In today’s scooter world, there are two approaches to the visual style of products: Vespa-like and not. Some would call this “retro” and “modern” or “classic” and “sporty” and maybe even “cute” and “utilitarian”. I don’t buy the “retro” label because several newer scooter designs that are NOT generally considered retro are the closest to old scooters. Have a good look at an old Cushman and a Yamaha C3. Nope, there are those scooter designs that give homage, however loosely, to Vespa and those that don’t. Those that don’t are often designed with a focus on functionality and the Lance Cabo is one example.
Alliance Powersports is both the USA distributor of SYM products and the distributor of Lance scooters. Not that many years ago, Lance was considered close to the bottom of the barrel in terms of the mainland Chinese scooters that bore the name. That was then, this is now. Lance has run (not walked) away from the low quality stuff and now brings us SYM manufactured products that offer value pricing AND quality. Several years ago, I was one of those people decrying Lance and now I’ve had to eat my words. Yes, I covered those words with lots of spicy sauce to mask the taste, but I’ve eaten them none the less.
The new Lance Cabo 150 is a Taiwanese scooter from SYM that offers a great deal of fun and practicality for the price if not “cute” or “retro” looks.
Speedometer Reading/Speed/Fuel Economy
I picked up the new Cabo 150 scooter from Marty Mataya at Go Moto in Minneapolis. Marty is one of the most straight-forward dealers I know of and it’s always fun to stop by and visit his shop. He warned me that he had barely finished the pre-delivery work and had only run the scooter around the block so I was getting one about as “new” as it’s possible to get. I mounted up a GPS and topped off the fuel tank (to start the fuel economy tests) and got on the road. As is typical with scooters, the Lance Cabo 150 speedometer reads optimistically, by 12% – 13%. At an indicated 35 MPH, the actual speed was 31 MPH. At an indicated 60 MPH the actual speed was 52 MPH. The odometer also tested optimistic with 10.0 miles on the odometer being 8.8 miles recorded on the GPS.
No question of breaking the law during my top speed tests, the Cabo 150 managed 58 MPH GPS verified. A touch disappointing for a 150cc scooter. During the testing period I saw 80 MPG in fuel economy. To me, that’s a pretty good number. There are several factors that make these numbers a bit off from what a Cabo owner is likely to see: the scooter was new and NOT yet broken in, I was running the scooter fairly hard and I weigh 220 pounds. AFTER break in, riding normally and with a pilot of oh, say, 160 pounds, I’d expect top speed to be a bit over 60 MPH and fuel economy to be closer to 90 MPG.
The Lance Cabo 150 is manufactured in Taiwan by SYM (San Yang Motors). SYM was founded in 1954 and manufactured bicycle lights. In 1962 they formed a manufacturing agreement with Honda and today SYM continues to be a top tier manufacturer capable of quality that is equal to any manufacturer from Japan or Europe. The Cabo 150 is intended to be a utilitarian scooter with a sporty bias – the components and features are true to this intent. Walking around the Cabo 150 we see (fairly) knobby 12 inch tires, a large seat, wide and flat floorboard, matte finished panels and an exposed (naked) handlebar. We also see, or rather don’t see, my only complaint with this scooter. The digital instrument cluster is too dim to be easily read in direct sunlight. The design and layout of the instrument cluster is nice and includes tachometer, speedometer, odometer, fuel gauge and so forth. To me, it just seems that it’s not very practical in real-world use. That pretty much covers my complaints on the Cabo 150 – all the other features and components are well designed and appear robust.
OK, just one more thing, probably just me, how about at least one “shiny” colour choice? Yes, I know, the Cabo 125 has shiny plastic body panels, and matte finishes are all the rage right now, but I’d like to have a “normal” colour choice in the 150 version.
The control configuration is standard for a modern automatic scooter – the left hand controls the rear brake, turn signals, high and low beam headlight and horn. The right hand controls the throttle, front brake, engine kill switch and electric starter. To start the scooter, just turn the ignition key to the on position, grab a brake lever, and press the starter button. The Cabo 150 is carbureted, NOT fuel injected, which contributes to it’s very reasonable price point, and it started, idled and ran just fine during the review. Keep burning NON-OX fuel in it, and you’ll likely not experience any issues.
The mirrors are shaped to minimize “shoulder” view and spaced far enough apart to allow even a wide load such as myself to CLEARLY see what’s going on back there. Seems like a simple thing, but you’d be surprised how many scooters have really lame mirrors. Lighting is pretty conventional and yes, the front lights look cool, but nighttime visibility was average. Nothing outstanding, nothing bad, utilitarian in keeping with the theme of the Cabo. There are two luggage hooks on the Cabo, one on the inside leg shield panel and one just below the seat. Considering the large, flat floorboard, these could come in handy for hauling stuff between one’s feet.
The seat, which is wondrous but more on that in a bit, is released from the main ignition switch. Just insert the key in the off position and turn anti-clockwise. The storage space is decent, swallowing up my melon-head (XXL) three-quarter copter helmet with ease. The fuel filler cap is located under the seat. The Cabo comes with a rear grab rail but no rear luggage rack. Marty from Go Moto told me that a nice optional rear rack is available and I’d recommend it. With the luggage hooks, floorboard, underseat AND a rear trunk a person would have considerable hauling capacity on this scooter. Just going to have to add the rear rack and trunk .
Fun, comfy, more fun. Oh, you want more details? Let’s start with the ergonomics – they are impressive. The 31 inch seat height may seem a touch tall for shorter riders at a standstill, but once you are rolling the ergonomic relationships between the seat, floorboard and controls are just right. I found the seat to be VERY comfortable. I didn’t feel trapped in a single position as I do on so many scooters and test riders from 5′ 5″ to 6′ 3″ said the same thing. During the review, I rode the Cabo 150 for over an hour non-stop on WILDLY varying road surfaces through downtown St. Paul, along the Mississippi river and through a couple of parks – not even a twinge of discomfort.
Acceleration is zippy off the line and up to about 45 MPH. The Cabo feels very much like the PCH 150 Scooter on which it is based. Some of the differences I noticed may be due to the vagarities of individual scooters, but the brakes on the Cabo didn’t feel as strong as those on the PCH. The front disc and rear drum combination functioned just fine and was easy to modulate, but didn’t seem quite as responsive to input on the Cabo. The 12 inch tires have a fairly aggressive tread pattern and offered more than adequate traction on the street…. and off it.
OK, I didn’t exactly “off road” the Cabo, but I did find it to have enough suspension and rubber to seek out a little unpaved surface and have a go. No problems. I suspect that the Cabo 150 would be a bunch of fun as a “cabin” scooter – fast enough to go into town, tough enough to ride the gravel sideroads. The suspension is firm and the handling solid. Even with my weight I didn’t bottom out on normal roads.
Everything functioned flawlessly during the review and everyone who took a spin on the Cabo 150 liked it. My wife Beverly was the first volunteer pilot and rode it from the office to home in evening commuter traffic. She didn’t like the instrument display, but had no other complaints about the scooter. My friend Steve, who is fairly tall, rode the Cabo and immediately commented on the seat and overall comfort of the scooter. He usually rides bagger motorcycles and has only recently come to accept scooters as viable transportation. As I expected, he was impressed. I believe a part of his brain still registers all scooters as under 50cc, under-powered, inadequate machines and I could tell he was thinking about the Cabo as the aforementioned cabin machine.
I consider it a compliment to say that my riding impressions of the Cabo 150 aren’t extreme in any area. It did everything well. Not amazingly quick or fast, no obvious flaws, just utilitarian in the best sense of the word with a nice dose of fun thrown in.
Fit & Finish
Another difference between the Lance PCH 150 and the Cabo 150 is fit & finish – it was better on the Cabo. Seams between body panels were more uniform on the Cabo. I spent some time going over the scooter and found good quality components put together fairly well. There was one stripped bolt on the left hand switch housing (repaired under warranty) and the USA-mandatory add-on front turn signals were a bit cobbled.
I’ve reviewed several SYM scooters and there is certainly a difference in fit & finish from a SYM CityCom 300i to a Lance Cabo. There’s also a whopping difference in price. Overall, I would say that the Lance Cabo is a notch or two better than other scooters in its price category and history indicates that SYM-built products will hold up well over time.
Lance Cabo 150 vs. The Competition
I could easily have just listed another Lance product, maybe a Kymco or two, and called it a day. However, it strikes me that the Lance Cabo 150 has its sights set squarely on the new Genuine Hooligan. I have not been able to get a Hooligan for review yet and will update this section if I do. The Hooligan and Cabo look a LOT alike and appear to have the same utilitarian/Sporty theme. The Hooligan is fuel injected, has disc brakes front and rear, and costs a lot more than the Cabo. It’s my opinion that the Cabo it looking to be the value (cheaper) option to the Hooligan. I believe it also competes with Kymco’s entry into the low-cost utilitarian market – the Agility 125.
The specifications only tell part of the story. All three scooters have a lot of similarities on paper, but the differences “in the flesh” are considerable. The Kymco Agility looks and feels “basic” and is a good scooter for the price. The Lance Cabo looks and feels like a more thought-out scooter than the Agility. One thing all three scooters in the chart share is a strong dealer network and good manufacturer support. As I’ve mentioned over and over and over again, good support is a critical factor in having a positive scooter experience. If I were out shopping for this kind of scooter, I’d look at all three and purchase the one I could afford and liked.
I like the Lance Cabo 150 scooter. It has excellent ergonomics, good suspension and storage and adequate speed and braking. I suspect it will prove over time to be reliable and have a low cost of ownership. At $2,299 it represents a terrific value in its class. A big THANK YOU goes out to Marty Mataya of GoMoto in Minneapolis Minnesota for facilitating this review.