STATE OF THE SCOOTER SCENE 2018 - PART ONE

A BOUNTY OF EIGHT NEW SCOOTERS FOR 2018
With all the 2018 scooter lineups from the major manufacturers announced, it’s time to round up the new, improved and departed scooter models. Once you are familiar with the new models, please take a second to vote for your favorite in our poll:


New 2018 Scooters
There is seven or eight new scooter models heading into 2018, depending on how you count it, which is a fantastic number compared to the one or two new machines that arrived in recent years. Technically, BMW’s C Evolution is arriving as a 2017 model, but it wasn’t on sale until recent months. Conversely, Piaggio’s Liberty is labelled a 2018 model, but it arrived nearly a year ago. We discussed the Liberty last year but skipped doing the poll last year because the Liberty was the only option, so it’s included now.

yamaha-x-max-300-usa-2018-whitesuzuki-burgman-400-2018-usa

The big theme for 2018 is the explosion of the mid-sized maxiscooter market. Five of the new scooters compete in this category. That includes Suzuki offering a brand new generation of
Burgman 400 (above, right), which will compete with brand new 300 - 400cc models from BMW (C 400 X), Kymco (X-Town 300, Xciting 400) and Yamaha (XMAX, above left). A curious trend here is the obsession with the letter X, with BMW, Kymco and Yamaha all incorporating it into their new model names.

BMW-C-Evolution-2018-Side BMW-C400X-350cc-Maxiscooter-USA

BMW brought the biggest news for 2018 by expanding into the mid-sized maxi market and by offering an alternative powertrain (electric). BMW finally brought their electric C Evolution (above left) maxiscooter to North America this fall, even if it is expensive ($13.5g) and limited to California. Details on BMW’s new mid-sized maxi-scooter, the C 400 X (above right), are sparse, but an MSRP is announced for Canada ($7540) and it should available in time for the warm riding weather in both markets. The C 400 X should expand BMWs scooter sales dramatically. In the USA it’s likely to be priced around $6g, compared to $10g for BMWs full size maxis.

2018-Kymco-Xciting-400i-ABS-Review-Scooter-Guide ´┐╝Kymco-USA-Canada-X-Town-Maxiscooter-2018

Also mixing things up was Kymco - as they often do. Kymco replaced their Downtown and People GT 300 models with the new X-Town 300 scooter (above right). On first glance the X-Town doesn’t look like anything special, but it’s priced to sell at a list price of only $3999 compared to $5600 for the outgoing mid-sized Kymco’s. As such, it’s a killer bargain compared to every other 300cc offering, so Kymco should sweep up the budget buyers. To further compete in the mid-sized segment, Kymco shrunk their Xciting (above left) down to 400cc (from 500cc), which offers larger riders some more leg room.

Kymco-Like-150-New-Like-125-Review
In the smaller scooter realm, Kymco’s new Like 150 is a brand new machine with a nice all new style and all the power of the older Like 200 at a lower price. This scooter competes closely with Vespa’s offerings, and will also compete for value buyers with Piaggio’s 2018 Liberty 150.

Lastly, Vespa was quiet for 2018 except for the introduction of a new Sei Giorni variant of their GTV model. The Sei Giorni commemorates Vespa’s racing success in the 50’s with a new olive green racing paint job. The Sei Giorni doesn’t make the poll, as it’s changes are only paint deep.

Dropped Models
Three of the four discontinued models for 2018 were Kymco’s making room for new models (X-Town 300 replaces Downtown 300 and People GT 300), while the Xciting 400 replaces the Xciting 500.

genuine-stella-army-green-2
However, there is one truly sad loss: Genuine’s Stella. The Stella has been the last living remanent of Vespa’s PX series in North America, and an important part of the scooter scene over the past decade. Reportedly, it’s demise comes as a result of manufacturer LML hitting financial issues and choosing to move away from production of this low volume scooter. Thus the last vestige of the Vespa PX era has come to a close.

Total Models
Heading into 2018 there is a total of 46 substantially different scooter models on sale in the USA from the nine major manufacturers we cover here on MotorScooterGuide (and nearly that many models in Canada). That’s a conservative count which lumps Vespa’s numerous style variants into the same model, but does consider different displacements of the same machine as separate models.

As usual,
Kymco leads with the largest line up (9 scooters) but Piaggio (8) isn’t far behind. The rest of the makers offer 3-7 models each except for Aprilia, which has just been hanging on in recent years with one (SR Motard). Honda’s also on a bit of downward trend, with only 3 models now that the Forza is gone, and this includes the 16 year old Ruckus which is rather old although still from beating the Elite 80’s record for the longest market run of 23 years.

As usual, part two of the State of the Scooter Scene annual report will occur in a few months, where we’ll run down scooter sales in the past year. If you haven’t already, please vote in the poll to help select the 2018 MSG Reader’s Pick for Best New Scooter.

NEW SCOOTERS GALORE AT EICMA AND TOKYO SHOWS

NEW ELECTRICS AND A SMALL BMW
Each year the Japanese and European scooter manufacturers unveil new concept and production scooters at the Tokyo and Milan (EICMA) motorcycle shows. These shows occur at almost the same time, so it’s the peak time of year for scooter news.

Thankfully 2017 did not disappoint with interesting concept and production machines from a wide range of OEMs. Notable machines this year were electric scooters from Vespa and Honda that are actually headed on sale, new maxiscooters from BMW, SYM and Kymco, and some vintage nostalgia courtesy of Honda (CC110) and Lambretta (V-Special)

Vespa-Elettrica-2019-Scooter

VESPA ELETTRICA
Vespa displayed an electric version of their Primavera last year called the Elettrica, but it was a non-functional concept. This year Vespa returned with a fully developed Elettrica they actually plan to start producing next year. Vespa is claiming they are going to sell this new scooter in many markets, so we’ll see where it winds up and if they’re serious.

The Elettrica puts out 4kW of peak power (5.35 horsepower) but can only do 2 kW on a sustained basis, so the power is comparable to a 50cc but the cruising speed probably isn’t quite there. Vespa hasn’t disclosed the battery size, but they did say the range is 100km (62 miles), so we expect that comes from a battery size around 5kWh.

Vespa-Elettrica-2019-Scooter-Dash

Vespa has designed this scooter for faster speed “level 2” charging, but not ultra fast charging, so it still takes 4 hours at best (and probably 8-12 hours at home). If you’re worried about the range, Vespa is also going to produce a “range extended” version with an on-board gas generator to charge the batteries called the Elettrica X. Mostly likely this version will make an already expensive scooter even more pricey.



HONDA PCX ELECTRIC
Honda is also going to start producing a serious electric scooter. They revised their popular PCX design to come up an electric version that is uncreatively called…..the PCX Electric. Unfortunately Honda hasn’t started with a clean sheet design here, so they’ve had to stuff the batteries in under the seat which cuts the storage space.

Honda-PCX-Electric-2018-Japan

Honda has actually teamed up with Yamaha on the battery side of this, so they’re using standardized and swappable batteries that are supposed to be compatible with a range of Honda and Yamaha machines in the years to come. We’ve been
skeptical of battery swapping here in the past - particularly when it’s mandatory like Gogoro who disallows home charging - because people like to own all of their scooter. Having the option to swap is fine, as long as manufacturers work towards faster charging as well.

Honda-PCX-Electric-2018-Japan-Battery-Swap

Honda hasn’t released any specs on the PCX Electric yet, but they do claim it’ll go on sale in Asia next year. They’re also prepping a hybrid version of the PCX, which is basically the regular PCX plus regenerative braking and a small battery to store the regenerated electrons. The PCX Hybrid cleverly uses the starter motor to deploy the regenerated power.


BMW C400X

BMW unveiled a sweet looking and production ready new scooter called the
C400X. Despite the C400X name, this adventure maxi-scooter is actually a 350cc. So it’s quite a bit smaller than BMW’s other C series models and hopefully quite a bit lower cost as well.

BMW-C400X-350cc-Maxiscooter-USA

BMW has released all the specs for this machine, so we know it’s a 450 lbs, single cylinder scooter with a peak output of 34 horsepower @7500 RPM (that’s 4 HP more than the
new Burgman 400) and an 86 mph top speed. The C400X also has standard ABS, traction control and dual 270mm disc brakes up front. Full info here.

The styling is reminiscent of the larger C series models, but it also has an adventure scooter look to it. BMW seems pretty serious with this model as they’ve already
announced it will arrive in Canada and the USA in spring 2018.
Lambretta-V-Special-150-2018
OTHER NEW SCOOTERS
A few other noteworthy scooters this year including the new Lambretta V-Special (above), which is being launched in 50cc, 125cc and 150cc sizes which is a SYM based scooter built in collaboration with the Lambretta Consortium. There’s also a nice looking 465cc maxi from SYM called the MaxSym TL and an interesting 550cc adventure scooter from Kymco called the AK550. Finally, Honda unveiled several new variants of their Cub at the Tokyo show, including the handsome CC110.

Honda-2017-Tokyo-CC110-Cub

BMW ANNOUNCES C EVOLUTION FOR CALIFORNIA

ONLY ALL ELECTRIC MAXI-SCOOTER ON SALE IN THE USA
BMW-C-Evolution-2018-Side
BMW has been selling their all electric C Evolution maxiscooter in Europe since 2014, but they’ve been coy about whether it will be sold in North America, with several false promises over the years. Finally this week BMW announced that it is coming to the USA - or at least California - for 2018, and they seem serious this time by also releasing pricing. When it arrives, it’ll be the first electric maxi-scooter sold here since Vectrix closed up shop a couple years ago.

The C Evolution shares little with BMW’s other C series maxiscooters, but rather has been designed from the ground up as an all electric ride. It’s based around a 12.5 kWh battery, which are pretty large for a scooter. For comparison, Chevy’s all electric car, the Bolt, has a 60 kWh back, while Tesla’s new Model 3 is being offered with 50 and 75 kWh packs. With 12.5kWh, the C Evolution has a range of 100 miles.

That should be enough range for most folks commutes, but BMW hasn’t equipped the C Evolution with particularly fast charging, so it’s not a great road trip machine. The C Evolution can’t use DC fast charging networks currently, so the best it can do is an 80% charge via 220V power in 4 hrs, or double that on 110V. So at best you’d spend twice as much time charging as driving.

BMW-C-Evolution-2018-Charge
The C Evolution makes 19 kW of power (not to be confused with kWh, which is power capacity), which translates into about 48 horsepower and 53 lbs-ft of torque. Thus, the C Evolution can jump to 60 mph in just 6.8 seconds despite it’s hefty 606 lbs weight (about 50 lbs more than BMW’s other maxi’s).

For folks that do more commuting than road tripping, the C Evolution could be an excellent machine with it’s clean operation, low maintenance, cheap operational costs and quality construction. The C Evolution also has 40mm diameter inverted forks, a single sided swingarm, 15” wheels and dual 270mm front disc brakes with standard ABS.

BMW is pricing the longer range model (12.5 kWH, 48 horsepower) at $13.5g and then you can add heated grips ($250), an upgraded seat ($145) and an alarm ($395). This price is $3-4g higher than BMW’s gas powered maxi scooters, but you’ll save quite a bit in fuel and maintenance costs over the life of the machine, as electrons are typically only 1/4 the cost of gasoline.

BMW-C-Evolution-2018-Drive

STATE OF THE SCOOTER SCENE 2017

2017 BRINGS JUST ONE NEW MODEL, WHILE OLD FAVOURITES DEPART
All the 2017 scooter lineups have been announced, and unfortunately there’s not much to get excited about with only a single new model, while several notable scooters are on their way out. For 2017, six of the nine major manufacturers we cover here are returning last years models unchanged or reduced (Aprilia, BMW, Honda, Kymco, Suzuki, Yamaha). Only Piaggio released a new model, while Genuine and Vespa made some updates.

Piaggio-USA-Liberty-50-2018
New Scooters
Piaggio Liberty 50 / 150

Updated Scooters
Genuine Buddy Eclipse
Piaggio MP3 Business 500
Vespa (red) 946

Discontinued Scooters
Genuine Blur 220
Honda Forza
Burgman 400
Yamaha TMAX

In each of the past five years, 7 to 10 new scooters were introduced. For 2016 that dipped to just two and now for 2017 Piaggio’s
Liberty 50 and 150 is the lone new machine. Even that is a bit of a stretch because the Liberty is actually a 2018 model, but we need to count something.

The Liberty (above) is a large wheeled scooter and it actually has a little history in North America, with a previous generation being offered briefly here in 2003 - 2004 using the
LT50 and LT150 names. The Liberty certainly has grown up since then, with less quirkiness in the styling, which now resembles Piaggio’s larger BV350. We’ll see if it catches on better than other big wheeled scooters in North America that didn’t last long, like Honda’s SH150i.

Thankfully a few other scooters got substantial updates. Piaggio unwrapped a “Business” version of their
MP3 500 with a brown seat and grey rims, Vespa debuted a new version of their 946 as part of the anti-aids (red) project, and Genuine released the next in a long list of variants of their Buddy scooter, called the Buddy Eclipse, which is a stylistic variant on the regular Buddy.

Unfortunately the list of discontinued scooters is even longer. It includes 4 machines: Genuine’s
Blur 220, Honda’s Forza, Suzuki’s Burgman 400 and Yamaha’s TMAX. Collectively, these four machines have 31 years of experience in the North American market.

Honda-Forza-2016-USAGenuine-Blur-220i-USA-Scooter
The Blur 220 was first offered with a 150 motor from 2006 - 2007 before returning with an extra 70cc from 2010 to 2016, so it’s an aging design and it’s no surprise to see it dropped. The Forza was only introduced in 2014 and it’s been a popular scooter, so hopefully we’ll see it return for 2018. It was voted by the readers here as the favourite new scooter for 2014, so hopefully Honda is just be reducing inventory or prepping a new variant. The Burgman 400 was in Suzuki’s original lineup when they returned to North American in 2003. While it was overhauled for 2007, it hasn’t been updated in the decade since so it’s not shocking that the end has come. Lastly, Yamaha has flip flopped with offering their TMAX since it was introduced in 2009, so unless it has more lives than a cat, this is likely the end.
2009 Suzuki Burgman 400 - WhiteYamaha-TMAX-2015-Canada

While 2017 isn’t blessed with many new machines, the numerous new models introduced over the past 5 years have meant that scooter selection remains near an all time high. In total, 49 different scooter models are being offered from all these manufacturers in 2017. That counts scooters available in 2 engine sizes as 2 models (fair? maybe not) and it includes the Liberty 50 and 150, which is sort of a 2018 machine. This total of 49 models is less than last year (52) but the same as 2013, so scooter selection has been largely stable for the past few years.

STATE OF THE SCOOTER SCENE 2016 - PART TWO

BMW BEATS YAMAHA, HONDA FOR 2016 SCOOTER OF THE YEAR

Readers Pick: BMW C 650 Sport Is 2016’s Best New Scooter
Coverage of BMW scooters was added to this site after BMW introduced their set of C series maxiscooters (2013), so the revised 2016 C 650 Sport was the first model from BMW to go head to head against other new and revised models in the readers choice poll. It’s clear that people like what they see, as the C650 Sport handily took first place with nearly one third of the votes (31%), making it the 2016 Motor Scooter Guide Reader’s Pick.
2016-BMW-C650-Sport-MSG-Scooter-of-Year

Rounding out the top three models were Yamaha’s new Zuma 125 which took an unchallenged second place (23%), followed by Honda’s updated Metropolitan in third (15%). With a third place finish, 2016 is the first time Honda hasn’t won the award since it began for 2013.

Garnering the least enthusiasm was Genuine’s new Chinese built and ultra low cost
Venture 50 along with the 2016 Armani edition of Vespa’s ultra pricey 946.

2015 Scooter Market Sales
Another year of scooter sales data is in and with it more confirmation that mediocre sales are here to stay. Before the 2008 recession USA scooters were a 50,000+ unit market, with highs some years approaching 100,000 (2004). Since the recession the market has been flat at 28-35,000 units and there are no clear catalysts for a recovery. Exact 2015 sales aren’t yet available from MIC but sales were down 10% year over year after the first 3 quarters and thus likely came in very close to 30k.

USA-Scooter-Sales-2006-2015

The situation in Canada is similar. With a population one-tenth the size of the USA, scooter sales in Canada were also one tenth with sales of 3452 units in 2015 per the MMIC. Canada looked like it was going to take less of a post-recession drop than the USA with okay 2009-2010 sales, but in 2011 sales shifted to today’s norm of ~3500 units.

Scooter-Sales-Canada-2007-2015

Scooter sales today are in a similar pattern as we’ve seen once before in history. Following the 80’s boom, sales were low for the entire 90’s before picking up steam in the early 2000’s.

Perhaps the biggest threat to scooter sales today are e-Bikes, which appeal for all the same reasons scooters historically have: low cost and less regulation. eBikes lack the power of even a 50cc scooter, but with a super low purchase price and often no registration, licence or insurance required, it’s not hard to see why they’ve become the vehicle of choice amongst the frugal (and DUI limited).

I see three possible solutions to the doldrums that scooter sales are now in. First, new regulations might make eBikes less appealing. If eBike owners are required to have a licence, registration and insurance like many areas require for scooters, then buyers might choose to pay a bit more for a more capable and higher quality scooter. However, there’s not much indication this is going to change.

Secondly, scooters could benefit from some unexpected cultural shift, like a hit movie, that makes scooters cool again. In the past two movies have done this (Roman Holiday, Quadrophenia) and something similar could happen again. In North America scooters have always been practical enough and it’s been the “broke motorcyclist” stigma that’s prevented far higher sales.

Thirdly, and preferably, scooter makers could release interesting new models that genuinely pique customers interests. Right now there are too many models on the market that are either boring or aging. The market needs another icon like the Vespa or Honda Ruckus to give it a boost.

Gogoro-electric-scooter-USA

Honda-EV-Electric-Cub-Scooter-USA
Perhaps the biggest opportunity here is with a well done electric scooter. Manufacturers have been toying with the idea, as I described previously, but no one has gotten serious about providing a capable electric scooter that latches on to Tesla’s momentum. I think Gogoro might be on to something with their new design, but I’d rather buy a battery and charge at home then be tied to a swap network.

An appealing and capable electric scooter could be what’s needed to make scooters cool again and boost the market. Unfortunately Gogoro doesn’t have plans to bring this to the USA and the other manufacturers seem content to slowly sell the same old models. Maybe Honda will get serious about their EV-Cub.

STATE OF THE SCOOTER SCENE 2016 - PART ONE

NINE NEW OR IMPROVED MODELS ARRIVING IN SHOWROOMS
With 2016 models mostly in showrooms, it is time to review all the new and improved models. Please take a second to vote for your favorite. If you’re not familiar with the choices, read on!



New 2016 Scooters
Genuine Buddy Kick
Genuine
Venture 50

Updated 2016 Scooters
BMW C 650 Sport
Honda
Metropolitan
Piaggio MP3 500 Sport
Vespa
Primavera Tourer
Vespa
Sprint Sport
Vespa
946 EA
Yamaha
Zuma 125

Dropped Models
Aprilia SR50
Kymco
MyRoad 700i

Genuine-Buddy-Kick-125-USAGenuine-Venture-50-2016
New scooters are sparse for 2016, comprising just two models from Genuine. These new models consist of a nice addition to the Buddy lineup called the Buddy Kick, and the low cost 50cc Venture. Thankfully quite a few more models received major updates.


For 2016 BMW resumed sales of their
C Sport model, now calling it the C 650 Sport. It still uses the same 647cc motor so the new name just corrects the earlier non-sense of calling it the C 600 Sport. The 2016 upgrades include freshened styling, traction control and tweaks to the suspension, CVT and exhaust. Honda took 2016 as an opportunity to heavily overhaul their popular Metropolitan with a new liquid cooled motor, revised styling, new glovebox, 12V port, rims and an in floor fuel tank to increase underseat storage. The Zuma 125 from Yamaha is also less recognizable, with all new style, instruments, more room and improved brakes and suspension.

2016-Honda-Metropolitan-Pearl-Blue
Yamaha-2016-Zuma-125-Blue-USA


The Italians haven’t been sitting idle either. Piaggio surprisingly resurrected their MP3 in North America after several years in the grave (although it was on sale overseas). The new
MP3 is called the 500 Sport but rather than resembling prior Sport models, it’s actually the softer original MP3 styling but with a new grill, rims and Piaggio’s larger 492cc motor. Vespa reworked three of their models for 2016, adding Tourer and S variations to the Primavera and Sprint models respectively. The Sprint S receives fairly mild styling tweaks while the Primavera Tourer gets the full set of Vespa racks and accessories similar to the LXV of years past. Last is the 2016 edition of the 946, called the Emporio Armani edition. This EA edition gets pretty neat green/grey paint but otherwise is similar to past 946 editions in style, function and price ($10g).

Piaggio-MP3-Sport-500-2016Vespa-Primavera-Tourer-150-2016Vespa-Sprint-S-150-ABS-USA

Aprilia-SR50-USA
Gone for 2016 is Aprilia’s iconic SR50. After 16 years and 2 models in North America (23 years overseas), Aprila’s original and high tech sports scooter is no more. This is the scooter that invented the sports scooter concept and introduced fuel injection, rear disc brake and liquid cooling to the 50cc segment. Hopefully Aprilia will return with a new generation, but if not the SR50 will have a solid legacy from a generation of passionate owners.

Also gone but not nearly as iconic is Kymco’s
MyRoad 700i, which was only offered for two years in the USA and never saw much sales success against the big maxiscooters from the Japanese.

In total there are 52 scooter models being offered from the 9 major manufacturers covered on this site. That’s down 2 from last year but up quite a bit from 45 models 5 years ago.


BMW ADDED TO MOTOR SCOOTER GUIDE

NEW RESOURCE ON THE BAVARIAN MAKER
BMW-C-650GT-USA-2015
Maxi-scooters have admittedly not been the main focus here at MSG but BMW has been building some great ones for a couple years now and they deserve recognition for it. Hence, a new section on BMW at MSG.

Introduced into 2013, BMW’s C series of scooters has provided stiff competition to maxi’s like Suzuki’s Burgman and Kymco’s MyRoad for a few years now. For 2015, BMW has dropped the cheaper Sport version of their C series scooters, and is forging ahead with only the C 650 GT for 2015.

Despite the lineup trim, BMW is still investing heavily in their C series of scooters with the all electric C Evolution likely to be officially announced sometime soon for North America. BMW has already indicated it will be released here soon, but
BMW-C-Evolution-USA-2015
the MSRP and launch date have yet to be revealed.

What we do know is that the C Evolution will be an impressive machine with perhaps the fastest 0-60 mph time ever for a scooter at a claimed 6.2 seconds. The C Evolution also has an electronically limited 75 mph top speed and 60 mile range, with charging taking about 2 hours for an 80% top up. Unfortunately the price for generation one looks to be a tad expensive at $13-17g estimated MSRP.

Check out the
BMW overview page for a year by year account of BMW’s lineup and the C 600 / C 650 page.