Way back in 2008 I reviewed the SYM Fiddle (version 2) scooter and, other than a wildly apocryphal speedometer, I liked it. This time around I’m looking at the SYM Fiddle (version 3) 200i with a 169cc fuel-injected powerplant.
Marty at GoMoto (our local SYM dealer) has been finding it a challenge to keep the Fiddle III in stock, so it took a while for me to get my mitts on one. SYM has a well-deserved and growing reputation for quality scooters and the price point of the Fiddle III (MSRP of $2,899) has made it a popular machine. Being as old and curmudgeonly as I am, I would have preferred to get a nice, shiny two-tone Fiddle, but expediency dictated that I take whatever was available. At least SYM resisted the coffee-related temptations and called this one “matte hot chocolate”.
For those of you who just want to cut to the chase (the majority of you I would guess) the SYM Fiddle III is a good machine and an excellent value. There are a couple of issues that bother me, but they are minor and easily addressed.
Speedometer Reading/Speed/Fuel Economy
I mounted the GPS, topped off the fuel tank and began checking things out as soon as I left GoMoto. Unlike the old Fiddle II, this Fiddle had a fairly accurate speedometer and odometer. The actual speed is about 7% slower than the indicated speed. When the speedometer indicates 30 MPH, the actual speed is 28 MPH. When the speedometer indicates 60 MPH, the actual speed is 55 MPH. Not bad at all. The odometer was spot on indicating 11 miles for my 11 mile test run. The top speed I saw was 62 MPH. This was on a level road with minimal wind BUT with a 220 pound load on the scooter. It was also a new scooter that was not yet broken in. SYM says 65+ MPH for top speed. I suspect that after break in, on a level road, with a smaller rider, 65 MPH may well be possible. This is an air-cooled scooter that is not meant to be run wide open on freeways for extended periods. Reasonably short highways runs should be fine. SYM says fuel economy should be 89 MPG. Over the course of me testing with mixed use (city streets, surface highways, parkways) I got 82 MPG. I consider this to be quite good and expect that, again, after break in with a lighter load 89 MPG should be realistically obtainable.
My favorite feature of the SYM Fiddle III is fuel injection. A great many scooter service issues relate to carburetors and fuel concerns. The ever-increasing amounts of ethanol hidden in our fuel is one, emissions and rideability are others. Fuel injections means a fuel pump and more electronic controls which results in (generally) easier starting, smoother running, better fuel economy and overall performance.
The SYM Fiddle III came with a SHAD color-matched topcase. I like SHAD, a lot. In my opinion, including this adds about $200 to the value of the Fiddle III. Now here’s the first issue that bothers me. The Fiddle III also comes with four keys of the same base configuration – two for the topcase, two for the scooter. If the same base key is being utilized, the cylinder on the topcase should be matched to the scooter. OR, a clearly different key, like the ones SHAD provides, should be included. Pretty petty complaint isn’t it. I did tell you that my issues were kind of lame and easily rectified.
In addition to the topcase, the Fiddle III has a locking glove box, luggage hook and reasonable underseat storage. My XXL three-quarter helmet fit easily under the seat which is a good thing as the Fiddle III DOES NOT come equipped with helmet hooks under the seat. Yes, this is my other, whinny, easily rectified issue. The slots are right there, but no hooks to hold one’s helmet (by the ‘D’ ring) so that with the seat closed the helmet is securely retained thus freeing up the underseat for other storage duties. I did run some errands with the Fiddle III that required hauling a fair amount of stuff and it performed admirably.
The SYM Fiddle III has a 169cc, four-stroke, air-cooled, ceramic coated engine that is fed by fuel injection. The (give or take) 12 horses get to the rear wheel via a continuously variable automatic transmission. CBS (Combined Braking System) disc brakes front and rear slow the vehicle down. Lighting is pretty standard with the addition of LED running lights up front. Speaking of additions, the front turn signal indicators are US-mandated afterthoughts. Can’t blame SYM for this one. The control layout is very similar to most other modern automatic scooters. Being fuel injected, the starting procedure is easy. Turn the key to “on”, wait a few seconds for the fuel pump to charge, grab a brake lever and press the starter button located on the right-hand controls. DON’T mess about with the throttle.
The dash on the Fiddle III is straightforward and easy to read at a glance. The main area has a white background with a large analog speedometer (biased to miles-per-hour), smaller analog fuel gauge with a small digital clock between them. Turn signal and high beam indicators are above the main display. The round mirrors are spaced far enough apart for even a wide load like me to see what’s on behind the scooter. Controls are in the standard modern scooter configuration. High/Low beam, turn signals and horn on the left and engine kill switch and electric starter on the right.
At this point in time in the North American market we are fortunate to have a few choices in this class of scooter, all offering fuel injection, good quality and (mostly) decent ergonomics. Even with a 30 inch plus seat height on the Fiddle III, I had no difficulty with my short (29 inch) inseam. The seat is large and comfortable. Excellent scooters like the Genuine Buddy offer nice accommodation for the rider, but there’s precious little passenger space. The Fiddle III has more than enough room for a passenger.
The Fiddle III started easily and ran smoothly during our testing. Acceleration off the line is about what one would expect from this class of scooter. The top end of 62ish MPH that I saw was pretty good compared with others of similar configuration. Mid-range and roll-on acceleration was adequate – responsive but not jarring. Braking and handling on the Fiddle III are solid. With disc brakes front and rear and SYM’s CBS (Combined Braking System) I found slowing things down to be easy and non-dramatic. I didn’t find the brakes to be too touchy or “overly strong” as can happen on some scooters. Handling was predictable and fairly quick. Twelve inch wheels don’t take to turning inputs as fast as ten inch wheels, but changing direction is more than quick enough and more stable than it would be on smaller rims.
I didn’t do any town-to-town highway cruising on the Fiddle III and that’s not really the intended purpose of this machine. I did jump onto some surface highways and knocking off ten miles at 55 MPH was not a problem. I was on Interstate 94 for a while, but as it was during the Twin Cities rush hour, I didn’t see speeds greater than about 40 MPH (*sigh*).
The ergonomics of the Fiddle III were very good. The seat was comfortable, leg/foot room was fine and access to the controls was just right for me. Having short legs and a long torso, I sometimes have to lean and reach a bit to get to a good position for hand controls, but I felt quite neutral on the Fiddle III.
There was one easy choice for comparison with the SYM Fiddle III, the Kymco Like 200i. It’s very similar in looks, features and configuration. I also selected the Piaggio Fly 150 3V. It’s closer to the other two than its stable mate – the Piaggio Liberty. All three are mid-sized, fuel-injected, air-cooled scooters of similar price.
The specifications above look VERY similar. I have found that the out-the-door pricing is close on the SYM and the Kymco, but higher on the Piaggio. There seems to be some discounting from MSRP on the SYM and reasonable distributor shipping charges on the SYM and Kymco. There isn’t much if any discount from MSRP on the Piaggio (as I understand it, margins are pretty slim) and distributor shipping charges that border on excessive. I have spent time with all three of these scooters and have to say that I like both the Piaggio and the SYM. The Kymco isn’t bad, the ergonomics just don’t do it for me and the build quality seems just a tad below the other two. If I had to pick one, I’d go for the Piaggio Liberty 150. Yeah, I know, it’s not even on this chart, but I really am a sucker for good big-wheeled scooters. Seriously, I’d have a tough time deciding between the SYM and the Piaggio. I suspect the likely lower “street” price of the SYM would win out.
Fit & Finish
SYM has been impressing me with the fit and finish on their scooters for several years now and the Fiddle III is no exception. Right up front, I’m not a huge fan of the “flat” finishes that are all the rage on scooters (and motorcycles). I don’t actively dislike the finish, it’s just not what I would choose. That being said, the color was uniform and the panels fit well and closely together. Components appear to be of high quality and I expect they will hold up well over time. Fasteners, an often overlooked element of fit and finish, are high quality. Everything that “does something”- buttons, switches, pivoting passenger pegs, etc. – works wells. Only the USA-mandated add on front turn signal indicator lights look clumsy and not up to the standard of the rest of the scooter. I’d be a happier camper with some nice shiny body body panels, but I’m just barely smart enough to know that what I like and what the rest of the buying public likes are often not even close to the same thing.
The fuel injected (I just can’t stop mentioning that) Fiddle III offers up a lot to like in a retro-themed mid-sized scooter. SYM continues to creep its way into the sweet spot of available scooters in North America and the past unpleasantness with the prior distributor has all but disappeared from public memory. Dealer support, parts availability, warranty, all are competing well with more established players. Value for the dollar on scooters like the Fiddle III is high and if you’re shopping for a mid-sized scooter you would be well-advised to visit your local SYM dealer and take a close look at the Fiddle III.
I would like to again thank Marty and Lissa from GoMoto for providing the SYM Fiddle III used in this review.