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Opinion: Is this really the way to get your kicks?

January 18, 2016
Genuine Buddy Kick

2016 Genuine Buddy Kick (Genuine Scooter Co. images)

Chicago’s Genuine Scooter Company has been on a new-product tear lately. First a motorcycle, now these.

The Buddy Kick, pictured above, represents conventional wisdom for success in the U.S. scooter market: it kinda-sorta looks like a Vespa (in this case, an LX), and it’s inexpensive. Sort of.

$3,199 plus tax, license, freight, setup and negotiable doc fee gets you modern touches like a telescopic-fork front suspension, dual rear springs/shocks and electronic fuel injection. Hey, these days chainsaws have EFI… fuel efficiency and minimal exhaust emissions are a requirement everywhere.

Genuine Venture

Genuine Venture


Speaking of fuel efficiency, Genuine has also introduced a new 50cc big-wheel scooter called the Venture.

It, too, is quite conventional. Made in mainland China, its (most likely restricted) 30-mph top speed qualifies it as a moped in several U.S. states. The Venture would be a good scoot to carry in an RV, or to give to your college-bound kid, especially at a price that undercuts many other 50cc scooters’.

Are you looking at these and feeling underwhelmed? I am.

Yes, just about everyone I’ve talked to in the U.S. powersports biz sez Americans don’t much care for the Jet Ski styling of Asian scooters. A Vespa look is supposed to be the key to success, they say. Unless you’re selling a 50, in which case it’s low price über alles.

But there are already lots of scooters fitting that description. These don’t look any different. In fact, they look like dubious Asian knockoffs.

What is Genuine thinking?

The Stella was a brand-new Vespa P, a scooter aimed squarely at a niche market. The Buddy surprises and delights with quality and performance well in excess of what you’d expect for its price. The Hooligan is sturdy and practical, perfect for the urban jungle.

The Buddy Kick and Venture are… what?

With the price of gasoline falling like a rock, most Americans’ reason for buying a scooter—fuel mileage—becomes less important by the day. Americans are buying pickups, SUVs and crossovers, not cars. There are screamin’ deals to be had on Prii and subcompact hatchbacks.

In fact, the 2016 Detroit Auto Show boasted an array of new models and concept vehicles that was absolutely stunning. Chrysler’s new minivan was even being called cool.

The Buddy Kick and Venture, OTOH, look like some big-box retailer’s half-hearted attempt to make a few bucks off customers who are in the store for something else.

People wonder why I keep saying there won’t be a U.S. scooter/motorcycle industry by 2050; offering a bunch of me-too, derivative bikes with little or no marketing support is why. Nobody gets that Americans need to be sold on the idea of owning and riding a scooter.

True, the Stella didn’t need any marketing support. Its target audience did all the marketing, and it didn’t need to sell in large numbers to be successful. But these aren’t Stellas.

Genuine is not alone with its apparent holding pattern. Piaggio Group has decided to deal with declining sales by upping the margins on the bikes it does sell (making ABS/ASR standard across the board is one way to do that) and moving the focus to its much more profitable Aprilia and Moto Guzzi brands.

America’s Smallest Scooter Company™ appears only to be interested in getting smaller. Favicon

The details

Genuine Buddy Kick
MSRP: $3,199
Built in: Taiwan
Construction: Tubular steel frame with attached plastic body panels
Dry weight:  235 lbs (106.6 kg)
Length: 68 in (1727 mm)
Width: 26.3 in (668 mm)
Wheelbase: 49.2 in (1250 mm)
Seat height: 28.5 in (724 mm)
Front susp: Telescopic fork
Rear susp: Swingarm w/dual coil springs & telescopic dampers
Front brake: Hydraulic disc
Rear brake: Hydraulic disc
Front tire: 3.50-10
Rear tire: 3.50-10
Engine: 124.5cc air-cooled 4-stroke with EFI and electronic ignition
Transmission:  CVT with centrifugal dry clutch
Power/torque: 11 hp (8.2 kw) @ 7500 rpm/6.45 ft-lbs (8.74 Nm) @ 5500 rpm

 

Genuine Venture
MSRP: $1,599
Built in: China
Construction: Tubular steel frame with attached plastic body panels
Dry weight:  218 lbs (98.8 kg)
Length: 78 in (1981 mm)
Width: 28.5 in (724 mm)
Wheelbase: 54.5 in (1384 mm)
Seat height: 29.5 in (749 mm)
Front susp: Telescopic fork
Rear susp: Swingarm w/coil spring & telescopic damper
Front brake: Hydraulic disc
Rear brake: Hydraulic disc
Front tire: 90/100-16
Rear tire: 90/100-14
Engine: 49.3cc liquid-cooled 3V 4-stroke with EFI and electronic ignition
Transmission:  CVT with centrifugal dry clutch
Power/torque: 1.9 hp (1.4 kw) @ 7500 rpm/2.8 ft-lbs (3.8 Nm) @ 5500 rpm
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