2012 125cc Scooter Shootout [Video]
Three different takes on economical transportation
2012 Piaggio Typhoon 125 ($2699)
At $650 cheaper than the Zuma, and $700 less than the PCX, the Piaggio Typhoon 125 represents the biggest bargain of our trio. However, this affordable entry price doesn’t come without setbacks; Piaggio achieved this price point by equipping the Typhoon with a carburetor instead of fuel injection. Further, its single-cylinder mill has only two valves instead of four.
At 124cc, the Typhoon comes in with 1cc less than its counterparts. In the real world, the Italian does well to keep up with the higher-spec Yamaha and has enough poke to edge away from typical urban traffic. In our impromptu drag race between the three, the Typhoon held its own, staying neck-and-neck with the Zuma.
Piaggio’s use of an old-tech carburetor reveals the scooter’s most obvious flaw. Cold starts are basically impossible without adding some throttle input, and it occasionally exhibits a bog when accelerating — both of which are indicators of lean jetting. “Perhaps its worst trait,” Duke says.
That being said, neither of these issues, we feel, are reasons to mark the Piaggio off your list. Despite its ancient tech, the Typhoon appears to be stone reliable and provides plenty of performance for the price. Being the only Italian scooter in this test, none of the Italian style is lost with the Piaggio, either. In the words of Duke, “Of the three, I prefer the Typhoon’s styling the most. It’s sleeker than the Zuma and less metrosexual than the PCX while looking appropriately contemporary.”
We covered the Typhoon’s details in its single-bike review, so we’ll go straight to our comparative ride impressions.
Ergonomically speaking, its 30.0-inch seat height ranks right in the middle. Duke’s 32-inch inseam was just able to flat-foot at stops, though 6-foot Roderick had no issues. However, the wedge-shaped seat “holds its rider quite far forward, making tall riders feel cramped,” Duke says. Scooting back in the saddle helps alleviate this, but a rider will then have to sit on the upward transition to the passenger seat area. Reach to the bars is on the tight side, and it’s worth noting the Typhoon is the only scoot of the three with a non-replaceable handlebar. Its steering column, bars and gauges are completely enclosed within the bodywork.
Suspension duties are handled by a telescopic fork in front and a single shock in the rear. Interestingly, the Typhoon is the only scoot of the three that doesn’t utilize a second shock, but it does incorporate adjustable spring preload. While appreciated, the included adjusting tool is weak and snapped in our hands while trying to firm the ride. Once we did adjust the preload (using a different tool) we were pleased with the handling, with Duke even calling it more nimble than the Yamaha.
Its soft ride quality strikes a middle ground between the over-sprung Zuma and bouncy PCX. The Typhoon’s knobby-like tires hint at off-road pretenses, and our guess is that was taken into account when determining its spring rates. We were impressed by the Typhoon’s braking abilities from the 220mm front disc and rear drum, especially as the front brake features a steel-braided line to deliver positive feedback with strong stopping power.
On the subject of storage space and fuel economy, the Typhoon both delighted and disappointed. We’re well aware that EPA figures are generally optimistic, but were surprised when we averaged 52 mpg, well short of Piaggio’s 89 mpg claim. Granted, we weren’t anything close to gentle with the scooters and constantly twisted the throttles to the stop, but that’s a significant difference. To be fair, all three scoots averaged much lower mileage figures than advertised.
On the storage front, the Typhoon features an underseat compartment whose capacity is compromised by the adjacent fuel tank. Unlike the Honda and Yamaha, its lock is located on the side of the seat instead of integrated more conveniently into or next to the ignition switch. A bag hook attached to the leg shield underneath the bars is convenient for attaching groceries or a backpack. Frankly, we’re surprised the others don’t offer this handy feature.
In many aspects, the Typhoon is our “best compromise” winner of the test. It has adequate performance to go along with decent storage capacity and affordable ownership costs. It does many things well, but is rough around the edges in terms of fit and finish and its lean carburetion. However, with a significant price gap to the Honda and Yamaha, we’re able to forgive many of the Piaggio’s shortcomings.