If last week’s SYM Fiddle IV wanted to be a Vespa, I think we can safely say the Cabo 125 is the Taiwanese version of the Yamaha Zuma 125: Both are cute little scooters rolling on 12-inch knobbies for that rugged mini-ADV look. Why not? Chicken versus egg wise, though, who knows which one came first? There’s all kinds of international and brand cross-pollination going on with countries of origin when it comes to scooters.

Like we mentioned last week, SYM is Sanyang Motors, Taiwan’s first motorcycle manufacturer, since 1954. It began producing bikes for Honda in 1961 and did so for decades, before segueing into a relationship with Hyundai automobiles more recently. SYM seems to know what it’s doing, and don’t be confused that this SYM is a Lance: SYM builds the Lance line of scoots for the US market.  

Cabo 

If you’ve been to Cabo San Lucas, or any Cabo, then you know speed is not of the essence at all, and so 125cc should be plenty. In fact, the Cabo’s claimed 8.4 horses at 7500 rpm and 6.1 lb-ft at 7k is more than enough to get the around-town job done, especially since the claimed weight is but 218 pounds. That’s from a 124cc air-cooled Single with a high-tech ceramic bore coating, feeding through your usual CVT. And get this: it breathes through a carburetor. In the Cabo’s case, that’s not a bad thing.

That’s because the poor little dear barely wanted to start on these crisp 50-degree SoCal winter mornings, and when she did, she would often flame out until completely warm. Even then, throttle response was just okay, never enthusiastic. Hmmm, as an adolescent of the `80s, I think I recognize all these symptoms. Whipping off the engine cover in the bottom of the cargo hold, well I’ll be: The top of the carburetor is right there staring back at you, held on by two little Phillips-head screws, one of them guarded by a dab of silicone that popped right off without a struggle. Classic Motojournalism 101: Remove carb slide, place 0.5mm washer (12 cents at Ace Hardware) under jet needle to raise it that amount in slide (thereby allowing a smidge more fuel flow), reassemble. 

X marks the spot.

Now, she fires up instantly from cold, barely needs to warm up (but will do so on either the side or centerstand), and all 8 horses lean hard into the harness. With only 124cc to last week’s Fiddle IV’s 169, the Cabo hasn’t got quite the low-end grunt in side-by-side comparisons. But it’s still got enough to hole-shot most cars at the green lights easily, and builds power nicely as the revs come up.

There’s even a tachometer, which mostly hovers right around the 7000-rpm torque peak until it climbs upward toward the 57-mph indicated top speed (iPhone GPS says 52). Which ain’t bad, considering the Fiddle IV was done at 57 mph. (Both of them are still breaking in; the Cabo’s got about 80 miles as we go to press, and I’ve seen its speedo hit 62 once, tucked in on a long deserted straight.) 

ADVenturous

In keeping with the offroad motif, the Cabo’s got 8.1 inches of ground clearance to go with its 12-inch Kenda semi-knobbies, and might be able to hop curbs at the beach parking lot; if not, its light weight would make it easy to drag over many obstacles. In spite of the clearance, the seat seems lower than the claimed 31 inches, maybe because it’s skinnier than the Fiddle IV’s.

The front apron is a smidge on the narrow side too, but thanks to the flyscreen and the lovely handguards, there’s actually a tiny bit of wind protection on cool days. At 50 mph, anyway, which is nearly always fast enough for crawling around town.

Fork in the road

Suspension is scooter-conventional, with a telescopic fork in front and the engine acting as half the swingarm at the rear. The fork has nice gaiters to protect it, and you could say you’ve got a single-sided swingarm since there’s just one shock out back, on the same side as the drivetrain.

That shock is wound in a progressive rate spring. Nobody knows how much travel is in there, 3 or 4 inches, maybe, but the Cabo’s ride isn’t bad; slightly on the sporty side but still bump absorbent, and well-controlled by scooter standards. Maybe the Kenda dualsport tires have more give than the Fiddle’s road rubber? Whatever’s going on, the lightness, the looks, the nice road feel, and the general pin-it-everywhere attitude the Cabo elicits puts you into a playful mood and has you looking for dirt shortcuts wherever you go. It’s pretty zippy.

There’s a perfectly adequate and only slightly numb 190mm wave-type disc in front, complete with steel braided line, and a 130mm drum out back. If the Cabo could go faster you’d want more, but it can’t and so you don’t. ABS? No.

Snazzy

The overall vibe of the Cabo makes you feel like a junior rat pack member, like something Sammy Davis Jr. might ride around in Vegas in the ‘60s while the Caddy’s in for a tune-up. Giving showgirls a lift. Lookit those cool stacked lights in front. Like the Fiddle IV last week, the Cabo’s cursed with US-spec front turn signals and ungainly bracket, but it too has the original lenses and bulbs in place lower in the fairing waiting for their sight to be restored. Wait, am I dating myself? Maybe Justin Bieber, though he’s got a Vespa deal right now. Lady Gaga would look good on the Cabo.

Seems there’s a rev limiter at 8500 or you could keep scooting beyond 52 mph, feels like. The SYM logo is because SYM builds the Lance line of scooters for the US market.

Heck, the Cabo’s sharp instrument panel even looks like the dashboard of Sammy’s new Cadillac that knocked out his eye in that 1954 crash, and it’s better equipped, with a tripmeter, gas gauge, tachometer, clock, and also no seatbelts. There’s a USB port right there in the left side apron.

Storage

A little more wouldn’t be a bad thing. The Cabo’s beanpole build means its underseat cargo hold isn’t deep enough for even an open-face helmet, and it’s almost unforgivable that there are no helmet hooks under there, either. 

It’ll hold quite a bit of stuff, but not a helmet. It will hold a box of delicious Vella Merlot (9 x 11.5 x 3.75 inches), provided you haven’t yet pulled out the spigot. The yellow switch is a swell anti-theft measure; the engine will crank but won’t start when it’s on.

You could rig something up I suppose. What I wound up doing was remembering the gun lock they made me buy when I picked up my M1 Garand. They’re like ten bucks, and this one actually works pretty excellent as a helmet lock. Looks like it should be an easy thing to rotate the handlebar into your preferred position, too.

In fact, helmet storage, lack of, was going to be my biggest complaint with the Cabo, but I suppose it’s not that big a deal after all. There’s decent cargo capacity underneath, a handy bag hook in the apron, and again like the Fiddle IV with the wraparound grab rail out back for passengers and bungee cords.

Let us Chisel

Chrissy Rogers prefers the Fiddle IV’s plusher ride, thicker seat, and ability to holeshot me at every light. But I actually don’t mind the Cabo’s slightly more frenetic, rambunctious nature. While four carburetors or six are a PITA, one carburetor is not so bad at all (provided you don’t let it sit for weeks with ethanol in it). In fact, it was kind of fun to “tune” the Cabo so easily without needing to download any apps. (Of course I’ve removed the washer, as leaving it in place would be a violation of the law.)

Also, if we can’t do at least 69 or 70 mph to make the 8-mile freeway hop to the beach non-life threatening, it really doesn’t matter to me whether top speed is 53 (Cabo) or 59-ish (Fiddle IV). Either is enough for surface streets. And looks are subjective, but I like the Cabo’s sportier style, and it’s even got some nice touches like red stitching on the seat, the red brake caliper, and the stacked headlights – which are even decently bright. (If you’re torn between Fiddle IV and Cabo, Lance also offers a Cabo 200i with the Fiddle’s 169cc powerplant – and at least 7 or 8 other scooters, looks like.)

What I like best about the Cabo 125, though, is the price: $2,399. That’s $1200 less than the Fiddle IV, $1400 less than a Yamaha Zuma 125, and $1950 less than a Honda ADV150. I mean, we could always take surface streets to the beach, couldn’t we? What’s the rush?

Lance Powersports

(JB photo)


We are committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using the retail links in our product reviews. Learn more about how this works.

Become a Motorcycle.com insider. Get the latest motorcycle news first by subscribing to our newsletter here.