Half-Price Heroes: Maxi-Scooters
||20 December 2012|
Yamaha T-Max 500 | Aprilia SXV850 | Honda Silverwing | Honda DN-01 | Piaggio MP3 LT
SCOOTERS are easy to ride, practical, fun and perfect for city living. Motorbikes are big, sexy and deliver performance that a mid-range Porsche can barely match. Wouldn’t it be great if somebody combined the two? Oh, wait, you say that they already have? Enter the maxi-scooter.
Maxi-scooters have instant acceleration that only an automatic transmission and torque-tuned motor can produce but they also have the top speeds, handling and distance potential of a conventional motorcycle.
While smaller cc scooters are renowned for their low purchase price, frugal nature and ease of use, surely these pedigree maxi-scooters have a bigger price tag to match? Not always so. While we in the UK have yet to fully embrace the joys of the Vespa-on-steroids, Europe has been in love with the Burgman, the T-Max and the Silverwing (and their ilk) for a long time.
As a result, we have benefited from the development, love and care lavished on these two-wheeled luxury scooters, meaning there are lots of well-kept, low-mileage, high-value second-hand scooters are on offer. Search through the classifieds on Bike Trader.co.uk and you’ll find quite a few maxi-scooters available at half the price they were new.
We have chosen five example purchases, yours for within a gnat’s whisker of half the price they were in the showrooms. And some of them might just surprise you…
WHAT’S that? An Italian maxi-scooter with an 839cc v-twin engine and a massive beam frame? Sounds like something that would never get past the drawing board, or the pub at last orders. Yet here it is. Aprilia released the SRV860 in 2012 – and this 76bhp monster is easily the most powerful scooter ever built.
It’s a beast though, weighing in at 249kg in fact, but this long and low scooter carries it’s weight amazingly well, making it nimble, stable and, of course, hugely entertaining to ride.
Now, how can a year-old bike be half price? Well, the truth is that Aprilia took on and re-badged the Gilera GP800. And that has been around since 2008. So for a bargain price, you can pick up a very tidy, very fun, v-twin maxi-scooter (albeit with slightly different plastics and badge) for a hugely reasonable £3,590. This tasteful one, from Viva Moto Ltd, is a snip with just over 12k on the clock.
ARGUABLY the benchmark for the maxi-scooter, Yamaha's T-Max is sporty, practical and fun and all with a 500cc engine.
This is the grand-pappy of all the maxi-scooters; it kicked off the trend in 2001 and a series of small, but effective, changes to the T-Max over the years have kept it at the top of the league. The post 2010 model is the best, but they all have their own unique charm.
It boasts a list of features usually found only on the sportiest of bikes: aluminium frame, 43mm forks and a die-cast swing arm. It also features a belt final drive which, unlike most scooters, isn't rigidly fixed via the rear swingarm. What does that mean? Well, it handles better than a scooter has any right to.
OK so it won't shame a sportsbike on a twisty road, but it will leave the rider shaking their head in approving disbelief. And you'll get 200 miles from a tank of fuel. Not half bad. And you can pick one up for a pittance (from £1800) if you're willing to go back a few years. But we'd suggest this very tidy 2005 model on sale at Wigan Yamaha with just 5,900 miles on the clock, meaning it's barely run in. Now that's better than half price.
WAIT, what? Is this even a maxi-scooter? Well, it is and it isn't. But it is utterly unique. It's Honda's most recent attempt to redefine the world of motorcycling: a futuristic, art-deco styled low rider bike with the heart of a scooter. Built around a 680cc v-twin motor, Honda crafted a baroque-looking, swoopy motorcycle with swept back bars and wide, comfortable footboards.
What it lacks in underseat storage it more than makes up for in sheer wow factor. Turn up on one of these at your local bike meet, shopping centre or, well, anywhere and you'll have a crowd of intrigued well-wishers. They're very rare, and they didn't sell particularly well (most likely because nobody quite knew what it was) which means they are now an absolute steal. They were £10,625, and were on sale from just 2008 to 2008 and you can have one for just a smidgen over £4,000 now.
The centrepiece of the DN-01 is the Human Friendly Transmission which is a unique hydraulic clutch and final drive system mated to an automatic transmission. What does that mean? Simply that the final drive is a fluid pump and a belt. It means the DN-01 can work in fully automatic mode, delivering high torque or flat out power, or you can flick a switch and it'll replicate a tiltronic gearbox. Now that's cool.
Even cooler is this 14k mile model, a snip at just £4,485, from Norton Way Honda comes with dealer backup an a unique opportunity to own a bike that appears to be from the year 2261.
RELIABLE, versatile and refined. That's so Honda. And so Silverwing. The classic take on the maxi-scooter, features a punchy, yet frugal, 582cc parallel twin, makes commuting, touring and riding for sheer pleasure easy and enjoyable.
Honda is Honda and, when it’s not trying to push the boundaries of motorcycling (see DN-01), they tend to get it pretty much spot on. And the Silverwing is no exception. Plenty of storage space, effective linked brakes and outstanding build quality mean that the 'Wing is a top choice.
Even new, at just £6,600 including ABS, it's outstanding value. It's been around since 2001, and is largely unchanged, which means you can pick up a real bargain if you're willing to go for a low-mileage earlier model, or a well-loved younger one if you fancy. The choices are endless.
But we'd opt for this three-year-old model with just ten thousand on the clock. Allens Honda will let it go for a mere £3,550. A three year old model, decent mileage for half price? Yes please.
OKAY, now this is getting silly. Isn't it? Well, Piaggio would beg to differ. The MP3 Yourban 300 is a 278cc single with a truly one-off front end: featuring two small wheels on a hugely complex, yet amazingly stable, set of forks.
In all respects, it rides and acts like a two-wheeled maxi-scooter, turning, leaning, stopping and so forth. But, come to a halt and you can flick the bar-mounted switch that locks it upright in position.
The idea is that the front, which is critical for grip, stability and safety on a bike, can slide if you lose traction, but will never wash out on you. And once you've gotten over the novelty, it gives you unparalleled faith in the front end. Wet? Greasy? Gravel-strewn? Thou do not threaten my MP3!
The LT version (non-LTs are available) is unusual in that the wheels are just wide enough to be counted as a trike, meaning car drivers can hop on one without needing to take a motorcycle test. That, plus the storage space, near-uncrashable front end (please don't try to prove us wrong) mean it's very desirable to car drivers. Oh, and it does 60mpg and your road tax costs £36 for the year.
The MP3 has been around in one form or another since 2006, in 125cc, 250cc, 278cc, 400cc and 500cc versions! We'd suggest this 400cc model, with just 10k on the clock, plus alarm and top box, for a rather reasonable £3,300 from In Moto Ltd.
By Tim Skilton
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