STATE OF SCOOTER SCENE 2015 - PART TWO
HONDA PCX150 WINS READERS POLL, SCOOTER SALES FLAT FOR 2014
2015 Readers Pick: Best New Scooter
Honda continued their dominance of the annual MSG readers poll for best new scooter, having won the poll three years in a row now. The substantially overhauled PCX150 was voted it into the top spot with 42% of the vote. That’s the second win for the PCX150, which also nabbed the award when it last overhauled for 2013.
Yamaha’s new SMAX was also a popular pick with 31% of the vote. Third place (16%) went to Vespa’s new Primavera and Sprint models, with offerings from Genuine and Kymco lagging with single digit support. Consistent with other trends, mid-sized scooters dominated the poll.
Scooter Market Sales
The USA scooter sales figures for 2014 are in from the Motorcycle Industry Council. The faint recovery from the 2009-2010 recession seems to have stalled in the USA as sales were flat at 33,528 units. That’s down 1214 machines or 3% from 2013 (34,742 scooters) and about half of the pre-recession sales.
While a full recovery would be great, the 2006 - 2008 period was an unusual spike in scooter sales second only to the mid-80’s boom. The current level of sales at 30-40k units is about the historical norm for scooters, as similar volumes were sold from about ’88 to 2004.
As usual, the 2014 figures aren’t in yet for Canada but the MMIC has finally posted the 2013 numbers. In Canada scooter sales rebounded moderately after a pretty dismal 2012. Including all the major, non-Chinese brands, 3912 scooters were sold in Canada in 2013. On a per capita basis, that’s a bit better than in the USA but still a far cry from the pre-recession popularity. Hopefully things take an upturn in 2015. eBikes seem to be stealing sales from the 50cc segment, but mid-sized scooters seem to be selling well.
VESPA GTS 300 GOES HIGH TECH FOR 2015
GTS GAINS ABS, TRACTION CONTROL AND PHONE INTEGRATION
For 2015 Vespa has made a slew of updates to their GTS model. Unlike the last few updates, the motor is staying the same but the features list is getting some nice additions. Most noteworthy is ABS, which arrives as a standard feature for 2015 on all of the GTS models. Also debuting is traction control which Vespa is calling ASR or Acceleration Slip Regulation. ABS is a welcome addition, while ASR is mostly a burn-out killing gimmick.
Smartphone integration is the neatest feature being added. This functionality lets you connect your smartphone via USB. This charges the phone and also lets you use your phone as a computer to display a wealth of information. Once connected, your phone can display speed, RPM, horsepower, torque, fuel milage, lean angle and supposedly even tire condition (although a simple glance downwards is likely more informative than a presumably milage based estimate of wear). With the Vespa App you can also help navigate back to your machine in the busy parking lot because it’ll make a note of the GPS coordinates where the motor got shut off. Neat stuff.
Also new for 2015 is an updated suspension design that draws on the ideas implemented with the new Primavera and Sprint. It’s still the Vespa classic single sided trailing link design, but the angles have been reworked and a new pin + hinge has been added at the base of the shock. The shock is mounted to the trailing link via a new hinge which allows for some “suspension slide”. It appears the base of the shock can slide fore/aft slightly, but some saddle time will be needed to evaluate how well it works.
As a refresher, Vespa offers four variations of their GTS platform. The GTS 300 ABS and GTS 300 Super are basically the same machine with minor style differences. The Super trades the rear rack for a grab handle, adds vent cutouts to the right flank, comes with a black seat rather than beige, has blacked out wheels and is offered in black, white or blue rather than black or gray. Both models list for $6599. The GTS 300 Supersport is a premium machine at $6799. The Supersport is equipped with a ribbed single rider seat with accent color piping and gains sport decals which are orange for 2015. Lastly, the GTV is the most substantially different scooter with a revised headset that exposes the handlebars and moves the headlamp down the front fender. This scooter comes with a full list of normally optional equipment including a windshield, luggage racks at both ends and a leather seat. The price for this luxury cruiser is $7199.
These updates appear limited to the three GTS models, as they aren’t specifically mentioned for the GTV. Also, the MSRP of the GTV hasn’t risen in price by $200 like the rest of the models. At $200, these upgrades seem downright cheap for all that’s been added.
KYMCO'S 2015 SUPER 8R / 8X
A NEW GENERATION OF SUPER 8 ARRIVING THIS SPRING
There’s been extra room in Kymco’s lineup since they axed quite a few models from their lineup a few months ago including the Super 8. We broke news of a rumoured next generation Super 8 in X (offroad) and R (sports) versions at the time, but now more details are available.
In recent days Kymco Canada has added the Super 8R 50 to their website as a 2015 model, while Kymco USA’s Facebook account claims a spring release for both the 8R and 8X in 50cc and 150cc sizes. Interestingly, Kymco Canada is opting for a 4-stroke 50cc motor in the 8R, while Kymco USA is planning on releasing both models with either a 2-stroke 50cc, or a 4-stroke 150cc, similar to the outgoing Super 8 options. The outgoing Super 8 is remaining on sale in Canada in only the 150cc form for 2015, likely to clear out inventory.
The new Super 8 models appear to be an effort to streamline Kymco’s scooter operations by using a common platform. The main idea seems to be restyling the Agility model to achieve a more sporty look, while simultaneously slipping in the higher output versions of their motors that were previously used in the Super 8. In doing so, Kymco has made a number of nice changes to the Agility design including new aluminum rims, a brushed aluminum rear rack, folding passenger pegs and a neat digital gauge setup. The main downside is the Agility frame is quite a bit smaller than the outgoing Super 8, so riders above 5’10” won’t be well accomodated. Overall it looks like a reasonable move if Kymco is able to pass along some of the cost savings to buyer and retain the performance of the Super 8. We expect full details to be announced in the next few weeks. For now, check out the new Super 8R / 8X page for more details.