I’m accustomed to begging scooters from the Big Four, from the companies I know – Kawasaki excluded since they don’t make a scooter – and hanging onto them as long as I can. You’d be surprised. But Honda may be sore after I crashed that last ADV150 while testing its tires over railroad tracks, even though I offered to buy it (at a discount, since it was crashed). Come to think of it, they may even be still sore about the Metropolitan we crashed in our 2002 Scooter Smackdown. Some of these huge corporations have impressively long memories, but atrocious short-term ones. Yamaha has no scooters in the current test fleet (frightening), and Suzuki has no Burgman 200s. Dunno what’s become of Kymco? There’s no love from Vespa.
It really is a fine line between open-minded and cheap, between hip and hopeless, betwixt trending and tanking … and if you ride a scooter, you ride the razor’s edge, my friend. Obviously one has to be secure in one’s man or womanhood to even begin; my male college kid won’t be seen in the same garage with any scooter for fear it will dilute his musk. At the cool end of the scale, there’s our photographer/filmmaker/ballet dancer friend Richard Wright, who also finds time to head up the Bevery Hills Scooter Club and tear up Latigo Canyon on his bored-out Aprilia 250. At the other end, well, there’s yours truly on the Kymco Downtown 300i. How’s that for segue?
Maybe it’s the Matte Black color that leaves me cold, but I find it hard to get excited about the new SYM Citycom 300i when it’s sitting in my driveway. Its appearance does nothing for me. An old advertising slogan coined for the VW Beetle way back in my youth keeps going through my head: “No style never goes out of style.” However, if I skip over my antipathy for the Citycom’s looks and throw a leg over the saddle – or should I say through the cockpit – the 300i turns from a wallflower into a remarkably competent city scoot.
The Lightweight Nakeds Comparo we did last September was such a hoot we decided to do it again on a few more little thumper/screamers. Flying around sunny SoCal’s freeways and mountain roads like little white blood cells fighting pathogens and boredom in your cardiovascular system is what we do best, flitting from Starbucks to Starbucks, letting the lattes fall where they may.
Whether we admit it or not, most of us crave the familiar. SYM? Never heard of it. How could it be any good? In fact, Sanyang Industries has been cranking out vehicles since the ’50s in Taiwan. After inking a deal with Honda in 1962 to begin assembling motorcycles, it started stamping out Civics in 1977. In 2002, it split from Honda and partnered up with Hyundai, who also makes pretty nice automobiles these days. Sanyang also has a deal with King Long, which builds Chinese buses (and whose name can’t be beat), as well as a deal with Mahindra in India.