150 Scooter Comparo, Part II

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Scooter test part 2 – the big comparo

Scooter comapro - part 2
Which is the best?

So, in part one we gave each test rider the opportunity to put in their two cents about the scoot that they had picked up and were effectively in charge of. In part two, let’s take a closer look at how the scoots stacked up against each other.

It might be a good time to clarify that this was a CMG style test and as such each scooter was subjected to a pretty tough going over, with close to 1,000 kms in two days. Is this what a typical 150cc scooterist is likely to do with their baby? Not really, but then think of it like a six-month test squeezed into two days. Go on, you can do it.

1) MOTORS

There’s not too much to differentiate the motors. They’re all around 150cc, four stroke singles, and all about 12 horsepower. CVT (continuously variable transmissions – see here and here) are a centre-piece of scooter design and all these scooters came with it, which meant that a twist of the wrist would raise the rpms to a fixed point and then it would carry on from there.

There was a noticeable delay when opening the throttle and getting forward motion with the PGO, but overall it came out second thanks to its strong pull and raspy exhaust note. The Vespa got top marks for having a slightly zippier edge and being likely the fastest – although this would vary depending who was riding it – illustrating that any differences between all the scoots was very small. The KYMCO and E-Charm pretty much tied third.

Scooter comapro - part 2
“Neeee …”. CVT transmissions and small motors!

So, not much in it for the motors, although the Vespa edges ahead after round one.

2) HANDLING

Here’s where we start seeing some significant differences. Wheels sizes varied enormously, with the Vespa getting tiny 11”/10” fr/rr jobbies that made it twitchy, but also gave it very quick steering. The excellent suspension (it’s the only one with a trailing link front) once again earned it top marks from our testers as far as overall handling.

Both the PGO and KYMCO have common scooter-sized 12” wheels front and back as well as the same suspension (telescopic forks and coil and damper rears). The E-Charm is the same too, except that it goes big with the wheels at almost-motorcycle-like 16 inchers (though 14” wheels are available as an option).

Scooter comapro - part 2
Wheel size varied.

Between these three, votes were mixed but they all scored roughly the same with the KYMCO getting the nod over the PGO – which was deemed a bit harsh over bumps.

The E-Charm slid in between with points gained for the big wheels that helped absorb bumps, but lost for the lack of damping, which left you feeling like a five year old in a bouncy blow-up castle when the wheel didn’t absorb all that bump. Only without the pools of Jello puke. Oh, and it also had a tendency to slap the bars violently if you took your hands off them … which you learnt not to do pretty quickly.

After this round we see the Italian pulling further ahead (unless I was riding it thanks to my sail-like size and lardy arse), with the other three battling it out for second.

3) BRAKING

Scooter comapro - part 2 Scooter comapro - part 2
E-Charm had the strongest stoppers and possibly the fanciest wheels too.

Bit of a switch of fortunes in this category as the E-Charm gathered top marks thanks to discs front and rear that would haul you to a screeching stop with minimal pressure. Having said that, they were maybe a little over-keen, but then if you have four kids all trying to impress each other, the benefits of being able to slide the wheels is obvious.

The only downside was an irregular high-pitched squeal at the front. Oh, and I guess the parking brake didn’t quite work. Although it was the only scoot to come with one, the under-seat lever wasn’t there when we got it and the rear nut had fallen off by the time we returned it.

Second place for braking went to the KYMCO, which it could be argued was better than the E-Charm’s in the real world as the front was a little less easy to lock up (the rear still a good slider though) but still worked very well. The Vespa pulls in a close third with a good front but a squishy rear (drum).

Scooter comapro - part 2
PGO had the weakest brakes and pressed rims.

And in lowly fourth (and by quite a margin) we find the PGO. Despite having a stylish slotted disc up front, it feels wooden and needs a hard squeeze before it even thinks about slowing down. The rear drum is like a wet sponge – no fear of a lock up in the dry or the wet and was close to useless! We even once managed to get the front to bellow off a cloud of smoke when I tried to make it stop as quickly as possible. Sadly, it didn’t even stop that quickly.

So, after the braking, we still have the Vespa ahead by a few lengths, with the E-Charm pulling a surprising second, the KYMCO third and the PGO bellowing smoke in fourth.

4) COMFORT

If you consider the real everyday usage of these scoots, then comfort over the long haul is probably not a big issue. But for us it was and by day two it was starting to get tense as to who rode what depending on how well the thing treated your arse.

Overall the Vespa scored the top marks with a well padded – if slightly firm – seat and decent room to move your legs around in. Well, unless your name is Chris Emanuel, who hated it and put it last …

Scooter comapro - part 2
Chris loved the leg space on the KYMCO.

Second place goes to … errr …the other three. Yes, they tied for second but all had different strengths and weaknesses and the arguments as to what worked fluctuated wildly between the riders. If I had to make an executive call (which I will) I’d give second to the E-Charm which had a pretty comfy seat and decent space for the legs, although options to place the feet were limited to one.

As for third, I’m going to tie the KYMCO and the PGO. The KYMCO suffered badly from a piece of the seat base coming up right where most people sit. It felt like you were sitting on a metal bar across the centre of the seat. Ironically it wasn’t as big an issue for the lankies as we could sit behind said intrusion.

The PGO had similar base issues, but this time it felt a bit like you were perched on a bowling ball, created by rounding into the base to give more room for a helmet under the seat. It was harder to avoid sitting on this bit, but it was also more spread out and less intrusive.

Scooter comapro - part 2 Scooter comapro - part 2
Vespa gets the comfy marks as well style, as well as … etc, etc.

I found both the KYMCO and the PGO a little cramped for my legs, although Chris – who is also a lanky bastard – rated the KYMCO tops for leg room, so there’s a bit of a mixed opinion here.

As far as general weather protection goes, all four scoots scored well and the same, with decent coverage against the rain.

So once again the Vespa comes out on top and has a commanding lead over the others. The E-Charm holds onto second (by me anyway), with the KYMCO and PGO now not far behind.

5) FIT & FINISH

This is the last category that we’re going to judge the scoots by and it’s all about quality. Basically, it’s the old adage, you get what you pay for. The Vespa is the most expensive scoot of the lot and simply oozes quality. We all gave it top marks thanks to the superb paint job, flawless chrome, classy clocks and sexy styling.

At the other end of the spectrum (and maybe a little bit beyond that) is the E-Charm. Although we were split on the looks, the fit and finish leaves a lot to be desired. The exhaust was rusting, the “hot” plate on the baffle fell off, most of the parking brake was gone (or fell off during the ride), the seat hinge was on its last legs and the rubber mat on the floorboards was all crinkled up.

Scooter comapro - part 2
E-Charm 150. Brass “hot” plate fell off and exhaust was already rusty!

If the Vespa was the most likely to get you laid, then the E-Charm was the most likely to get you buggered.

Again the KYMCO and PGO come in close together. The PGO has a bit more of a sporty look to it but they both did well in overall quality (not counting the intermittent workings of the PGO’s rear lights).

So, that shakes things up a bit, but it depends on the weighting as to how much. Certainly the quality issues of the E-Charm at least put it back with the KYMCO and PGO if not behind. Still not much to distinguish between the two Taiwanese scoots, although by now the Vespa is so far ahead, it’s obviously an outright winner.

THE OTHER BITS

Scooter comapro - part 2
Left: KYMCO has handy filler.
Right: PGO has useful “trough” for stuff.

Other bits worthy of mentioning are storage capacities – all of these scoots offered underseat space but only the Vespa and T-Rex were capable of holding a full face Shoei (with the seat closing). The E-Charm had the best rack. Okay, it had the only rack (the PGO’s is an aftermarket addition), but it was solid and very handy.

The PGO had a rather handy “trough” at the front that could hold all kinds of shit, but was not a lockable thing and so you had to be sure to take any valuable shit with you when you stopped.

One of the handy widgets on the KYMCO was the gas filler, which is located at the front near the right knee. While everyone else was unloading luggage to lift up their seats/access the filler, whoever was on the KYMCO merely flipped open the cap and started filling. Nice touch.

THE CONCLUSIONS

Scooter comapro - part 2
The Vespa takes top prize and zips off into the sunset.

What was interesting about having four scoots and four riders was the difference in opinions that each scooter mustered between the different testers. Almost unanimously the Vespa got the top overall “I would have this” grading. I say almost, because Chris placed it a surprising third, opting for the PGO in first, then KYMCO second.

This might have something to do with the sportier looks and feel of the Taiwanese scoots (Chris owns a Triumph Daytona), or it might just reflect a difference in what is considered important.

Certainly a lot of differences were so slight it was more a matter of hair splitting then seeing any real gap between them. As a result, we all rated the KYMCO and PGO pretty much together, which I think is accurate as there’s really not much to pull the two apart.

It’s the E-Charm that tended to get the strongest opinions, mainly due to its lack of quality control. I was somewhat forgiving of this, as there’s a chunk of money to be saved with the E-Charm (over two grand compared to the Vespa), but then how much of that would you need to spend replacing parts?

I hope at the end of all this we’ve managed to shed some light on the current stock of 150 scoots out there and even maybe dispel some thoughts on their ability to go the distance. Granted, extra cc’s would always help, but it’s a fine line between a funky scooter and an odd-shaped motorcycle, and funky is always better.


COMPARITOR

Specifications
Vespa LX150 PGO T-Rex KYMCO Bet & Win CMI E-Charm 150 Comments
MSRP
$5,699.00 $3,995.00 $4,299.00 $3,600.00
This shows that you pretty much get what you pay for. KYMCO justifies the extra $300 over the PGO with double the warranty!
Displacement
150 cc 148 cc 152 cc 153 cc
Not much in it.
Engine type
Single cylinder, air-cooled (forced) Single cylinder, air-cooled (forced) Single cylinder, liquid-cooled Single cylinder, liquid-cooled
Odd how the air-cooled motors ended up with the best scores.
Carburetion
Carburetor Carburetor Carburetor Carburetor
We don’t need no stinking fuel-injection!
Final drive
CVT CVT CVT CVT
Neeeeeeee …
Tires, front
110/70-11 120/70-12 120/70-12 100/80-16
Not sure how long those tires will last on the Vespa!
Tires, rear
120/70-10 130/70-12 130/70-12 110/80-16
Brakes, front
Single 200 mm disc with twin piston caliper Single 190 mm disc with twin piston caliper Single 220 mm disc with twin piston caliper Single disc with twin piston caliper
We couldn’t find the size specs for the E-Charm, but the Vespa did well with a small front although drums seem to be crap whenever used.
Brakes, rear
110 mm drum 120 mm drum Single 200 mm disc with two piston caliper Single disc with single piston caliper
Seat height
775 mm (30.5″) 813 mm (32″) 787 mm (31″) 787 mm (31″)
If they were motorcycles, then those would be considered tall. Step-through scooter design makes them easy to get on and off though
Wheelbase
1280 mm (50.4″) 1284 mm (50.6″) 1397 mm (55″) 1353 mm (53″)
Wow, KYMCO! I think they use the same chassis for their 250 B & W, which explains the size.
Dry weight
(claimed)
110 Kg (242 lbs) (claimed) 110 Kg (242 lbs) (claimed) 138 Kg (304 lbs) (claimed) 126 Kg (278 lbs) (claimed)
Again, KYMCO is hefty for bigger motor fitting. E-Charm is on the lardy size too.
Colours
Black, Silver, Plum, Red, (limited edition colours – Portofino Green, Yellow) Silver, Red Electric Blue, Royal Blue, Silver, Red White, Dark Grey, Yellow, Black Red, Green
Doesn’t PGO know that you need at least five colour options? BTW, WTF is Portofino?
Fuel economy

27.8 km/l
3.6L/100 km

28.5 km/l
3.5L/100 km

25.6 km/l
3.9L/100 km

26.7 km/l
3.7L/100 km

There’s really not much in it! The PGO gets the edge, with the KYMCO having the worst … just. However, its bigger tanks means it also have the best range.
Tank capacity
8.6 litres
6.7 litres
10 litres
8.2 litres
Fuel range
239 km
191 km
256 km
226 km
Warranty
12 months
Unlimited km
12 months
10,000 km
24 months
20,000 km
12 months
Unlimited km
KYMCO has the best … unless you do CMG type trips on a regular basis!

 

Bits & Bods
Vespa LX150 PGO T-Rex KYMCO B & W CMI E-Charm Comments
Kick Starter Yes Yes Yes No
I guess that’s what the “E” in E-Charm is all about (electric only).
Side Stand No Yes Yes Yes
Not sure why Vespa thought it didn’t need one.
Centre Stand Yes Yes Yes Yes
And why not.
Speedo Yes Yes Yes Yes
Although the E-Charm’s came in mph …
Tach No Yes Yes No
Although it only really moves when you start from a stop.
Temp Gauge Yes Yes Yes Yes
Yep
Fuel Gauge Yes Yes Yes Yes Handy
Lockdown Loop Yes No No Yes
Never seen these before, but they’re handy metal loops to attach a lock to to stop someone from nicking yer scoot.
Gas Filler under seat in tail section at right knee under seat KYMCO gets points for cleverness.
Parking Brake No No No kinda Odd as due to the CVT it is kinda handy. E-Charm’s was broke from the start and lost more bits on the route.
Full face helmet fits under seat? Yes Yes No No
KYMCO, E-Charm … shame.

THANK YOUS

Thanks for the scoots (and not freaking when they came back with over 1000 additional kms on the clocks …)

Canadian Scooter Corp/Ottawa Vespa
KYMCO Canada
PGO/Canadian Scooter Import
Canadian Motor Imports (CMI)

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