You can be forgiven for wondering why – in the first of my series of scooter reviews – I’m talking about a motorcycle.
There is method in my madness, however, for the little gem I’d like to talk about today carries a name that is very familiar to most scooter riders: SYM.
That’s right. SYM, the Taiwanese company famous for such well-made scooters as the Mio and the MAXSYM, have released a little motorcycle.
Many thanks to Vespa Marietta, who allowed me to take this fun little bike and review it.
Specifications at a Glance
- 149.4 cc 4-Stroke OHC air-cooled engine producing 14.79 HP at 8,500 revs. Max. torque: 9.04 ft/lb at 9,000 revs.
- Top Speed: 65.5 MPH.
- 5 gear. Wet clutch.
- High strength steel frame.
- Single disk brake front – Drum brake rear.
- Net Weight: 266.7 lbs.
- Seat Height: 29.9 Inches.
- Fuel Capacity: 3.3 Gallons.
- Fuel Economy. 85 MPG.
- 24 months limited warranty.
- MSRP: $2,999.
I can do no better to describe the SYM Classic 150, than recount my first ride:
There I was, sitting at traffic lights in Marietta Square, when a little vintage sports car pulled up beside me (actually a very nice Austin Healey Sprite [Thanks to that driver, who found this review, and corrected my mistake in identifying the car!]). The driver beamed over at me and asked: “what is that?”
Much of the ensuing discourse centred around his youth, and how much the little bike reminded him of his first bike – a Honda.
And that about sums up the SYM 150 Classic. It harkens back to the days when the Japanese manufacturers were making their first forays into the Western market – and it does it very well.
If, like me, you were one of the original “1%” teenagers who terrorised your town on small Japanese motorcycles – such as the Honda CB125 pictured here – the SYM 150 Classic is sure to take you right back to those heady days of carefree living and endless gas mileage.
So much for the evocative nature of the little beast, let’s go into some more detail:
Fit and Finish
There is a good deal of chrome on this bike, and it seems good and deep. Only time will tell as far as its longevity, but it definitely sparkles well in its new state.
Likewise, the paintwork, which has a deep shine, and appears tough.
The classically-styled speedometer and rev counter have chrome housings and bezels, and are equal-sized.
The speedo contains a trip clock, and the rev counter houses bright indicator lights for neutral, low fuel, turn signals and high-beam.
Switch-gear will look a little on the “miniature” side if you’re used to larger bikes, but I experienced no problems and everything fell well to hand.
The only gripe I would have about the controls is that I would have liked to have seen “push to cancel” for the turn signals. It seems you can only cancel the turn signals by moving the switch back to the central position manually. I did initially find myself switching on the opposite signal when attempting to cancel, but the easily visible turn signal indicator in the clock soon warned me of the error of my ways and, within a few miles, I got used to them.
Overall, everything fell to hand, and was instantly comfortable. Never once did I have to look down to “hunt” for the appropriate switch.
You don’t have to ride in Atlanta for long without being given ample opportunity to test the horn. I was fully expecting a barely audible, anaemic “meep”, as is often the case with even some of the larger scooters on the market, but I was pleasantly surprised.
It’s actually loud enough to get a sleeping cager’s attention! Well done, SYM.
One unusual thing, which is rarely seen nowadays, is the humble kick-starter. It has, of course, electric start, but should things go awry, you have an alternative.
Suspension and Handling
This makes for a plush ride in-town (once you get used to the huge fork-dive when stopping), and fits in well with the riding feel of the bike – more about this later.
It handles pot-holes and railway tracks with aplomb, but I don’t think I’d be pushing it too hard on a spirited ride in the mountains without a little suspension work.
What’s it Like to Ride?
I have to say, I love this little bike! Ergonomically, SYM really seem to have got it right. From the first time I set off on it, I found it amazingly comfortable for this 5’10”, 180lb frame – and it remained so. I truly felt I could ride this thing all day long in perfect comfort.
The engine is about what one would expect from a 150cc four stroke. Obviously not earth-shattering, but perfectly adequate to hold its own in the red-light grand prix. With a top speed of 65 MPH, it won’t get in anybody’s way unless you were (fool)hardy enough to venture onto the freeway.
Vibration through the foot-pegs did become intrusive from about 45-50 onwards – quite noticeably so.
I considered that a worthy upgrade would be rubber-clad foot-pegs until I looked down and saw that they already were!
Surprisingly enough, there was very little vibration through the handlebars, and the mirrors remained vibration-free and usable (notwithstanding the usual issue with smaller bikes that a third to a half of your mirror yields a perfect view of your elbow).
Clutch action is smooth and light, and the gearbox is surprisingly positive. I experienced no false-neutrals or missed changes all the time I rode it.
When you consider the price point, I think the little SYM makes perfect sense for an around-town vehicle. The claimed 85MPG is not to be sniffed at, and it would make the perfect alternative to somebody who is wanting most of the benefits of a smaller scooter with some classic styling and “wow” factor built in.
Where I think this bike would really shine, though, is as a learner bike – a starter bike, or for those going through life with a less-than-generous inseam.
If I was equipping a motorcycle school, this little gem would be right at the top of the list!
Of course, it will also appeal to those of us who “cut our teeth” on this kind of machine in our teenage years, and would like to be reminded of simpler times when our biggest worry was whether we could afford the few notes it took for a full week’s worth of freedom and fun.
It certainly put a smile on this old-school rider’s face.
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