Genuine Scooter Company – Buddy 125

July 20, 2009

Most of the reviews here are gadgets. You know, the kind that fit in your pocket, help you navigate the planet or allow you to play games or listen to music.

Today, I’m doing a quick review of a scooter. With the current economic situation (actually better in the United States when referring to gas prices than it has been in years), people are still flocking to scooter stores to purchase these two-wheeled conveyances.

First, some scooter basics…

Scooters aren’t toys
– Flip flops and sun dresses have no place on a scooter
– The rules of the road apply
– The Buddy 125 is considered a motorcycle, so you need a real motorcycle license
– The rules of physics apply more harshly
– Other drivers don’t take you seriously
– Other drivers often can’t see you
– While they’re good on gas, scooters might pollute more than cars percentage wise

OK, enough naysaying. Here’s what I’ve learned in my test of the Genuine Scooter Company Buddy 125.

The Buddy is a model of scooter from Genuine Scooter Company. The firm is based in Chicago and imports all of their scooters from Taiwan. The Buddy is actually a rebadged vehicle from Taiwan company PGO. PGO has been making the BuBu for decades and it’s among the best selling scooters in the world.

What, you thought that the only good scooters were Vespas? Think again.

For half the cost of a Vespa, you can get a Buddy with similar horses, better mileage and a longer warranty.

How’s it ride?

It’s easy to ride because of a low center of gravity. The scoot goes where you point it and has the acceleration you might only expect from Ninja motorcycles. Seriously. The Buddy can out sprint nearly any car for the first 100-200 feet.

What’s this good for? It helps you with visibility because you’re ahead of most traffic and you have clear sightlines ahead. It also helps you get out of trouble. If a car doesn’t see you and drifts into your lane, the acceleration allows you to speed ahead so you don’t get mushed.

Overall, the ride is pretty stable. Caveats include a note about riding on rough roads and at high speed.

While the scoot can go about 60MPH, it isn’t designed to stay at that speed for extended periods. The tiny wheels – 10-inches – are ill-equipped for speeds much above 50 and the low center of gravity make the bike act a little like a Weeble in high winds. It tips easily to the side so riders must be able to control the scoot in all situations.

Rough roads and tiny tires don’t mix. While a motorcycle might have a difficult time on pockmarked asphalt, the Buddy has a nearly impossible task ahead if the road is a minefield. With the small tires, you can feel every pebble and crack in road surfaces. Bridge creases feel like small ledges and some potholes can jar you from toes to spine. That’s another reason to take it slow.

But the news isn’t all gloom. Around town, the Buddy is a dream. You can park it nearly anywhere and it darts from light to light with easy. The engine isn’t too loud and there’s lots of storage space for your stuff.

In fact, I was at a scooter rally the other day and a guy with a Vespa was astonished at the amount of room under the seat of the Buddy 125. You can almost fit a full-face helmet there, and there’s plenty of room for locks and GPS and snacks and other gear.

What’s the scooting takeaway?

The Buddy 125 gets about 100 miles per gallon. It has a 1.2 gallon tank and will speed around at up to 60+MPH.

I’ve had mine since June of 2008 when I purchased it new for $3000 and it now has 5400 miles on it.

I would recommend the model and brand to anyone who plans to scoot alone 80% of the time. It can get cramped with two people on it, but the engine is powerful enough to speed you both around if you can fit.

It’s an affordable choice for anyone looking to get into a top-end scooter.

The only two things I don’t like about it are how difficult it is to get to the innards and the poor quality of the cheesy charger.

There’s a socket for a lighter charger, but the first time I used it I blew the fuse.

Then, because the scoot is snapped and screwed together from about a billion plastic panels, there’s no way to get to the fuse (or many interior engine parts) without taking the scoot panels off. It would be great to have a little door with access to some parts.

To jump sides, if it were easy to get to the innards I guess it would make the scooter easier to steal. So I’ll live with that shortcoming.

If I gave stars, the Genuine Buddy 125 would get 4 out of 5.

I love my Genuine Buddy and plan to ride it for 20,000 miles before I start shopping for my next scooter.