May 2010 – SYM has lowered the MSRP on the HD200 from $3,799 to $3,399
Sitting down to put this review together, something really hit home for me. I have a GREAT gig here. Scooters are a lot of fun for me. I enjoy shooting the breeze with other scooter-people and hearing about scooter-related stuff. What could possibly be better than “discovering” new scooter brands, meeting scooter-people and riding scooters?
Sanyang Industries is based in Taiwan and has been around since 1961. They have over 2,400 employees and are marketed in the USA as SYM (SanYang Motors???). I had been hearing good things about their scooters and wanted to check a couple out. Here in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul metropolitan area, we are VERY fortunate to have some excellent scooter resources. We have Scooterville, an outstanding Genuine, Kymco, Vespa & TGB dealer AND we have Blue Cat Motors, a great shop that provides service on all kinds of motorcycles and scooters AND is the only SYM and Daelim dealer in the area. That’s right, TWO cool scooter shops. Ryan Scott (the owner, along with his brother, of Blue Cat) was nice enough to facilitate this review.
Speedometer Reading, Speed & Fuel Economy
The speedometer on the SYM HD-200 reads about 7% optimistic (6.7% to be exact) which should come as no surprise to anyone who has read any of my other reviews. The speedometer indicates kilometers on the outer ring and miles on the inner. This means when the speedometer indicates 60 miles-per-hour the actual speed is 56 miles-per-hour. This was a new scooter, so I didn’t push it really hard. No, seriously, I was being pretty “nice” to this scooter. Come on, stop laughing. I don’t want some poor person to get a nice new scooter that I’ve beat into the ground without even consideration for proper new engine break-in. As such, I didn’t really search for the top end of this scooter. Suffice to say that I got a top indicated speed of 75 MPH (meaning 70 actual speed) and there was more to go. My best guess is that after break-in, this scooter is capable of an honest 75 MPH.
I put about 80 miles on the scooter and the fuel consumption was a bit better than 70 miles-per-gallon.
Let’s start with the “usual” comparison chart. To my eye, the SYM HD-200 and the new Kymco People ‘S’ 200 are as close to direct competitors as one is likely to find. I added the Genuine (PGO) Blur because it’s close in price and is also from a major Taiwanese manufacturer.
Kymco People S 200
100/80 – 16
120/80 – 16
Both the SYM and the Kymco are outstanding general purpose scooters with the Blur being more “sporty” in orientation. As far as a “winner” in this particular comparison, there isn’t one. I consider the SYM and the Kymco to be so close to equal as makes no odds. If you are trying to decide between these two scooters, get whichever one fits you best. The Blur is a touch pricier and would likely appeal to a different buyer than either the SYM or the Kymco.
The SYM HD-200 has a 171cc liquid-cooled four-stroke engine, twist-and-go automatic CVT transmission, and carbureted fuel system. The engine has some interesting features including a ceramic coated cylinder, four-valves and a one-piece cylinder head. Suspension is fairly conventional with telescopic forks up front and two shocks in the rear. The front brake is a single disk and the rear brake is a drum (more about braking under riding impressions).
Here comes my biggest complaint about the SYM HD-200 – the side stand is spring loaded and will SNAP back at you if the weight of the scooter is not holding it in the down position. My recommendation? Don’t use it, use the center stand.
The SYM HD-200 is a VERY nicely equipped scooter. The dash display includes a small digital clock, turn signal and high beam indicator lights and a speedometer that is biased toward kilometers with miles indicated on the inside of the speedo ring. The fuel gauge was surprisingly accurate giving a fairly realistic reflection of what was in the fuel tank at any given time. There is also a temperature gauge (after all, this scooter has a liquid-cooled engine). There is no “stock” windscreen, but I have been told that a small one is available.
The ignition switch includes a steering lock and there is a fairly robust looking fold-out luggage hook. The locking fuel cap is located on the port side rear of the scooter as is the seat release. I like this configuration. One of the areas I have experienced slight trouble on other scooters is with multi-function ignition switches. You know the ones I mean – in addition to “off” and “on” and “lock” positions, they control the opening of the fuel cap and the release of the seat. It’s not a big deal and is usually a pretty easy fix, but I prefer to have the minimum number of things to go wrong.
I found both the driver and passenger accommodations of the SYM HD 200 to be quite nice. The seat is comfortable – not too soft or too firm. There are fold out passenger foot-pegs and a decent grab-rail/rear rack. The rack looks like it would easily mount a trunk. The ergonomics of the HD 200 fit me perfectly. That’s right, (barley) 5′ 9″ and 200 lbs., and everything seemed just right to me. The specifications say that the seat height is 31 inches, but I think that’s a little taller than actual. I would say that the ergonomics of the HD-200 will likely work out for people in the 5″4″ to 6′ 2″ range. Shorter riders might be unhappy with the seat height and taller riders might run out of leg room.
My wife Beverly (5′ 6″ and 110 lbs.) was very comfortable driving the scooter and could easily touch, though not flat-footed. I suspect the actual seat height is just a touch under 30 inches. Aside from the fact that Bev looks MUCH better on this (or any) scooter than I do, I wanted you to see that big smile on her face. Bev rode this scooter and was very happy with the ergonomics and performance.
There is reasonable storage under the seat. My XXL (melon-head) three-quarter helmet fit. I don’t think a full face would fit other than maybe a small one. I would strongly recommend adding a trunk to this scooter. An easily removable Shad or GIVI would go a long way toward making the HD-200 the perfect commuting scooter.
Given the location of the fuel fill cap, it’s no surprise that the battery is NOT located under the seat but is in a compartment under the floor mat. There is maintenance access under the storage bucket. The seat opens easily with the keyed release and, more importantly, closed and latched easily.
Remember waaaaay back at the beginning of this review? How I babbled about how much fun it is to review scooters? The key word here is “fun” and that pretty much sums up my riding impressions of the SYM HD-200. Acceleration is brisk right off the line and stays brisk through the mid-range. Roll-on acceleration was especially nice in the 30 MPH to 60 MPH range. Handling is smooth, confidence-inspiring, and quicker than I expected given the larger diameter wheels. Brakes are adequate.
It’s probably a good place to mention that I have a Genuine Blur which may very well have the best brakes in the scooter world. The brakes on the SYM HD-200 are not “bad” by any means, but they are not stellar either. The single front disk was adequate and easy to modulate, but could stand to be a touch stronger. The rear drum was tougher to modulate. A rear disk brake would be an improvement, but at this price point I didn’t really expect one.
I found the SYM HD-200 to be an outstanding combination of “around-town” nimble and a surprisingly good highway performer. With a good windscreen and a large rear trunk, this scooter would make a fine one-person light touring rig.
Fit & Finish
If you’ve read some of my other reviews, you’ll know that I’m a fan of the Taiwanese scooters. Kymco, PGO & TGB produce scooters with excellent build quality. We can add SYM to that list. The plastic panels fit together beautifully, the paint work is top notch and the components appear robust and are well-finished. Nearly as good if not equal to the major Japanese manufacturers.
The SYM HD-200 serves to reinforce to me that there are light years of difference between the poor or barely acceptable quality of some scooters from mainland China and the outstanding quality coming out of Taiwan. Though most any scooter looks “good” on the showroom floor, closer inspection will often reveal a significant difference in quality. what a few months, and the gap becomes obvious. SYM (like Kymco & PGO) offers a two-year warranty on their products. They are obviously confident in their quality and longevity.
It wasn’t that many years ago that the only choices a scooterist had was to keep a vintage scooter (usually Italian) running with little or no factory support or to buy a new Honda or Yamaha. Then came the deluge of low-quality Chinese imports. These days, Vespa is back in the USA, Honda, Yamaha & Suzuki are making great scooters, AND we have some wonderful machines from Taiwan! If you are looking for a great scooter for around town and even some highway use and want to stay in the below-$4,000 category, take a good look at the SYM HD-200.
SYM has raised the MSRP on the HD 200 to $3,798.
A SYM Dealer Responds
Stephan from ScooterStation in Portland Oregon read our SYM review and responded with some additional input. Keep in mind that Stephan is a SYM dealer, but I have had several email discussions with him and he certainly seems like a straight shooter. Stephan makes some good points about the SYM HD200 and I think they are worth sharing. He also sent me the picture above when I asked for one of him…. it’s my guess that is NOT Stephan on the scooter.Here is his email:
(I hope that’s you)…. I read your SYM HD200 review and found it the best review so far for a SYM scooter.There were a couple of things which I thought you skipped…. and keep in mind that I am a SYM dealer so I might be slightly biased)When you were saying that the KYMCO People S200 and the SYM HD200 were too close of a call to suggest either one, I felt that you missed a few pretty decisive factors, since both of these scooters are typically chosen by “commuter” type people and not so much the “cool scooter” crowd..
1.) The KYMCO People S200 has only 11.4hp (according to their own specs). Even the SYM HD125cc has a tenth of a percent more than the KYMCO people S200. The SYM HD200 beats that with a whopping 4hp !!
2.) The KYMCO People S200 still only comes with a force air cooled 2-valve engine, despite the fact that the S-series is new this year (2007) and the SYM’s have been on the market since 2004 with their HD series.
3.) KYMCO’s top speed is given at 60.27 mp/h whereas the SYM HD200 is given at 74mph (which you tested to be about accurate after running the scooter in. This would also go along with my own experience… :o) ) By the way: the SYM HD125 has a given top speed of 67mph ! In my mind, given all the data the KYMCO people S200 should really be compared to the SYM 125…
4.) The SYM HD200 has a 60W halogen headlight. This is unique in it’s class… all the other brands only support 35W lights….
5.) Did you take a closer look at the way the plastics are made ? i.e. the front fender… there is a “feelable” difference from KYMCO to SYM. The plastics are thicker and better enforced than is the case with the KYMCO scooters…
In any regard, I really enjoyed reading your review. Let me know what you think about what I wrote in regards to your article…. feel free to call me anytime…
Keep up the great article reviews…
May 2010 – SYM has lowered the MSRP on the HD200 from $3,799 to $3,399