May 2010 – SYM has lowered the MSRP on the Fiddle II from $2,598 to $2,298
“Wow, that’s a nice-looking scooter. Is it one of yours?”
“Nope, it’s a new Fiddle from SYM, I’m reviewing it.”
“That’s really great paint work. So, you’re just running around for a few days and then scribbling some notes. Did you make a deal with the Devil or something?”
“You have to be the luckiest (expletive) there is. Can I try the scooter?”
No, really, I DID NOT make a deal with the Devil and yes, I realize just how fortunate I am to be allowed spend time doing something I enjoy so much. This time around, I’m enjoying myself on a new SYM Fiddle II 125cc scooter. SYM (San Yang Motors) is based in Taiwan and has been around since 1961. As those of you who have read some of my other reviews will know, Taiwanese scooters are among the best in world, and SYM only adds to that reputation for quality. The Scooter used in this review was provided by BlueCat Motors in St. Paul Minnesota.
There has been a lot of buzz and much anticipation around the Fiddle II. The initial “working name” was the Vogue, but there were some legal issues with the use of that name on a scooter. The runaway success of scooters like the Genuine Buddy and Yamaha Vino has resulted in a lot of purchaser demand for retro-styled scooters in both the 50cc and 125-150cc classes. In the scooter world, it’s tough to escape the never-ending sea of low-cost, low-quality scooters, mostly being sold online. The SYM Fiddle II adds another high quality choice to the marketplace and should help a lot of first-time scooter buyers get rolling on two wheels WITHOUT worrying about reliability and support. Why someone would spend their hard-earned money on a cheap piece of junk when scooters of this quality are available is just beyond me.
OK, I’ll stop rambling and get on with the review.
Speedometer Reading/Speed/Fuel Economy
In addition to giving me a hard time about being able to review scooters… most everyone asks questions along the lines of “How much does it cost, how fast will it go, and what kind of fuel economy do you get?” The SYM Fiddle II 125 has a price of $2,598. The speedometer on the Fiddle II was wildly inaccurate at nearly 18% optimistic. When the speedometer indicated 40 MPH, the actual speed was 33 MPH. I tested this at different speeds and got results from 17% optimistic to 20% optimistic. The vast majority of scooters that I test have speedometers that read about 10% optimistic. This is my one complaint about the SYM Fiddle II. The top indicated speed with a 150 lb. rider was 72 MPH which means the actual top speed was 59 MPH. Corrected for the inaccurate speedometer, fuel economy was 86 MPG at city speeds and 75 MPG at highway speeds. Keep in mind that this is from a NEW scooter. After break-in I would expect an average fuel economy in the low 90s around town.
The SYM Fiddle II is available in both 50cc and 125cc versions. For this review we tested a 125cc model. A lot of the features are going to be the same. Of course performance will be markedly different between the two versions.
First off is my personal favorite feature – the seat release switch. Yes, you can use the ignition switch, like most scooters, but there is also a seat latch release integrated with the headlight switch. Just push down on the low-beam position and the seat will unlatch. This is completely cool and very functional. I am all too often needing to add something to, or get something out of, the underseat area and with this feature I can do it without turning off the scooter and fumbling with the ignition switch.
The SYM Fiddle II is a retro-styled scooter. I think it looks similar to the Vespa LX series. It is currently available in red, white and green. I had the opportunity to see all three colours and they are quite nice. The finish work on the Fiddle II is exceptional. The red one used for this review drew attention and comments from just about everyone who saw it. The pictures in this review just don’t do it justice. When you visit your local SYM dealer, get them to wheel one outside and look at it in the sunlight – wow.
Other than the seat latch release, the control layout is very similar to most other modern automatic scooters. The dash is easy to read and includes a speedometer/odometer, high beam and turn signal indicators, and a fuel gauge. There is a small luggage hook on the inside front legshield and a nice rear luggage rack comes standard on the Fiddle II. The underseat storage is among the best I have seen in this class of scooter. It easily swallowed up my XXL helmet with room to spare. The rearview mirrors are spaced far enough apart to actually allow one to see something behind them, though they are a touch on the small side for my taste. My wife and several other average sized riders found the mirrors to be just fine.
Accommodations and ergonomics on the Fiddle II are VERY nice. Even though the seat is taller than other scooters in this class, I had no difficulty with my short (29 inch) inseam. The seat is large and comfortable. Scooters like the Genuine Buddy and Yamaha Vino offer nice accommodation for the rider, but there’s precious little passenger space. The Fiddle II has more than enough room for a passenger. Every rider who tried this scooter was pleased with the comfort and ergonomics. From 5’ 9” and 210 lbs (me) to 6’ 2” and 170 lbs to 5’ 5” and 115 lbs, everyone said they were comfortable.
A LOT of people had a spin on our review scooter. Most of the miles were put on by me and my wife. The comments were universally positive. Handling, braking and comfort all got high marks. Performance was adequate to good depending on the expectations of the rider. I was expecting performance similar to the SYM HD125. This liquid-cooled four-valve 125 puts out 12.5 hp and is an exceptional performer. The Fiddle II is an air-cooled 125 rated at 8.5 hp. OK, to me, the Fiddle II was adequate. To people used to riding a Yamaha Vino 125, the Fiddle II seemed to have good performance. It’s also important to keep in mind that the SYM HD125 costs nearly $800 more than the Fiddle.
Braking and handling on the Fiddle II are really nice. The front disc/rear drum set up is strong and easy to modulate. The swing arm rear suspension contributes to an exceptionally nice ride and responsive handling. Most other scooters in this class have a pretty harsh ride that translates even small road hazards to the rider. The Fiddle II soaked up small bumps without disturbing the rider and provided good feedback at “brisk” riding speeds.
I would guess that the majority of people who would purchase a Fiddle II are planning to use it for mostly city riding. At speeds of 30 – 45 MPH, the Fiddle II does just fine. At higher speeds, say 55 MPH or so, the ride is less stable and the scooter feels like it’s working pretty hard. Part of this is pure geometry – small wheels (10 inch) are just not going to be as “happy” at higher speeds as big wheels are. The Fiddle II is certainly capable of brief surface highway jaunts, but I wouldn’t want to spend all day there. Of course I feel the same about the other small-wheeled retro styled scooters as well.
Again, the Fiddle II really shines in the comfort area. This scooter is much more capable than a lot of its competition when it comes to carrying a passenger. Even loaded with a 175 lb rider and a 130 lb passenger, the Fiddle II exhibited good handling and maintained a confident posture on the road.
Fit & Finish
For comparison, I chose the Genuine Buddy and Yamaha Vino to set aside the SYM Fiddle II. All three have excellent fit and finish. The panels fit well together with tight tolerances, and the quality of the components used is obvious. This is one area to look closely at when purchasing a scooter. If the turn signal switch on that $995 scooter seems a little flimsy when it’s new, just image how it will seem in a month or two. Oooops, there I go again, ragging on the cheap scooters…
I would say that the Fiddle II has the best paint work of the three scooters compared and also has as good if not nicer components. The one exception would be the USA-mandated front turn signals. As with the Genuine Buddy, the front turn signals that are integrated into the front panels are not high enough to meet USA standards. The turn signals that were added don’t do anything to help the look of the scooter and the wiring could be better hidden.
There’s a lot to like with the new SYM Fiddle II. The design is retroish (is that a word?) and the quality is very good. I would expect that a person will get many years of trouble-free riding out of a Fiddle II and will have a ton of fun in the process. The storage capacity is great and the inclusion of that rear rack means even more storage is just a trunk away. The ride inspires confidence and the comfort is class-leading. The add-on front turn signals are a necessary evil (in the USA) and I guess I could learn to live with the inaccurate speedometer. Did I mention the 2-year warranty from SYM? Do yourself a favor and head over to your local SYM dealer for a look at this fun machine.
I would like to thank Ryan Scott from Blue Cat for providing the SYM Fiddle II 125. Ryan and his brother Aaron have a great shop in St. Paul. They work on mopeds, scooters (vintage & modern) and motorcycles (also vintage & modern) and are the only local SYM dealer. May 2010 – SYM has lowered the MSRP on the Fiddle II from $2,598 to $2,298