by Kevin Kocur

Vectrix gets recharged

In September of 2009 the Vectrix Corporation, maker of the Vectrix Vx1 electric scooter (MMM #108), filed for bankruptcy. On November 6th,Gold Peak Batteries International announced the acquisition of all assets of the Rhode Island-based corporation. Gold Peak is currently restructuring the company, and plans to continue production of the Vx1, as well as the development of two smaller electric scooters that will compete with 50cc and 150cc gas scooters.

Even bigger news is the replacement of the nickel metal hydride battery with a Li-Ion Phosphate Battery made by, you guessed it, Gold Peak. For the existing Vx1 owners, an upgrade kit to the Li battery will be offered.

Genuine Buddy Black Jack: A Sure Bet

The Genuine Scooter Company introduced the Buddy series in 2006. Available as a 50cc two-stroke, or 125cc four-stroke, it became an instant hit with both new and old riders looking for a fun, inexpensive addition to their garage. That year, MMM contributor, Susan Starr, rode a Buddy 125 and brought it home. Three years later, it’s still her first choice for commuting, shopping and running errands during the riding season. Even with the popularity of the original ‘06 Buddy, Genuine has continually upgraded the PGO-built wonderscooter, starting with the addition of a larger headlight in ‘07 and three 150cc International Series in 2008. Last year, I had a chance to ride a St. Tropez 150 and agreed that Genuine had managed to take a scooter that was already quick, and make it even faster.

scooter117aIn 2009, the Buddy world was rocked again with the introduction of the Black Jack 150. Using the International’s 150cc mill (with oil cooler), the Black Jack takes performance a step further with a much-needed suspension upgrade. My biggest complaint with the Buddy has always been its harsh ride. The Black Jack wears billet racing forks and a fully-adjustable rear shock; both sourced from NCY, who also provides the Big Brake disc brake kit. To add to the performance trifecta, the Black Jack is also equipped with a Prima performance pipe. To comply with EPA regulations, all Black Jacks are shipped with the stock PGO pipe. The Prima pipe comes in a box inside of the shipping crate, and is to be installed by the dealer “for closed-course competition only” (wink wink).

To distinguish itself from the other Buddy models, the Black Jack wears a coat of flat black paint, features whitewall tires and red painted wheels. While I’ve always loved this look on street rods and vintage Vespas, I was skeptical about how it would look on a modern, automatic scooter. If the Black Jack is trying to portray the junkyard dog of the scooter world—not flashy and with a bite to match its bark—I would need a test ride to convince me.

The odds were in my favor, as I was able to secure one from JustGottaScoot.com owner, David Harrington, who loaned me his Black Jack. “Take it as long as you need it and let me know what you think” he said as he tossed me the keys. Those words are always music to my ears!

I commuted daily on it and continually searched for twisty roads to evaluate the new suspension. While I was impressed with the improved ride, handling and performance, one question kept running through my mind. For the money, is the Black Jack really that much better than the plain vanilla Buddy 125? To answer that, I would need to make a comparison. So one weekend, we put it up against Susan’s Buddy 125.

We set about riding around the Twin Cities and switching back and forth between the two scooters. We noticed that the 150 was slightly quicker off the line, but once you hit midrange it would really pull away. We also noticed how well the 150 held its speed going up hills.

When it comes to handling, it’s no surprise that the Black Jack beats the 125 hands down. The NCY units work really well. In bumpy corners that I’d normally have to slow down for, I could just twist the throttle and hammer on through. Just don’t go too fast, or you’ll find yourself dragging bits on the pavement. While the ride was noticeably better, its still a bit choppy. I blame this on the Buddy’s short wheelbase.Still, I hit some nasty bumps that would have felt like someone punched me in the kidneys, had I been on the 125.

The NCY front disc brake works well, and looks really cool. I never thought that the Buddy 125’s single disc, two-piston caliper system was ever lacking in any way. In fact, that setup can easily overpower the 10” front tire. Both models feature an adequate rear drum brake.

scooter117bWe were split on the Prima pipe. Susan likes her scooters quiet, while I think the Prima really boosts the Black Jack’s “bad boy” image. Maybe the Prima is on the edge of being too loud, but I like a four-stroke single with a little bark to it.And if traffic doesn’t hear you coming, a quick blast from the Stebel air horn will wake ‘em up. We did agree that, while the Black Jack’s solo seat looks really sharp, it’s not as comfortable as the 125’s.

So, is the Black Jack worth the extra $800 over the 125? It depends on how you’ll use it. If I were buying new, and this were to be my only scooter, it’s an easy decision. Nothing comes close to the Black Jack for its $3499 MSRP. Now fond of the black/red paint scheme, I’d simply peel off the crappy stick-on emblems (many Black Jack owners feel the same way) and ride the heck out it.A top speed of 60+ mph and estimated 80 mpg means you can have fun without breaking the bank. The addition of a two-year, unlimited mile warranty—with FREE Roadside Assistance—makes the Black Jack a winning hand!

M.M.M.

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