If this has been a hard year for scooters (sales are down in the category and there were but a few new models), it’s a harder year for me, the sole self-proclaimed scooter expert here at MO. I’ve ridden a lot of scooters – maybe too many – but if you ask me what’s the best scooter on the market, I’m going to try to find a gap in the conversation so I can slink unnoticed from the room. Editor Duke tried to spear me by demanding a direct answer – I responded with some wishy-washy gibberish about how great a job the Taiwanese scooter industry is doing in this market, so they should all get the prize, but he wants one specific scooter. This job was fun until it got hard.
I, too, am in love with the Vespa GTS 300 Super, MO’s previous Best Scooter winner, but it’s just too old to win year after year. What does it think it is, Rossi? And the Yamaha SMAX and Honda PCX 150 are also great values, but since scooters are all about practicality and value, I’m going to hand the MOBO to one specific Taiwanese scooter, the Kymco Like 150i ABS.
In one stylish, affordable, easy-to-ride package, the Like represents the up-and-coming Taiwanese scooter manufacturers. Kymco has always made affordable, durable products, but in the past they’ve lacked the build quality, fit and finish of their Japanese and European competitors. That gap has almost completely closed with Kymco’s newest products. They’re nicely put together, perform like their Japanese cousins (actually, Japanese and other OEMs have had Kymco and other manufacturers license-building their scooters for decades) and are even styled in a way that makes you think somebody in Taipei is paying attention to us.
The Like 150i has the performance, dependability and looks of scooters costing double its $2,599 MSRP, and though it won’t hold resale value like a Vespa, resale value doesn’t do you any good if you don’t have $6,000 to buy one in the first place. The other two major Taiwanese OEMs in this market – SYM and Genuine – deserve kudos for robust product lines as well. There’s a new sheriff in town, and he likes his buns steamed, not baked.
Piaggio will be pissed when word gets out about the Like 150i, so let’s throw a bone: the Piaggio BV350 is our runner-up for best scoot. There are a few contenders in the middleweight scooter arena, but the Piaggio BV350 is the best one for a few reasons.
Despite its soft, scooter-y styling, the BV is much more like a motorcycle than a scooter. That’s thanks to its big wheels (16-inch front, 14-inch back), balanced chassis and big-boy dimensions that will please even the long-legged. But the motor is what really sets it apart, delivering a claimed 32.8 horses at the brochure. Claimed weight is 390 dry, which makes the BV pretty peppy for a vehicle that can also carry a gallon jug of Carlo Rossi under the seat. It’s nimble and quick, especially around town, but it can handle the twisties, too. It’s stable yet quick-steering and boasts reasonable cornering clearance.
But it can be a scooter-y scooter as well, offering plenty of practicality and comfort. Underseat stowage is adequate for a 3/4 lid, and there’s some locking stowage (as well as a hook for Trizzie’s precious man-purse) in front. The broad seat is comfy for a passenger and supportive enough for an all-day ride. And unlike some maxi-scoots (Piaggio considers this a maxi, competing with much bigger, more expensive rides in that category), it doesn’t feel ponderous or hard to handle around town.
A scooter this fast, this versatile, this fun and this practical would be a shoo-in for a MOBO if it were priced a little lower than its $6,099 MSRP. But it will get you a really well-built scooter that would probably appeal to a great number of MO readers if they gave it a chance.