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 Liberty 50 / 150
Genuine Buddy Eclipse
Piaggio MP3 Business 500
Vespa (red) 946
Genuine Blur 220
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.
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.
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.