Royal Alloy GT150 – Slaying the dragon

I spent a few years in England when the “clones” were launched and fell in love with the Scomadi/Royal Alloy scooters. So when we started planning a trip that would include riding Scomadi’s and putting them to the test, I was overjoyed. We (five wonderful friends and myself) spent a week riding the Scomadi 125’s provided by Ian and Sue of GranTurismoSpain (GTS) tours, where I feel in love with the handling of the new bike. The old school retro looks were a plus, but the dependability of the modern engine and ease of the CVT helped to make the decision to be an early adopter of the Royal Alloy GT150 so much easier. Prior to departing on the trip, I had heard rumour of Royal Alloy hitting the market in early July and wanted to be prepared for the launch.

Having enjoyed riding the Scomadi 125s provided by GTS tours in Spain the decision to obtain a new Royal Alloy GT150 was sitting a lot more comfortably with me now. Early photos of the new stock were starting to appear and I was very relieved to have chosen the white, which I now learnt would be fitted with a red seat. It eventually arrived and off to the dealer we went, but came home empty handed after the dealer MotoRichmond did not have the correct battery for the scooter to be able to deliver it on the day.

I had some other travel planned and returned to a Richmond heatwave and a “ready for delivery” scooter. The first thing I noticed when riding the Royal Alloy is the ergonomics. It feels as if you sit a bit higher (obviously, with the bigger wheels) and a bit more upright.

This position is not bad, but once used to riding Vespas, it takes some time to get used to it. The Royal has a seat height of 30.3” and the LX150 of 30.9” however, the bike seems taller. At 5’9”, on my Vespa, I can be flat footed at a stop, with the Royal Alloy, this can only be accomplished by leaning the bike.  I can only attribute the difference to increased wheel height 12” vs. 10” making a huge difference.

After the first few hundred miles, I met up with my clubmates from the 7 Hills Scooter Club (Richmond, VA) and gave folks the chance to test the bike in a parking lot. A few other comments I received were, “the floor boards are up a bit higher” and “it really forces you to sit upright!” One other statement made, was “On a Vespa, you are part of the bike (you sit in it), on the Royal you sit on top of it.“

The model in the US is carburetted, which is a bit different, as the UK models have EFI. The curb weight, at 265 lbs., is heavier by 20 lbs. than the Vespa LX 150 and is far more noticeable when at low speeds or when trying to park. The weight is distributed a bit higher, which does alter riding a tiny bit as the centre of gravity is different.

Fuel range is estimated at 90+miles per gallon; my feeling is that this is pretty close on. On the initial tank of fuel, I rode 146 miles before I decided it was cutting it too close. For that initial fueling I put in 1.8 gallons on a 2.2-gallon tank (approximately 82 miles per gallon).

Top speed claims took a while to really be able to evaluate. This was due to the manufacture’s recommended run in period (500 miles at NO MORE THAN ½ throttle, and NO MORE THAN ¾ throttle until over 1000 miles).

Other bits and bobs regarding the Royal. It has a centre stand which is positioned a bit further back, which makes it a little harder to get situated; it does have a side stand (nice feature!) with an integrated kill switch, that works exceedingly well, as my fellow riders will happily relate.

Another interesting feature of the Royal is how the pilot’s seat is secured with suction cups. Yes you read that correctly, suction cups. Underneath this unexpected surprise, hides the locking gas cap, which is a nice feature not often seen on other bikes.

Probably the final piece to discuss is storage; the only storage on or in this machine is the toolbox, which is not very much at all. I would be hard pressed to get a set of wet weather gear into the tool box.

Having purchased the new Royal Alloy GT150 motor scooter and wanted to get some miles on it, while wondering what to do with some extra time off, a trip would solve both.

I had been riding the scoot about town trying to get it broken in before the trip and had put on 385 low speed (read half throttle) miles before taking it in to MotoRichmond for its first break in service. After a long discussion with Chelsea and the crew, we decided it should be ok for the trip, and continued to put in mileage to break the ½ throttle barrier. Royal Alloy’s run in recommendations is for ½ throttle until 500 miles and then ¾ throttle until 1000 miles. Taking these recommendations to heart, – it really would be a waste of effort not to trial the new bike on some of the tightest twisties on the East Coast. We figured the Blue Ridge would be the perfect 469-mile ribbon of asphalt to complete the break in period BEFORE hitting some of the more interesting named routes in North Carolina, Tennessee and South Carolina.

During our trip planning, we realized we had lost a significant amount of storage space with the new bike. While a top case could be fitted – it would likely ruin the aesthetic of the bike, and unlike the Vespa there is no underseat storage. Casting about for options, one of the local scooter club members offered to loan me a pair of Corazzo panniers.

They fit beautifully under the suction cups, which secure the riders seat, and when wrapped around the included carrying rack worked wonderfully.
Loaded with seven days worth of clothing, toothbrush and other essentials, we took off from our home base of Richmond, VA and rode 92 miles to Afton, where the northern entrance of the parkway begins.

Being the start of what we hoped to be a wonderful ride, we had our first road lunch at Blue Mountain Brewery. I might have said something about pizza prior to the stop – so we were excited to try this road staple! On arrival it was a brilliant sunny Sunday and EVERYONE was out. Parking was difficult even for two 150cc scooters and we feared grabbing a table might be even more difficult. Luckily for us – it wasn’t!

The food at Blue Mountain was great and I highly recommend it. We ended up not having the pizza because it is HUGE and we would have had no way to transport the remainder as all our storage (the set of panniers and a Vespa top case and under seat storage) was already spoken for. There is also a BP gas station just two miles down the road, not mentioned in ANY of the Blue Ridge Parkway planning information. Riders and trusty steeds fuelled, we finally made our entry onto the parkway.

Todays plan was to get to Roanoke, VA to overnight, another 120 miles ahead of us. Luckily for me – Parkway speed limit is 45 mph and at ¾ throttle I can manage that comfortably. Unfortunately, my wife on her 2010 Vespa S150 was chaffing at the bit to be let go and enjoy the afternoon at wide open throttle!

The views on the Blue Ridge are stunning and spectacular. I know those words sound over used, but they are truly descriptive of almost every turn and pull out. After a good three hours of “Wow!” or “How amazing!” we finally pulled off on exit 121 to make the five-mile run into Roanoke on similar twisty, forested roads and our hotel for the evening. Once in and fueled, we began planning for the next leg of our journey, which would become even more interesting as we were to meet a friend who rides a Harley Sportster and wanted to join us to do the Tail of the Dragon. A quick check of the weather showed it might be a bit overcast for Day two but no real fear of rain. We went to bed secure we had done as much as possible, and to be fair after clocking almost 250 miles in the day, were completely exhausted.

Our destination for the next day was Little Switzerland, NC or more precisely the Skyline Village Inn, just a few miles north. We got up and out around 9am and first stop was Mabry Mill – a very picturesque mill and visitor center on the parkway. After snapping a few pictures, chatting with other motorcyclists, and barely passing up the yummiest smelling pancakes, we got back under way with our first planned fuel stop 30 miles down the road. However, fortune got in the way (road works) just two miles down the road and we detoured into a little village called Meadows of Dan.

The local general store not only had fuel and the various sodas etc., it also had everything else you could imagine, fresh fruit, cast iron pans, ceramic vessels, stickers, t-shirts and old time candies to name a few.

They even have a made to order sandwich counter that looked pretty amazing. Being still before noon, we decided to get back underway, with only a few small purchases adding to our travel luggage. Another 30 miles down the road brought us to the Virginia and North Carolina State Line, where the normal photos had to be taken.

The next few hours were just a blur of amazing views, punctuated by cries of “Darn! More loose gravel, be careful” coming over the intercom headsets. Finally we pulled off at Horse Gap for fuel. Arriving at the petrol station, we were a bit shocked to see bags covering all of the pump handles, except one. Sitting in front of the station were 2 gentlemen in rocking chairs. I thought to myself – “did we arrive in Mayberry?” Both the gents and the station attendant were interested in our “cute little motorbikes” and asked tons of questions; – each answer, bringing a bigger look of surprise to their face. Finally they asked about our spare fuel situation and were surprised we were not carrying any. We politely told them we had mapped out all the fuel stops and didn’t feel we needed to carry the weight, at which point they told us fuel deliveries could be rare in small towns around the parkway and not to rely on our planning! YIKES! Realizing we were just 30 miles out of Boone, NC, and a reported best pizza place on the planet we pushed on after our admirers wished us well.

Arriving in Boone was a shock to the system – must be what thru-hikers of the Appalachian Trail feel like or those on the Camino de Santiago. You go from seeing almost no one at all to being on a 4-lane divided road where you feel as if everyone has a target on you. Well, we missed our “easy exit” off the parkway because there was no sign on it at all and had to go down to the southern exit to Boone and ride eight miles back, around the university and into downtown. Finally, spotting the sign for Lost Provision Brewing. We parked the bikes, and looking at the sky, decided to take the panniers inside to avoid any difficulties. Once in we ordered pizza and lots and lots of water! As our pizza came, we happened to look outside and a lot of water began to fall from the sky. So happy we were inside and not on the bikes at that moment. We had a leisurely lunch waiting out the rain and finally went back to the bikes for the 50-mile run to Spruce Pine and our destination for the day. We arrived only two and a half hours later than planned and 50 miles to the plus of our planned itinerary. Once checked in and settled, we waited for our friend to join us. Standing on the over look outside the hotel, we could hear a set of pipes winding up the hill and wondered… sure enough he turned the corner and went right on past as we waved and smiled, having even slowed down to look at the name of the lodging.

Mike and Lynn of the Skyview Village Inn are truly amazing people. They have owned the Inn for about 15 years and have made it a Blue Ridge travellers haven. From the road it does not appear to be much, but is comfortable and inviting on the inside. They have covered motorcycle parking, good amounts of ready hot water, air conditioning, which works as advertised and coolers upon coolers of adult beverages. Mike also pulls double duty as the BBQ chef and Lynn as Head Chef. The menu for the evening was sirloin or ribeye on the grill and or Lynn’s crabcakes and two sides – potato salad and green beans. One of the most unexpected menu items was a Rum Pecan Pie, which just begged to be sampled! Breakfast was also on offer for the next morning – You could have pancakes, or bacon, or eggs for $7, or you could have all three, or a combo of two items, for the same price. We enjoyed all the amenities they offered for the night and finished our planning/pre-ride brief as three of us had never ridden together. The road right in front of the inn is a fairly new named motorcycle route called the “Diamondback 226A” this 38-mile long route takes you down into the valley below and back up to the Blue Ridge with lots of nice twists and turns – a proper primer for the Tail of the Dragon to come.

We had planned to leave early as the next destination was Historic Tapoco Lodge, approximately 50miles southeast of Cherokee, NC, where the Blue Ridge ends. Since it was to be a fairly big day (150 miles of Parkway plus) we thought we would leave early to arrive in time to enjoy the next destination. Well, that didn’t work. Breakfast doesn’t begin until 8am and by the time all of our party arrived it was later. Then we enjoyed chatting with a few of the other guests, finally getting pictures with Lynn, Mike and the other motorcycles before everyone departed for the local fuel, three miles NORTH of the Inn. On the way back from fueling, the Royal Alloy finally got freed from the chains of the run in period – we had cleared 1000 miles and could run at full throttle if needed!

This was fortuitous as our route deviated a bit from the Blue Ridge on to the Diamondback. This is a 38-mile loop with numerous twist and turns, the last is best described as “a steep uphill 180 degree turn”. Dropping downhill into the valley, I finally began to get a sense of how much fun the Royal Alloy could be. The larger wheels (then my Vespa) and increased floor clearance allow one to really lean into corners and enjoy the entire ride. She didn’t disappoint and made me a bit hungry for more. Hitting the “connector”, a four-lane highway, I finally got to spin the throttle wide open – downhill wide open I felt like I was on a rocket! Then in the distance a bit of a rise was spotted and the Royal slowly began to bog down. This was a new experience in my scootering adventures and caused me a bit of concern for the coming days. Back up the other side of the valley, the S150 rapidly pulled away up the hill, despite the Royal being wide open. The final turn, nicknamed the whiplash, was actually a bit anticlimactic owing to the fact we had caught an SUV halfway up and had to slow down to a crawl.

Returning to the Blue Ridge, we settled in to great views and long sweeping curves. Dropping down into Asheville, we got a bit more fuel and lunch before moving on to the next highlight, the highest point on the Blue Ridge. We first approached an area with lodging and a small store – we stopped to get a picture with the highest point on the Blue Ridge sign, but couldn’t find it! After a bit we moved on and a few miles down the road discovered a pull out with a sign saying “Highest point on the Blue Ridge, 6053 feet”.

Pulling in, we stumbled across a trio of riders from New Jersey who we had been leap frogging back and forth with for the last two days. We all offered to take pictures for each other, then back on the road to Cherokee North Carolina and the excitement of having completed the entire 469 miles of the Parkway on 150cc scooters. As we got closer, the talk on the communications set was about getting a great ending picture in front of the sign saying “End of the Blue Ridge” we continued down the mountain and finally came to the junction with the 19… no sign, not even “Goodbye”! After a shrug of the shoulders we moved on into town to refill and regroup. Cherokee looks to be an interesting place with lots of outdoor fun to be had, but we had a dragon waiting for us.

The next bit was interesting – what should have been a quick 54 miles of nice back roads and one brief segment of four lane divided highway turned into a 70-mile ride as we began using a navigation app. This should have taken us down the 19 to the four lane highway and then off on the 28 North. What happened was we snaked back and forth trying to find the quickest way to Hwy 74 and then got on five miles earlier. Well the concerns I had earlier in the day about climbing hills reared its head yet again, but on a road with much faster traffic. Finally, the exit to US 28 was upon us and we made the turn – unfortunately it was the southbound exit, the one we needed was three miles further down the road! After a detour along some back roads, we finally got back on track and made our way to our roost for the night, the Historic Tapoco Lodge.

We later learned our New Jersey rider friends were also led astray by their navigation app taking them south and not north on the 28.

Day four of our adventure dawned a bit overcast and early, but our group took a much-needed lie in. Meeting for breakfast around 09:30 we made a plan for the day. Up to Deal’s Gap to get some fuel and their fantastic t-shirts, then hit the eleven miles of US 129 affectionately named “The Tail of the Dragon” this route is famous for having 318 curves in the aforementioned 11 miles, with the added difficulty of occasionally encountering other riders/drivers in the wrong lane; photographers at some of the tightest turns; and not to mention the occasional tractor trailer rig that mistakenly follows it’s GPS on to this busy stretch of road. Having done the route a year before, Michelle and I were itching to hit again and test the new Royal Alloy out. We agreed I would lead and she would follow providing tips for performance improvement as needed. As we made the steep departure out of North Carolina to the Tennessee line, I had a lot of excitement bubbling up. When we reached the top and crossed the state border.

I rolled the throttle back to the pin and took off… It was exhilarating! The Royal felt nimble, surefooted and responsive. Into the first turn, I swear the bike intuitively crouched down and leaned into the hairpin turn without even needing me to pilot it. Through the next three miles and many turns – I can hear Michelle on the intercom saying “Where did you go?” then our Cardo communicators went silent as we passed out of range. The next 10 minutes passed in blissful joy working throttle and brake trying to see how far my new “friend” and me could go! Finally past mile 11, I rolled off the throttle and pulled over to our agreed upon meeting spot; throwing open my helmet with a whoop of joy, I began to wait and wait and wait. In my excitement, I had gained two whole minutes on my partner. Once she arrived we talked about the route and some difficult spots as well as how great the overall road surface was. As we chatted, we waited for the third member of our team. Being on a bigger bike and with a bit less experience in twisties, he decided to make his run more about enjoying the amazing views than seeing how hard he could run the route. Nothing wrong with that! If anything the dragon teaches you about comfort level. Regrouping we went on to explore Punkin Corner the local Harley shop and finally out to Tellico Marina for a well-earned lunch.

Gearing back up, Pat on his Sportster decided he was going to run the dragon once and return to our lodgings and do a few rest day activities; namely do laundry and enjoy the creek side bar. On the run back to North Carolina, I was trying to get the most out of the Royal Alloy, when up ahead were flashing blue lights and a hand out the drivers window making “slow down” motions. “Damn” I thought, I have never been busted on a scooter! So I slow down and pull into the pull out that just happened to be there. The State Trooper, pulled to where I was at and yelled something I couldn’t make out while pointing down the direction he had come from; as I followed his motion, I look and see a huge 18 wheeler, trying to negotiate a very tight hairpin. Eventually after a couple of reversing back and forth moves he was able to jockey the rig around and I continued on. We stopped at the Dragon statue at Deal’s Gap for required photos and then split up.

Michelle and I to try our luck again; as neither of us felt we had a fair whack at the dragon because of the darn lorry, and Pat to his well-deserved R&R. After a few more runs, lots of smiles and some good natured ribbing we returned to the Tapoco Lodge for a few adult beverages and lots of story telling about the day. For a rest day, it sure was packed with fun and excitement.

Saying goodbye to Tapoco Lodge the next morning was difficult. We gently climbed back to Deal’s Gap for another fuel stop and breakfast – all the while resisting the urge to hit the dragon “just once more.“ Today’s plan was to ride down the Moonshiner 28, with a stop at Bridal Veil Falls and then cut into South Carolina to overnight with some friends. Looked to be about 132 miles on the map, but based on the other days, we tacked on another 50 just to make sure we had not underestimated. The Moonshiner was a fun route and while not as twisty and technical as the Dragon, is still a great riding road. Passing through the town of Franklin, we continued on to get photos of the Royal Alloy under Bridal Veil Falls.

A few miles further we entered the mountain town of Highlands, which was not what any of us expected; wall to wall traffic, high end boutique stores, lots of restaurants, and too many to count golf courses and country clubs. We stopped for a quick bite at the Blue Bike Café and wished we could have ate more as everything was delicious and served with a side of great service. Over the mountain we went and down into South Carolina, where it felt as if we ran into a wall of steam. Finally arriving at our friend’s house at a reasonable hour, we enjoyed a evening of rest and relaxation.

Leaving the next morning, after a planning our next day to be 220+ miles so we could be home in time to return to work, we jumped on SC11, a designated a scenic highway. Personally, I am not sure it lives up to the hype. At one point, a comment was made about “the 11 is the most boring scenic highways…EVER!” Needless to say we got into a small hotel outside of Greensboro later that night, had a nice meal and prepared to part ways in the morning as Pat would be heading east while we needed to continue north.

The final day of riding was bittersweet, as always. A long ride day planned in the middle of a hot summer with the memories of the dragon, Blue Ridge, diamondback, and moonshiner running through our heads. Finally we arrived home, after checking the odometer realized we had put on 1652 miles (average of 236 miles/day) round trip in seven days of brilliant riding.

Royal Alloy Mechanical Report
As I write this, and reflect on what a great trip we had, I realise I have yet to see any real world reports regarding the Royal Alloy in the USA. As we rode, I realized that the bike we have received here is slightly different then that which is being ridden and reported on in the UK and elsewhere.
During the 7 days of this adventure, I consistently put in 0.1-0.2 gallons LESS than my companion riding the S150. I have yet to run the tank dry, but will update after I have done that test.

Where does the Royal really excel? To be honest, this machine was built for twisties! On the Tail of the Dragon, it leapt into curves and because of the taller wheels and higher center of gravity, I was able to really lean into the curves. On the left side, the center stand sticks out a bit and got dragged a few times. I never felt the same on the right, so I believe the exhaust is high enough to not have to worry about.

Riding the Royal Alloy on difficult technical curves was just a pleasure. It was responsive and ghosted through corners without difficulties. The fore and aft disc brakes give you extra control and are extremely responsive. The suspension is a bit stiff, but again more set up for the turns and it did do just that.

On our way home, comparing my speedometer to the S150 and the GPS – it seems the Royal Alloy will cruise comfortably between 53-57mph at wide-open throttle. I did see 61 mph on a downhill, confirmed by GPS. The Royal Alloy, was able to keep up with the S150 in most situations.

Now the down side – as delivered stock, I believe the roller weights are too heavy. During the ride down to the dragon and back, even the sight of a hill in the distance made the Royal bog down and crawls up long inclines. The RPM gauge would go from 7000 RPMS to 4-5000 and the engine would just load up. No amount of changing throttle would make a difference. Once to the crest of the hill, you could feel the RPMs come up and it was if you were shot out of a slingshot. There were a number of times, during the adventure, I would be dropped going up hill only to have “the rubber band released…” and not only catch my group but launch into the lead.

For the trip, I borrowed a pair of Corrazo panniers. These, I positioned under the passenger seat and then weaved through the rear rack to give them a bit more security. Never once during the trip did they cause me worry. The suction cups, surprisingly, do a great job and the seat never once shifted underneath me during the 1600 miles, but I have to admit, I was a bit worried!

So in the end – I feel the Royal Alloy is a nice addition to the US scooter market. As with all bikes, it has a few challenges, but I think this is more than offset by the fun and excitement it provides. Even being new, the engine performed very well during a long and difficult ride. Some of the minor issues I pointed out, can be fixed with minor tweaks, either by Genuine or the owners once arrived. I think time will prove Genuine’s tagline, “a metal bodied classic” to be true and accurate.

Don’t forget that there is something special coming up November 1-3 in Richmond, Virginia. For the 14th year, the Indian Summer scooter rally returns. All manner of two-wheeled motorized fun machine – sport bikes, cruisers, mopeds… whatever are welcome, this year’s theme is Urban Dystopian Cyberpunk and features swift routes through the historic streets, good food & drink, and a Vespa ET4 up for grabs!

Pre-register online now ($35) before end of day October 13 to guarantee yourself a rally shirt! After that it’s first come first serve on a limited number of extra shirts.

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