When I was growing up the choice for people wanting a small capacity machine to go to work on was pretty limited to say the least....
When I was growing up the choice for people wanting a small capacity machine to go to work on was pretty limited to say the least. Most people at the time used the Honda C90, it was never a stunning machine to look at but it was a cheap and reliable work horse that sold millions around the world. It is still very popular today, especially in the Far East. These days we are spoilt for choice as manufacturers are forced to build bikes and scooters to suit all budgets and compete with more and more new suppliers in an expanding market place. Made in Taiwan was the ‘in’ joke as a kid, it seemed like every poor quality item you could imagine came from there…how times change!
I picked the brand new Sym Euro MX125 scooter up from the importers in Derby; the first thing that struck me about the machine was its beautiful silver livery. I was riding the scooter back to Manchester which is around about 75 miles away, which would give me chance to get used to the machine. My first impressions as I rode the scoot were that its ‘sit up and beg’ riding position gave me a good commanding view of the road, which in turn made me much more visible to other road users (especially short sighted car drivers). In town this could certainly help you to stay out of trouble. The seat height on the Euro is fairly high at 775mm but the seat itself isn’t too wide, so at five feet ten inches I was still able to put my feet flat on the floor comfortably. Although people who are a few inches shorter may struggle. The nicely detailed mirrors had a colour coded insert and were plenty wide enough to give you a good view of the road behind, but without being too wide that they interfered whilst filtering through town traffic. They also had plenty of scope for adjustment to suit the needs of most riders. As I got to the outskirts of Derby I was doing about 50mph when a girl suddenly ran out from behind a bus without a care in the world, luckily for her the Sym comes equipped with a massive dinner plate sized front disk bolted to the rim which stopped me with ease. The UK. Spec. models will also be fitted with rear disk brakes so stopping power should be awesome.
To begin with on the journey I was a bit disappointed with the performance, especially up the long hills that took me across the Pennines. I was prepared to give the Euro the benefit of the doubt because the tried and tested four stroke 125cc engine which is also fitted to their Shark models was brand new. I was hopeful that once I had put a few miles on the clock the motor would loosen up a bit. A few days later I took the Sym to a scooter ride out in Merseyside, I was travelling with about half a dozen 125 and 200cc scooters. The ‘traditional’ scooter riders were taking the mickey at first but they quickly realised that they had to really try hard to keep up with me. The geared scooters that they were riding lost about 100 yards at every set of traffic lights to the little auto, much to my amusement!
The overall look of the scooter is pleasant (the quirky front end grew on me as time went on) and the side profile is pretty similar to a Gilera Runner, if you squint a bit, but it’s not the sort of machine that attracts unwanted attention when it’s parked up in town. I think it would suit a nice race rep paint job though nevertheless. Fitted at the back of the seat is a small rear spoiler that doubles as a passenger hand hold come luggage rack, the horizontal petrol filler is also located here which could make filling tricky if you wanted to strap any luggage to it. I found that I had to be careful not to be too ‘trigger happy’ with the petrol pump because it was easy to splash fuel everywhere whilst filling up. The chrome heat shield fitted to the exhaust was a nice touch; other chrome bits include the handlebar end weights and the surrounds for the chunky clocks. An oil warning device similar to many new cars is included in the speedo, the warning goes from green to red as the oil level gets lower. The oil filler cap on the engine has a dipstick attached as well so you have no excuses to run low on oil! Other equipment includes an electric start, and kickstart for emergencies, it has a headlight flash button which is useful (if you remember that its there, I kept forgetting!), push to cancel indicators with a warning sound to remind you that they are on, fold down alloy passenger footpegs, the obligatory shopping bag hook (where would we be without one?) and a cavernous underseat storage area that was plenty big enough for my full faced Shark helmet and a pair of waterproofs - this was the only storage area on the scoot though. The 35 watt headlights provide plenty enough illumination to attract a swarm of moths on a summer’s night and enough to melt the snow on a winter’s morning. Front suspension comes courtesy of telescopic forks - I thought it was a bit soft and tended to bottom out over speed humps but was adequate nevertheless. Rear suspension is by the way of a single shock absorber.
Every time I test a new scooter I think to myself ‘I wish I’d bought shares in Maxxis Tyres a couple of years ago’. It seems like most manufacturers are fitting them as standard these days and why not? For what is essentially a budget tyre they do a great job of keeping your scooter sunny side up, it takes quite a bit of trying to get them to let go of the tarmac, incidentally both front and rear wheels are twelve inch alloys. One thing that did really impress me in town was the tight turning circle (1.9 metres according to the manufacturer); it was a piece of cake to do u-turns even in the tightest of side roads. The ground clearance was good too, making it easy to ride up the pavement to park.
The legshields aren’t especially wide and they taper down at the bottom to meet the flat floorboards but they manage to keep the elements at bay most of the time.
Cheap as chips
The well proven air cooled 125cc engine is exactly the same as fitted to the reliable Sym Shark, and in the words of the technician at Sym “its bullet proof”. It may not have an awesome top speed but I managed to wring an acceptable 73mph out of it (according to the speedo). On the economy side of things it’s very cheap to run, I was getting on average 170 km on six litres of fuel (the tank holds 7.5 litres). I did a 120 mile round trip to the seaside for less than six quid! For once the Speedo seemed to be fairly accurate as well which made a refreshing change! All new Sym’s are checked over and set up once they arrive in Derby; carburettors are reset to run in the cooler British climate and everything else is given the once over ready for you lucky punters.
I kept hold of the Euro for two and a half weeks and put a respectable 800 km on the clock. The engine did loosen up which made it much more fun to ride, although it still seemed a bit sluggish going up hills. At times I found myself forgetting that this was ‘just a commuter’ and ended up terrorising the local youngsters around town on their race rep scooters. I didn’t find anything that I could really call a fault (but I tried!). The scooter was kept outside during my time with it and was still as shiny as when I picked it up. If you’re looking for a nice reliable tool that’s well put together and have £1899 to spend you could do much worse than buy one of these. They are available from your local Sym dealer from this month. At the moment they only come in silver and blue. My verdict is... it’s a bargain!
Used by kind permission of:
Ian Grainger 'Iggy' Freelance Journalist and photographer
Mobile: 07790 677125
Unit 14, Linkwood Place, Elgin IV30 1HZ Tel: 01343 550600