After a fraught, traffic, accident and snow-filled drive from Detroit, the familiar skyline of Indianapolis filled the windshield as mid-afternoon approached. After a quick park, I hustled into the massive Indiana Convention Center. I passed the Progressive International Motorcycle show in its Indianapolis version and headed to the Dealer Expo check in. Within a few minutes, I was in the lightly attended main hall and went directly to the vehicle section. I passed aisle after aisle of helmets, outerwear, parts, chrome and other accessories and oils, waxes, tires and other two-wheel-appropriate items (time for them tomorrow). I was after bigger quarry, and I found it in the vehicle section.
My first stop was Genuine Scooters, and not only because I've been a fan for a while. Genuine is one of the very few scooter manufacturers that have understood about not only offering the right scoots for the right price, but have understood the "scooter culture" for years. Not only that, but they have fun doing it. I spoke with some of the old hands and (almost) new employee Mary Lindberg. They all "got it" and proudly showed off a black-trimmed Buddy 125 and a Scooterworks sidecar for Stella that looked the business. More to come from Genuine tomorrow.
Right across from Genuine was another scooter company that seems to get it. SYM (some pronounce it as a word, and some say it with each letter S-Y-M - apparently both are correct.) I spoke with old hand Mike Hickman and he gave me the tour of the current products. Everything in the booth (to include Lance products, also represented by Alliance Powersports, the distributor for SYM in the U.S.) was white and most were a particularly fetching matte white. New this year is a two-stroke, 50cc called Jet 50 Evo. The Jet 50 and the returning line-up all offer a pretty compelling case for SYM. They have fuel-injection and big-wheel options that not only look fantastic, but offer solid switchgear and some very comfortable seats. A crowd favorite was returning Citycom 300i. It's a big scoot that offers 20.6 horsepower (at 7000 RPM) and 17.3 lb/ft of torque (at 5500 RPM), out of a liquid cooled 262cc single. It has large 16-inch wheels both front and rear, each equipped with a disc brake. Add in a reported 64 MPG and it seems that the Citycom 300i offers a lot scoot for an MSRP of $4,699.
My final stop of the day was again, just across the aisle, Tharo EV. If their offering looks familiar, you might recognize more than a passing resemblance to the Vectrix VX-2 (Vectrix was absent from the show) offerings. Yes, Tharo EV actually produces what they call the 120 series - the 120S, 120L and 120L+. One of the main differences is that the 120 series offers an on-board built-in charger (as opposed to the external charger of the Vectrix VX-2). Another difference is a swoopy front end design that sets the 120 apart from the more angular Vectrix offering.
The all-electric 120 series scoots offer a 40 MPH top speed and a varied set of ranges (and prices) based on the battery technology on-board. The 120S offers a low $4200 price, and offers a range between 25 and 55 miles, based on rider weight, riding style and conditions.
One detail that I found out through a conversation with Will Geistig, Product Manager with Tharo EV, was that even in the 120 configuration, the silicon-based batteries can be charged over and over and that they "love being charged." He told me that the ~300 full discharges reported on the spec sheet are from "full to zero charge", and if one can avoid that rare condition (by plugging the scooter in after a ride), the batteries will last for "years and years".
The batteries offered in the 120L and 120L+ are Lithium-based and offer a higher capacity at a much reduced weight. The 120L's battery is only 49 lbs. compared to the 212 lbs. of the 120, while offering the same 25-55 mile range. The 120L+ offers two of the Lithium batteries and a 50 - 100 mile range. With the $5250 price of the 120L and a $7150 price for the 120L+, these scoots certainly offer some choices for the environmentally conscious scooterist. And remember, electric scooter require only a fraction of the running costs of a gas-powered scoot, especially for gas, oil and the running costs of a "normal" scoot.
What's next: Kim Kardashian gets a Buddy!