2009 Genuine Buddy Black Jack Review

May 8, 2009
Bart Madson
By Bart Madson
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Bashing away at the MotoUSA keyboard for nine years now, Madson lends his scribbling and editorial input on everything from bike reviews to industry analysis and motorcycle racing reports.

The Buddy Black Jack utilizes the air-cooled 150cc 4-stroke Single powering the Internationals.
The stylish Buddy Black Jack delivers some small-displacement pop from its air-cooled 150cc 4-stroke Single.

Based out of Chicago, Genuine Scooters bills itself as “America’s Smallest Scooter Company” and Motorcycle USA recently had the opportunity to sample some Genuines courtesy of our local Southern Oregon dealer, the good folks at the Bike Barn. One scooter we took for a day-long test ride was the Buddy Black Jack.

Genuine’s popular Buddy lineup includes 50cc 2-stroke and 125cc 4-stroke units, along with the Buddy Internationals, which feature larger 150cc 4-stroke mills and sport stylish color schemes to match their ritzy Euro nomenclature (St. Tropez, Pamplona and Italia). The Black Jack utilizes the same air-cooled 150cc Single powering the Internationals.

The Black Jack delivers some relative pop for its 150cc size. The lively throttle and engagement of the CVT transmission make for decent acceleration from a full stop. The 4-stroke torque also makes steep inclines manageable, albeit with a noticeable drop in momentum. Realistic operating top speeds are in the mid-50s, with the freeway and large highways very much off limits. For stop-and-go urban asphalt, however, the Buddy is right at home.

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The Black Jack is the “high-performance” scooter in the Buddy lineup, touting upgraded suspension and brakes, as well as some accessory options. The most notable was the off-road-only Prima exhaust installed on our test unit, which packs a surprising bark! Dare we say it’s even loud?

“The exhaust makes a very cool sound reminiscent of a KLX110 with a performance exhaust,” says MotoUSA publisher and scooter enthusiast Tim Clark, after our tank-of-gas test ride.

The Black Jack suspension consists of NCY billet fork and single rear shock, adjustable for preload and rebound. We bottomed out on harsh potholes, although our test riders’ weights, all over the 200-lb mark, didn’t help matters.

The Black Jack may not be the most stable ride  but it gets the job done in the city.
The Black Jack may not be the most stable ride, but it gets the job done in the city.

“Very little suspension,” agrees Tim, “I bottomed out easily. Again… that 220-lb thing. And the 10-inch wheels are sketchy at high speeds too… especially when crossing over thick painted area.”

Overall the chassis is adequate, but lacks the stability found on other scoots we’ve ridden, like the Vespa GTS lineup (we rode a GTS200 in tandem with the Black Jack, along with another Genuine, the 110cc 2-stroke Rattler). Rolling along downtown and on regular surface streets, however, the Black Jack works just fine. For a larf we even took it out on some of our favorite backroads and racked a couple smiles scooting through the corners.

NCY provides the Black Jack braking components too – a rear drum teamed with a single wave rotor and two-piston caliper up front. The units stop the tank-full 232-lb (89 front, 143 rear) scooter without too much drama. That said, the front brake does all the heavy lifting for the futile rear.

“The rear drum brake is moderate to weak at best – even after adjustment it has a soft, mushy feeling,” agrees Tim.

Excepting the rear brake, most of our complaints with the Black Jack stem from our relatively large size making for a less than ideal rider. The cockpit is a tight fit, with cramped ergos for our tallest’s 6’1” frame, making the Black Jack a much better match for those of smaller stature.

The Buddy Black Jack ergonomics are better suited to smaller riders.
The Buddy Black Jack ergonomics are better suited to smaller riders.

Our test rider size is probably also to blame for our observed 66 mpg fuel efficiency, far off the 90 mpg spec sheet claim. Still, 66 mpg is impressive in the big transportation picture and there’s no question relief at the pump was a big reason why sales of gas-sipping scooters exploded in 2008. Another scooter perk which the Black Jack delivers is easy parking – as the small dimensions off the diminutive Buddy allow it to squeeze in just about anywhere.

The Buddy seat is comfortable, with underseat storage easy to access via key turn (access to the 1.8 gallon fuel tank is also underseat). Storage is roomy for the Black Jack’s small size. While our size-large modular helmet couldn’t quite fit, it was only by the slimmest of margins. Medium or small full-face lids should stowaway without trouble. The Buddy can easily accommodate those gallon-of-milk, or more accurately, six-pack-of-Pabst, grocery runs too. Additional front and rear racks, as well as top case, are accessory options.

The off-road only  nudge  nudge  wink  wink  say no more  say no more  Prima exhaust packs  in scooter decibels  quite an auditory punch.
The off-road only (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more, say no more) Prima exhaust packs, in scooter decibels, quite an auditory punch.

The Black Jack’s snappy looks with black matte paint, red accents and whitewall tires are fetching, and one of the model’s highlights. In fact, we received two unsolicited compliments on the Black Jack’s looks during our brief test ride. A closer look at the Black Jack’s fit and finish reveals switchgear on the cheap side and a modest instrument console consisting of an analog speedometer and fuel gauge (whose accuracy we question after hitting the red and only adding 0.85 gallons to the supposed 1.8-gallon tank). The centerstand is easy to use, and the convenient sidestand is much appreciated during quick stops.

Manufactured by the Taiwan firm PGO, the Buddy’s overall build quality seems on par with other Taiwanese marques like KYMCO and SYM. Aiding any purchaser apprehension about reliability, Genuine offers an impressive two-year unlimited mile warranty and two-year roadside assistance plan.

The Genuine marketing strategy seems pretty sound  targeting new riders and the young urban hipster with bikes like the Buddy and the retro-themed Stella.
The Genuine marketing strategy seems pretty sound, targeting new riders and the young urban hipster with bikes like the Buddy and the retro-themed Stella.

At $3499, the Black Jack retails right in the middle of its competition – $700 less than a comparable Vespa S150 but $600 more than the Piaggio Fly 150 and Yamaha Vino 125. Genuine’s clever marketing strategy clearly targets the urban hipsters for whom the Buddy Black Jack seems a perfect fit, and whether young metro professionals or college-town coeds, the practical small-displacement commuter is an overall solid, and more important, fun, scooter option. The Buddy Black Jack figures to make friends with its intended audience.

Special thanks to our friends at the Bike Barn, for test ride aboard the Buddy Black Jack.

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