Back in the ‘80’s South Africa went through a “petrol crisis”. I was working for a Honda dealership at the time and we would sell upwards of 50 bikes a month!. Bike salesman were order takers, and printed money as bikes flew of showroom floors. The challenge was to get enough stock to meet the demand. Motorcycles made huge sense as fuel efficient transport then, and they make even more sense now. So why are bike sales not off the charts? Our resident youngster, ZA Bikers photographer, Bjorn, has an interesting theory. Thinking about it, he may be on to something. Bjorn reckons that parents feel uneasy about their children’s safety on South Africa’s roads and don’t want them on bikes. I get it. When my kids were at school I too was not keen to have them on bikes. Transporting them here, there and everywhere was a mission, so what was the solution? A Yamaha B – Whizz scooter, that’s what. My daughter, the older of the two, scooted to school without any mishaps, as did my son when he inherited the little Yammie. Here’s the thing guys. Nothing has changed. Scooters just don’t have the “motorcycle” stigma. Once folks have got used to their kids scooting around, the transition to motorcycles is so much easier as we now have a safe track record and a traffic smart and aware kid.
Enter the “Scooter Revolution”. There is simply no better way to negotiate snarled up city streets than on a modern Scooter. This was brought home to me with a bang by a couple of weeks commuting on Sym’s brilliant CityCom 300i. I use motorcycles as my everyday transport, only resorting to driving a car if there is no way a bike can work. For example when you have to load a whole lot of stuff. The day that we collected the Sym from KMSA Distributors SA, the importers for these quality Taiwanese scooters, I was asked by a buddy to help him take his bike for service in Centurion. Gerry is a big guy, weighing in at around 100kg’s. I had my doubts about the ability of a 300cc scooter to haul 180kg’s at highway speeds, but was keen to give it a go. Fact is, we where blown away! Not only did the plucky scoot maintain highway speed with us both aboard, it did it in comfort!. In the weeks that followed I was impressed by not only what the scooter did, but how it did it. The Sym never feels laboured. It cruises at 120 on the highway at 6500 rpm, with another 2000 rpm to spare. Totally chilled. It is so willing that you find yourself backing off the throttle to reign it in as it runs to 130 plus.
Scooters carry their weight really low with both fuel and engine slung really low in the frame. This makes steering light and effortless. The 300i sports 16 inch wheels which add to the stability and excellent all round handling.
Suspension is conventional forks up front and twin shocks at the rear which are adjustable for preload. On their second preload setting they managed everything, including the two up duty admirably.
Typical of most scooters, the ride can be a little choppy over uneven surfaces, but that is being really critical. All in all the comfort is superb. Twin 260mm discs with twin puck callipers and braided hoses makes stopping from any speed a cinch.
The motor is a gem. A 278,3cc single, water cooled with a single overhead cam and a ceramic coated bore is peppy and super smooth, both in town and on the highway. It simply never feels strained or stressed with the CVT transmission seamlessly punting you along, easily outpacing the general traffic.
The practicality of a scooter is brilliant. I needed to pick up some bird seed. I normally buy in bulk and therefore have to use the car. No problem with the Sym. Two 10kg bags under the seat and a third hanging from the bag hook in front of my knees. There is a cubby with a power point for charging your phone or whatever. The under seat storage takes a full face helmet and rain suit quite comfortably.
An extended time with this Sym also showed it to be very fuel efficient. The ten litre fuel tank is good for 300k’s of typical Gauteng commuting. By that I mean a combination of highway and around town. I averaged 32,3k’s on a litre with typical riding.
Styling is modern and really handsome. Build quality is above reproach too. The windshield works really efficiently and the body provides proper wind protection. This 300 really hits the sweet spot in terms of overall balance. For me it is the perfect size. A tad smaller than a maxi scooter, but with adequate performance and real ease of use that makes it an ideal day to day ride.
At last the penny has dropped for me. I am going to do what half of Europe has already done. I am going to join the scooter revolution and get the freedom of the city! I’ll keep my bigger bikes for what they are built for and enjoy “scooting” around the city.
At R55 odd grand the 300i will make a perfect addition to my garage. Do yourself a favour, go ride one and discover for yourself how to slice and dice traffic like never before. Could just turn you into a revolutionary too.
For more information visit: www.sym.co.za