2012 SYM Mio 50: No, it doesn’t get 900 mpg
So, 2012 was supposed to be the year gasoline hit five bucks a gallon in the U.S. It was also supposed to reach that price point in 2008, which caused Americans to lay siege to nearly every scooter dealer in the country, buying up everything they had because SCOOTERS GET GREAT GAS MILEAGE!
Of course, we all know what happened — the price of gas dropped below four dollars, and all those scooters got stashed in the corners of garages under blue tarps, destined to emerge on Craigslist a few years later at (in some cases) giveaway prices. Most of them got ridden once or twice, maybe three times.
There’s a gas station not far from where I’m writing this that’s selling unleaded regular for $3.599/gallon U.S. Nowhere near five bucks; in fact, nowhere near what they were charging six months ago. The Great Scooter Fad of 2012 never happened.
It’s not difficult to understand why — the U.S. economy is in a much, much different state now than it was in 2008. People had jobs. And credit cards with high limits.
More importantly, the gasoline marketing companies have established a pattern of spiking the price of gas early in the year, then letting it land softly after the big Memorial Day weekend driving binge. Regular cost well over four bucks a gallon in Bellingham early this year; while current prices are lower, they’re still higher than at the same time a year ago. Like last year. And the year before.
To cope with this, people are cutting spending on things like vacations, eating out, and so on, instead of buying scooters. In a few years, the auto industry will be offering cars that get scooter-like gas mileage, just in time for people who’ve been nursing high-mileage beaters to take the plunge on a replacement.
Scooters, therefore, will remain a novelty in the U.S. Main Street, USA’s traffic not only won’t resemble Taipei’s, it may not even look like Denver‘s. Well, unless you live in Denver.
Most Americans looking for scooters are still motivated by gas mileage, however. And low prices.
Along with the Yamaha Vino Classic and Honda Metropolitan (both refreshed for MY 2013), SYM’s Mio 50 is one these folks should be looking at. It’s one of the better choices in this category.
SYM (Sanyang Motors, based in Taiwan) got started building Cubs under contract to Honda. They’ve since built other bikes for the Japanese company, and over the years they have gained a reputation for quality and advanced engineering.
The Mio 50 ticks all the boxes that conventional wisdom says spells success in the U.S. scooter market: it’s cute, it’s cuddly, it kinda-sorta vaguely resembles an old-skool Vespa. And at a buck less than two grand, it’s CHEAP.
And SYM is saying 100 mpg, give or take, is what you should be seeing. If you do, that gives you a 127-mile range from its 1.27-gallon (4.8 liter) gas tank. The Mio requires 90 octane gas, as measured by the U.S. consumer method. In other words, premium. Well, it’s only 20 or 30 cents more than regular, right? And most likely you’ll only be buying a gallon at a time, right? Right.
For those who might not know exactly what’s meant by the term “displacement,” here’s what it is: it’s the volume of air that moves through the engine’s combustion chamber as the piston travels up and down in the cylinder bore.
Fifty cubic centimeters is 1.69 fluid ounces. That’s a really big sip of Diet Coke.
Therefore, 3.5 horsepower is a remarkable output from such a tiny volume of air and fuel vapor. So is two and change foot-pounds of torque.
But the question you’ll need to ask is, will that be enough?
SYM claims a top speed of 42 mph for the Mio. It’s quite possible their lawyers are as nervous as Piaggio’s; I once had the GTS up to an indicated 75 mph (one mph below the claimed top speed), and it felt like there was more left. I never tried to top that.
Then too, miles and hours will loosen the engine up, which will cause it to put out a bit more power. At this level, the tiniest of increases will be immediately apparent.
Still, if you need to be riding on freeways or fast arterials, you are gonna need more than 50cc. Consider SYM’s HD 200 if you want a commuter bike.
OTOH, if what you’re looking for is a neighborhood runabout, or something to carry in the RV for when you want to noodle around the KOA campground, the Mio 50 is just the ticket. While I strongly urge everyone thinking about getting their first scooter to take a Basic Rider Course, you will most likely be able to ride a Mio 50 without a motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license.
But remember, you won’t save any money on gas if you don’t ride it. Sitting under a blue tarp doesn’t count.
Plus: Easy to ride, easy to maintain, a quality bit of kit.
Minus: It’s a 50, which may not be powerful enough.
|Construction:||Tubular steel frame with attached plastic body panels|
|Net weight:||176.4 lbs (80 kg)|
|Length:||75 in (1905 mm)|
|Width:||27 in (686 mm)|
|Wheelbase:||46.45 in (1180 mm)|
|Seat height:||28.9 in (734 mm)|
|Front susp:||Telescopic fork|
|Rear susp:||Swingarm w/coil spring & telescopic damper|
|Front brakes:||160 mm (6.3 in) single hydraulic disc|
|Rear brakes:||95 mm (3.74 in) mechanical drum|
|Front tire:||3.0-10 42J|
|Rear tire:||90/90-10 50J|
|Engine:||4-stroke 49.5cc, air-cooled w/EFI and electronic ignition|
|Transmission:||CVT with centrifugal dry clutch|
|Power/torque:||3.5 hp (2.6 kW) @ 8000 rpm/2.15 lb-ft (2.9 Nm) @6500 rpm|