April 02, 2013
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 refined PCX ruled the poll, cornering a remarkable 40.9% of the vote. The PCX embodies practicality, with world class refinement and technology packed into a machine that delivers both huge storage and a 70mph top speed for $3449.
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.
Another trend worth noting is that bigger scooters (+50cc) are said to be responsible for most of the rebound, with 50cc sales remaining depressed - or more likely drifting to the Chinese. So midsized/large scooter sales are up quite a bit, as are profit margins - while the 50cc market continues to languish. Piaggio in particular reported a 22% increase in their over 50cc models, with 50cc sales stable. Looking ahead to 2013, scooters seem to be poised for a decent year. Sales increased in momentum all year in 2012, with sales up 5.6% over 2011 at mid year, which rose to a 7% lead by Q3 and a final score of 7.7%, so 40K is likely a good stretch goal for 2013.
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.
February 17, 2013
A LEGEND OVERHAULED AND A NEW CHALLENGER
For several years now it’s seemed like scooter manufacturers had moved on from +500cc machines - a fall from grace from the early years of the new millennium when someone was always releasing something newer, faster and bigger. Aprilia fired the first king-maxi-scooter salvo into North America for 2001 with their Atlantic 500 and Honda upped that to 582cc the following year with their 2002 Silverwing. Suzuki followed suit two years later with the Burgman 650, which boasted 638cc and enough amenities to establish Suzuki as the top dog in the maxi scooter scene.
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 passing their twilight years in inconspicuous showroom corners behind the dirt bikes. (Aprilia’s Atlantic never really got started, with its 2004 withdrawal being complete just before the segment really took off).
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 new “Eco Drive Indicator” system, which rewards fuel friendly driving by activating a glowing green leaf (shown below right at bottom of tachometer).
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 can be accused of severe emaciation, with either machines equalling seven Honda Spree’s on the scale.
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.
December 11, 2012
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)
Kymco Yager GT 200 (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.]
A moment of pause should also be given to Piaggio’s MP3 line - which carries on in the USA but has sadly been dropped from the Canadian market. Conversely, the BV 300 and BV 500 do continue on in Canada, while the BV 350 replaces both of these name plates in the USA. Finally, Kymco USA’s ever evolving line claimed two casualties this time around, with the Sento 50 and Yager GT 200 on their way out to make room for newer machines.
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. With 50cc scooters being the most popular, this new model should really increase the number of Typhoon’s on the streets.
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.
2013 is also a big year for Honda, with a new generation of Metropolitan (left) arriving in both the USA and Canada. The new scooter is the same in both markets, but Canada has opted to use Honda’s overseas name of Giorno. The first generation of Metropolitan (2002 - 2009) was a popular model for Honda and this new generation takes over now that excess inventory from the slow 2009 and 2010 years has been cleared out.
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.
The biggest news from Genuine this year is a new Lemonhead edition of their popular Buddy scooter (shown at top). The Lemonhead draws inspiration for an entire scooter from the favorite snack of the Genuine/Scooterworks crew. The result is an individually numbered and limited edition scooter (200 being made) with various neat yellow accents and graphic odes to this bow-tie wearing candy.
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.
November 10, 2012
VESPA REVAMPS THEIR COLOR PALETTE AND ADDS SPORT SE VARIANT
After maintaining a steady lineup for the past few years, Vespa has stirred things up for 2013. No, the radical new 946 won’t be here for another year or more, and no Vespa hasn’t slipped their new 3-valve 150cc engine into any North American models, but at least there’s something to get excited about. Consider 2013 to be the prequel, the warmup, to the bigger news announcements that lay in the years ahead.
First off, all of the models from 2012 are back. Besides the new pigments, the LX (50 & 150), S (50 & 50) and GTS (300 and 300 Super) have all been nearly identically reincarnated. Also back are the collectors ‘V’ variants of the LX and GTS -known as the LXV and GTV respectively. So what’s new? Well, a few tweaks, some new colors and a pretty neat ’Sport SE’ trim version of the S and GTS.
The ‘tweaks’ to the existing Vespas are focused on the S and LX. Both of these scooters receive new ‘horn guards’ (think grills) and additional Vespa logos on the handgrips and floorboard. The instrumentation has also been revised, with the S boasting classy blacked out and easier to clear gauges, while the LX 150 enjoying a freshening of the instruments style.
Vespa has made quite a few changes to their color offerings for 2013. You can delve into all the color details over at Vespa’s website and I’ll highlight the main ones here. The Vespa S is no longer available in titanium and Satin black has become exclusively available on the Sport SE variant of the S. The LX gets a new Aquamarine option and black is back. The upscale LXV trades Portofino green for a new ‘Sienna Ivory’ shade.
The larger GTS scooters also get new clothes. The regular GTS 300 trades Plum for Bronze, while the Super trades Titanium for Dragon Red. The new GTS 300 Super Sport SE comes in exclusively Satin black, like it’s S counterpart. Also like it’s smaller sibling, the GTV trades its green pigment option for a new ‘Sienna Ivory’ tint.
Sport SE Trim
The Sport SE variants of the S and GTS are undoubtably the biggest news for 2013. These limited edition Vespa’s claim to amplify Vespa’s sport spirit using a minimal aesthetic and high performance. While ‘high performance’ might be a bit of a stretch (there’s no performance tweaks at all), Vespa has created a tasteful aesthetic.
The Satin black paint (and wheels) look great with the red (shock coils) and white (seat piping) accents. The ribbed seat adds a sporty element too. While the checkered (S 50/150) or ‘Super’ (GTS) graphics on the flanks might not have been necessary, they are the most obvious identifier of these limited edition models.
Pricing for the Super SE adds $100 (S 50/150) or $200 (GTS) to the price, which is quite reasonable for even just the seat alone.
October 25, 2012
MOVIE 150 AND LIKE 50/200 MODELS ADDED TO CANADIAN SHOWROOMS
Kymco Canada has stepped beyond their 2012 tally of 10 models and has announced an all time high of 13 scooters for 2013. That’s more scooters to choose from than all of the Japanese makers combined - quite a few more.
The biggest splashes for 2013 are the new Movie 150 and Like 50 & 200 machines. The Movie 150 is Kymco’s newest mid-sized sports scooter, while the Like 50 and 200 are Kymco’s most direct take on the ionic vintage scooter style. The Movie 150 was recently announced for the USA market as well, so you can read more detail now in the Movie 150 section.
The Like series was introduced state side a couple years back, but for 2013 Canadians get a white color option instead of ivory. The smaller Like 50 uses a potent 2-stroke motor, so power enthusiasts and larger riders can rejoice.
The larger Like 200 contains a 160cc 4-stroke motor, which really expands the usefulness of this scooter beyond the city. Between the New Sento 50 & 110 and the new Like scooters, there’s a retro styled Kymco in everyone’s desired power range.
Appearing alongside these three new models are a revised Xciting 500 and the rest of Kymco’s 2012 offerings which have all gotten the nod for 2013. With a total stable of 13 scooters, Kymco is marketing a scooter targeted at nearly everyone. For more info on these new models, have a look at YouMotorcycle.com’s first look.
October 01, 2012
SUZUKI’S BIG MAXI MAY END ITS USA RUN AT NINE YEARS
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.
August 27, 2012
KYMCO USA ANNOUNCES THEIR 2013 LINE
For years Kymco has boasted the most populous scooter lineup in the USA and 2013 appears to be no exception. Occupying Kymco showrooms for 2013 will be a total of 14 different machines. The quick breakdown is four 50cc’s, one maxi scooter and an impressive tally of nine mid sized scoots (110-300cc).
Before delving into discussion on the new models, a moment of reflection is warranted to salute the departure of the original People scooters from Kymco’s lineup. Outlasting any of their contemporaries, the People 50 and 150 were introduced in 2001 and 2002 respectively - the former being a member of Kymco’s debut lineup in the USA. After more than a decade on sale in the USA, these two final members of the People family are headed for the great gymkhana in the sky. Also joining the People 50 & 150 out the exit door are the Yager 200 and retro Sento 50.
The outgoing Sento 50 is being replaced by a pair of new retro scooters badged as the Compagno 50i and 110i. This stylish model was actually introduced a year earlier in Canada as the New Sento 50i / 110i, so you can read some more in depth thoughts on it now. The Compagno slots in as Kymco’s premium offering in the retro scooter niches with MSRP’s of $2599 (50cc) and $2999 (110cc). At $300 more than the Like 50, the Compagno 50 delivers about 10% better milage and power thanks to its 4-valve, fuel injected mill.
Also for 2013 is an entirely new nameplate - the Movie 150. Resembling the Super 8 150 more than anything else, the Movie 150 is a more subtly sporty model than the flashy Super 8. The Movie 150 boasts some neat features like disc brakes front and rear and dual rear shocks. Finally, the Xciting 500 has been redesigned for 2013 and is now called the Xciting 500 Ri. It boasts fresh styling, new conveniences and a new generation of Bosch ABS.
USA Models: Compagno 50i / 110i, Agility 50 / 125, Super 8 50 / 150, Like 50 / 200, Movie 150, People GT 200i / 300i, Downtown 200i / 300i, Xciting 500 Ri
August 02, 2012
APRILIA’s 2013 RACE REPLICA SCOOTER HONORS #3 MAX BIAGGI
At 40, Aprilia factory rider Max Biaggi is having a superlative year. He’s out front in the Superbike World Championships (aka SBK) standings and now he’s getting his own race replica edition of the SR 50.
Available now as a 2013 model, Aprilia is honoring Max with a ‘Replica SBK’ edition of their fiesty SR 50. The SBK edition boasts racing derived graphics with Max’s #3 featured on the front end and rear haunches. Pricing for the Replica SBK edition is the same as the regular SR 50 R: $3199. The mechanically identical regular SR 50 R continues to be offered in Diablo Black and Aprilia Orange.
June 09, 2012
YAMAHA ANNOUNCES VINO 50, ZUMA 50 AND ZUMA 125 FOR 2013
Yamaha USA and Yamaha Canada made concurrent press releases this past week to announce some early 2013 scooter models.
While not likely their complete 2013 lineup, this early release heralded the return of the Vino 50 and both Zuma’s - 50 and 125 - as 2013 models hitting showrooms this summer.
The Vino 50 lands with the biggest splash, as it had previously taken 2012 off and now returns boasting fuel injection for the first time. This update was only fitting as the new for 2012 Zuma 50 and the departed C3 used the same core motor but with fuel injection while previous iterations of Vino 50 (2006 - 2011) made do with a carb. While lucky to get fuel injection, the small Vino 50 didn’t fare as fortunately in the paint booth. The lone color option for 2013 is a cream-ish shade being called Vanilla White in the USA and Yellow-ish Gray in Canada.
The Zuma’s didn’t receive any mechanical tweaks like the Vino, but they do get some nice color choices for 2013. The 125cc Zuma is going to be offered in Dynamic Blue (USA) and Vivid Metallic Red (Canada) alongside the more standard Matte Black option (both countries). The smaller Zuma 50 is available in Matte Black, Heat Red and Yamaha Blue (Canada Only). Heat Red is likely to be a popular option.
To make up for missing 2012, the Vino 50 is rolling into showrooms now, while the Zuma 50 lands in July and the Zuma 125 in August.
April 19, 2012
NEWEST MEMBER OF PIAGGIO’S BV FAMILY AVAILABLE NOW
The newest member of Piaggio’s popular BV series has landed in American showrooms. The BV350, or Beverly Sport Touring 350 as it’s dubbed internationally, was unveiled last fall at the 2011 EICMA show in Milan.
At the time, Piaggio hinted towards a North American release and confirmed that in March when they announced it as an early release 2013 model. Piaggio expected to have this scooter in dealerships during May, but the intrepid BV350’s have slipped thru the border and are now landing in American showrooms.
The BV350 uses the same core frame as the departing BV300 (and BV250 before that), but Piaggio has made a huge list of great updates. The 330cc motor is new and now boasts both fuel injection and 4-valves.
Power is up to 33.3 HP (vs. 24HP for the 250), which is just 6 ponies shy of the heavier BV500. With the bump to 330cc comes a 10mph top speed boost to 90mph.
The styling has also been reworked for 2013. There’s a lot of new bits (rims, mirrors, blinkers) and a number of components have been blacked out or darkened for more aggressive ‘dark knight’ slant. The mahogany toned saddle is also a great touch.
Colors for 2013 are Shiny Black and Matte Silver. Pricing is quite reasonable at $5499. Check out the Piaggio BV Series page for complete info on the BV350 or browse the first ride report from Cycle World.
April 02, 2012
HONDA USA ANNOUNCED ALL NEW 2013 METROPOLITAN AND MORE POWERFUL PCX150
Nearly five months after announcing a pretty thin 2012 lineup of scooters, Honda USA threw out a surprise press release today announcing the return of the PCX and Metropolitan. Making the return of these scooters even sweeter is the news that Honda has made changes to both models to make them even better machines.
We’ll deal with the new PCX150 first because the changes are quicker to discuss. Simply put, the PCX is back for 2013 and features an updated 153cc motor. The basic motor is the same, but the bore is up from 52.4mm to 58mm which boosts displacement 28cc to a total of 152.9cc. Compression is down slightly to 10.6:1 (from 11:1) but regardless the new motor should significant best the PCX125’s 11.1 ponies.
Top speed should rise from 60mph to about 65mph unless Honda forgot to remove the old 64mph rev limiter. Most likely Honda tweaked the gearing to keep the redline the same RPM but raise the redline speed to around 70mph. American’s still don’t get the idle stop technology that Honda includes in many markets to shut off the engine after 3 seconds and re-start it in an instant when the throttle is twisted.
With the changes to the engine comes a tiny (0.4”) increase to the wheelbase, six extra pounds (to 286lbs) and an extra 0.2” of rear suspension travel to a total of 3.1”. The rest of the scooter is unchanged, which is to be expected since it was only sold here for one year previously (2011) as Honda skipped the 2012 model year. The largest impact of this change is that the PCX150 is now interstate legal in the USA, which makes it a more practical machine. The Candy Red color sticks around for 2013, but Metallic Black replaces Pearl White as the other color option.
The 2013 Metropolitan didn’t receive mere tweaks to its mill, it gets an entirely new frame and fuel injected motor plus many other updates. The style of the Metropolitan is completely overhauled, with no body panels left unchanged. The front end received the biggest changes, as the headlight was restyled and moved up from the leg shield to the headset. The new look is more reminiscent of Vespa’s LX model and less like Yamaha’s Vino. The front fender looks to be carried over from the previous (2009) Metropolitan but the rest of the body is new. The lines are freshened up and the rear flanks are raised up a bit higher to show more of the rear wheel. Also new are the gauges, handlebars, blinkers, locking ignition cover and seat.
Honda made the Metropolitan even more practical for 2013 with the new PGM-Fi (fuel injected) engine and additional storage options. Honda added a storage cubbyhole in the leg shield which isn’t quite as good as a glovebox but its better than nothing. Honda also included a hook above the cubbyhole in addition to the large under seat storage area which carries over.
The motor in the updated 2013 Metropolitan is an all new design with few details currently available. The biggest news for this new motor is the addition of fuel injection. That should boost milage moderately. Honda is claiming 117mpg for this new motor, which is 3mpg better than their claim for the old carbureted engine. This motor is still a 2-valve design with the same bore and stroke as the old GET2 motor, but it’s obviously a new design as the engine is now bottom mounted to the frame and it’s no longer liquid cooled. Honda’s specs say this new engine is liquid cooled, but it sure looks like an air cooled motor and a bit of research reveals this engine is almost certainly Honda’s AF70E air cooled motor rated at 4.5 HP @ 8250 RPM.
With all these changes, it seems like almost everything is new but a few bits do return. These few returning items include the hand controls, rims, rear suspension and brakes. The basic frame does not return for 2013, as the new Metropolitan now uses a steel tube frame instead of the high end aluminum frame found in the outgoing Metropolitan. Maybe that’s how they shaved $50 off the MSRP.
Overseas, Honda announced the updated PCX150 for some markets (ie. Thailand) about 2 weeks ago. The new Metropolitan is going to be sold as the ‘Giorno’ in Japan. It was just announced March 28th for the Asian markets.
The new Metropolitan is going to be a really compelling scooter. In addition to adding fuel injection and reworking the styling, Honda also lowered the price $50 to $1999 and added more storage. The downsides are the switch away from liquid cooling and the move to a steel tube frame. Color options for the 2013 Metropolitan are Pearl Black, Pearl Black/Red and Pearl White. Don’t be mislead by the silver and brown Japanese market models shown. The new 2013 Metropolitan is expected in showrooms in June, while the PCX150 is going to show up later in the summer.
January 29, 2012
PIAGGIO REPLACING THE MP3 250, 400 AND 500 WITH NEW MP3 CITY 300?
Rumour has it that Piaggio (USA & Canada) is scaling back their MP3 line from three models to one for 2013. Starting second quarter 2012, Piaggio is no longer accepting dealer orders for the soft styled MP3 250 and 400, as well as the bold MP3 500. This move has speculation spiking amongst fans and dealers about the future of the MP3 line. While popular in many markets, the MP3 has received only a luke warm response in North America.
There has been some speculation Piaggio is axing their 3 wheeled line entirely, but most sources believe [see comments] they are scaling back to one model….the new MP3 City 300.
The City 300 was unveiled in late 2010 overseas under the awkward name ‘MP3 Yourban’ which Piaggio has wisely abandoned for America. One Piaggio dealer claims that Piaggio USA is training mechanics on the newest MP3 now, in preparation for a late summer launch.
Both the styling and performance of the MP3 City strike a compromise between the currently diametric range of MP3 models. The styling is less cheeky than the smaller MP3’s, while less over the top than the testosterone styled MP3 500. This sharp styling joins the new Beverly Sport in finding the handsome middle ground Piaggio has been missing lately.
The 300cc fuel injected motor falls on the smaller side of MP3 engine palette, but the City 300 makes up for it by shedding some pounds and inches of its own. The whole premise of the City 300 was the MP3 smaller, lighter and more nimble. Piaggio feels this better suits the MP3 to the city, but it actually makes the MP3 more fun to drive on any road.
While not confirmed yet, we’ll likely see a press release from Piaggio USA in early to mid-summer about the future of their MP3 line. Some fans are have got their fingers crossed that Piaggio will toss in the larger 350cc motor they’re using in the BV Sport 350.
November 24, 2011
VESPA QUARANTASEI - PRODUCTION BEGINS FALL 2012
At the early November EICMA motorcycle show in Milan, Vespa pulled the wraps off a totally new style of Vespa - the Quarantasei (Italian for 46). The name is a reference to the year Piaggio began selling scooters (1946) and it’s also refers to how this scooters was based on the original 1945 MP6 Vespa design by Corradino D’Ascanio. It’s called 46 because it’s one step beyond the ’45 model. Perhaps the most exciting news for Vespa enthusiasts is that Piaggio has committed to getting this scooter in production by next fall.
Since the Quarantasei is meant to be a re-interpretation of the MP6 style, it shares several styling elements including the suspended seat and wasp like tail. There’s also quite a bit of deviation from the MP6 design, such as moving the headlight from the front fender to the headset.
The overall look is decidedly more edgy and aggressive then recent Vespas. While parts of the design may not suit everyone, there is a lot to like with this new Vespa. The more aggressive and mature look will broaden the appeal of this scooter to folks who find the LX and GTS series of scooters a little too cheeky. The lighting execution on this concept scooter is excellent, with a modern projector beam headlight and the integrated circular LED taillight that surrounds the gas cap, although there’s likely to be changes before production starts.
Other neat design touches from Vespa include running the cables inside the handlebar rather than externally, which really cleans up the handlebar area. Vespa also integrated the LED front blinkers into the ends of the handlebars, which is clever but likely doesn’t meet too many safety regulations.
Powering the Quarantasei is a fuel injected, 3-valve, air-cooled 4-stroke motor that will be sold in 125cc and 150cc versions. The 125cc motor is going to be for countries like the UK that limit learners to 125cc or less, while the 150cc version will be sold in areas like the USA that often require 150cc engines as the minimum for highway travel. While Vespa is calling this motor ‘state of the art’, it’s likely the latest reiteration of their long running LEADER motor. In recent years Vespa has been using a 4-valve, fuel injected LEADER motors in their mid-sized scooters, so the move down to 3-valves is interesting. Vespa may have found a way to beat the power or milage of their 4-valve version using
3-valves, or maybe they just found a way to get similar performance at a lower cost.
Production is slated to being in fall 2012 for the Quarantasei. Between now and then Vespa is going to be making changes to this design to meet safety regulations and tweak the style in a few areas. I personally would like to see the seat area re-worked a bit. The floating seat concept is nice, but I’d like to see it shortened and lowered a bit so it doesn’t stick out so much. The rear end of this scooter is a work of art and hopefully not too many changes are made here aside from the inclusion of a bracket to mount a licence plate. It’s also quite certain that the handlebar end LED blinkers are going to be gone on the production version. It’ll be interesting to watch this design develop over the coming year.
September 25, 2011
HONDA ANNOUNCES NEW GLOBAL 125CC SCOOTER ENGINE
Honda (Worldwide) announced an new mid-sized ‘global standard engine’ for their future 125cc scooters. This new motor is a 125cc liquid cooled 4-stroke that will be used in quite a few future scooters starting next year. Honda hasn’t announced any specific scooters that will use this engine yet, but it’s good to get to know this motor, as it will likely make it to the North American market in some form in the future years.
Honda announced this motor as a ‘global standard engine’, which means they will eventually create quite a few variations to meet different price points and scooter designs (ie. different swing arm lengths to accommodate different wheel sizes). On first glance, this motor might not look like anything radical, but there are a number of nice improvements that will benefit scooterists. Honda claims they focused on three areas with this new motor: durability, fuel economy and quietness. The most interesting of these areas is the fuel economy.
This engine ‘accommodates an idle stop system’, which means that higher end scooters sold in places like Europe and Japan will get the idle stop system which shuts off the engine at stop and instantly restarts it, while in other markets Honda will cut costs and omit this system. Honda’s first scooter to incorporate an idle stop system is the 2011 PCX 125, which doesn’t get this system in the USA market, but does elsewhere. Like the idle stop feature, fuel injection is another feature that this engine ‘accommodates’, so most markets will get that but some countries will get budget versions with carbs.
Honda claims a big overall improvement in fuel economy of 25%, which likely assumes the use of both the idle stop feature and fuel injection. Honda also improved fuel economy by making a big effort to reduce friction in many areas of the engine. This friction reduction has been accomplished by a large number of small tweaks. Some of the more note worthy ideas are needle bearings on the rocker arm shafts (most scooter engines have no bearings here and just rely on oil), roller rocker arms (very cool, a 125cc scooter first), an offset cylinder to reduce friction against the wall (see diagram below), a more efficient radiator which requires a smaller lighter fan, lighter piston, less oil agitation in the transmission etc. Ideas like idle stop technology and fuel injection are already present on some Honda 125cc scooters, but the needle bearings on the rocker arm shafts and the roller bearing rocker arms (on left where they contact the camshaft) are an industry first in a 125cc scooter and very nice to see. These features are normally only seen on higher end motors. Fuel economy and friction aside, Honda has made a few other neat tweaks. They’ve found a new ‘high-elasticity’ rubber for the drive belt that is both quieter and more efficient which is good news. Typically scooter CVT’s are only about 80-85% efficient, so there is some real room for improvement here. Honda has also included a brushless ‘ACG’ starter which has been seen on a few other Honda’s before this (ie. Honda Ruckus, Metropolitan and PCX 125). This ACG design is great (simple, lighter and silent) and for this new generation of engine Honda has increased their electronic control over this starter to make the idle stop system work better and all starting easier.
One thing that stood out from Honda’s press release, was this motors similarities with the current Honda PCX 125 engine (idle stop system, fuel injection, 125cc displacement, ACG starter etc). Digging a little deeper revealed that the bore (52.4mm) and stroke (57.9mm) of this new engine are coincidentally identical to the PCX 125 motor. Accordingly, this ‘new’ engine might be better considered as a new generation / refinement of the current PCX powerplant. While likely PCX based, the engine improves in a large number of areas including overall weight, lower friction in the transmission, offset cylinder, new drive belt material and the great roller rocker arms and needle bearings on the rocker arm shafts.
Honda plans to announce the first models using this engine next year as 2013 models. The USA/Canada might get this motor in an updated 2013 PCX 125, or North America might lag a bit further behind and not receive this motor until the 2014 model year. There’s also the possibility Honda won’t roll it out here for a number of years until they replace the PCX 125 with a new model. Honda is impossible to predict for the North American market, but I do think they’ll make an effort to get this engine here eventually.