Yamaha began making small-displacement motorcycles and scooters in the 1950s, and while the Japanese company has moved into producing more powerful bikes, it has never stopped making scooters. The 2008 Zuma is an entry-level scooter that has been in production since 1989, sold under various names. It was enormously popular in Europe, where it was known as the BeeWee; in fact, it was so popular, Yamaha withdrew it from the U.S. market for a few years because the company could not keep up with the demand for it in Europe. It was reintroduced to the United States in 2002, then withdrawn for a couple of years because it did not meet new emissions requirements. The 2008 Zuma was the first model to meet the new emissions standards.
The step-through scooter has a 49cc, air-cooled, single-cylinder, two-stroke Minarelli engine; a reed valve configuration; and a Teikei carburetor. Like all scooters, it has a continuously variable transmission and a belt drive. A telescopic fork in front and a twin-sided swing arm absorb road bumps. The electric starter is backed up by a kick starter. At its official top speed of 30 mph (though many owners delimit the machine), it gets about 130 miles to the gallon; the fuel tank holds 1.5 gallons. Stopping power comes from a 4.5-inch hydraulic disc in front; in the rear is a drum brake.
The one-piece vinyl seat, for driver and passenger, is 30.1 inches high, and the both riders put their feet on the floorboard rather than pegs. The standard instrumentation is pretty basic: a fuel gauge, a speedometer, and an odometer. Lockable under-seat storage—a little larger than usual because the angled engine placement allows extra room—and a rear rack can be augmented with an optional wire basket.
Enthusiasts sometimes refer to this and earlier models as the bug-eyed Zuma because of its round dual headlights. The Zuma has an active fan community that appreciates its sporty styling and lively aftermarket scene.