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2009 Genuine Buddy Black Jack Review

Friday, May 8, 2009
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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2009 Buddy Black Jack Specs
The Buddy Black Jack is good for an easy pace out to the vineyard  provided there are no Interstates or fast divided highways in between.
Engine: 150cc 4-stroke Single
Transmission: Automatic (CVT)
Cooling: Air
Claimed Dry Weight: 223 lbs
Seat Height: 29 inch
Fuel Capacity: 1.8 gallons
Claimed Top Speed: 60+mph
Front Tire: 3.5" X 10" White Wall
Rear Tire: 3.5" X 10" White Wall
Front Brakes: NCY Big Brake Kit Front Disc
Rear Brakes: Drum
Length: 62 inch
Width: 26 inch
Wheelbase: 48 inch
Carrying Capacity: 320 lbs
Color: Flat Black/Red
MSRP: $3499
Warranty: Two-year unlimited mile, with two-year roadside assistance
Buddy Black Jack Highs & Lows
  • Good performance for 150cc scooter.
  • Prima exhaust delivers surprising personality.
  • One of more stylish scooter options available.
  • Small ergos unrealistic for larger riders.
  • Useless rear brake.
  • Small 10-inch tires not as stable as some competitors.

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Angie "Bonegirl Buettner -I've gotten 40,000+ on my Buddy  February 4, 2010 09:15 AM
Hi! My name is Angie and I recently crossed the 40K mile mark on my 2006 Buddy 125 in 39 months. Genuine has awarded me the Buddy of the Year and gave me a 2009 Black Jack. I had no problems with the 2006 Buddy and foresee another 40K on the Black Jack.
Robert -Black Jack  November 16, 2009 10:16 PM
I'm always astounded when machines are pushed beyond their intended capabilities and then people complain about it. Put a 6'4" 220lb. gorilla on a small scooter and you're lucky it didn't implode. There should have a side-by-side comparison test with an "average" rider. Most people I see on scooters aren't overweight mastodons anyway.
Steve Guzman -Alex B! What do YOU know about riding?  July 31, 2009 09:26 AM
:P~ heheh. JUUUUUST kidding. Come back and see us in Austin next time you go scooting the nation!
Eric -Vespa/Buddy Comparison  June 10, 2009 10:59 AM
Hah, I actually wrote the comparison Desmolicious pasted below. It's a bit easier to read from the source (link below), where there are paragraph breaks. That comparison is between a Vespa LX and a stock Buddy 125. The Black Jack handles different than either of those. http://www.modernbuddy.com/forum/topic4835.html
Desmolicious -Nice owner comparo Vespa vs Buddy from modernbuddy.com  May 12, 2009 05:08 PM
Hope it's ok to cut and paste this. "People on both ModernBuddy and ModernVespa are fequently asking for comparisons of the Vespa LX150 and Buddys. I've been pasting versions of this into various responses for a couple years, and finally decided it needs a more permanent home. I own both the LX150 and Buddy 125 and feel I'm fairly objective about the significant differences between the two. Some are subtle, the kinds of things you adjust to in time. Others are more fundamental: beyond the specs, the scoots have their own characters. Though the Buddy used as a basis for comparison here is a 125, I think most of this still applies. Big difference between the 125 and 150 is off the line acceleration and a slightly higher top end. The difference is noticeable but not dramatic. Also, Vespa has since introduced the LXS, a slightly less-expensive, sportier version of the LX. The weight is more evenly distributed on the LX because (I guess) of the steel body. Most of the Buddy's weight is low and in the center/engine area. This makes the LX feel heavier, though it isn't (the difference is about 6 lbs.). It also means that it leans quite differently; it takes more effort to turn and you really feel it lean a lot more. At the same time, it seems to me like the LX has wider lean angles. This means that in some ways it's harder to learn to control the LX, but the rider may have more control at times because it's tilting under force you're exerting over it. In comparison, the Buddy feels "loose." It tilts easily; I hit kickstand my first time out on it, which has never happened on the LX. When combined with its zip, this makes the Buddy a fun ride that corners and handles with ease at fairly high speed. The Buddy is very easy to learn on. But as has been noted elsewhere, this contributes to the "deceptively high confidence" factor. The ease of riding the Buddy encourages new riders to ride beyond their abilities and this has led to several crashes. For me, this means having to be a lot more conscious of how much control I really have when maneuvering because it's quite tempting to ride it at its limits. ModernVespa and ModernBuddy founder Jess described the Buddy as "twitchier" than an LX, which I think is a pretty good characterization. The two offer very different riding experiences, but I think that's in their intent and design. A Vespa is a very idiosynchratic machine that offers a more mature, sophisticated ride. The Buddy is sort of like a teenager, eager, fearless, capable of doing all the "adult" things, perhaps even faster, but not as smoothly. In terms of performance, the Buddy 125 is faster off the line, but for most will have a lower top speed than the Vespa. (I suspect the Buddy 150 is about the same, but don;t know for sure.) The LX150 will also perform better uphill and when carrying a heavy load. The LX150 is freeway-legal in most states, where the Buddy is not. That said, I wouldn't recommend riding either on crowded urban freeways or anywhere with w 65mph speed limit (where traffic is likely averaging more like 75). For fuel economy, the Buddy definitely wins out at 90+MPG compared to 70 or so on the Vespa. (Vespa is reportedly introducing a plug-in hybrid version of the LX in '09.) Mechanically, both scooters are very reliable and will last a very long time if properly maintained. The Buddy has a better warranty—two years plus one year roadside assistance as opposed to the Vespa's one year warranty plus roadside assistance. All scooters have their quirks and while many of the LX's are well known (useless kickstarter), we're still discovering some of the Buddy's (you can pull the key out while in the on position and kill your battery). None of these are big enough deals to be deal-breakers. There are few scooters that can compare to the aesthetics and fit and finish of the Vespas. the Buddy has one of the better "retro" scooter designs from Asia (less cartoony than a Honda Met, less generic than a Yamaha Vino, less over the top lame than the Lance Milan style Chinese scoots). The Vespa does have more plastic than its vintage forefathers, but the frame and most of the exterior is still steel. This means that, yes, it is more expensive to repair if dented. It also means that the Vespas will survive crashes that will total a Buddy. On the other hand, the Buddy's exterior panels are very cheap to replace. I suggest anyone thinking about both these scooters look at each one, sit on them, try to see how comfortable each is for you. (If possible test ride each of them.) If you're over 6' tall, the Buddy may feel a little small. There are Buddy owners of all heights, weights and sizes who say they can ride comfortably for hours on end. I'm 5' 11" and have size 12 boots—that's good for less than an hour of comfortable uninterrupted Buddy riding. The Vespa is much better suited to riding 2-up for two average size adults. The seat is longer, there's more legroom for both rider and passenger, and the 150 shows its grit with power to spare when carrying more weight. If you plan on riding 2-up on the Buddy, I recommend sitting on it with another person and trying it on for size. So is the Vespa worth the additional cost? Many will say "no" without a second thought, but I think it all comes down to what you want in a scooter, why you want one and how much aesthetics and fit & finish matter to you. When I first bought my LX, the Buddy was not yet on the market. If it had been, when considering all the factors above, the LX may still have been a better match for me. (It's hard to say now.) My wife, however, had only a little interest in buying a scooter until she sat on a Buddy. We bought one a week later. (While I spent 20 years pining for a Vespa. Go Figure.) A lot of people have made analogies to cars, but basically it's like saying that not all 4-cylinder coupes are the same. The fact is, there are cars that may perform better than others, or are cheaper, or are get higher MPGs, that I would not buy because I didn't like their appearance, hated the dashboard, or thought the interior was uncomfortable, etc. Like most, I'd buy a car in my price range that I felt suited me better. I'd apply the same criteria when buying a scooter. In the end, these are both great scooters and I don't think a new owner would be disappointed with either."
Desmlicious -Willing to be educated  May 12, 2009 04:23 PM
Ok Alix, true I do not know much about the Buddy. I just find it curious that the mfg recommends 625 mile oil change intervals, but owners say that is not needed, then I read about bent cranks and failed bearings. Why is it that owners think they know more about the engineering of the bike than the actual engineers who designed and manufactured it? Why would you pick this bike over a Piaggio Fly 150? What does this bike do better than a Vespa 150S? Again I ask to be educated because I have checked out both, and the Vespa has far superior build quality, and apparently handles much better with better suspension and better brakes. That's coming from professional reviewers like this site, not die hard owners.
Alix -Couple of Bi-Scooterists out there  May 12, 2009 03:50 PM
@Jerry--Alix is a girl. Err, lady, depends on who you ask. @Desmolicious--you clearly don't know much, about the CannonBall Run. You clearly don't understand after we have told you repeatedly that the oil DOES NOT have to be changed as often as you were told. Yea, sure Josh is the best opinion here, definitely.He's ridden both therefore he can speak for all Buddy owners. So, if anyone has a question about the Buddy from someone who spent 22,000 miles on it traveling through like every terrain possible--just feel free to write me. www.peacescooter.com At ModernBuddy.com you will also find a bunch of people who have owned or ridden both the Vespa and the Buddy.
Desmolicious -Oil change/blowing engine  May 12, 2009 10:10 AM
"Per the Cannonball Run--that's someone elses thing--all I know is that 3,000 miles in a week is heavy duty" Maybe because according to Buddy, it was meant to have it's oil changed almost 5 times in that amount of mileage? I'll pass on this brand. For just a little bit more the much better Vespa is available. Sounds to me that the Buddy is overpriced by about $1K. Josh's experience as a Buddy and Vespa owner makes for the most balanced opinion here.
Jerry Miles -NO touring  May 12, 2009 12:13 AM
I would agree this is not a touring bike by any means and you have to be mad to do it. Alix you are a brave guy. I rather take this trip with a Piaggio Fly 150 seems to be a bit more stable with the larger wheels. Jerry Miles
Alix B. -Distance Riding  May 11, 2009 07:36 PM
I really don't think that the Buddy is a touring bike. But it doesn't have to be limited to simple urban commutes either. Plenty of people have had no problem taking the Buddy for long day and weekend rides. Some people commute more than 30+ miles on it. I'm just uncomfortable with boxing in the scooter by saying it's just great around town. For the record, the only thing that ever messed up my engine was that 2 separate times, bad mechanics did not tighten my oil filter properly enough which resulted in my loss of two engines. Sad. Per the Cannonball Run--that's someone elses thing--all I know is that 3,000 miles in a week is heavy duty. Especially on an air-cooled little engine. The Buddy is not a touring bike, although mine performed just fine. I rode it an average of 250-350 miles a day and sometimes for 12 hours, in summer heats. With my gear and my weight, the bike was carrying about 220 lbs. So Josh, I don't know honestly how my trip proved anything other than the Buddy can step out of the city and perform great on roads where the speed limit is 55-70 mph. With modifications, some Modern Buddy members are getting 88 mph on their Buddies.
Josh -Great write up.  May 11, 2009 04:55 PM
I thought the reviewers write up was fair and honest about the Genuine Buddy and I have seen far more weak points on the product then the three he has mentioned. It is really not designed well and seems to be designed with lighter and shorter riders in mind. That said I owned one for six months before moving into a Vespa LX150 which has better handling and power hands down. Also more leg room. Also Alix the Buddy is really only suited for urban riding and traveling long distance only proved one thing during your trip and another riders experience on the cannon ball run You know the Buddy that blew the engine. It barley travels the distance. As read on this link. http://www.modernbuddy.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=8321&highlight=engine Josh W.
htown -Buddy  May 11, 2009 12:50 PM
I have 4,100 miles on my Buddy... I change oil every 1k and the oil filter every other oil change. I change gear oil each time... it takes me about 30-40 minutes to do both.
Desmolicious -Oil change intervals  May 11, 2009 11:14 AM
So the sticker on the bike DOES say every 1000km (625 miles). There has to be a reason for that. I understand that owners like Eric (thanks for your comments) are changing at every 2K miles. But why would the dealership and mfg recommend the 625 interval? That is a serious PIA given it's frequency. Do you change the filter at the same time (does it have an oil filter?) Maybe mo-usa can call the mfg/distributor and ask them.
rickko -Oil change intervals vs. odometer readings, comfort  May 10, 2009 10:59 AM
Every Buddy comes with a sticker right on the handlebar cover saying to change oil every 1000km (625 miles). Because most Buddy speedometers & odometers have demonstrated to be about 10% off (to the high side), that means oils changes should really be done approximately every 700 miles (indicated)! The cost of more frequent changes is negligible but the frequency becomes a bit annoying if you are a high mileage rider. Some would argue that 1000 km sticker is for the rest of the world but I'd ask what makes the US different? 1000km is 1000km where ever you ride. In this regard, what is worse is, the publisher of the Owners Manual for the US market made it more confusing by changing the letters 'km' to 'm' but forgetting to convert the numbers (in kilometers) to numbers in miles making service requirements more confusing for US owners. Other than those two oddities its a great scooter! I believe this scooter was originally designed for the Asian market where most owners weigh less and are on the average a smaller build than found in the US market thus the reason for all the negative comments pertaining to size and weight in the article above.
Alix Bryan -Pricing and Performance  May 9, 2009 02:15 PM
You say: "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." Right, but those scooters aren't rigged with the performance shocks and pipe--a pretty substantial investment when bought separately. For a more apples to apples price comparison: Buddy 125 vs Vino125. And per the idea of a limited urban commute or the "tentative" back roads riding you did for a "larf"--I rode my Buddy 125 22,000 miles around the country. It's a great bike. I spent less than 1,000 on gas. Another person rode his 125cc 3,000 miles in a Cannonball Run. Someone else is taking their Buddy 150 across the country this summer. NOT limited to an urban commute in the slightest!!! I really wish reviewers were not allowed to ride a scooter until break-in period is complete. I broke mine in on the road and witnessed its transformation around 600 miles, but solid at 1,000. Speed increased as well as fuel efficiency. Per longevity, someone in Ohio has 28,000 miles on her Buddy125, 2006 model, original engine. How's that for investment?!!! www.peacescooter.com
Eric -Black Jack  May 8, 2009 11:37 PM
Desmolicious: Uh, no. Oil change intervals for the Buddy are the same as the Vespa LX 150, every 2K or so using synthetic. I own the LX and a Buddy 125 and have written a comparison. You can find it in the Reviews section on ModernBuddy.com. Smitty: A scooter as a bicycle replacement?The Black Jack scooter will do over 60mph with a 200lb. rider when broken in while getting 90mpg. Unlike most 50cc models, this scoot can easily sustain 50mph or more on most hills. Sure, it's fun for puttering around town but a bike like this makes a great urban commuter. In urban areas like LA, many riders prefer a small, flickable and maneuverable scooter to a maxiscoot or a motorcycle when it comes to riding around town. The Black Jack was clearly designed with the intent of changing some of the perceptions of scooters in this size range. From what I've gathered in various online reports and talking to dealers, it's working. When sitting next to the other, brightly-colored Buddys, many would-be buyers don't even realize they're the same model with a different look.
powerwheels125 -breaking in makes a big difference in mpg, suspension, and top speed  May 8, 2009 10:46 PM
Referring to comments on suspension, I'd just like to mention that it gets substantially better after a few hundred miles. Also I'm not sure if you had it on the right firmness, as I know of riders over 250lbs that ride Buddys and have never had such problems with "bottoming out". And with the rear brake, it's not fantastic, but I think it's good for a drum. It too is adjustable (mine required quite a bit of tightening at first). Once you get it set it is plenty strong... Overall it is a good review though, good to see any scooter-related reviews for that matter! :)
Scooterpunk -Oil change is every 2,000 miles.  May 8, 2009 10:24 PM
The first oil change (break-in) is usually between 300 and 800 miles. All subsequent changes are every 1,500 miles if you're obsessive, or every 2,000 miles if you aren't. If you run synthetic you can go longer between changes. Changing the oil on the buddy is a piece of cake. It also requires less than one quart of oil. I'm 160lbs and can squeeze 85+ mpg out of my Buddy no problemo. And that's riding pretty hard. The Buddy tops out around 65 mph. With a few mods it can go 80+ mph. But it's most fun around town, not the interstate. It's incredibly maneuverable, and subsequently it's a blast to ride. I've been on motorcycles since the early 70's and I think I have my most fun on scooters. And the Buddy is one of the top scooter choices for flat-out-fun and good reliability at a reasonable price.
Smitty -Buuddy Black Jack  May 8, 2009 12:02 PM
Starting to look like a scooter, to my way of thinking, & not trying to look like a Cruiser. Tack on NO saddle room for a pillion rider. Mind you the red wheel rims along with the white walled tyres have to be changed to something sensible, like a break in contrast of the ABS body paint finish. One has to wonder where they obtain replacement white walled tyres!!!!! Basically a real scooter if for in & around town, but not for weekly grocery shopping as that is left to one's cage. So my helmet would not fit under the scooter ABS plastic, but then I am accustom to carrying said helmet under one arm when riding m/cs. The 50cc will go over in Cdn since those without a DR or Riders License to ride m/cs CAN ride a 49cc scooter. Not the 200cc four stroke, but with 200+ lbs of the tester, then possibly some of the steep hills in this Okanagan Valley of where part of the cities or towns are sort of on the side of a mountain. THAT requires the power to climb said hills to home or business part of the town or college or such FOR the 50cc is guttless of claimed power. Though I would have to ride a scooter myself & test it mainly on the steep climbs to so many part of the small town or city before I would okay it. So yes I think this scooter is moving in the correct direction of what a scooter should be like of being small, not for wife & rest of the four kids to ride pillion. Think of a scooter that replaces a bicycle only NOT requiring the pedal power with a power-plant.
Desmolicious -Oil change intervals  May 8, 2009 10:15 AM
I was interested in this scoot a while back but basically lost interest after seeing that a Vespa 150 is 'only' $700 more, with a much more solid chassis and better build and brakes/suspension. The killer was the apparent oil change intervals on the Buddy. The dealer mentioned every 800 miles (if I remember correctly). Is this true?