Tomos, a Slovenia-based manufacturer, has been making moped-style scooters since the 1950s, initially in conjunction with the Austrian company Steyr-Daimler-Puch. The company expanded from its Central European base within a decade, building a production plant in the Netherlands in 1966 and entering the U.S. market in 1976. They established a U.S. manufacturing plant in 2000.
The company introduced the Nitro, a step-through scooter, in 2008. Two models are on the market, the Nitro 50 and the Nitro 150; the 2010 models are design carryovers. As the names make clear, one model has a 50cc engine and the other has a 150cc engine. The Nitro 50, restricted to a top speed of 30 miles per hour, does not require a motorcycle license to operate; the 150, with an estimated top speed of about 60 miles an hour, does.
Both models are available in red, blue, black, silver, and yellow, with a black seat and floorboards providing design punctuation. Slanted dual headlamps contribute to a sleek and sporty look. (And for the truly design conscious, the 150’s exhaust pipe comes with a shroud that resembles a high-performance exhaust system.) The one-piece seat (long enough to accommodate a passenger) is 30 inches off the ground, a comfortable height for the average rider, and there’s enough knee room for a man of average height and weight. The grab rail is standard, but neither model comes with a backrest.
The bodywork is plastic on a steel frame, standard for scooters in order to keep them light enough to not overwhelm their comparatively small engines. The Nitro comes with exhaust and belt guards and a front—but not a rear—fender. Both models weigh virtually the same amount, at 250 pounds (the 150 is four pounds heavier), but total payload capacity differs: the 50 can handle 300 pounds, and the 150 will carry 350 pounds.
Ignition is electric, backed up with a kick starter from the center stand. Both models feature air-cooled, single-cylinder, four-stroke engines and continuously variable transmissions. A telescopic fork in front and a twin-sided swing-arm rear shock provide reasonable suspension at lower speeds, but the Nitro 150’s ride can get a bit bumpy at higher speeds out on the highway. Both models have the same brakes—hydraulic discs in front, drums in back—and ride on 12-inch wheels.
Instrumentation is basic: turn signal and high-beam indicators, a fuel gauge, a speedometer, and an odometer. Smart riders keep an eye on the odometer, since riders report some problems with the fuel gauge’s accuracy. Total fuel capacity is 1.35 gallons; the manufacturer does not offer an estimate on mileage, but owners report 100 miles per gallon as an average. The underseat storage is large enough for a full helmet, though there is a helmet hook under the dash, and a top box can be added to expand the lockable storage.
Both models have the same wheelbase, 51 inches, making the scooter maneuverable in tight spaces and easy to park. The zippy Nitro 50’s acceleration is good enough to keep up with urban traffic for commuters; the 150 can handle highway commuting without trouble. Because Tomos’ original market was in mountainous Central Europe, the company has always built bikes that will take hills without trouble. Even the little Nitro 50 will handle uphill city climbs without complaint, and 150 owners routinely take their scooters cruising along mountain roads.