SYM, the Taiwan-based manufacturer that made Hondas for decades, entered the U.S. motorcycle market in 2006; its 2010 HD scooter is a longtime favorite, and its design remained unchanged for years. (In fact, it didn’t get a redesign until 2012, when it was completely reworked). Available in two models, HD 125 and HD 200, the step-through scooter features a plastic molded body over a steel frame. Engine size is almost the only difference between the two models. Both come with the same color options: red, blue, or silver.
The standard digital instrument panel on both models includes a clock—something of a rarity in scooters—speedometer, fuel gauge, temperature gauge, and turn signal and high-beam indicators. Speaking of high beams, the 60-watt halogen headlamp is unique in its class; most scooters are equipped with 35-watt lamps.
The HD requires a motorcycle license to operate. However, its belt-driven continuously variable transmission, the equivalent of an automatic transmission in a car, is easier to learn than a motorcycle’s heel-toe shifter. The manufacturer lists the HD 125’s top speed at 67 mph; the 200 tops out at 74 mph, making the machine suitable for some highway use as well as urban commuting. Commuters planning to take it on the highway will probably want to add the optional windshield.
With a one-piece stepped vinyl seat, 31 inches high, and an overall height of 49 inches, the bike is ergonomically comfortable for taller riders—even those over six feet—but those shorter than five-foot-five might not be able to put their feet flat on the ground, which could make the 300-pound machine a little difficult to maneuver. But there’s plenty of legroom for the driver, and the floorboard is roomy too. The payload capacity is 394 pounds, so it carries a passenger without difficulty. The passenger rides a little higher than the driver and can use pop-out foot pegs and the standard grab rail.
Both models come with a rear rack and lockable underseat storage that will hold a three-quarter helmet easily enough, and an optional top box is available.
Liquid-cooled, single-cylinder engines power these machines; the brakes are hydraulic disc in front and drum in the rear, a common configuration for SYM scooters. The real difference between the two models becomes obvious when you look at the engine performance specifications: The 125 has 12.3 horsepower and 8 lb-ft torque; the 200 has 15.3 horsepower and 11.3 lb-ft of torque. The gas tank on both models holds 2.1 gallons; average mileage seems to be about 70 mpg. A telescopic front fork and adjustable dual rear shocks make for a reasonably smooth ride that will handle highway bumps. Body work includes front and rear fenders, exhaust guard covers, fork guards, and upper fairing to protect the rider.
Given the bike’s brisk acceleration and smooth handling, riders generally consider the HD a fun ride as well as a practical one. It has large, 12-inch scooter wheels rather than motorcycle wheels, which can limit maneuverability, but that’s not a problem with the nimble HD.