Yamaha Scorpio 250 Review
Trend-spotters believe hundreds more people would join the bike-commuter brigade if the ‘learner’ choice wasn’t limited to scooters and pricey, 250cc road bikes. With its new Scorpio Z, Yamaha may have a perfect alternative. Lawrence Schäffler reports.
The Scorpio is a sharp-looking, 223cc, single-cylinder, four-stroke motorcycle carrying plenty of sports-bike styling. Unlike many of the high-revving, performance road bikes in the 250cc learner class, though, its get-up-and-go factor is relatively modest.
Which is precisely why it should appeal to the complete novice. It's the ideal machine to tackle Biking 101 at a sensible, comfortable pace, with just enough zing to keep things interesting.
An even stronger attraction is its price. At $3799, it presents a direct challenge to Suzuki's GN250 - that entry-level stalwart for budget-conscious bikers - and is much cheaper than many of the mainstream 250cc road bikes. With its streamlined styling, spoke wheels, gleaming chrome and snappy graphics, I'm picking it's going to be a serious competitor.
The bike is simplicity itself with easy controls (its clutch offers the lightest action I've ever experienced) and no gimmicky buttons to confuse things. Its single-cylinder engine is air-cooled and equipped with two valves. It's a vibration-free unit that runs quietly and happily, though it insists on a little choke first thing in the morning.
The engine sports a five-speed gearbox (crisp, positive shifting, with no false neutrals), and it cruises happily at 100km/h. Based on my Auckland commuting pattern, the 12-litre tank should return in excess of 300km before requiring a refill.
While the rear tyre won't produce a haze of smoke at traffic light showdowns, the engine's sufficiently perky to keep you well ahead of the queues. And at 124kg, the bike is light enough for jumping the queues and gaps with agility.
Ergonomically, it's a comfortable ride. It sports a nicely-contoured, fairly low seat (770mm) that allows all but the most vertically-challenged riders to rest both feet on the ground. That too should help to raise confidence for new riders.
Furthermore, the handlebars are set well back, creating a fairly upright riding position. That's a welcome change for my aging wrists, and a marked contrast to many learner bikes sporting low-slung, clip-on style bars.
The bars and upright riding position - I would suggest - also offer the novice rider a better sense of vision and control: vital for boosting confidence in the early months. Brakes (single disc in front, drum at rear) do their job well, and the shock absorbers are sufficiently stiff for carrying a pillion passenger.
Information from the twin chrome dials between the bars is simple and easy to read. Slightly retro in style, they contain an analogue speedo and tacho, as well as a fuel gauge. They're surrounded by the usual idiot lights: neutral, indicators and high beam. Nothing you can't absorb with a quick glance.
If you're thinking of joining the bike commuter fraternity and you can't quite bring yourself to hop aboard a twist-and-go scooter, you could do a lot worse than give the Scorpio a whirl. And it won't bust your budget. Think of it as some obscure but opportune alignment of heavenly bodies... tell your wife your horoscope has decreed that you have to invest in a motorcycle, and it's even conveniently identified the appropriate model.
What's with the Z? No idea. Zesty? Zany? Zing? Must be of deep, astrological significance. Personally, I'd go for the double in "snazzy."
SPECIFICATIONS Yamaha Scorpio Z
Engine Air-cooled, four-stroke, single cylinder, two
Bore x Stroke 70 x 58mm
Fuel 12 litres
Seat Height 770mm
Dry Weight 124kg
Tyres Front: 80/100-18
Brakes Front: Single Disc