With gas prices likely to exceed $5 per gallon in the near future (some coastal cities already over $4.50), and the average daily commute for today’s working-class American roughly 60 miles round trip (that’s 300 miles per week), the sheer cost of commuting continues to grow at an alarming rate. Enough so that even us typically thick-headed Americans are starting to take a much closer look at alternative modes of transportation, with SUVs and big truck sales rapidly declining. All of a sudden a vehicle’s fuel economy, a number rarely even glanced at in the past, is now of utmost importance. In fact, some brands are running entire national ad campaigns based solely around the claimed mpg.
And in case you forgot, though some say it is ‘starting’ to rebound, our economy as a whole isn’t exactly flush with cash. As a result, today’s buyer has an entirely new ‘checklist’ when it comes time to buy a new vehicle, be it two-wheeled or four, one placing far more emphasis on overall value and economy. It is also why some modes of transportation previously thought of as ‘alternitve’ are finding their way into American’s garages as ‘daily drivers’ with increasing frequency. And it’s also why Motorcycle-USA.com delivers its first Maxi Scooter Shootout.
Let’s preface things by clarifying that by ‘maxi’ we refer to today’s premiere pass-through two-wheelers, machines that each of the four manufacturers selected to represent as the best it has to offer in the world of scooters. They also provide one or more of the following features for their respective brands: biggest-displacement engine, highest-horsepower output, largest storage capability, or the longest-range tank.
Drum roll, please… The four machines selected to go after the crown are (all 2011 models): Kymco Xciting 500Ri, Yamaha TMAX, Aprilia’s Scarabeo 500ie and Suzuki Burgman 650 Executive. And while these four models differ somewhat in terms of styling, size, and speed, what they do all share is the distinction of being selected by each of their respective manufacturers as the brand’s flagship scooter, sent to try and bring home shootout superiority.
Once we had the four key players in this segment assembled, the scooters largely responsible for the recent class growth seen Stateside recently, our mission was to determine a) who makes the best overall performing scooter, b) which is the most economical (gas mileage, MSRP, maintenance costs, etc), c) can any of them provide the kind of smile-inducing endorphin release a full-on motorcycle does, and d) are any of them up to the task of being a bike enthusist’s main two-wheeled daily driver.
For testing duties MotoUSA gathered a motley crew, with yours truly and Associate Editor and resident scooter expert Justin Dawes joined by road race girl Jen Ross and photographer / videographer extraordinaire Joey Agustin. Road Test Editor Adam Waheed also logged miles on the three that were able to complete the shootout still running (more on that later), providing yet another opinion of these three marquee scoots.
For objective data acquisition we installed our V-Box system on each for a series of closed course runs. And while there isn’t a whole lot one can measure on a machine that struggles to keep pace with most SoCal soccer moms on the 405 freeway, we wanted to have a look at some hard numbers. What this provided was the comparison of 0-60mph acceleration times, 60-0mph braking distances and measured GPS top speeds. Fuel economy was recorded throughout the test as well, of course.
So, without further ado, please enjoy the first all-out big-bore brawl of a scooter shootout to grace the virtual pages of Motorcycle USA…