2007 Keeway ARN 150: No, this isn’t old-skool
Big People said the soonest they could get the PX in for its 6000-mile service would be two weeks. Two weeks?! Well, Vespa Seattle is selling a lot of scooters, so I guess this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Luckily, I had a chance to ride something modern, which among other things will keep the PX’s mileage down until the service visit.
For many people, the term “Chinese scooter” is inexorably connected to the term “cheap and nasty.”
And why not? Chinese scooters have mostly been crude devices with odd names, sold at big-box retailers or storefronts that also sell mobile phones and do money transfers to Central America. Cheap, yes, but not particularly well-made, and certainly not supported by anything like a franchised dealer network or service centers.
But this situation is changing rapidly. Just as the bicyclists in Mao suits have acquired BMWs and Italian designer clothes, China’s automotive industry is ramping up, the goal nothing less than being a major player on the world stage, with products the equal of anything offered by Japanese, Korean, European or even American companies.
Keeway is one of those companies. New to the United States, the company has divisions throughout Europe (including a design and engineering center in Italy), and a product line that includes scooters, motorcycles, ATVs and even go-karts, all powered by engines designed and built by Keeway.
Keeway’s ARN 150 plays in a crowded field in Europe, going up against such storied names as Honda, Yamaha and Piaggio. In the U.S., where people are just now warming up to the idea of motor scooters, the ARN 150 has what most Americans are seeking above all else—a low price.
Scooter Gallery of Seattle, which supplied the test example, sells the ARN 150 for $2195, a price that includes a top case and remote-controlled alarm. This compares quite favorably with the Genuine Buddy 125 ($2599) and Yamaha Vino 125 ($2649), both of which give away 25cc to the ARN 150’s 9.4-horsepower engine.
Nasty, the ARN 150 most definitely is not. The styling is modern, if a bit derivative. Yes, the body is plastic but the pieces are of high quality and fit together precisely. The blue is a perfect match for Team Yamaha blue, so you can easily find a helmet that will match. The chassis components look well-made, and the cast aluminum wheels look expensive. There’s a purposeful-looking hydraulic disc brake in front, and a rear drum brake with a helper spring that adds a weighty feel to the rear brake lever operation.
On the road, it works well, feeling all of a piece. Like most Asian scooters, the riding position is a bit scrunched-up for someone 5′ 11″ and 240 lbs., but I was able to place both feet flat on the ground, in my Adidas scooter shoes. The seat is harder than you’ll find on most scooters in this class, but the upholstery is somewhat slippery… I found myself sliding forward slightly going down hills.
The 12-inch wheels combine with an adjustable rear and telescopic front fork suspension to make Seattle’s mostly awful pavement bearable. The ARN 150’s Kenda tires easily passed the Fremont Bridge Grating Nibble Test; there was none. These tires have a tread pattern not unlike the Continental Zippy 1, sort of a slick with diagonal grooves.
The engine’s sound is not what you’d expect, the performance-looking (that expansion chamber is really a muffler) pipe giving off a low-pitched growl. Even accounting for a bit of play in the right handgrip, it seemed to require a great big twist to get the bike to move smartly, but once twisted, it will go. We saw an indicated 50 mph, and there was room for more than that.
However, you probably won’t be motivated to do random speed runs with the ARN 150—if that’s what you want, you’d be looking elsewhere. This is a bike for the first-time scooter owner. It’s inexpensive, easy to ride, handles predictably, has plenty of power to keep up with traffic. You can amaze your friends with tales of how far a few bucks’ worth of gas will take you.
And when you’re ready to move up, chances are Keeway will have something for you.
Plus: Low price, well-equipped, rides nicely.
Minus: Odd exhaust note, slippery upholstery.
|Price as tested:||$2,195|
|Construction:||Steel tubular frame, plastic bodywork|
|Length:||72 in (1830 mm)|
|Width:||27.5 in (700 mm)|
|Seat height:||30 in (762 mm) est.|
|Curb weight:||233 lbs (106 kg)|
|Front susp:||Telescopic fork|
|Rear susp:||Swing arm w/adjustable coil-over damper|
|Front brake:||Hydraulic disc|
|Rear brake:||Mechanical drum|
|Engine:||150cc single-cylinder 4-stroke, air-cooled w/electronic ignition|
|Power/torque:||9.4 hp (7 kW) @ 7500 rpm/6.6 ft-lbs (9 Nm) @ 6000 rpm|