Summer is winding down and fall is creeping in here in Minnesota, apparently fall is also scooter-review-season. Alliance Powersports, the USA distributor for SYM and Lance scooters, contacted me about having a peek at their new PHC scooter. As I’ve already whined about at length, I don’t get review scooters from Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Piaggio or BMW so it’s always nice when one of the few JustGottaScoot-friendly brands offers up a machine for me to ride. This time, it’s a modern, sport-style Lance PCH 150, made by SYM. SYM makes some wonderful machines including my favourite small-displacement motorcycle. I have previously reviewed the Lance Cali and was expected a similar experience with the PCH. I found the build quality and fit and finish on the Cali to be quite good, but the performance a little lacking. The PCH was just the opposite – fit and finish is weak, but the performance is quite good. Given the low price of the PCH, one might go so far as to say the performance bang-for-the-buck is outstanding. The Lance PCH is available in any colour you’d like as long as it’s either black or white, both a flat finish. Those are pretty much my complaints about the PCH, fit and finish and colour selection.
Many thanks for Marty Mataya of GoMoto in Minneapolis Minnesota for facilitating this review. Marty has a great (relatively) new shop in Northeastern Minneapolis and I always enjoy seeing the mix of scooters and motorcycles he has there (GoMoto is a Royal Enfield dealer).
Speedometer Reading/Speed/Fuel Economy
As is the norm with our reviews, I started off by mounting a GPS unit to the Lance PCH, topping off the fuel tank and recording mileage.
The speedometer is biased toward miles with kilometers displayed in smaller numbers on the inner part of the display. The odometer displayed miles. Like most scooters we review, the Lance PCH 150 reads optimistically. The speedometer indicates 10% faster than actual speed. An indicated 30 MPH is actually 27 MPH and an indicated 50 MPH is actually 45 MPH. UNLIKE most scooters we review, he odometer was slightly pessimistic. That’s right, the odometer felt that the cup was half empty, the weather was partly cloudy, and life in general was a downer. My 22.9 mile round trip to the office (GPS verified) indicated 22.7 on the odometer. Lance claims the PCH 150 has a top speed of 65 MPH and gets 87 MPG. The fastest GPS speed I saw was 61 MPH and I managed 79 MPG during the review which I consider to be very good. This was a brand new scooter that was NOT yet broken in being ridden by 220 pounds of pushing-it-a-little-hard pilot. I expect that with a 150 pound rider AFTER break-in that Lance’s published numbers could be realistic.
The Lance PCH 150 is powered by a 150cc air-cooled and carbureted single cylinder engine. I wish it was fuel injected, but that’s just not going to happen at the current price point. It gets power to the rear wheel through a CVT automatic transmission. Brakes are disc front and drum rear. The front and rear tires are 12 inchers and the rear suspension is by a single shock. The dash is easy to read and delivers just the basics. The speedometer is to the left and, as mentioned earlier, is bias toward miles. The odometer (no tripmeter) is also in miles. To the right is a fairly accurate fuel gauge. Above those are lights for high beams and turn signals. That’s it.
Looking lower on the interior leg shield we see a hook in the center and a multi-function switch to the right. In addition to “off” and “on” there is a fork lock to the far anti-clockwise and the seat release on a shorter turn. I used the hook to hold the handles of a couple of bags of, well, wine from the liquor store and with the bag bottoms resting on the flat center floorboard and my feet on either side things worked out well. Underseat storage is quite good, easily swallowing up my XXL three-quarter helmet and a wadded up jacket. There’s also an anti-theft ignition cut-out switch under the seat. The Lance PCH comes with a small rear luggage rack making it easy to mount most of the universal-fit cases. I’d say that a SHAD 29L, 33L 0r 37L should do the job. Anything bigger might look a little awkward on a scooter the size of the PCH.
Lighting is very good on the Lance PCH with one exception – the front turn signals. We can’t blame Lance for this, there are USA federal requirements that the front turn signal indicator lights be at least 16 or 17 inches apart. This ridiculousness impacts nearly every scooter and we see turn lights added on to USA-bound scooters when the machines have perfectly good integrated lights already built in. The added front turn lights on the PCH look particularly like an after-thought. The headlight is bright (I mean freekin’ bright) and the brake lights are just fine. Too bad every other country in the world is OK with the factory-designed lighting while the USA continues to force an often ugly addition.
Passenger accommodations are decent with adequate seat room and nice passenger foot-rests integrated into the plastic of the floorboards. The features of the Lance PCH 150 are basic, not a lot of extras, but at its price-point this should be expected. Everything worked flawlessly during the review and the quality of the components appears high, even is assembly leaves a bit to be desired.
The Lance PCH 150 started easily, even when cold, and settled into a smooth idle after a few moments. Three things I noticed right away (and liked): the mirrors are far enough apart to offer a good view, the flat floorboard is roomy and the seat is comfortable. I tend to like firm seat cushioning, and the PCH was soft enough at the get-go that one wonders if it might not become too soft with time. Still, it’s quite nice right out of the box. The specifications from Lance claim a seat height of 30 inches. I found I was just touching on both sides and couldn’t flat-foot the scooter at stops. Now with 220 pounds of assistance, I usually “compress” a scooter enough to touch flat-footed on a 30 inch seat. A few minutes with a level and yardstick confirmed that the seat was just over 31 inches tall. The ergonomics of the PCH are very good and should suit a wide range of riders. Reach to the controls was natural, my hands “fell” to the controls and I was able to find a variety of comfortable positions on the seat with the floorboards always accommodating and never forcing my feet into a single position.
Acceleration was brisk. No, make that quick. OK, how about positively zippy? Most scooters have a sweet spot. Some launch off the line, but are weak in the midrange. Others can pass traffic effortlessly, but take a while to get going. The PCH 150 leaves the line in a hurry and continues to roll the speedometer forward until about 50MPH. Getting from 50MPH to 60MPH takes a bit longer. For the vast majority of urban use, the PCH 150 has acceleration on tap whenever you’d like it.
Handling is crisp and responsive. The PCH 150 is sportier than other scooters that look more the part. Maybe I wasn’t pushing as hard as I usually do, or I was not leaning into turns as far as normal, but I didn’t scrape anything until I hit a bump mid-turn when the centerstand touched. Countersteer into your line and the PCH holds it. Braking is up to the task with a more-than-strong-enough disc on the front and an adequate drum on the rear. I locked up the back one or twice, finding it less than easy to modulate, but the front brake was strong enough AND easy enough to modulate to make up for any weakness out back.
Here in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro we have some glorious scooter roads including mile after mile of beautiful parkways. Grand Rounds combines several parkways and lake-side roads into an exceptionally fun riding day. About 50 miles of Grand Rounds on the Lance PCH 150 demonstrated what a fun scooter it really is. Quick, comfortable, good handling, a great way to spend a pleasant afternoon.
Fit & Finish
Now we get to the one weak area on the Lance PCH 150. Though the individual components utilized appear to be of good quality, their assembly leaves something to be desired. There was gap in a lower plastic panel that stood out. I loosened a bolt and snapped it back into place. A few miles down the road it was out again. That makes me think there’s something warped or a molding issue. The plastic around the dash lens had two distinct rough spots. The plastic panel cut-out for the fuel filler looks like it was cut with dull jigsaw. Do any of these impact the rideability of the scooter? No, not at all. To me they smack of building to a price point that precludes high end fit and finish. It’s simply not realistic to expect Lexus finish at Kia pricing. I believe that the manufacturing focus of the PCH is on mechanical quality and reliability and, frankly, that’s fine by me.
Lance PCH 150 vs. The Competition
This was a bit of a head-scratcher for me. I wanted to stick with Taiwan-based brands, carbureted, 150cc, NOT retro-looking, and close in price. All I could come with was a couple of Kymcos. The Kymco Super 8 150 looks sportier than the PCH, but actually has mushier handling and less engine punch. The Super 8 does have better fit and finish. The Kymco Agility 125 is short in the cubic centimeter department, and has similar build quality and components. The Agility is $300 less expensive, but it’s slower, doesn’t handle as well, and is plainer looking. Frankly, it’s a tough choice. At this price point, dollars matter. That being said, the PCH has enough additional performance to be worth the slight price increase for a lot of buyers. It’s also VERY important to look at the total out-the-door price. New scooters typically have an inbound freight charge, a dealer prep charge, title and documentation fees, sales tax, and often other new vehicle taxes and fees. A little time on the phone resulting in out-the-door pricing on the Agility 125 of $2,150 to $2,200. I was able to get a price on a PCH 150 of $2,400 total. This is one of those instances when there isn’t a clear “winner”.
I was a little sad to bring the Lance PCH 150 back to Marty. This probably had something to do with the fact that it was a gorgeous day and I’d just spent a few hours cruising Grand Rounds. I also ran the PCH through downtown Minneapolis on the way back to GoMoto and even that was fun. The PCH is light, responsive, zippy, comfortable and I could see myself throwing a topcase on the back to help haul my daily collection of crap and riding it all over the city. It wouldn’t cost that much, I can live with the rough finish, and I’d have a lot of fun. Pretty much sums up the scooter.
Again, a big THANK YOU to Marty at GoMoto in Minneapolis for providing the scooter used in this review.