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Introducing the SYM Scoota Tasmanian Adventure!

SYM VS 150

Select Scoota - Mark Haley

I was looking through recently looking for a scoota for my girlfriend and stumbled across an application to accompany the guys from SYM on another one of their crazy rides to test a new scoota in their range. A trip of a lifetime they called it, all I needed to do was send Tim Black (their National Sales Manager) the reason I thought I would be the best candidate.

I'd never ridden a scoota, just the R1 and DRZ I had in the garage and a postie bike however, I applied and got a call from Tim asking if I was still interested; why not! Whilst thinking "what the hell am I doing", Tim was assuring me it would be loads of fun, they'd had a ball riding to Cameron's Corner last year on the CityCom300i. I was thinking how nice that would be when Tim dropped the bombshell, pack the thermals, we're heading to Tassie! My first thought summarised the trip, it's the middle of winter, we're insane!

Three short weeks later we were packed and heading across Bass Strait to the Apple Isle with the new VS150 and the Classic 125 strapped to the back of the ute. During the trip over on the Spirit of Tassie the SYM boys kept me entertained with tall tales from last year and reassured me that everything would be great fun! Scott (the Service Manager at SYM) came out of the Devonport café with three straws, who was riding and who was driving? Tim and Scott would start us off on the first of some very cold and wet mornings.

They raced off out of town as I got comfortable in the ute with the heater on maximum. I quickly realised that scootas had more get up and go than I thought, infact the boys weren't holding back and the scootas held their own with minimum visibility and as it came pouring down.

Within half an hour Tassie showed what it is really famous for; corner after corner, hairpins and plenty of flip flop left to rights. The lads were making some decent entry and exit speeds on both scoots in and out of each bend; I was impressed. Three hours into the twists and turns we were all laughing at each opportunity to pull over with stories of sliding scootas on slippery roads and warped rotors on the ute as it tried to keep up coming down mountain roads.

We passed through Cradle Mountain and headed in the direction of Waratah for well deserved hot pies and coffee; we'd ridden a quick 230km before lunch! As we refuelled Tim peeled off his wet gear and gave me the nod to get kitted up; I'll be honest I was a bit apprehensive with scootas being so new to me. I jumped on the VS150 and off we went, 40km to Savage River on the west coast. Suddenly my jaw ached, from smiling too much! The VS150 was as much fun as the boys had promised, I felt myself treating it a bit like my road bike and hammered it around the corners just like I'd watched the boys do all morning.

The road from Waratah to Savage River is a big thumbs up; it's tight and an exceptionally good surface. Side stands became an early casualty on this section as it was a dry perfect afternoon; what a leap from roadie to scoota aficionado.

We awoke on day two a little worse for wear with the news ringing freshly in our ears that it rains 300 days a year on the west coast and we'd been lucky the day before to have ridden a dry patch. We fueled up and headed to Queenstown; quick consumption calculations showed that the VS150 had used 3.73 litres per  100km and the Classic 125 4.12 litres with flat out riding all day - not bad at all.

It was a really wet day; foggy visors, wet seats and a freezing body were constants. We didn't do huge day in the saddle however, it was very challenging with uncomfortable weather and scary road conditions; water running across sometimes two inches deep and blind corners. Scott kept the little red Classic 125 pinned through everything and it handled it with gusto.

The scootas did not miss a beat all day and comfort wasn't too bad considering how arctic it was although Queenstown couldn't arrive quickly enough. We were greeted by an open fireplace and warm locals who were intrigued by our adventure.

Day three started off with a three tired riders, a lost key and soggy gear however, the scootas were raring to go! Tim and I geared up and started a huge ride to Strahan, about 280km in the direction of Reece Dam. This is often described as the ultimate corner section of Tassie; I was really excited and hoping it might dry up a little for us to make the most of it.

Tim and I got into Strahan with Scott and the ute not in sight; there'd been some tight corners coming into town and we were a bit worried about the last 40km's especially. A short 15 minutes later Scott arrives only to sheepishly confess that he'd made himself car sick twice on all the corners trying to keep up with the scootas!

Again we were off, getting the 150cc engines working hard hitting and braking into each corner; racing each other from one to the next, great fun! The bigger brakes on the VS150 had the edge making late entry a breeze.

There was only one incident in the whole trip. Tim decided to park the VS150 on a hill to take a photo, unfortunately it was a little precarious and rolled off its stand into some boulders. To my amazement Tim picked it up, hit the start button and rode off; with a couple of scratches and a bent lever there was hardly any damage, if that had been my motorcycle I'd be calling the assessor!

The afternoon actually allowed us to appreciate the state's serenity, it's like nothing I've seen on the mainland. Lush green fields, endless mountains, rivers that are gushing with water, you could wear out a camera there.

Towards the end of the day we were worn out, physically and mentally. Our concentration levels had been exhausted early in the day with all the twists and turns so it was a relief to be back in Queenstown for another night. The fuel consumption was still consistent from the previous day with the spare change from yesterday keeping us going all day!

A bit of a late start on day four due to local hospitality however, a punishing 300km to Hobart was on the agenda. Tailing in the ute I watched as the VS150 was hitting 108km/h on the flat (most of Tassie's roads are 110km/h); pretty impressive. When we hit a good section of corners the ute was hard pressed to keep the scootas in sight.

Tassie's conditions were varied; some snow, consistently wet roads, the occasional glimpse of sunshine (and dry road for a bit of fun) and the ever-present grey nomads chugging along at 70km/h enjoying their retirement. Getting the VS150 into the slip stream and overtaking didn't take too long and was very impressive considering 200 odd kilograms of rider and scoota and only 9kw of power!

Scott and Tim gave the scootas a good going over at the start of day five; just a quick adjustment of the Classic 125's rear brake and we geared up ready to go. I had forgotten what traffic looked like until we hit the hustle and bustle of Hobart's peak hour. The scoota's really came into their own showing off how nimble they are in traffic and although we'd had great fun on the open road, it became really obvious where they felt most at home.

We left Scott behind in the ute struggling through the traffic as the scootas boasted their flexibility manoeuvring through the congestion with ease. My opinion of scootas has changed forever; what a great way to commute!

Out of the city and up the east coast with spectacular coastal views, it felt like northern NSW. The weather had been crazy with 80-100km/h head and cross winds, the scootas just kept going through it all and maintaining consistent fuel economy. Late in the afternoon the rain got so heavy that we were forced to call it a day at Scottsdale; visibility had been reduced to just 10 metres and gravel was appearing on every corner. At the end of day five the VS150 had travelled 1,400km and was still averaging 3.96 litres per 100km.

The last day was fairly low key, a leisurely zig-zagging the 300km through towns the long way to Devonport. As I was riding along I realised that I'd only been overtaken twice and how surprised I was, mainly due to my misconceptions about scootas. We'd had a great tour of Tassie, been able to appreciate the beauty of the state, not been a mad rush however, we'd absolutely kept up with traffic and held our own.

As we all gathered to climb on board and cross back to the mainland I was a little sad the adventure was over and was happy to admit how much fun I'd had. I'm set to add another set of wheels to the garage fleet and yes, it's going to be an SYM scoota. I'm chuffed to have been given this opportunity from the crew at SYM, it was a hard ride but they were right, bloody good fun! I highly recommend having a ride on anything that's thrown your way, even a scoot, you may just be surprised, I was!



Mark Haley


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