scooterlife - photog's blog

Motorcycles. Scooters. Wheelchairs. Tape. Whatever rolls.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

The Super 9 Comes Home

After test riding a few scooters--the Yamaha Zuma, Honda Ruckus, and Kymco Super 9--Skewt ended up buying the Kymco Super 9s. The Ruckus was the front-runner, but we figured the extra speed reserves the Super9 had would be useful for commuting.

The Super 9 is a liquid-cooled 50cc scoot made by Kymco. They make parts for Honda and have been around for quite some time. They're regarded as one of the better scooter makers out there, and the Super 9 is their entry in the high-end race-scoot category that includes the Aprilia Ditech SR series and Peugeot Speedfight. From their little radiators to the gorgeous CNC'd bits, these scooters are marvels of engineering.

Check out the badass brakes up front--as if you'd need a sticker to know what they are:

...and in back, too! If you're not familiar with scoots, there aren't a lot of them out there with rear disc brakes.

After surprising me with the decision to buy it today, Skewt bestowed upon me the honor of riding it home. Before it had a chance to cool down, though, it was her turn to take it on her first run on her first scoot.

I know it's hard to see but that's one really big grin in that helmet!

Here in the US, many states require that a scooter be restricted to 30mph in order for it to be considered an unlicensed moped, so most are shipped restricted, either through the use of a bushing that keeps the CVT from upshifting, or electronically through the CDI to limit revs. Unrestricted, this particular scoot will hit 45-50 fairly easily, stock. With a few go-fast goodies, 60-65 isn't out of the question, and tuners are getting 80+ out of them. They're fairly popular on the racetrack.

Because they're designed to go pretty darned fast, the attention to detail is amazing. It's a small motorcycle, complete with real headlights instead of those cheapo Bic-lighter designs like you'd find on...a BMW 1150GS. (That's an inside joke--the marvelous BMW 1150GS has a dreadful stock headlight)

There's also complete instrumentation.

For this run, we knew we'd be riding pretty slow at 30mph so we stuck to back roads. (Derestricting will allegedly happen...or not happen...we won't week. Upgrades will allegedly happen soon thereafter.)

I don't know how else to say this--but I had more fun on our two 50cc scoots than I've had on a full-size motorcycle in years.

Maybe it was just the fact that it was a gorgeous day and we were out riding.

Maybe it was that joy you get from seeing someone you love REALLY happy...and happy about riding. Maybe it was because we found this:

I am NOT going to divulge this playground. No way. Imagine 6 or so parking lots, each a perfect oval...turn into the first, do laps, haul ass out of the exit and then into the next...on and on, creeping that knee down bit by bit and hearing the hard parts drag a bit, while Skewt begins to find her limits as well, seeing just how far you can lean in a rev-limited 30mph turn. We did this until we were dizzy, throwing the bikes from one turn into the next, until the security guard finally gave us the hairy eyeball. We'll be back.

But we had an errand to run so we did another 15 miles or so.

We parked and admired them for a bit. Along with some other spectators. These things are unintimidating and people-magnets. How fast will it go? What kind of gas mileage? Is it fun? How much were they? None of the usual crap you put up with like "why do you wear so much gear" or "why didn't you buy a Harley?"

And they do have a cute ass. That's important.

So we stopped and got one of these:

And one of these...Mmmmm!

And some of these.

Nevermind the finger. It's not as obscene as you'd think. That's special code amongst GS riders for "darn it" when you're showing pics to each other.

After all, when you are an Adventure Rider, you're never too tough to buy feminine products.

Between the two of us, we had enough cargo capacity to almost equal a pair of Jesse bags, since most scoots have fairly cavernous underseat compartments, and my Zip R3i also has a nice little lockable compartment up front and a stash area underneath the front shroud. Errands are a breeze and you don't need to carry a backpack or messenger bag all the time.

The Zip is beginning to break in, and derestricted it cruises well at 35 and has a top end so far of 43. With a few tweaks, 50 isn't out of the question. It'll be a good match for the stronger Super 9.

I won't go into all the details about scootering. It's a Zen thing, one of those things that really works well for some but others just won't get it. If you have hooligan tendencies, you'd love 'em. If you like fiddling about with small motors and feel every 1/2 HP gain is a victory, you'd love 'em. If you enjoy easing quietly down a country road at 30-35 and catching details you'd missed before, this is your ride. As a friend decribed it on ADVrider, 30 seems ponderously slow on a big bike, but on one of these, you're in 2-wheeled nirvana. But, like I said, this isn't about convincing anyone to try these.

This is about someone having a really, really big smile on her face.

That's pretty good for 50 cc's.

Friday, June 03, 2005

It's taking hold

We're at the point where one scooter isn't enough.

Ever considered the odd-couple dynamics of a 600-lb BMW and a sub-200-lb. 49cc scooter? While the BMW leaves it far behind in almost every category, the one category that matters in urban exploration is that hard-to-define zone where a scooter comes into its own. Downtown, it squirts through tiny openings in traffic and lands on small pieces of sidewalk. Slide through the frame and thumb the starter and with a tiny little burble it springs to life and launches itself down the sidewalk, off the curb, and back into the streets. If the BMW GS is the polar bear, the scoot is the arctic fox.

Likewise, it's a bit more fun to pair the fox with another fox than to try and match the darting speed of the Zip with the muscular lumbering weight of the GS.

So we're shopping for another scooter. Three front-runners have emerged, all very different: Kymco Super 9, Stella, Honda Ruckus. A few other stragglers appear and disappear on the list--the Yamaha Zuma, the Honda Helix. But in choosing between those primary three, the whole idea of scootering has to be defined.

Is is the thrill of 50cc's being tuned to its maximum potential in the Super 9?

The traditional charm of the Stella?

The irresistably underpowered Honda Ruckus?

The Maxi-scoots aren't in contention--they're simply automatic motorcycles, and we're looking for something small in order to capitalize on their inherent ability to find parking wherever you happen to shut off the motor. This also means that for the most part, any highway excursions are out. But it doesn't rule out long trips on back roads...and the cruising speeds (35 for the Ruckus, 45 or so for the Stella and Super 9, though they are capable of more) enforce a "stop and smell the roses" attitude towards touring.