SYM’s take on the Honda Super Cub 100, which SYM produced in Taiwan for Honda from 1962 until the two manufacturers parted ways, the 2010 SYM SYMBA is a scooter-style motorcycle that stays true its stylistic roots. The SYMBA was introduced to the U.S. with the 2010 model—which does not mean it’s an all-new scooter. SYM has been making and selling this particular model, virtually without alteration, in other parts of the world under its own name ever since Honda discontinued production.
Since the Honda Super Cub 100, a machine that inspired fan clubs, true devotion, and even song (the Beach Boys’ ""Little Honda"" back in the 1960s), has not been available in the U.S. since the 1980s, SYM is aiming to fill a very particular niche. It may not be a little Honda, but it is little. At 75 inches long and 26 wide, with a wheelbase of 48 inches, the SYMBA is small and lightweight—a mere 209 pounds. That doesn’t mean it’s tiny—in some ways it feels more like an entry-level motorcycle than a scooter, partly because the 17-inch spoked wheels are more typical of motorcycles than scooters. However, the two-piece vinyl seat for rider and passenger, just under 30 inches high, is at a very comfortable height for a smaller rider. The rider gets a floorboard; the passenger has foot pegs and a grab rail.
The classic, retro styling of the steel-framed plastic body pays homage to the 50-year tradition of the Honda Cub, with a two-tone paint scheme (white combined with red, blue, or black in the U.S.) and a look that’s a cross between a scooter and a moped. SYM’s high-quality paintwork always draws praise, as does the general fit and finish.
SYM claims that the scooter gets 153 miles to the gallon, but the importer believes 110 mpg is more likely for real-world use. The tank holds 1.1 gallons. The manufacturer also says the bike’s top speed is 50 miles per hour. Of course, that’s without loading the bike up (the maximum payload is 199 pounds), and there are plenty of ways to do just that—an optional rear rack, front basket, top box, and side cases can all be added. Standard storage is under the seat. The instrumentation is pretty basic: turn signals, speedometer, and odometer—and a rider will need to keep an eye on that odometer because there is no fuel level warning.
The SYM SYMBA is a lightweight, maneuverable bike that’s provided all-round local transportation all over the world for years. But it’s not designed for freeway or highway use. It’s zippy enough to be safe in normal city traffic, and it’s easy to park and to handle.
Although the scooter hit these shores in 2009, it was not okayed for sale in California until early in 2010, because it took some time for the slow-moving California Air Resources Board to certify SYM scooters after the company began exporting its machines to the U.S. If you’ve always wondered what the big deal about the Honda Super Cub was, this jaunty little machine gives you a chance to find out, complete with modern-day emissions standards. It’s inspiring its own, brand-new fan club.