TOP SCOOTERS OF THE DECADE: PART 3 - 2000'S
July 27, 2015 Filed under: Honda | 00's | Suzuki
In the decade from 2000 to 2009 an incredible 77 new scooters models were introduced into the USA and Canada. This was a huge increase from the paltry 6 new models that were introduced the 90’s. More importantly, the scooter market diversified as it grew from a trio of Japanese makers (Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki) to include Italian brands (Vespa, Aprilia, Piaggio) and several Taiwanese manufacturers (Kymco, Genuine/PGO, SYM).
The 2000’s are also notable for being when the maxi-scooter concept was really developed, with machines going far beyond 250cc designs like Honda’s Helix and cranking that up to 500-650cc. Another noteworthy change this decade was a shift from 50cc 2-strokes to 4-strokes, with new 2-strokes becoming rare by the end of the decade. Scooter sales during this time had some strong years (2005 - 2008) followed by a 50% collapse during the 2009 recession - a sales level which remains to this day.
Choosing just 3 machine to represent the best of the 00’s from the list of 77 is difficult. The following machines were selected because they combine top notch design with historical importance. There are numerous fantastic machines that have been left out.
Vespa S 150 (2008 - 2014)
Vespa returned to North America in 2001 with their ET model, but it wasn’t until the S was launched in 2008 that Vespa really connected with North American enthusiasts. The ET was a bit awkward and it’s LX successor was a bit cheeky. When Vespa took the same LEADER motor and LX frame and wrapped that in the edgier S styling they had their first real hit in North America in 3 decades and became relevant again.
The S has been offered in 50cc and 150cc versions, but the 150 is the real deal with power to match the capabilities of the rest of the machine. It lacks the handy glovebox of the LX, but the style is more than enough to make up for it. If you’re in the market for a machine from the 00’s, the S provides edgy style and top notch quality in a reliable package.
Suzuki Burgman 650 (2004 - present)
Aprilia was the first to introduce a proper maxi scooter to North America with their Atlantic 500 in 2000 and Honda followed that up in 2002 with the even better, but full mastery of the maxi-scooter concept wasn’t demonstrated until Suzuki released the Burgman 650 in 2004.
The Burgman 650 has advocates everywhere and for good reason. It matches highway power with a full array of touring amenities, and goes a step further than touring motorcycles by providing a package that is easier to mount and ride. Quite a few maxi’s have been introduced since, but none have dethroned the Burg 650.
Honda Ruckus (2003 - present)
More than any other scooter, Honda’s Ruckus is responsible for making scooters cool again in the new millennium. Prior to the Ruckus, most small scooters were meekly styled plastic blobs that most people would be embarrassed to be seen on. I love a good 90’s machine, but it’s fair to say that style struggled to gain mass acceptance.
In addition to it’s rugged style, the Ruckus is also a top notch machine with an aluminum frame, liquid cooled 4-stroke motor and and clever bits like a new alternator design that shed the need for a starter motor. The Ruckus is the complete trio of great style, clever design and top quality. It’s the type of machine that helped Honda build their reputation for reliability.