July 25, 2019 Filed under: Honda | Yamaha | Genuine | Aprilia | Suzuki | BMW | Kymco | Piaggio | Vespa
FOUR NEW MODELS, WHILE FIVE DEPART
Summer is well underway and all the 2019 scooter models are now in showrooms (and even a few 2020 models) so we’ll take this opportunity to summarize the state of the North American scooter scene including the arriving and departing models.
In total there are four new models hitting the market, about six updated models depending on how you count Vespa’s special editions, and a further five discontinued models. That leaves 45 scooter models on the North American market across the nine major brands we cover here on MSG. That’s down moderately from the 54 model peak in 2015. Once you are familiar with the new models, please take a second to vote for your favorite new 2019 scooter in our poll:
BMW C 400 GT (Canada only)
Genuine Grand Tourer 150
Honda PCX 150
Vespa Elettrica (2020 model)
Aprilia SR Motard
Piaggio MP3 500 Sport
Vespa S Edition (Sprint, Primavera)
Vespa Notte Edition (Sprint, GTS)
Vespa Yacht Club Edition (Primavera, GTS)
Vespa 50th Anniversary Edition
Suzuki Burgman 650
BMW C 650 Sport
Yamaha Vino 50
Yamaha Zuma FX/BWS X
Vespa GTS Super Sport / GTV
New 2019 Scooters
2019 hasn’t been a great year for new scooters, with three or four new machines, two updated models plus a slew of special editions from Vespa, and three discontinued scooters (plus several discontinued editions and trims).
The three machines which count as “new” for 2019 are Genuine’s Grand Tourer 150 (shown above), Honda’s third generation of the PCX 150, and BMW has a new nameplate called the C 400 GT but only in Canada.
Genuine’s Grand Tourer 150 is a new but vintage styled model which replaces the Stella in Genuine’s lineup after the manufacturer of the Stella (LML) hit business woes in 2017. The Grand Tourer is not the “living fossil” from the 70’s that the Stella was, but rather a rebranded Scomadi model from the confusing chaos surrounding the revival of the Lambretta name. Read more about the debate over the revival of the Lambretta name here.
The third generation PCX was unveiled way back in summer 2018 (and we covered the changes then). The 2019 PCX looks similar to the prior generations but is a complete reworking of the model. Unfortunately it’s not coming to Canada, so the Ruckus is left as Honda’s only scooter there in a thin lineup reminiscent of 1998.
BMW Canada further adds a new nameplate in the C 400 GT (shown at the top of the page), which is arguably a new model. It’s a new name but the scooter itself builds heavily off their C 400 X model, with the “GT” suffix indicating a touring - rather than sport - slant to the style and cockpit.
We’ll count one more new model here, which is Vespa’s Elettrica. The Elettrica is technically a 2020 model but it is in stock this summer. The Elettrica is Vespa’s first electric scooter and provides 150cc like acceleration but a 50cc like top speed of 30 mph (which they need to improve). The $7500 USD MSRP isn’t frugal but charging costs for the 4 kWh battery (about 50 cents) certainly are. Range is 60 miles or 100 km. Any overseas model (“Elettrica X”) doubles that, but isn’t offered in North America.
Updated 2019 Scooters
There’s a longer list of updated models, thanks mostly to Vespa. Aprilia has made some tweaks to their SR Motard, which frankly aren’t very substantial (e.g. new graphics, instruments and passenger pegs) but we’ll count it here because it’s Aprilia’s only scooter model and updates from them are scarce. You can read more detail on the updates here.
Also updated is Piaggio’s MP3 500 Sport, which returns sporting an updated engine and a wide range of new features (e.g. traction control) and ergonomics (e.g. new backrest and seat).
It would be a quick task of running down the updated models except Vespa picked 2019 to unveil countless new variants of their scooters. Full details are on the Vespa page, but to sum it up, Vespa took their existing “S” special editions plus devised three new editions (“Notte”, “50th Anniversary” and “Yacht Club”) and sprinkled those editions across many of their regular models.
The S edition was previously available only for the Sprint 150, but for 2019 it’s an option on the Sprint 50 and Primavera 150 as well. The Notte edition (below) adds blacked out trim and is available on the Sprint 50 and 150, as well as the GTS Super 300. The Yacht Club model features sailing inspired two tone coloring (blue and white) and is available on the Primavera 50 / 150 and GTS. Lastly, the 50th Anniversary model comes in two new colors (light blue and brown) with grey rims and an anniversary logo and tweaks the graphics and trim.
Finally, a quick mention that Genuine’s Rattler 50 has returned after more than a decade away (although they’ve sold the Roughouse all along which is nearly identical).
There are 3 to 7 departing models for 2019 depending on how you count it. The most notable of these is Suzuki’s Burgman 650, which is a legendary scooter and has had its demise announced on here before - only to return in updated form. We’ll see if Suzuki has another update coming, as some rumours suggest. If not, this is goodbye to a respected legend of the scooter scene and one of the most popular scooters of the past 15 years.
Also gone is the Sport version of BMWs C 650 (aka C 650 Sport) which leaves just the C 650 GT on that platform. The third “definitely gone” model is Yamaha’s Vino 50, which finally ends its 17 year run (2002 - 2018) dating back to the 2002 - 2005 resurgence of the small scooter market.
The rest of the departing models are only certain model variants, or discontinuations in some markets. Yamaha trimmed the single headlight “FX” or “X” version of their Zuma/BWs 50 leaving just the regular bug eye model. Honda also trimmed back their Canadian lineup by not introducing the third generation of PCX there, while Vespa trimmed off older variants on the GTS platform while also adding new ones. The GTV and GTS Super Sport are discontinued, while the GTS 300, GTS Super 300 and GTV Sei Giorni live on alongside new editions described above.
Overall, it’s a fairly level year for the scooter scene with similar numbers of new and departing models, although the average age of models on the market is getting up there. eBikes are continuing to threaten the small scooter market. It’s been a couple years since anyone introduced a new 50cc.
April 06, 2019 Filed under: Aprilia | 2019 Models
NEW INSTRUMENTATION AND MORE
The SR Motard is entering its 6th year on sale in North America, so Aprilia has decided that it is time for some updates. Of course it’s nothing too exciting, but at least they are paying some attention to the lone scooter offering left in their scooter lineup.
From a distance, the most notable change is the revised graphics with the large “a” on both sides of the legshield. However, a closer look finds re-designed passenger pegs as well, which fold vertically instead of horizontally.
More meaningful than any of that is the new instrumentation (below left) compared to the 2014-2018 models (below right). The new gauges look nicer and digitize the fuel gauge and other information.
The other change noted for the 2019 SR Motard is the addition of a USB plug in the underseat area, which will be appreciated for charging electronics.
Pricing is up $100 in Canada to $2645 due to the low dollar there, while remaining at $2199 in the USA. Colors for the upcoming year are matte black (Canada) and white (USA). Full details on this model are available on the SR Motard page.
March 24, 2019 Filed under: Honda
IS HONDA GETTING SERIOUS ABOUT ELECTRIC SCOOTERS?
This week Honda showed off an electric version of their Benly scooter at the Tokyo Motorcycle Show.
Hopefully this signals the start of a more serious electric effort from Honda, but I’m skeptical. Eight years ago Honda had their EV-Neo that was a reasonably good electric scooter for the time, but they never did anything with it and instead let e-Bikes continue to encroach on their small scooter sales, as has the rest of the scooter market.
Last year they showed off an all electric version of their PCX, which they said is production bound, but since then only a few have actually trickled out to customers hands. More problematically, it’s a low effort model because they are shoe-horning an electric powertrain into an existing scooter rather than starting with a fresh design where they can optimize for electric (e.g. using the batteries as a structural component). The PCX Electric doesn’t show a lot of progress given the 7 years between the EV-Neo and PCX electric.
Now Honda has taken their Benly utility scooter that is normally powered by a 110cc engine and tossed in the same electric motor and removable/swappable batteries they are using for their PCX Electric. Again, it’s nice to see a bit of interest in electric from Honda, but retrofitting other models isn’t going to be compelling for customers. For one, it fills up the underseat storage area with batteries.
I also think Honda (and others) are taking the wrong approach with swappable batteries. Improving fast charge technology has killed the rationale for battery swapping. Modern batteries and chargers can now charge at a rate of 300 miles in 20 minutes (and this is improving all the time). An electric scooter with a good range (e.g. 200 miles) and fast charging could conveniently charge at home overnight for day to day use so there would be no need to seek out swap stations, and on rare occasions when you road trip over 200 miles you can fast charge. After 200 miles you’re ready for a 20 min break anyways. Battery swapping is clumsy because you don’t own your entire machine, and you’re reliant on proprietary network that might not be around in 10 years. If a fast charge network fizzles out, at least you can still use your scooter, whereas some swapping companies like Gogoro even disallow you charging your own machine so you use their network more.
Hopefully Honda has something better in the works because their strategy over the last couple years of retrofitting gas models with swappable batteries isn’t going to cut it in the future. If they want to be successful with electric scooters, they need to get serious with a dedicated platform for electric.