Commuting can be a daily Hell;gridlock, road rage, diesel-dribbling old bsues, distracted Mums feeding toast to toddlers…whilst the toddlers take the wheel – these are just a few of the obstacles which await you in Britain’s choked up cities.
But there is a way to carve a quicker path through this urban jungle; buy a scooter. Better still, pass your bike test, then buy a slightly bigger than average scooter, because they have decent performance, braking, lights, better luggage capacity and so on. All for the price of an annual rail/bus/car parking nightmare. Marvelous.
Alastair Walker took a spin on the SYM Joyride 180.
In case you´re wondering, SYM have been making thousands of scooters every week for the last 40 years or so, based in Taiwan, since Honda helped set-up the company back in the 1960s. Now SYM design and manufacture their own bikes and the Joyride 180 is a rival to successful UK scooter models, like the Gilera Runner 180.
Like the Gilera, it uses a four stroke, 180cc, single cylinder engine, making a claimed 14.5bhp, which is enough to propel the Joyride to about 70mph flat out. Ridden for a few laps around Darley Moor race circuit, it felt a little bit slower than the Gilera, both in its acceleration and top speed, but the performance differences are pretty marginal.
Unlike the Gilera Runner, the Joyride is very much a mini-tourer, or commuter type of bike, rather than the semi-sports style of machine. You sit well back on the SYM, feet pushed forwards against the footwell mats, back comfortably wedged against the step in the saddle. It´s a nice place to be.
There´s excellent weather protection from the fairing in front of you, with a fairly high screen too. The SYM is well equipped, with a car type dashboard, including a fuel gauge, clock and the Joyride has audible turn signals. For pillion passengers there´s a backrest, plus optional top box. It feels like a bit of thought has gone into designing a functional tool that gets on with the job.
Naturally, there are no gears, just the usual automatic transmission, which pulls nice and smoothly. The bike has soft suspension too, which adds to the general feeling of luxury. I tried the Joyride 180 straight after riding the Malaguti Madison 400 and the SYM very nearly matches the bigger scooter for overall comfort and ride quality.
The Joyride´s handling was OK, up to a point, when tackling Darley´s famous hairpin, but soon began squirming about when the brakes were slammed on, as well as grounding out its stand quite easily. But most commuters won´t be riding the SYM this hard, and taking life easier is what this scoot is all about.
It has just enough power to keep you carving through traffic, even if your daily commute takes in some bits of urban dual carriageway. The Joyride also has enough luggage space to cart your waterproofs around, plus your Spam sandwiches. Adding the top box gives you the option of roaming two-up, possibly even touring.
For just under £2500 on the road, the Joyride offers almost everything you would get from a class-leading scooter like the Suzuki Burgman 250, or Yamaha Majesty 250, but at about £1000-£1500 less. It´s only weak areas are the handling and the styling, which is still a little bit bland, a bit Far Eastern, even in its very `Euro´ silver paintwork.
For the price then, the SYM Joyride offers a load of fun, practical touches, and plenty of rider comfort. As a biker, I think I´d rather pay extra to have the sporty handling of something like the Aprilia Leonardo 250, or Benelli Velvet 250 – which can both hit 80mph on a good day and corner very well. But if all you need is a workhorse, with enough poke to make life interesting at the weekends, then the SYM Joyride is more than good enough.
Get SYM bike insurance for the Joyride 180.
|ENGINE||Four stroke, single cylinder, water-cooled|
|CHASSIS||Tubular steel frame|
|FRONT SUSPENSION||Telescopic forks|
|REAR SUSPENSION||Twin shock, adjustable|
|SEAT HEIGHT||29 inches|
|BRAKING||273mm front disc, 200mm rear|
|WHEELS/TYRES||110/80 front, 130/70 rear, both 12 inch diameter|
|TOP SPEED||75mph (est)|
|FUEL CAPACITY||8.5 litres|
|OPTIONS||Back rest standard, centre and side stands, high level fuel filler cap|