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I wanted to buy my disabled son a scooter that would be totally reliable , cheap to run and looked less like a scooter and more like a real motor bike , to get him to and from college safely and quickly at a reasonable cost and the Sym Simply 50 cc scooter has achieved all I have asked for and more .
Bought in mid September this year ( 2008) it looks a very sturdy bike compared to the other bikes in and around my village of the same CC.
Its clean long lines make it a contender for style and although its name isn't something to shout about , its not a thing to be laughed at compared with most 50 CC scooters.
In total I paid around £1,000 for the standard bike , it comes in bright red, royal blue or silver and Mike choose the royal blue one.
Insurance for a first time rider is not cheap and I know some people will just stick on third party , fire and theft as standard for a first time biker, but my son may need extra help at some time so I went to a company who deal mainly with motorbike and scooter riders.( ask me and I'll let you know the name of the company )
The bike is now fully comp , as well as his leathers and 2 helmets are covered for the full amount ,he also has full brake down and collection cover for his bike , should in the case of an accident be unfit to drive it will be taken to the dealers/repairers and Mike transported home to us .
I believe that first time bike riders should be made to have full covered just for peace of mind for us the parents., let alone for them and anyone else on the road .........anyhow back to the love of my sons life ...........his bike.
After passing the first part of the bike test he was then on the road, or should I say up and down the hills as we live on the boarders of Devon and Cornwall and its known for its somewhat hilly terrain ( ha, thats an understatement !)
This bike has exceeded all our expectations and although it was very slow ( 10-15 MPH ) on steep hills , which caused Mike to get hooted at , sworn at and have a few fingers raised in a manner which is not befitting that of a sensible adult driver as they roared past him at times ............ but on flat ground it will sail along at between 30 -45 miles an hour depending on road speeds.
Once Mike had true road confidence ( 2 months ) we had both of the items that restrict speed taken off.
One is just the bog standard thing they put on to hold the speed down for youngsters , but as Mike is not young and foolish or can be classed as a 'jack me lad' we had the speacil chip put in ( ordered from SYM ) to improve the hill speeds and give him a big more horse power on duel carriageways, and now the bike does 45-55 on the flat and 20-25 up hills .
We have had a couple of small problems with the bike , but nothing major , just silly things like the brakes kept sticking and a plastic fitment at the back of the bike snapped , but all was fixed in quick time by the dealer we purchased the bike from under warranty ( 2 years ) and without having to ask, beg or pay a penny.
I can honestly say that this bike has been an excellent buy for a first time road user , its larger than most and from the back looks more like a motorbike that a 50 cc scooter , which makes Mike happy as he was so worry about looking like quote:
' a girl on a three wheeler and less like a man on a cool bike'
We have done some decorating of the bike to make it stand out a bit , if you go onto E-bay you can purchase sets of stickers that will make the scooter look more like a racing model , these mum had the honor of applying .
Then there's the rim edging , this comes in 4 parts for each rim side and in various colours and you have to be of very steady hand to get this on , but then its on it looks very smart.
The replacement carbon mirrors came next, along with ( only for parking not for use whilst on the road) the two blue neon under foot rest lights .
A new bright blue tax disc holder was added and I've still a few things extra to go on after Christmas.
I'm one of those rare mums who actually cares about what my son rides and what he does with his bike , I've shown him how to look after it , sort out any minor scratches and marks by cutting it back , cleaning it and the best way to store it , along with my husband who once rode with one of the most famous 1960-70 biker groups down south that there is , so its in the blood.
The Sym Simply 50cc scooter is one of the best first time bikes that we have seen and tried out and I know that my son would not change it for any other make or model ( 50 CC ) at this time , its a good clean little runner , very economical (£5 fills the tank which lasts him for 6 days averaging 3-4 trip at day) it looks smart and with the extra artwork added very sporty .
It handles very well especially around corners and is very easy to drive, unlike some of the smaller scooter which make the rider bend forward to reach the handle bars , the Sym Simply lets you sit upright with your feet flat down in front of your body at the right angle , so you dont end up with stiff, sore or deep legs after a long ride.
I would recommend this bike for all first time riders male or female , add extra artwork for the men as they like to look sporty , but for us girls its a good sturdy , easy to ride bike with style.
I'm going to put a picture of the bike in my photo gallery should you wish to see it .
After 28 years away from two wheels I finally made the decision to put on my helmet and leathers and hit the road again, only without the leathers. To be honest I had been thinking about it for a couple of years or more, going through endless magazines and brochures without ever quite deciding on the right machine, although I was fairly sure it would be a scooter this time and not a "real" bike; I liked the thought of keeping my feet dry and having somewhere to store my helmet and gloves when I parked up. Probably if I was still living in London I wouldn't have considered the idea but I was spending most of the year in Valencia which is near perfect for motorcycling: sunny and warm most of the year, you can park anywhere including the pavements (illegal but tolerated) and there is little prejudice against motorcyclists; people of all ages and classes ride them, including plenty of the fairer sex. The main drawback is the crazy, undisciplined driving and the attitude of many car drivers that might is right so get out of my way before I knock you off, but I found that out only later.
The catalyst for my decision was partly when a friend bought himself a Suzuki Burgman 250, allowing me to sample the passenger experience, but eventually I became exhausted by indecision and overwhelmed by sympathy for the dealer who got to know me quite well through my browsing through his shop and asking endless questions. Finally, a price cut of 600 Euros by SYM (down to 2,999 Euros or about £2375 at current exchange rates) drew my attention to its GTS 250 model, which on close inspection seemed to be a well made all-rounder at a price less than some mainstream models with only half the engine capacity. If I didn't like it I could always sell it without losing too much cash. So I forgot my age and feeling rather like an excited teenager again I ordered myself a new SYM GTS 250 in bright silver. Not the nicest colour in my opinion, the dark grey metallic and the black both look better, but it would be more visible especially at night. I had to make some concessions to safety and common sense after all.
SYM or Sanyang Motorcycle claim to be the largest manufacture of scooters in Taiwan and Taipei, Taiwan's capital, is said to be the scooter capital of the world. So they should know how to build a decent scooter. Originally they assembled for Honda, like their main rival Kymco, but subsequently decided to go it alone launching the SYM brand on an unsuspecting world. According to my local dealer, SYM make every piece on the machine down to the last nut and bolt although not strictly true as I can see the tyres are branded "Maxxi".
The GTS 250 (also known as Joymax or Voyager in some markets and as the "Bolwell Firenze" in Australia and New Zealand) was introduced in 2005 and sits firmly in the GT maxi-scooter category. What does this mean? Well, in essence you get a full fairing treatment at the front with a medium height windscreen, small-medium size wheels (13" diameter front and rear), a large dual seat with storage capacity underneath, enough power to hit 80 mph on a good road, automatic constantly-variable transmission and linked disc brakes front and rear for reliable stopping. The more petrol-headed may be interested in its 250 cc single cylinder water-cooled engine with four-valve cylinder head and ceramic-lined bore (for longer engine life). It is true that several other machines offer a similar specification but they can cost 1000 to 2000+ Euros more.
Distinctive features on the GTS 250 are the double-decker style headlamps with main beam and dipped beam stacked one above the other. There is also an impressive "halo" of LEDs around the headlamp that illuminate when the light-switch is in the sidelight position. There are more LEDs in the rear lamp giving a very bright light with minimal drain on the battery. This is just as well because SYM don't fit a kick starter on this model. With the automatic transmission you can't bump start it either so battery condition is critical. This makes it a good idea to have a light switch since starting the engine with the lights on is a heavier drain on the battery. SYM is one of only a few manufacturers to still offer a light-switch (they have the technology!); most other scooter brands have the lights on permanently as soon as you switch on (and their batteries fail more quickly as a result).
Another useful and unusual fitment is the passenger footrests that spring open with just a press of the toe, thus keeping your hands clean. They are comfortable and well-placed even for smaller passengers (even my eight-year old can reach them) while the rubber inserts give good grip. The rider has an adjustable backrest (fore-aft) and putting this in the furthest forward position helps ensure even a small passenger can reach the footrests, which is essential for safety. A large grab handle around the rear of the seat provides something to hang onto if Dad decides to let loose with all 21.5 bhp! On the down side, the seat is fairly firm and also quite slippery. I find I need to push myself back in the seat regularly. This is easier if you keep your feet in the feet forward position rather than flat on the footboard.
SYM offer what they describe as a 5-way ignition switch; you can turn the ignition on or off, lock/unlock the steering, open the fuel cap or block the keyhole with a special flap operated by the back of the key. The arrangement is only a partial success. A more useful combination would be to have the ignition switch open the seat, rather than the petrol cap; I fill up with petrol maybe every couple of weeks but open the seat every time I get on or off (to put in or take out my helmet). It rapidly becomes a chore to have to take out the key and fiddle with the separate lock that opens the seat, particularly at night or when lighting is poor and you can't see the keyhole well. I recently discovered that the seat lock is not very secure either, when it was forced by a thief (he got my toolkit and a pair of gloves) while the ignition lock defeated him thanks to the internal flap closing off the keyhole.
One of the features that impressed me initially with this model is the exceptionally clear instrument layout. There are two main dials, equally sized, for the speedometer and rev counter. Between them there is a digital panel to indicate engine temperature and fuel level. Clear warning lights are fitted for the indicators (separate left and right), high beam, fog lights, seat open, side-stand down and low fuel level. In short, everything you need. At night you have white back-lighting, just like a Mercedes. Another bonus on this model is the fitting of hazard warning lights and fog lights as standard (the latter is unique on a scooter as far as I can tell). It is a pity the switches are mounted on the fairing rather than the handlebar though.
Under the seat you can fit a small briefcase plus a full-face helmet. However, some larger models won't fit because of a slight lack of depth. It pays to check first. A light is fitted but I find it too dim to be very useful. A thoughtful touch is that the seat stays open by itself thanks to a hydraulic strut. A slight disadvantage is that with the seat open you have nowhere flat to put your helmet. Further storage is available in the locking glovebox, which also contains a 12 V socket, handy for running a tyre pump I find. In practice very little can fit in the glovebox though as the battery takes up half the space. A few times it has opened by itself while I was riding (the catch is tricky to close properly) and it is just as well I had nothing in there because there is nothing to retain the contents with the lid open.
What is she like to ride? Your answer will depend on what you are used to, but I would say very easy for anyone with at least basic motorcycle skills. The very first time I rode mine, my eleven year-old daughter insisted on coming with me as a passenger, it was getting dark and I was in a foreign city I knew only as a pedestrian. Well we managed just fine. The only problem I had was with the rear-view mirrors. These look very nice, mounted on the fairing rather than the handlebars, and can be folded back out of the way when parking, for example. However I couldn't see a thing in them other than my elbows, which is hardly very safe. I have subsequently fitted blind-spot mirrors both sides and found a better adjustment for the mirrors. However, my rear vision remains less than ideal.
Sym have done a good job with the transmission though which is very smooth, the clutch engaging progressively at about 3,000 rpm without any abruptness. Power increases progressively until at about 4,000 rpm you are at the urban speed limit (30 mph); the red zone doesn't start until 8,000 rpm so there is plenty in reserve. Although not a sports machine by any means, the initial acceleration is quick enough to leave most cars well behind without trying too hard. Anything seriously sporty can beat you, but for me the only reason to get in front is to get out of the way of the 90% of car drivers that fail to give you (and your passenger) sufficient room for safety. Ego has nothing to do with it (honestly!).
Although quite a heavy machine at around 400 lb ready for the road the steering is very light and quick, perhaps too light for some tastes. The brakes too are well balanced with the left lever operating on both the front and back wheels. The right lever provides extra stopping power at the front wheel only. You can brake just fine with the left lever only though I recommend using the right lever regularly too to ensure all the brake pads get evenly worn down.
Maybe the suspension could be better. There is limited travel front and rear and while the front forks seem softly sprung and will bottom out easily, the rear suspension is very firm, especially riding solo. There is theoretically an adjustment possible but Sym don't provide a tool for this! On the other hand the scooter handles well at higher speeds without any weaving or wobbling that I have noticed.
Riding at higher speeds does expose some problems with the aerodynamics. At some speeds, around 50-55 mph, I get high levels of turbulence around the top of my helmet. Adjusting my position and ducking my head down below the screen helps a bit but compromises my view of the road and the mirrors. The problem seems to be that the screen is too narrow and also lacks a proper lip at the top to deflect air flow. Strangely, the situation improves at still higher speeds, at least up to 65 mph, which is the fastest I have been so far.
Initially I was also very concerned by the stability in side-winds. I found myself having to slow down to about 35 mph at times when riding in gusty conditions. Subsequently I removed the optional top-box and found a noticeable improvement. I have also learned to cope with this issue I guess, which also affects my friend's Suzuki Burgman. It seems to be a result of having a large amount of plastic bodywork plus a rearward weight bias, which is true of all scooters to some degree. To be fair I have never been close to losing control, only my nerve.
Weather protection seems quite effective. I don't usually ride on wet days but I have been caught out a few times. Even without over-trousers my legs and feet stayed reasonably dry and only my gloves and arms got noticeably wet. A very light waterproof was all I needed. If I had been on a naked motorcycle I would have got soaked through and frozen. As it was I was probably drier than if I had been walking, for example, in the same conditions. My passengers have also said that they stay mostly dry. If there is a weakness it is that the foot platform is on the narrow side, OK for my size sevens but larger feet could get a bit more exposed.
At night the lights are quite acceptable if not exceptional, the instruments well lit and the scooter is visible to other road users thanks to the super-bright LEDs fitted front and rear.
On the other hand, the fuel consumption so far has been a bit disappointing. To date I have averaged only 55 mpg in mostly stop-start city traffic. To be fair this has been made up mostly of short journeys with plenty of time spent waiting at traffic lights, burning petrol for nothing. There are signs of this improving since completing running in to about 60 mpg though. Please note that my GTS 250 has a carburettor engine while the latest ones have fuel injection and are claimed to be more economical. These also have a switch on the handlebar to unlock the seat electronically, which at least partly solves the issue of the awkward seat lock.
Reliability to date has been nearly perfect. It will start first time every time provided I get just the right amount of throttle when cold (not too much obviously). An electronic interlock prevents you from starting the engine unless the side-stand is raised and at least one brake is applied. The only failure has been the switch that operates the light under the seat when this is opened or closed. This was fixed at the first service under the 2-year warranty. The service cost a reasonable 57 Euros, or about £48, which included a refill with synthetic engine oil and a change of transmission oil. Official service interval is every 3,000 km (or annually) so it's just as well it's not expensive.
The owner's manual is very basic and wouldn't help much if you decided to maintain your own scooter. There are also some obvious mistranslations and even contradictions in the information given for tyre pressures and oil change intervals and grades. By contacting Sym in Taiwan (thank goodness for e-mail!) I was able to confirm the correct information quite quickly and easily though. The explanation for the discrepancies was that some of the information in the manual only applies to the Asian markets. This is perhaps the one area where you realise you have bought a budget model. A quick look at some Yamaha manuals, for example, showed them to be far more comprehensive and useful.
STOP PRESS: SYM have just announced a GTS300 model for 2009. Looks to be basically the same but with different frontal styling and a slightly larger (263 cc) engine. At the moment it is not clear if this will replace the GTS250 or be an additional model.