First Ride: Genuine Hooligan 170i

Among your more serious scooterists, there are a two key groups. There’s those who love scooters as objects — those who love the design and nostalgia of scooters as much as their ability to actually be ridden around. Then there’s the pragmatic bunch. I’m talking about those who see the deep utility of riding a scooter and want not just the most bang for their buck, but the most capability for a single model. For that second group, Genuine has a scooter for you: the Hooligan 170i.

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In our hands-on review of the Hooligan 170i, we were struck most of all at just how thoughtfully put together this new scooter really is. Even though what we had our hands on was really just a pre-production prototype (it even still said PGO on the gauges), we were thoroughly impressed with the build quality overall, but most of all, just how clever this new scooter really is. Top of that clever list is of course the net tie down points across the lower deck of the scooter. I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t start seeing this from competitors in the very near future.

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That’s all well and good, and ground we’ve already covered. What about the ride? How does this very clever frankenscooter actually behave on the road? Well we got to find out and have to say, the results are pretty impressive.

Rocking the Hooligan 170i off its center-stand, the bike’s balance feels good. The center of gravity is nice and low thanks to the fuel tank being integrated into the Hooligan’s floor. In fact, the only parts of this scooter’s structure that really rise above the water line of the floorboards are the touch points — the hand controls, seat and such. With such a low center of mass, the Hooligan is really easy to maneuver feet down, even though it’s not at all a small machine. Compared to the Blur, for example, the Hooligan is much less cumbersome to back up and park.

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A squeeze of the brake lever and press of the starter button pops the Hooligan 170i to life. For Genuine fans, everything about the Hooligan 170i should feel very familiar. In so many ways, I kept feeling like the Hooligan 170i was a little bit Blur, a little bit Buddy and a lot of well thought-out details. As the Hooligan 170i idled happily and with a familiar exhaust note somewhere between Buddy and Blur, it just made sense. Everything is where it should be, and it just felt very Genuine.

I was curious how the Buddy’s 170 motor would perform on what is really a pretty large scooter in terms of its dimensions. As I twisted the throttle, the power came on nicely. While not quite Blur SS220i quick, the Hooligan 170i had plenty of get-up-and-go. The gearing and weight engagement in the CVT felt spot on — which is a recurring theme we’re seeing in all of the Genuine machines where they spec those ratios themselves (Blur SS220i, Buddy Psycho, Stella 125 Automatic to name a few). Roll-on acceleration was satisfying and zippy, and while we didn’t get a chance to do any top-end testing, on city duty the Hooligan 170i had more than enough pep to get well out of its own way.

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When going turned to stopping, the Hooligan 170i’s brakes also impressed. Feel was good, as well as power to bring the seemingly big bike to a well-controlled halt. While certainly not as powerful as the set on the Blur SS220i, the Hooligan 170i’s stoppers are some of the best we’ve tested. They’re like a less grabby version of the brakes on the Blur and are perfectly suited to the Hooligan 170i’s weight and riding geometry. Sources at Genuine told us that they had to fight PGO a bit on integrating a rear disk brake, and on our road test that was a battle well won. The result is a package that, especially for aggressive riders, will not disappoint.

In a long list of things we just couldn’t complain about on the Hooligan 170i, the top of that list has to be the bike’s suspension and steering geometry. In combination with the Hooligan 170i’s longer wheelbase, these factors come together to create one of the most neutral-handling scooters we’ve ever tested. It’s road manners are simply fantastic. In addition, that extra wheel-base, 12″ wheels and pudgy tires makes for a more comfortable ride than anything else in the Genuine fleet. For something styled so aggressively, the comfort and poise of the Hooligan 170i on the street was a very pleasant surprise. Between the tire profiles, the suspension setup and the Hooligan 170i’s steering geometry, it felt pretty much ready for anything. Dodge that pot hole or don’t, and this scooter is fine either way.

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It was this last factor, the Hooligan 170i’s road manners, that made it particularly charming to ride. Once aboard, I was ready to go, stop, turn and dodge with no problems and no surprises.

The combination of the Hooligan 170i’s handling and it’s utilitarian focus are a pretty winning combination. It didn’t feel compromised, despite its eclectic list of PGO components. In so many ways, the Hooligan 170i is a reflection of its makers. It’s a uniquely American scooter aimed squarely at the scooter fans that Genuine knows so well. In as much as what the Hooligan 170i intends to be, it shines.

I only had one real complaint about the Hooligan 170i, and that was in its sitting ergonomics. While not as troubled as the Blur SS220i, the Hooligan’s seat-to-feet ratio was a challenge for me. The foot deck is at a slightly forward angle, which was unexpected and took some getting used to. It’s also higher off the ground than most scooters of this size, so that took some getting used to while pulling away. Once I was feet-up, that high foot deck put a little extra pressure on my seat, but again, not as badly as the Blur. This isn’t so much a short coming of the Hooligan as much as it’s the reality of my being tall (6’3″). For shorter riders, I imagine this won’t be an issue.

While our initial time with the Hooligan 170i on the road was short, we couldn’t help but be impressed. Genuine set out to build something their own, and specifically for their customers. Sure, they could only really work within the LEGO set of what PGO is already producing, but through very clever engineering thinking, they’ve managed to bring something to market that’s entirely their own. That result is very compelling. I can imagine this scooter hitting a real sweet spot for a lot of customers. With it’s non-Vespa looks and its real-world focus on practicality, it looks like Genuine has a winner here.

Genuine Hooligan 170i Gallery

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