The downside is that they're usually slow and need to stay away from freeways. That's why we have maxi-scooters that weigh more than superbikes, can reach 100km/h quicker than most cars and cruise the highway comfortably at 130km/h with another 30km/h in hand for overtaking.
KMSA, the South African importers for Kawasaki and Triumph motorcycles, also market and distribute SYM scooters, and early last year added the MaxSYM 600 to their product line. It's a true maxi scooter, weighing in at 234kg, and its single-cylinder 565cc engine produces 30kW/43Nm.
The big SYM is pretty well equipped, with twin halogen projector headlights that automatically switch from daylight-running to full power at dusk, reach-adjustable handlebar levers, small backrests for the rider and passenger, a height-adjustable windscreen, an immobiliser switch locked away under the seat, a handbrake for parking on slopes, and a mainstand. The black-faced instruments have white numbers and chrome trim, and there's a large under-seat storage compartment and two stowage trays in the dash.
The MaxSYM is easy to ride, and even people who've never thrown a leg over a motorcycle will adapt quickly, thanks to the low centre of gravity and the continuously variable automatic transmission. Its long chassis combined with the 15-inch front and 14-inch rear wheels also makes it very stable at speed, and I found myself blowing past cars on the freeway at an indicated 140km/h before I knew it.
The stopping department too is up to the task, with a pair of big 275mm wavy petal discs clamped by twin-pot calipers assisted by ABS up front, and a single disc at the rear. The tall windscreen does a great job of keeping the bugs out of your teeth, and my only criticism is that the indicator lights on the dash are difficult to see in bright sunlight.
The downside of maxi scooters is that they're relatively expensive if you're not earning euros or British pounds - most of them are priced around R120 - R150 000. The SYM has an advantage here, because it retails at R85 000 which makes it good value for a machine of this type. The brand has been in South Africa for a couple of decades, and has earned a reputation for offering decent products at reasonable prices. For those with a need for a scooter that can blow away the traffic on the freeway and save time and stress, it's well worth a look.