pricing.
Many new entrants into scootering seek simple surface street transportation, are unwilling to become licensed, and thus are often relegated to small-sized 50cc models. With that said, however, Power Products Marketing (PPM), a Minneapolis-based research firm, says the medium-sized market has grown over the past few years as existing license-holders increasingly purchase more powerful mid-range models that are priced fairly closely to their more diminutive brethren.
By the numbers, scooters represented 7% of the 465,783 two-wheelers retailed in 2013, according to figures compiled by the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), which says its tally represents “more than 75%” of total U.S. sales.
The MIC sales data is compiled by reports from its member brands, including BMW, Can-Am, Ducati, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, the Piaggio Group, Victory, Suzuki, Triumph and Yamaha, but does not include sales data from outside its membership ranks, like imports sold via the popular KYMCO USA, Genuine Scooter Company and SYM.
Market share leaders among those MIC-affiliated brands retailing scooters include Honda, Yamaha, Vespa, Piaggio, Suzuki, Aprilia and BMW. Sales of scooters by those seven brands looked bleak during the first six months of 2013, down -23.3% compared to the first half of 2012, but picked up steam in the second half, finishing the year at 34,742 units – down -15.5% compared to 41,105 units in FY2012.
Despite the downturn in 2013 – or sales blip in 2012 – MIC-affiliated scooter sales have remained fairly steady, up from 31,850 units in 2011, 28,483 units in 2010 and 31,450 units in 2009.
Maxi scoots, over 250cc in size, typically represent about 20% of the total market, 150cc to 250cc medium-sized models represent about 35%, and small-sized, 50cc models represent about 45%, according to PPM.
As you’d suspect, Honda and Yamaha largely score their sales on brand recognition and the sheer number of dealer outlets. Sales of maxi scoots and the more expensive Piaggio/Vespa brands in the U.S. typically benefit from well-heeled buyers, while other, non MIC-affiliated suppliers of small and medium-sized twist-and-go scooters – KYMCO, Genuine, SYM – tend to score on favorable pricing, general product availability and the lure of new models.
Big or Small, There’s a Scooter Sized for You
Street-legal gas-powered scooters sold in the U.S. range from 49cc neighborhood runabouts to 700cc Interstate tourers.
Here, we’ve amassed 64 scooter models from 10 brands to give you a glimpse at what’s available in 2014. Models highlighted in bold type are new or of particular interest to us at MMM for their value, comfort, popularity and/or performance.
Honda’s five-model scooter line includes the new 300cc Forza ($5,599), 600cc Silver Wing ABS ($9,270), PCX150 ($3,449), and 49cc Ruckus ($2,649) and Metropolitan ($1,999). We’d be remiss for not highlighting the Ruckus and the huge community it has spawned throughout the world. The Forza ticks the correct boxes for its multi-use capabilities.
Yamaha’s five-model line consists of the updated 400cc Majesty ($6,850), Zuma 125 ($3,390), Zuma 50FX ($2,590), Zuma 50F ($2,590) and Vino Classic ($2,290). The Zuma 50F has served as among Yamaha’s best-selling two-wheelers in the U.S. Offering up the same specifications as the 50F, the 50FX is differentiated most noticeably by its single headlamp and deleted rear rack.
Suzuki dealers in the U.S. have long begged the manufacturer for a smaller displacement scooter that would complement its two larger Burgman brethren. Dealers were shown a 200cc model in 2008, but the company failed to import it as the global economic recession took hold. That changed for 2014 with the introduction of the Burgman 200 ABS ($4,999) alongside the returning single-cylinder Burgman 400 ABS ($7,999) and twin-cylinder Burgman 650 ABS ($10,999).
Italy’s Piaggio & Co SpA owns the Piaggio, Vespa, Moto Guzzi and Aprilia brands. In the U.S., the parent company’s scooter offerings are sold via economical Piaggio models, traditionally styled Vespa models and sporty Aprilia models.
You already read about the stellar BV 350 ($5,899) featured in this issue’s profile article. Piaggio’s other seven models for 2014 include the Fly 50 4V ($2,299), Fly 150 ($2,999), Typhoon 50 ($1,999) and Typhoon 125 ($2,899), as well as the unique MP3 250 ($7,199), MP3 400 ($8,699) and MP3 500 ($8,899).
The famed Vespa brand in 2014 as for now offers 11 scooters in four model families, the LX 50 4V ($3,499) and LX 150 IE ($4,699); the S 50 4V ($3,399), S 150 IE ($4,599), S 50 Sport SE ($3,499) and S 150 Sport SE ($4,699); and the GTS 300 IE ($6,399), GTS 300 IE Super ($6,399) and GTS 300 Super Sport SE ($6,599).
The LX150 IE is a mid-sized and mid-priced model in Vespa’s line-up, which may be why it’s among the brand’s best sellers. However, there’s two new scoots in town ready to replace the LX series: the Primavera 50 and 150.
Responsible for the performance side of Piaggio & Co. SpA, Aprilia downsized its scooter line in recent years and now offers only two sporty small displacement models – the SR Motard 50 ($2,099) powered by an air-cooled 49cc carbed four-stroke developing 4.5hp, and the SR 50 Factory ($3,299) powered by a liquid-cooled 49cc two-stroke with direct fuel injection developing a claimed 5.3hp. We like the SR 50 Factory because “two-stroke.”
BMW continues into 2014 with its two big “urban mobility” offerings, the C 600 Sport ABS ($9,590) and C 650 GT ABS ($9,990) – bikes that are assembled at BMW’s facility in Berlin but were created with the folks at KYMCO in Taiwan. Here, we chose the C 650 GT ABS as the standout model for its comfort and rich list of amenities that perfectly cater to BMW’s target markets.
Sprung from the same factory in Taiwan as the BMW models, the 59hp MYROAD 700i ($9,699) serves as the largest displacement scooter sold in the U.S. KYMCO’s newest offerings include the updated Agility 50 ($1,599), Agility 125 ($1,899), Super 8 50 2T ($2,199) and Super 8 150 ($2,499). They join the highway capable People GT 300i ($5,399), Downtown 300i ($5,599) and Xciting 500 Ri ABS ($6,899) maxi scooters; mid-size Compagno 110i ($2,999), Movie 150 ($3,199), Like 200i ($2,699) and Like 200i LX ($2,799); and lightweight Compagno 50i ($2,599), Like 50 2T ($2,199) and Like 50 2T LX ($2,299).
GENUINE SCOOTER CO.
The big news from Chicago-based Genuine Scooter Company is the recent introduction of the Stella Automatic ($3,499) – a 125cc CVT-equipped version of its best-selling Stella 150 that’s offered with a four-speed manual ($3,699). Also returning for 2014 are the two-stroke Roughhouse 50 ($1,999), Buddy 50 ($1,999) and Buddy 50 International ($2,199), and four-stroke air-cooled Buddy 125 ($2,799), Buddy 170i ($3,349) and Blur 220i ($3,999).
SYM is the third most prolific supplier of scooters in Taiwan behind KYMCO and Yamaha. The brand’s U.S. lineup for 2014 incudes the two-stroke Jet 50 EVO ($1,999), four-stroke Mio 50 ($1,999), four-speed semi-auto Symba 100 ($2,399) “Cub” style bike, Fiddle II 125 ($2,299), sporty HD 200 EVO ($3,499), the big body RV 200 EVO ($3,699) and the 80mph CityCom 300i ($4,899).
by David Harrington
Back in 2001, Adam Davila put together a scooter group focusing on maxi-scooters – those capable of highway speeds. The group is called MinnMax and you can find them at: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Minn-Max/info
I have ridden with this group a few times and enjoyed the company of Hondas (Helix, Reflex, Siverwing), Yamahas (Majesty, TMax, Morphous), Vespas (large frames mostly), Piaggios (Lots of BVs), KYMCOs (People, Xciting, Grand Vista) and of course many, many Suzuki Burgmans. The personages atop these highway capable mounts are a pretty good group as well. A good deal of work sometimes goes into planning routes and stops. They may whip past many a fuel stop, but nary a Dairy Queen is missed. Weekend outings often include gorgeous country roads and entertaining stops. A few years back there was a run to Crystal Caves. I hadn’t been there in many years and had a great time on both the ride and the cave tour. I can honestly say I wish I had more time to ride with the MinnMax gang.
OK, big whup, a bunch of wannabe Gold Wingers on oversized toy scooters, what’s the big deal? I know a lot of motorcycle riders (to say nothing of the general public) just don’t “get” maxi-scooters. Like a lot of riders, I rode a scooter during school because it was literally all I could afford. The millisecond that I had a job and some money I rushed to buy a “real” motorcycle. For decades I rode larger and varying motorcycles until a Honda Helix drew me in back in 1986 (but that’s another story). The name of this group (revealed to me by Adam) does NOT, in fact, stand for Minnesota Maxiscooters. It stands for Minimum Effort, Maximum Enjoyment.
I’m certainly not saying that the group members don’t work hard to be good, skilled riders or that they don’t bust their backsides to put together fun events. They just don’t work too hard to have a good time. That’s right, the fun flows almost effortlessly. There’s precious little posturing (except as regards ice cream) and the focus is clearly on the fun. NOT how one looks while having this, alleged, fun or who sees one in the process of having fun. To me, that’s kind of the maxi-scooter thing: to have a lot of fun without working too hard.
The vast majority of maxi-scooters can easily maintain highway speeds (a Burgman 650 will do better than 100mph), offer good wind/weather protection, comfort, ease of operation, native storage and reasonably sprightly handling. Though large for scooters, they are smaller and lighter than most motorcycles and much easier to manage at parking lot speeds than a Victory Vision (and yet Kevin Kocur still drops the occasional scooter). They offer the ability to get out and enjoy virtually any paved road and soak up as much fun as that road has to offer without all that much effort.
Does this mean I’m anti-motorcycle? Not at all. I’ve owned dozens and dozens and continue to have a few in the garage. I’m just in favor of powered two-wheeled fun and enjoy any machine that delivers that fun … keeping effort level low is just a bonus.
Reminiscent of the ultra exclusive – and expensive – 946 model, the new Vespa Primavera is set to replace the brand’s best-selling LX line with all-sheet-metal construction and a host of updated running gear.
The original line of Vespa Primavera was built from 1968-1978.
Now available in 50cc and 150cc ($4,799) versions, the new Primavera’s body architecture better promotes rider comfort compared to the LX by offering more space between the handlebar and seat as well as a lower, 30.7-inch seat height.
There’s also an updated electronic fuel injection system, a refined CVT, new engine-mounting arrangement that isolates the structure and rider from vibration, a new front suspension set-up, a relocated battery, 11-inch wheels rolling on 110/70 and 120/70 cross-ply tires, LED daytime running lights, and a 4.4-gallon underseat storage compartment and two other lockable storage compartments up front.
The 50cc model is powered by a four-stroke rather than the company’s still available two-stroke. The 150cc model is powered by a SOHC, three-valve single that is said to develop 13hp at 7,750 rpm, 9.5 ft. lbs. at 6,500 rpm, and return 118 miles per gallon.
The two Primavera were delivered to dealers last month. Read more about the bike in an upcoming issue of MMM.
by David Harrington
Recently introduced in the USA and currently at dealers, Genuine Scooters brings us the Stella 125cc with an automatic transmission ($3,499). Based on the 1970s Vespa P-series scooter and manufactured by LML of India, the Genuine Stella took the USA scooter market by storm over ten years ago with a 150cc 2-stroke 4-speed manual shift scooter. A couple of years ago, a 4-stroke150cc engine was offered. Now those who prefer their scooters with a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) can have the look and feel of a 1970s Vespa with the Stella Automatic. The Stella Automatic is powered by a carburetor fed 125cc 4-stroke engine that resides in a unique subframe with removable cowls and a monocoque front half. It retains the slightly rear-heavy bias of the older Vespa P-series while bringing lighting, brakes, emissions and operation up to modern expectations. Not just a retro-styled scooter, the Stella automatic offers the feel of a vintage machine and lots of real metal. According to a recent full review at JustGottaScoot.com, the Stella Automatic gets real-world fuel economy of 86 MPG and has a top speed of nearly 60 MPH. The Stella Automatic is available locally at Scooterville in Minneapolis.
BMW in early April began assembly of its C Evolution electric scooter at the production facility in Berlin.
BMW says the 8 kWh capacity of the air-cooled lithium-ion high-voltage battery allows the bike to cover up to 62 miles before it needs to be charged from any domestic outlet (although your personal riding style will dictate range). Energy is transferred through a drivetrain swing arm with liquid-cooled permanent magnet synchronous motor via a toothed belt and ring gearing. The rated power output is 11 kW (15 hp), with a peak output of 35 kW (47 hp). BMW says that’s good for a top speed of 75 mph. Recharging fully from empty is said to take 4-6 hours.
Three versions of the C Evolution are to be made available in Europe in May, but there has been no word regarding plans to sell it in the U.S.
Yamaha introduced its three-wheel TRICITY 125 in Thailand in April, and intends to offer it in Europe and Japan by the end of 2014. Looks familiar, doesn’t it?
Built in Thailand, the TRICITY is the first in a series of Yamaha Leaning Multi Wheel (LMW) models – on-road vehicles with three or more wheels. You may recall the company in 2007 revealed a striking four-wheel leaning vehicle concept called the Tesseract.
Yamaha describes the TRICITY as “a distinctive design that … is innovative and advanced.” A 125cc four-stroke motivates the 335-lb. (wet) unit.
Yamaha Europe plans to sell the TRICITY for 4,000 Euro ($5,522). There have been no plans for U.S. distribution.
For the record, Piaggio brought its MP3 to market in 2006, five years after Italjet had introduced it’s three-wheeled leaning Scoop model.