With styling and price perhaps being the two most important criteria for scooter buyers, the Typhoon will sell quite well.
Smaller owner scene than some competitors
Minimal storage capacity
PIAGGIO TYPHOON 50 / 125
The original Typhoon was Piaggio’s fat wheeled sporty 50cc during the early years of their return to North America. It was sold in the USA from 2005 – 2008 and in Canada from 2006 – 2008. North American’s weren’t offered a Typhoon for a few years after that, but that changed July 26, 2011 when Piaggio USA announced the all new 125cc Typhoon that would be offered in North America for the 2012 model year.
This new Typhoon was designed to handle either a 50cc (2-stroke) or 125cc (4-stroke) engine, but in the USA only the larger motor was offered for 2012. That changed for 2013, when a 50cc version of the new Typhoon joined Piaggio’s USA line. For 2014 Piaggio Canada followed suit and introduced the new Typhoon, but only in 50cc form. These models remain on sale as of 2019.
The Piaggio group has designed several versions of this scooter for its many brands. Aprilia’s SR Motard is the same basic scooter as the new Typhoon but with some cosmetic and minor technical changes. The main differences are the color schemes and larger 14” rims & lower profile tires used on the SR Motard. Overseas the Typhoon is often sold under the Piaggio groups Gilera brand instead of directly under the Piaggio name. So you’ll find the Gilera Typhoon to be the same scooter if you’re looking at parts on international websites. Another scooter than shares it’s genes with the Typhoon is the 2012 Derbi Variant Sport, which is a lot like the Aprilia SR Motard but with revised front end bodywork.
This new generation of the Typhoon competes most directly with Yamaha’s Zuma 50 / 125 and Kymco’s Super 8 50 / 150 scooters in the small and mid sized rugged/sporty/off-road styled scooter segment. The styling of this new generation is extremely well done for its intended market. The sporty aggressive look is even better than previous generation of Typhoon which was sporty and rugged, but also a bit quirky. Some of the nicer touches on the Typhoon are the integrated front blinkers, the redesigned headlight unit and the ‘stealth fighter’ look of this scooter due to the numerous blacked out parts and clear turn signal covers. Piaggio has done a great job preserving the key design elements of the original Typhoon, while updating the overall look with a fresh, aggressive face.
Unfortunately the same style wasn’t extended to the scooters dash, which gets a lower end plastic look than the first generation Typhoon and loses both the tachometer and aviation style gauges.
Powering the Typhoon are two 4-stroke motors. The smaller Typhoon 50 uses a new 4-stroke, 4-valve air cooled Piaggio motor. This new mill likes to rev, with Piaggio claiming a peak of 4.6 HP at a sky high 9500 RPM. Peak torque is a bit lower at 2.8 ft-lbs at 8000 RPM. The 50cc Typhoon is capable of a peak velocity of 40 mph, which isn’t due to any restrictions so further top speed gains aren’t easy to come by. This carburated engine is a fuel sipper, with Piaggio claiming 144mpg. That’s likely about 30-40mpg higher then you’ll see in real world use, but even 100 mpg will take a serious chunk of your SUV’s fuel bill.
The larger Typhoon 125 uses a 124cc variant of Piaggio’s widely used LEADER engine. This is the same basic engine (48.6mm stroke) found in other mid-sized Piaggio products (ie. Piaggio Fly 150 & Vespa ET 150, LX 150 & S 150) for the past decade, but with a smaller bore cylinder (57.0mm vs. 62.8mm). Accordingly, Typhoon 125 owners can purchase 150cc or larger big bore kits for Piaggio’s LEADER engine to boost displacement if desired. Doing so would require adjusting the carburator and you’d likely want to tweak some other areas as well (ie. variator), so be warned that opting for a big bore kit will likely wind up consuming quite a bit of your time and hobby money.
Since this scooter is badged as a Piaggio and not as a Vespa, fuel injection has been withheld from this motor to keep the MSRP down and to distinguish it from Piaggio’s higher cost Vespa scooters. Accordingly, the specs for this 125cc engine are nothing special (carburated, air cooled, 2-valve, 4-stroke) but this does play a factor in why this scooter is quite a bit lower cost than some competitors like Yamaha’s Zuma 50 / 125 (which do have fuel injection and 4-valves).
Despite its simple design, this LEADER engine is a solid proven motor that has built a good reputation for reliability over the past decade. Perhaps the main downside to this motor is that the fuel economy won’t be quite a good as a high tech (ie. fuel injected) motor. 150cc Piaggio products using this motor typically get about 60mpg in mixed driving conditions, so this smaller 124cc version likely nets about 65mpg in the real world. For comparison, Yamaha’s fuel injected, 4-valve Zuma 125 normally achieves 70-75mpg in the same real world conditions.
Brakes / Suspension / Handling
Like the original Typhoon, Piaggio has equipped this scooter with a shiny gold caliper for the front disc brake. Braking performance up front should be quite good with this dual piston caliper combined with a large 220mm rotor. In the rear, Piaggio has stuck with a 140mm drum brake which is pretty basic but it should be enough to get the job done. The front suspension in the Typhoon uses a hydraulic fork with 3.0” (3.2” in the 125) of travel, which is a generous amount of give.
The rear travel is also quite plentiful with 3.4” available. That’s fairly high for a scooter and it should make the occasionally foray onto gentle trails more enjoyable. Most scooters with fat tires like this rarely have the suspension to back it up. The Typhoon’s looks might be optimistic for it’s true off-road ability, but it does seem better equipped in the rear suspension department than other scooters like Honda’s Ruckus and Yamaha’s Zuma 50 which offer 2.2-2.5” of rear travel.
Another nice touch from Piaggio is the inclusion of alloy rims (as opposed to steel) which keep the unsprung wheel weight down and should improve suspension feel over small bumps.
Storage and Convenience
Piaggio claims the Typhoon has ‘plenty of locking storage’ which might be a little optimistic, but there is enough to get by. The main storage area is under the seat where a moderate amount of space is available. Piaggio has also located the fuel tank under the seat, so that encroaches on the space here somewhat and only leaves room for smaller full face helmets. The space isn’t at the same level is a scooter like Honda’s Elite 110, but it’s about the same as Yamaha’s Zuma 125. Ideally, Piaggio would find a way to shove the fuel tank into the floorboard area and thus increase the space available for storage under the seat.
Underseat storage aside, there’s one other spot to store your gear – a small compartment near the ignition switch. This area is handy for small items like sunglasses. There is also some sort of a ‘hook’ present on the legshield which might be useful if you’re the creative type. Perhaps a bag of groceries or something else could be clipped here.
The new Typhoon has two big things going for it – sharp styling and a low MSRP. With styling and price perhaps being the two most important criteria for scooter buyers, the Typhoon will sell quite well. The smaller Typhoon 50 has the looks and power to take on the more popular 50’s out there like the Zuma 50 and Honda Ruckus. It also has a price low enough ($1899) to prevent being undercut by the value oriented Taiwanese makers Kymco and SYM. In a lot of ways, the Typhoon 50 compares very closely to Kymco’s Super 8 50.
The most obvious competitor to the Typhoon 125 is Yamaha’s Zuma 125, which offers a higher tech motor and better milage, but it comes a $650 premium. Piaggio doesn’t have the dealer network or exposure that Yamaha does, so the Zuma 125 will likely be the sales leader, but the Typhoon 125 will likely do very well for Piaggio and make quite a few scooterists very pleased. Piaggio has nailed the styling with this model which is likely enough to sway many buyers.
Other competitors to the Typhoon 125 include Honda’s PCX 150 and Kymco’s Super 8 150. The Super 8 150 undercuts the Typhoon 125 by $300, so that’s worth a look for a budget conscious buyers, while the PCX 150 offers a higher tech motor and more modern/urban styling.