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Scootering: A Review

Discussion in 'Scooters' at netrider.net.au started by conspiracytheorist, Jul 16, 2010.

  1. Having recently completed the 3500km service on my sym vs125 scooter, and now up to about 4000kms - I think its time to review (in a very disjointed, as it occurs to me fashion).

    My intentions are to consider the advantages of having a scooter as a second bike for commuting duties, as well as to review this specific model and in effect, scootering in general.

    Relevant info of reviewer. I've ridden bikes for 4 years, 250, 650, 900. Sports tourers and sportsbike. Geared up I'd weigh in at about 80-90kg


    Back in January I found this on ebay with 70kms on the clock, 2009 model (first registered Dec 09!).

    I had looked into this model previously and found it far superior to other 'reasonably priced' 125s, eg. kymco agility 125/orbit 125. Which is to be expected since the vs125 is 4200+ onroads, instead of 3000ish for the agility.

    The cheaper ones had me thinking about it, but in the end it was too much coin for too little machine, I mean you can get a late model, perfect condition gpx250 for 4000 which has 3-4x the fuel range and power.

    So when I found this VS for cheap I bought it knowing even if I sold it, I'd lose very little in resale.


    The experiment begins.

    Handing over the cash and picking up the scooter I'm mindful of the fact that the engine isn't run in yet. So I warm it up and start to run it in, heading home through horrid saturday traffic. I get home half an hour before my mate in his car who dropped me off. So already its making sense as a commuter.. nice.

    Since then the engine has continued to loosen up, but at ~4000kms now I'd say its about as good as its going to get.

    FYI this has been one of the highest selling scooters since its introduction a few years ago (2006?)

    The amazing vs125 conjures up imagery of beige walls

    Lets talk about power.
    Ok so I was joking, it doesn't actually have any, as seen below;

    Engine: Single Cylinder, 124.8cc
    Maximum Power: 8.7 Kw @ 8250rpm
    Maximum Torque: 10.12 Nm @ 6500rpm
    Bore & Stroke: 52.4 x 57.8mm
    Compression Ratio: 11.2:1
    Fuel: Unleaded
    Ignition: CDI, Electric Start
    EPA: Catalytic Converter Standard

    Its ok in a 90 zone if theres not a bad headwind and not much of an incline. I wouldn't recommend a 125 if you have to go in 100 zones or hilly 80/90 areas.

    The awesome 12hp gives you a top speed on the flat of 100-110, depending on how stupid you're prepared to look in a race tuck. Down hill + tuck and it'll get up to 125ish.

    I should point out that I'm talking in terms of indicated speeds. The speedo is fairly accurate but I'm guessing near top speed its likely optimistic. This brings us to the dash, which is.. basic. An odometre, speedo and fuel gauge, with idiot lights for highbeam and indicators. No trip meter. Lack of a resetable trip meter combined with the small tank range is somewhat annoying.

    The fuel tank is only 6L (4 + 2L reserve). So when the fuel gauge is pointing at empty, you've still got 50% of the tank left. I pulled a Kramer this morning on the way to work, the gauge went past empty and left the building, but when I filled up I still had 1L left in there. I ride 50kms return for work in 60, 70 and 90 zones and fill up every 3rd day.

    The fuel consumption is a fairly consistant 3.5L/100kms for my commute. Which I consider high for a scooter but sitting near top speed for a chunk of the journey kills its efficiency. Floating around 60-70 zones I've acheived under 3L/100km.

    That suggests a theoretical tank range of 170-200kms until the tank is bone dry. The most I've achieved was 164kms and there was almost nothing left in the tank.

    The ride
    Theres definitely something appealing about thrashing around on a small, fairly light, cheap and simple and nimber bike/scooter. Around very tight corners/streets is where small scooters such as this are best suited.


    The 12" wheels, lack of weight and good leverage from the bars result in an extremely flickable package. Conversely it is a scary experience on bumpy roads, and potholes are worth avoiding. Another problem of the small wheels is lanesplitting stability.

    Lanesplitting is easy and simple, but the small wheels mean it'll be thrown off course from suprisingly small bumps. I nearly hit a car whilst lanesplitting as where the two lanes met the surface was uneven. Lesson learned, have to be more cautious of surface quality when lanesplitting. The steering is very light, which means when you're lanesplitting and hit a blockage, you can turn between a car, move into the next lane and continue on - unlike my sporty which takes alot of space to turn.


    The CVT works well and is suited to commuting. Not having to spend mental energy on clutch + gears allows me to concentrate on the road and traffic. Many will disagree on this point, but in the peak hour traffic that I ride in, automatic is my preference. I test rode cbr125s whilst considering what to buy, but found myself changing gear every 0.3 seconds to keep it moving. Whilst the cbr has 1 more hp, not having to change gears likely makes the scooter fast (lol). Of course the cbr is considerably less lamehat.

    The brakes.. disc front, drum rear. Brakes are suprisingly strong and well suited to the scooter. With a pilion I'd expect them to be completely useless though.

    The fueling is smooth and predictable at any speed, and its happy to cruise at low speed in traffic eg 5-40km. Unlike many bigger bikes which are trying to stall in first gear at that speed.

    Riding position.. is suprisingly natural. I'm 6'1 and its perfect for me. An accurate way to describe the position is sitting at desk as you probably are right now. Quite ergonomic. My feet touch the ground easily, but if you're height challenged you may have problems - the seat height is higher than my 900. The rear preload is adjustable though and the seat is thick enough to allow shaving it down for a shorter rider.

    The mirrors.. easily adjustable and the vision is great. Much better than my sportsbike, but of course the scooter is assisted by the riding position (elbows not in the way of mirrors as much). Despite being a 1cyl the vibration doesn't result in vision issues. It does however cause the mirror bolts to become easily loosened if you're not careful.

    Weather/wind protection.. isn't as bad as you'd think. But you wont find youself going fast enough to need much protection anyway. When its raining legs are kept much drier compared to if I was riding.

    Storage is the best in its class IMO. I'll have to find a picture to do it justice. Its designed to take 2 helmets but it'd need to be a medium + small. My large doesn't quite fit in, medium is perfect. A wino scooter rider mentioned proudly he was able to fit 7 bottles of wine under the seat easily. Can't vouch for that but it does fit alot of beer. The pilion/12 oclock bar is substantial, allowing you to fit whatever you want.. like this guy's:

    Running costs
    Having only owned the scooter for less than 6 months its too early to say. When I did the numbers before buying, in theory the scooter should save me a minor (insignificant) amount per year, after factoring in all costs from rego, insurance, services, tyres, consumeables, depreciation and even interest lost from not having that $ in the bank. After 12 months I'll see what the reality is. But basically you're not going to be saving much if its your second bike just for commuting. If you're coming out of a large car you'd obviously be saving alot more.

    Servicing costs are where the scooter shops make their money. There is bugger all markup in new scooter prices. The result in my experience is that scooter dealerships will rip you off as much as they think they can get away with. The 1000km service completed by Scooter Central in brookvale cost me 160-170 from memory. Which is a rip considering its almost all visual checks + an oil change. I was assured 'every bolt will be checked'. In reality when I picked it up the mirror was hanging on for dear life, not being fastened correctly. Crap left under my seat, warranty book not signed, engine sump overfilled by 600-700ml (should be 800ml in there, the mechanic put in about 1.4L). To make things worse they charged for that much oil (thats how I picked up on it) at a rate of $20/L (have to check exact number). For my 900 I pay less than that for fully synth quality 'racing grade' oil, and thats just buying 4L.. Scooter shop would buy massive drums of the stuff and it'd be average quality semi-synth.

    So my advice is get all your services done at a local trusted bike mechanic like I've started to do. Once warranty is up I'm servicing it myself.

    Main grievances.
    I can already feel that the suspension isn't as fresh as when new.
    Fuel consumption isn't much better than 250 singles/twins.
    You look stupid riding it
    The tank could be 1-2L bigger
    People dont take kindly to a scooter going faster to them and frequently try to engage in a pissing competition.

    - Easy to ride through horrific traffic, arrive at work stress free;
    - Its so slow theres no point trying to go fast, makes you sit back and cruise (useful feature for daily commuting).
    - Doesn't matter if it gets dirty because its filthy even when its clean.
    - Bike gets to stay clean for the weekend;
    - Real bike not 'wasted' doing the mon-fri commute
    - Hard to speed, so hard to lose your license on one;
    - Even when you are speeding, its a scooter no one gives it a second glance;
    - Stealth
    - Overtaking someone on a scooter is hilarious and the ultimate 'wow you are REALLY slow' moment
    - Very convenient storage space
    - When you jump on your real bike on the weekend after spending the week on a 125, you really really appreciate the bigger bike
    - The savings cancel out the extra running costs

    Main competitors: Piaggio Fly 125/150, vs150, agility 125

    Biggest factors for me were the ease of use in heavy traffic and the storage space. You wouldn't buy one for enjoyment, its just to get to work and for that purpose it does make alot more sense than a bigger bike. For commuting up to 90kmh it does the job - 'enough' power, 95% of the time. It gets off the line quicker than cars because of the CVT, so you can stay ahead of traffic on the flat bits. You WILL cop shit for riding a scooter - if you're the sort of person who worries what people think of you, this isn't for you.
  2. Do you get the jitters when cornering? The other problem I have when riding my scooter is now I feel far to close to the front of the bike, and kinda feels like it just wants to pop up in the front wheel when you stop.
  3. Yes I'm wary of left hand corners as the kick stand feeler scrapes if you're really going for it. A simple solution is to bend the feeler back. Other than that, the suspension can't cope with being unsettled mid-corner, eg. from bumps or potholes. Without much to hang on to its difficult, and the seat isn't designed for easy moving around/off. But weighting the inside helps.

    Try sitting further back IMO.
  4. The VS is a great scooter, but a terrible handler.... Have done many 000km on one and by 10000k the shocks are just pogo sticks, my current scoot kills it in the handling department, but that one only... The vs does have a very smooth ride though once the shocks are gone, just watch out for the mid bumps!
  5. a scooter huh.. soo... what else is new?
    tried on any of your wifes clothes when she's not home?
  6. Where's the fun in that?

    Try them on when she IS home. :grin:
  7. Feeling a bit inadequate today mate? :-({|=
  8. How would this compare to a Yamaha Cygnus?

    I've been told that the VS is a copy of the Yamaha. I've been checking out some other forums and it seems like the Cyg isn't as popular despite good reviews online.
  9. The Cygus is more expensive. I haven't ridden one but I'm sure it would be better quality overall - to be expected since its 3999+ orc. About a grand more than the VS rrp. Both are made in Taiwan I believe.


    If in doubt obviously just ride both. Personally I wouldn't spend that much on a scooter, I'd just get a gpx250 with a topbox if I was going to spend that much.
  10. Question: Does it wheelie, or can it be modified to wheelie?
  11. A Mate of mine who has been riding dirt bikes professionally since a kid got my old yamaha jog (50cc) up on the back wheel. Dont know how he did it, but we had multiple witnesses. Funniest thing I have ever seen.
  12. There's a video of Rossi pulling a pretty clean balance point wheelie on a vespa, youtube i think.

    I wanna buy a scooter, chuck tassles on it and a bicycle bell and just fang it around in full leathers. They look like they'd be fun to stunt on.
  13. What do you wear when you ride the scooter? Full leathers/textiles, or the typical scooter outfit. LOL :) I borrow a scooter as a loan bike whilst mine was being serviced, felt really silly wearing the full leathers whilst riding a scooter. Rode scooters whilst in Bali was great fun. In Bali you are mainly riding at 30-40km, dodging, monkeys, dogs, cats, chickens, pot holes, other bikes and trucks. Found the under seat storage great for putting your helmet, and other gear. My husbands scooter ended up in an irrigation ditch, 3 ft full of water, the scooter was fully water logged, took it to the local mechanic and he worked on it for an hour or more, and cost us 50,000 rupees, $5.00 Australian!!!!
  14. Textile gear.

    Or if I'm just going to the local shop (few hundred metres of 50kmh) then ugg boots and a helmet ;)

    Makes me wonder what the roads would be like if ABS, traction control, seat belts, air bags, helmets, etc. were all banned. I can imagine everyone thinking their actions through alot more, taking it easy and never speeding..
  15. heyah!
    i just purchased one of these last week.
    no regrets at all! [-(
    a couple of other advantages to add on top of phizogs:
    it's nice wandering round the city without all the bike gear, feeling normal again. helmet and jacket and gloves all fit underseat. =D>
    and even better:
    lots of females all wanna have a go on the back! it's really funny, cause all my female friends say motorbikes are a deathrap, you're a tempory australian, and then the moment you get a scooter it's like 'wanna pick me up and go to lygon st for a coffee?' or ' can you pick me from uni? we'll go have a beer at the espy!'
    so to all you monkeys who bought a bike hoping to meet more of the opposing sex, can i suggest $3k on a taiwanese scooter would do exactly the same?
  16. I bought a motorcycle so that I don't have to be a taxi though.
  17. #17 JuzzyDee, Jul 30, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 13, 2015
  18. Slowmark thats a valid point about the ladies. Strangely (although predictably) most gals are far more interested in the scooter than the bike.

    Unlike motorbikes which attract attention from guys! Not ideal!
    Not that theres anything wrong with that lol.
  19. and here's a pic of my beast complete with go-fast decals. i just put them there so r1 riders will shit themselves about my mods. :p:p:p:p

    Attached Files:

  20. Aha I normally dislike decals but those are nicely positioned.

    I wouldn't want to look like I give a $hit though, kind of ironic? =D

    Update: The wheelie attempts have started. Meaning custom gravel rash mods are likely to follow soon.