The Italians are renowned for creating cars, bikes and scooters which are blessed with style, originality, exclusivity and above all sex appeal. The Taiwanese on the other hand are not - or should I say they weren’t...
The Italians are renowned for creating cars, bikes and scooters which are blessed with style, originality, exclusivity and above all sex appeal. The Taiwanese on the other hand are not - or should I say they weren’t. Recently those far eastern designers have begun to realise that people not only want to be able to buy a practical and reliable work horse but they would also prefer their chosen steed to look good as they go about their daily business – welcome to the 21st century!
Cast your beady eyes over the pictures of this latest piece of Taiwanese art, the Sym Mio. Those cheeky designers have created a masterpiece which Massimo Tamburini (the Ducati 916 creator) would be proud of. The scooter may not have an Italian manufacturers badge but it’s full of enough flair and imagination to spoil Mammas pasta. Looking at the retro styling on the Mio you’d be forgiven for thinking the scooter had been designed and built with the trendy European market in mind but in actual fact the scooter was only destined for Taiwanese shores - until that is Sym France spotted it on a factory visit and pressurised the bosses into letting the scooter be shipped to Europe.
The Mio will be available in both 50cc and 100cc four stroke versions when it hits the shops later this month. I recently had the opportunity to test the first one in the country and was immediately bowled over by the quirky retro looks and quality feel of the 100cc machine; it actually looks much sexier in real life than it does in the photos. A few neat little touches help to give the scooter a bit of extra character; for instance the smart clocks can be backlit in three different colours to suit your mood, simply switch the lights off and on and the dash lights up in either red, green or blue – cool! Another nice feature is the remote seat and petrol cap opening. With the ignition switched on you simply push the yellow button by the left thumb and the seat pops open, turn the ignition key to the correct position and the petrol filler ejects faster than a stricken jet pilot. The ignition switch is also fitted with an anti tamper cover which can be opened or closed by using the special tool fitted to the end of the key. A simple enough touch but it could help to save your fashionable looking scooter from an opportunist thief. As an added deterrent the Mio is fitted with an engine immobiliser which can be turned on or off by using the toggle switch located underneath the seat, maybe not as safe as a coded immobiliser but it’s better than nothing. Looking around the scooter you’ll notice plenty of stylish bits and pieces - flush fitting indicators, a prism effect rear light which looks like an LED light when you put the brakes on, chrome detailing around the clocks, flip out pillion pegs, chrome bars and a functional grab rail all add up to an overall aesthetically pleasing machine. Not only does the scooter look good to the eye but it’s also finished extremely well too, all the body panels fit perfectly and look top notch. There are no rough edges or flimsy looking plastic to spoil its appearance either so the scooter should last well too. The metallic two tone paint finish looks very smart as well – there are six colour options in the range but the first ones in the shops will be orange and cream.
On the road
So enough about the looks, how does it ride? A quick press on the starter button and the Mio sits purring on its centre stand. The seat height is one of the lowest on the market at 725mm so even the shortest of riders should be able to perch comfortably without having to worry about stopping at the lights. To say the engine was brand new the scooter was fairly nippy, even from a standing start it pulled very well and reached an indicated 57mph quite quickly which is a respectable enough speed in my book. The riding position was quite comfy although there’s not a lot of legroom for taller riders. Looking down at the clocks you see the naked chrome bars and funky domed headlight protruding from the front and you actually feel quite chic. The scooter seems to turn heads wherever it goes and I think it will appeal to riders of all ages and sexes. The little Sym is trendy enough to be seen on in any major city and you’ll feel proud of it when it’s parked up and people wander over to see what it is. From a handling point of view it was surprisingly good; the weedy looking front forks seemed capable enough although the front disk wasn’t the most powerful stopper in the business – saying that though the pads were new so it could improve a bit after they’ve bedded in a bit. The rear suspension comes courtesy of a mono shock which isn’t adjustable but was stiff enough to cope well with the bumpy rural roads around Derbyshire. The back drum brake was actually very good (more powerful than the front at any rate). I did quite a few miles aboard the Mio and was suitably impressed. Despite its ‘concept scooter’ looks it is also a very practical town tool, you can turn it around on a threepenny bit, it’s got a narrow profile to get through the tightest of gaps, is very light and easy to nip in and out of the traffic, the mirrors are great and the engine was plenty quick enough to keep you safe on the open road or even to make the odd overtake. Sym’s a long established brand which although it may not have been top of the shopping list for many fashion conscious Brits in the past the marque has a very successful history in its home country. The Sym Jet and other models from the range have been selling like hot cakes all year in the U.K. so they must be doing something right. The engines are known for reliability and the spares and warranty arrangements in the UK are spot on - so basically you can’t go wrong.
If you want a Sym Mio before summer is over I suggest you get to your local dealer as soon as possible because the first batch will be in short supply and once they’re gone, they’re gone and you’ll have to wait until February for the next shipment to reach our shores.
Used by kind permission of:
Ian Grainger 'Iggy' Freelance Journalist and photographer
Mobile: 07790 677125