If there is any scooter on the market that doesn’t need more power, the Buddy 150 is it. Yet Genuine is now offering a 170cc version of their iconic twist-and-go. While I haven’t had any seat time in one yet myself, Ron Arnold from Examiner.com got his hands on one.
Approaching the new Buddy 170i, one finds that it’s almost exactly identical to the last 150cc versions of the Buddy. There is a new “chrome” Buddy 170i appliqué on the diminutive leg shield and on the haunches. The instrument panel is slightly different (with a new “engine” warning light), and the exhaust has seemingly been tweaked to provide a bit more noise than the last of the 150s (perhaps it’s all 168 of those crazy ccs?). Whatever they did to the exhaust note, it’s the right thing. The 170i sounds like a proper scooter – throaty, but humming with a balance of sound and vibration that seems to help move you down the road. The brakes are as strong as they ever were, with a front disk and a rear drum. The biggest visual difference is one that some people might not even notice; it’s the addition of a spin-on oil filter and substantial finned oil cooler near the bottom of the leg shield as it curves under the scoot. It’s protected by a strong-looking piece of steel, ensuring that the filter and cooler are protected in the event of a trip over a curb. Still, I’d be careful dropping that front wheel off much of a lip at all, especially at any sort of speed.
Those familiar with the Buddy know that once you get up into the 125cc and larger models, it’s essentially the same scooter, just with more displacement and a louder horn. That is, with the exception of special edition Buddies like the Blackjack, which feature much-needed suspension and brake upgrades. The question for me would be, how much extra oomph am I getting for my extra 50cc and does the EFI make the bike lose any of its character.
The Buddy 170i moves off with quite a bit of acceleration, and I was able to keep up with my (admittedly a bit heavier) friend on my Blur 220i for the first couple hundred feet. The Buddy 170i isn’t a high-speed demon, but 55 mph seems easily attainable in just a few seconds. The ultimate speed that I saw on this crate-fresh scoot was just a hair under 65 mph indicated. After a proper break-in, I have no doubt that given enough space, this scooter would comfortably cruise at 55-60, and perhaps, given the right conditions, probably hit a real 65 or so (GPS measured speed) flat out. It’s no freeway cruiser, however, as the 10-inch wheels are spinning mightily at 60, and they are not big enough for the scoot to feel really stable at speeds much greater than 60.
I have to say, those numbers are a bit disappointing. It makes me wonder if perhaps the EFI system and the environmental regs that necessitated it haven’t robbed the engine of all the power it’d have with a traditional carburetor. Was the boost up to 168cc necessary just to get the power back on par with the Buddies that came before? While there are plenty of advantages to the EFI, this is a bit of a let down.
All in all Mr. Arnold seems to really like the Buddy, and really, what’s not to love? The Buddy has been a smash hit for years and for good reason. It’s a reliable, modern scooter with plenty of old world character. And as Mr. Arnold points out, Genuine just keeps making it better and better.