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- Written by Carole Nash Editor
- Created: 20 June 2008
SYM are a name you might not be familiar with if you’re shopping around for a new scooter, but they are one of the fastest growing brands in the UK.
With a four stroke, four valve, single cylinder engine making smooth power all the way to its 70mph maximum, plus respectable braking, excellent comfort and sharp styling, the SYM offers great all-round ability for anyone sick and tired of crawling to work in their car, or on laughable public transport.
SYM are a name you might not be familiar with if you´re shopping around for a new scooter, but they are one of the fastest growing brands in the UK.
The name SYM stands for San Yang Motors, established way back in the early 1960s by Honda, as a Taiwanese subsidiary factory. Since then, they have made many hundreds of thousands of scooters , as well as Honda Civic cars, before branching out with their own designs, like this new Shark 125.
For many years, people have looked at the Taiwanese scoots on sale in the UK and liked the prices, but not been quite so sure about the styling or build quality. But SYM have very much learned from Honda´s corporate philosophy of aiming to exceed the customer´s expectations and the new Shark is in a different league to many scooters sourced from Taiwan.
The overall look of the Shark is long and sleek, accentuated by its pointy nosed bodywork, complete with headlights that bear an uncanny similarity to Yamaha´s R1. Jump on board and the Shark feels well made, solid, but not intimidating. It may be physically bigger than many 50cc commuter scooters, but at 110kgs, it is only about 10-15kgs heavier. The seat isn´t as high as many 125cc-250cc class scooters either, plus there´s a handy little grabrail for pillion passengers.
The engine conforms to the 12bhp UK limit for 125cc class two-wheelers, so it is pretty similar in terms of performance to any other four stroke scoot on the market. That said, the Shark engine seems to have plenty of torque for such a small machine, plus a genuine lack of ’buzziness’ which many older designs seem to transmit through the `bars and plastic bodywork.
Your insidebikes roving commuter only travelled a few miles on the Shark, so I can´t say much about long term reliability or fuel consumption, but having ridden the old SYM Atilla 125 from SYM, I´d guess that 100mpg, even riding flat out, is probably achievable.
One area where the old Atilla was a bit off the pace was in the braking department, with a definite lack of bite in its front disc operation. The new 273mm sized front disc, with a four piston caliper, is outstanding however, plus the Shark 4VR has an optional 200mm rear disc available if you need it. I can´t imagine that ordinary commuting would ever demand more braking than this - the Shark is superb.
THE DO-IT-ALL CONCEPT
What a lot of people want from a scooter is simple; twist `n´ go travel, on tap, 24/7. No fuss, no maintenance, low running costs - all that, plus it has to look good too. That´s the reason that so many commuters end up buying raspy Italian two strokes, which occasionally prove to be about as reliable as a G reg Fiat Panda.
The alternative, is to view the scooter as a domestic appliance; something that´s just there to do a household chore, like a dishwasher. Then, fashion doesn´t come into it, we´re back to Fiat Pandas again aren´t we ?
But if you want it all, nice styling, plus four stroke reliability/economy, decent room for two people, plus sporty handling on the roundabouts, then precious few 125cc scooters can compete, especially at this price. £2124 OTR is about 300-500 less than many slinkier looking 125cc scooters from Italy, or Japan, although some rivals offer a year´s free insurance, or a three year warranty.
I really liked the Shark and reckon it is the best thing SYM have produced so far. It doesn´t pretend to be anything out of the ordinary, but it just has a quality feel which lifts it above many of its rivals. It´s also fun to chuck around corners, or outbrake most cars going into corners. The Shark, like most 125s, has just enough performance to cut a path through the most irritating queues of traffic, then get away from the next red light nice and nippy, unlike restricted 50s, which are frankly, a dangerous joke, even in limit zone. Top marks SYM.
Get SYM bike insurance for the 125 Shark.
Engine..........four stroke, single cylinder, cc 124
Claimed power (bhp)..........11
Cycle parts..........Steel tubular U type frame
Front suspension..........Telescopic forks, non adjustable
Rear suspension..........single gas/oil shock, adjustable for pre-load only
Brakes..........Single 279mm front disc, four piston caliper, 130mm rear drum brake
Wheels..........12 inch front and rear
Colours..........red/silver, or blue/white
Top speed..........70 mph
Fuel capacity..........6 litres
Current price..........£2,124 OTR