Are you bothered by rumors about the imminent death of a scooter? They turned out to be exaggerated. Yes, the European market has suffered. Bureaucratic innovations - “rights”, registration, insurance - hit the 50-cubic sector painfully, but it turned out to be tenacious and still occupies a good two-thirds of motorcycle sales. And vitality gives him vitality … the same bureaucracy: officials are putting ever new slingshots on the way of young people to “normal” motorcycles (imagine, seriously, the introduction of access to driving cars with more than 50 hp power is already being discussed … since 25 years old. What!) And there was a paradoxical situation. New scooters aimed at young people - a sports warehouse, but with weak 50-cc engines, and “stools” with a large displacement of engines are addressed to older people. It’s easy to notice one more trend: manufacturers are increasingly offering “transformers” scooters: waiting for the next catch from European officials, they are designing a chassis for installing a whole gamut of motors - from 50 and up to 250 cubic meters! How has nobody thought of removable power units - so that the scooter "grows" with the owner? I give an idea, do not mind.
Another trend, joyful: more and more unusual cars appear - both combining features of devices for various purposes, and completely original. Even the Japanese, who have always held the Europeans as pathological conservatives and therefore didn’t deliver anything “like that” for them, now release such unique items as the Honda Zoomer on the Old World market (we will talk about it and look at it later - you will have fun).
Here you will begin to be perplexed: but for us, what’s wrong with us - it’s not like Europe at all?.. Maybe it’s so, but thanks to the efforts of Russian dealers, we have ceased to be a bear’s corner - everything new that has appeared in the world is already in sale and in Russian motor shows. So stock up on money and information.
A whim of our mentality: the Russian is afraid of being known as a "layman". Better a bastard! Europeans do not suffer from this complex, but the Germans have a burgher and even more so the title of a respectable person. For them, adherents of "moderation and accuracy", a considerable part of motorcycles is oriented. You will understand the manufacturers: people are calm and aged are loyal customers. Give them only reliable equipment and provide quality service - they will tear it off with their hands. There is little hope for youth - it’s windy, inconsistent, and with its non-buying it ditched more than one brand.
The Italian concern Piaggio has never forgotten its faithful "old people" - that's why it flourishes. For those who value practicality above all in a scooter, today he has launched two new families on the market: Fly on 12-inch wheels and a thoroughly modernized Liberty “big-wheel”. Both cars are not only similar in appearance (the headlight is dominated by an “inverted triangle” and the triangles are large direction indicators), but the chassis is tailored to the same standard (base for various modifications - from 1330 to 1340 mm). The set of powertrains is impressive: for Fly and Liberty you can choose from: 50 cc 2-stroke Hi-Per2, 50 cc 4-stroke Hi-Per4, 125 cc 4-stroke Leader. Kpome, for Fly you can order a 150 cc modification of the Leader motor, and for Liberty you can order a 200 cc. Engines are designed according to the principle of reasonable sufficiency: they are air-cooled, 4-stroke units with 2-valve cylinder heads.
The same principle triumphs in the design of the chassis. A frame welded from steel pipes, a front telescopic fork (without hydroamortization on 50 cc variants), a rear suspension on one suspension strut. Front - disc brake, rear - plain drum. But Piaggio did not save on equipping scooters: the immobilizer on the "large" versions, on the instrument panel - a clock, calendar, fuel gauge. Custom equipment includes an anti-theft system, a windshield, and a luggage case.
On the same "field" as the Piaggio Liberty, another Italian scooter "plays" - Honda SH. Surprised by the “Italian Honda”? Nevertheless, it is Italian - do not hesitate. The Japanese motorcycle concern opened its branch on the Apennines in 1976, and since 1992 it has been producing scooters for the European market here. The family on 16-inch SH wheels debuted back in 1996 - then with 2-stroke engines of 50 and 100 cm. But real popularity came to her only in 2000, when a 4-stroke modification of 125 and 150 smz appeared. And this season, sales of updated versions have begun.
What are their differences from last year? First of all, in engines: on the new SH engines are equipped with fuel injection systems (they appeared a year ago in the chassis of Pantheon scooters). Their advantages: enviable cost-effectiveness, ease of start-up, meet the requirements of environmental standards EURO-3, which will come into force in 2006 (while Piaggio engines reach so far only EURO-2).
We continue to compare Honda and Piaggio. The Japanese-Italian has a more powerful front fork (the diameter of the supporting pipes is 33 mm versus 32 mm for a “purely Italian”), the rear has two shock absorbers, not one. A serious advantage is the combined brake system (in it the designers managed to combine the hydraulic drive of the front disc and the mechanical cable of the rear drum). Retribution for all these advantages? Honda is much heavier and, alas, significantly more expensive. However, each product finds its buyer: both cars occupy the top lines in the charts of both the Italian and European markets. Convenient "wheelers" in city traffic - this cannot be taken away from them! Those who believe that such machines are only ladies beautify themselves.
Do you think Piaggio only cares about the townsfolk? Whatever the case: he cares about his own gain and is quite strong to pursue a "cloven hoof policy", that is, ours and yours. The youth hit in her program is the 50 cc NRG model. The abbreviation stands for as much as Next Racer's Generation, that is, "The Next Generation of Racers." Who doesn’t fall for such a slogan-entrapment! In ten years, Italians have sold 360, 000 of these cars, and this season they are launching the fourth generation, not without pretentiousness, called NRG Power (another blow to fragile brains!). If we compare the new one with last year’s model, the front shield, which has slightly grown in size, is striking, which protects the driver from the incoming air flow in no way worse than the shield of an ancient Roman warrior from copies of the enemy. Under the claddings is a new frame with increased torsional stiffness. Everything in the machine is serious: disc brakes - on both wheels, an inverted front telescopic fork - with hydraulic shock absorption. And the Piaggio traditional for a wide selection of power plants: 2-stroke 50-cc engine Hi-Per2 in three (!) Options. The most advanced is the Pro PureJet, with direct fuel injection into the combustion chamber and liquid cooling (in the NRG Power PJ version). Simply Pro is equipped with a carburetor (in the NRG Power DD model). Finally, the "budget" version of the NRG Power DT - with an air-cooled engine and rear drum brake.
The main competitor of Piaggio NRG Power is another “rejuvenated long-liver” - Aprilia SR50R Factory (800, 000 cars of this family have been sold in 12 years). The piquancy of the situation is that after the recent merger, both work for the same owner - tycoon Roberto Colananino. The Aprilia Fifty is slightly larger and heavier, but it has a powerful trump card under its facings - a 2-stroke Ditech engine with injection … no, not gas, but gas-air mixture. This scheme provides such a fine atomization of fuel that the engine happily combines such seemingly mutually exclusive advantages as increased power, reduced fuel (and oil) consumption, excellent environmental performance - the engine fits into the EURO-3 standards! In 2005, a second-generation Ditech power unit appeared in the car: it is even more powerful, more economical (300 km can be driven at the same refueling of a 7-liter tank), and the service intervals have doubled - from 6000 to 12 000 km.
Another Aprilia trump card, which Piaggio has nothing to oppose, is a family relationship with the famous RSV sportbikes! The front part of the scooter (with two headlights and a central air intake) is made “based on” an aggressive fairing of a liter motorcycle. You have the right to imagine yourself a tamer of 130 hp.
Here's what is curious: the modernization of one and the other machines was carried out independently of each other (because long before the merger of the companies), but the designers went the same way: they increased the area of the front panels and significantly increased the rigidity of the frames. And this is a trend! And one more similarity in both families: Aprilia has a budget option, its index is SR50R, without the word “Factory”. In this modification, a conventional liquid-cooled carburetor engine, the equipment is more modest.
Another member of the pan-European alliance Piaggio - the Spanish company Derbi. After the “capture” that took place four years ago, the Spaniards were in a state of stagnation, the only thing that happened was that instead of the engines of their own production, the Italian began to install … The stagnation was imaginary! (I suspect that the main "feature" in the supposedly "quiet backwater" was the designer Klaus Nennevitz, who, after many years of successful work at Aprilia, headed the design department of Derbi). It broke through last fall: sensational innovations followed one after another … We are more interested in the Derbi GP1 scooter.
Scooter? Well, I do not! The word "scooterbike" in this case is most appropriate. Judge for yourself: the diagonal aluminum alloy frame on the model of that of the Derbi GPR sport bike is just that. The 2-stroke 50 cc Piaggio engine, rigidly fixed in this frame, is two. A completely motorcycle-type rear suspension with a monoshock - three. On the front side is an inverted telescopic fork with a ventilated brake disc equipped with a radial bracket - four. Where's the scooter doorway? From him - miserable remnants.
In fairness, I note that such a radical step - the rejection of the traditionally scooter monoblock "engine-transmission-suspension" - the designers went only on the 50-cc version. In models with 125- and 250-cc, with four-stroke engines, everything is arranged in a “scooter style”. So after all, these large cars are certified as "sports and tourist", in contrast to the uncompromising sports "fifty dollars".
… But whose Asian face is it looking out for? Ba, Taiwan PGO G-Max! And he, too, is eager for "athletes"! What are your trump cards, Mr. Chinese? “Appearance!” He replies. Well, let's start with the show-offs. And here we note that in the next “Max” clearly visible “family traits” of the French Peugeot Jet Force. Tears are touched to tears by mimics of the “Frenchman” aluminum diagonal frame (in fact, the PGO frame is made of steel pipes, although it is rather well-woven, with developed duplex) … “Engines!” The representative of the East continues to praise himself. Of course, the units with a working volume of 125 and 150 cm3 are quite modern, with air-oil cooling so beloved in Asia, 4-valve cylinder heads and even with a very advanced Keihin fuel injection system. That's just 12 bhp. for a 150 cc engine it’s somehow not inspiring … But there are alternatives - a 50 cc 2-stroke and an 18-horsepower 250 cc liquid-cooled engine … “Chassis!” trumps Mach. There is no arguing - everything is serious: 13-inch alloy wheels with low-profile tires and disc brakes (in front - as much as a 4-piston bracket!). On machines with 125 and 150 cm3 engines, the rear suspension has a progressive characteristic (the engine-transmission unit acting as a pendulum is connected to the monoshock through a linkage) … “Price!” The Asian snapped. Everything, struck on the spot! Although this is not a sporting device, but a killer one - like everything below the waist. Running to take a turn!
Japanese giants allow their rivals from Europe, as well as “the rest of Asia,” to frolic, but for the time being, and then suddenly show in awkward manner who is the boss in the house. This season, the "master class" taught the concern Honda.
Young designers, united several years ago in the N Project group, received a task that aspiring ambitious specialists can only dream of: creating a series of unusual cars attractive to young people … and not for her. Extravagant news sprang up one after another, including the Zoomer scooter-skateboard. Having conquered the markets of Japan, and then the USA (where the car is sold under the name Ruckus), this season a funny little thing got to Europe. To meet with the Old World, it was thoroughly refreshed … That's all, enough trepidation - take a look at the engine! Have you ever seen something like this? 4-stroke "fifty dollars" with a 4-valve cylinder head, liquid cooling and fuel injection! Can you imagine the size of its valves and nozzles? If anything, you have to turn to a jeweler, not otherwise … In the pursuit of miniaturization and weight reduction, the designers used many interesting solutions. For example, instead of the traditionally separately located generator and electric starter - a combined unit (once it was called a dynastarter - owners of Tula motor products remember …). The radiator of the cooling system is mounted directly on the engine. A miniature gas pump lurks in a gas tank (located under the deck). This, it would seem, is not unusual. But the pleasant surprise is that even with a “dead” battery, the kick kick energy is enough for all these systems to start shaking …
And running!.. And appearance, finally! That's where the young heads of designers went about! Wide-profile tires with a solid tread pattern, two headlights are suspended - you can not say otherwise - to the luggage case hugging the steering column. Under the saddle … Yes, at least put a tube in there, at least a skateboard, at least a tourist backpack packed to the top! Because the frame is made cunningly: the front part of aluminum castings is connected to a “bare” steel tubular frame. However, if you feel sick from such a purism (or are afraid for the safety of luggage), you can order the built-in luggage case or trim panels. However, the choice of custom equipment is rich, especially in terms of body elements - according to the creators, everyone will be able to finish the scooter “for themselves”. One thing is alarming: the machine is not cheap, but then why does it have simple suspensions - without hydraulic shock absorption? And drum brakes?.. For youth, and so will it?
For capricious egoists in the bowels of the “N Project” another unusual thing was born: the Honda PS250, I will call it the “insider scooter”. Will explain. When looking at this device, it’s impressive that the designers did everything in it: if they usually hang the body on the frame, then here, on the contrary, it was surrounded by a frame. The car is built on the units of the “correct” Honda Foresight scooter: a 250 cc liquid-cooled engine, a “telescope” in front, a pendulum-motor-transmission unit at the rear, and a combined brake system. All the relish is in the “weight”: it creates the image of a sort of jeep hung with kenguryatniks, only a small one. And not even a jeep, but a pickup truck: the passenger seat rises, under it is a large cargo area. Truly for the joy of the egoist! Which can pamper itself with the adjustment of the landing: the driver's seat shifts back and forth within 90 mm.
Sorry: Honda PS250 - not for Europe. At least for now. It is sold only in Japan and the United States (in the United States - under the name Big Ruckus, here the device comes with two round headlights, while on the islands one is rectangular - this is to emphasize the relationship with the popular Zoomer).