Super scooters

ROSS MACKAY
Last updated 12:33 09/08/2011
Yamaha BeeWee
NIMBLE NUMBER: The Yamaha BeeWee.

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Yes, indeed – proving that two does go into four is Yamaha's matching pair of four-stroke-engined 125cc scooters, the $4299 BeeWee and the $2999 XC125 Vity.

Lined up alongside other, broadly similar, small-capacity commuter scooters, there's little to distinguish the BeeWee and Vity from their cheap and cheerful fellows.

Under the surface, however, it's a case of all change. Gone, for good or so it seems, are the modest, hard-working little two-stroke engines which have been the cornerstone for Yamaha scooters for so long, their place taken by a couple of smoother, quieter and even more fuel-efficient four-strokes.

Bracketed together, as Yamaha Motor New Zealand is doing for marketing purposes, it's also easy to tell the two apart.

The XC125 Vity is what you could describe as a traditional small-capacity scooter, one with small 10-inch diameter wheels, a single rear shock absorber and conventional all-enveloping bodywork, complete with a small handlebar-mounted cowl.

The BeeWee is an altogether funkier, more modern proposition, with distinctive vertically stacked headlights, exposed frame rails, larger (12-inch) wheels and fatter, higher-profile tyres.

Now, if cheap, basic transport is all you're after, I'm sure you're wondering why I'm making such a fuss about these two new four-stroke models. But believe me, there's a reason.

The thing is, you see, scooters, such as the BeeWee and XC125 Vity, tread a fine line between being a great way to save money and a right pain in the butt for other road users.

In pancake-flat cities such as Invercargill or Palmerston North, you can get away with a sub-five-kilowatt 50, for instance.

In hilly burgs like Dunedin or Wellington, however, you really need something bigger and more powerful, such as the two new Yamahas 125s, no matter how attractive the price of the restricted-horsepower, drive-on-a-car-licence 50cc models is.

The same applies in cities with satellite towns or suburbs linked by sections of dual-lane carriageway, motorway or the open road. For your own safety, you must be able to keep up with the rest of the traffic.

So how do these two new Yamaha four-strokes rate?

I'm pleased to say that both pass muster in the "keeping up with traffic" stakes. The taller, chunkier BeeWee is easily able to maintain 80kmh to 90kmh on my local dual-lane carriageway and is able, at a pinch, to hold 100kmh-plus on the motorway.

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The lower, slimmer XC125 Vity seemed to offer slightly better initial urge, which I attribute to its lower overall weight, but it started to show signs of stress in blustery conditions on the dual-lane carriageway.

Both are small, compact units with little leg room behind the front scuttle for longer legs (check out the pictures, above, to see how I managed to squeeze my lanky 1.8-metre body on it), although conversely, the need to provide enough storage room for a helmet under the seat means you sit quite high.

Perhaps because of their modest dimensions, both are agile, nimble little numbers with the BeeWee just edging out the Vity in the road-holding stakes thanks to its larger-diameter alloy wheels (12 inches over the smaller, narrower 10 inches of the Vity) and fatter tyres.

Both – and this goes without saying with any modern scooter – are also incredibly easy to ride.

Simply climb on, turn the key, thumb the electric starter and the continuously variable fully automatic CVT transmission does the rest.

I think it's a shame we've seen the last two-stroke Yamaha scooter. That said, the BeeWee and Vity 125 are worthy four-stroke successors.

- The Southland Times

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