Review of the Genuine Buddy 170i
Ask anybody who owns
one, the Genuine Buddy is (probably) the most popular scooter in the
country. There is a rabidly enthusiastic owners group (www.modernbuddy.com)
and the Buddy is cropping up in popular media all over the place. It's cute, it
works very well, there are lots of available accessories and it's well
supported. Like any good product line, the Buddy has evolved over the years.
Introduced in 2006 in a 50cc 2-stroke version as well as a
125cc 4-stroke, the very next year saw
evolution in the form of a larger, brighter headlight. The 50cc 2-stroke version
has remained in the line up and a 150cc 4-stroke had been added in the forms of
the Buddy International and the performance oriented
Buddy Blackjack. This year Genuine brings us the
Buddy 170i with a 168cc 4-stroke oil-cooled fuel injected power plant. The
picture below shows the four iterations of the 4-stroke Buddy, the solid color
125cc, the International 2-tone 150cc, the flat black performance 150cc
Blackjack and now the new 170i. Both 150cc Buddy models are limited to what is
currently available. At this point, the 170i will replace the 150cc versions.
All the Buddy models are built by PGO of Taiwan for Genuine.
We've wanted to
review one for months, but getting a Buddy 170i turned out to be tougher than
one might expect. They have been VERY popular with customers and
Scooterville, our usual source for Genuine
Scooters, was sold out. Fate intervened in the form of Cari from St. Paul who
had just purchased a silver Buddy 170i and very graciously allowed
us to borrow it for this review. Thanks a bunch Cari.
Speedometer Reading/Speed/Fuel Economy
addition to "How much does it cost?" ($3,299 plus freight, fees & taxes),
speed and fuel economy are the most commonly asked questions about scooters. I
frequent a local gas station at the corner near my house on a lot of different
scooters and I'm thinking of printing up cards for each one that I can just hand
out to people who ask: "This scooter gets 80 miler per gallon, has a top speed
of 70 miles per hour and costs about $4,000" ... or whatever. GPS verified
testing is a regular part of our review process and the Genuine Buddy 170i has a
speedometer that is quite optimist at 14% plus. That is to say when the
speedometer indicates 40 MPH the actual speed is 35 MPH. The odometer is close
to spot-on. I do a couple of measured distance tests, tracking both what the
odometer indicates for distance covered and what the GPS unit shows. In exactly
10 miles of riding, the Buddy 170i odometer indicates 10.2 miles. This scooter
was new with only
couple of hundred miles on it, so it's NOT broken in. It also belongs to someone
else. As such, I didn't really spend a lot of time exploring the upper reaches
of speed. On a fairly level run, I got it up to a GPS verified 63 MPH. After
break-in, there's probably a bit more there.
Fuel economy was very
good. Again, this scooter isn't broken in yet and I got 87.5 MPG on hard riding
including some higher speed runs. I also did a "parkway" run - minimal starts
and stops and consistent lower speeds of about 35 MPH maximum and saw 92 MPG.
That's with my robust (220 pounds) figure on a scooter that should only
improve as it breaks in (the scooter, not my robust figure).
One of the reasons
for the popularity of the Buddy scooters is their well thought out features. The
speedometer cluster gives you the basics in an easy to view at-a-glance pod that
also integrates well into the design of the scooter. Speed is indicated in miles
per hour. There is an engine light and left turn signal indicator on the left
side and a high beam and right turn signal indicator on the right side. Below is
a fuel gauge. No tachometer, or clock, or other "extras". The main switch has
three positions with one performing two functions. There is an "off" position,
an "on" position just to the right and a "lock" position to the left that can be
actuated with the steering turned to the left. Also pushing inward while turning
to the left actuates the seat release. There is a small but handy tray with a
power socket to the left. I used it to power my GPS because I had neglected to
fully charge the battery before I started testing - worked just fine.
The main storage area
is under the seat. I was able to get my three-quarter helmet in there easily and
still close the seat. Fueling the Buddy 170i is accessed under the locking seat
which means one's gas cap is also (more or less) secured. The Buddy does
not come from the factory equipped with a rear luggage rack. That's a passenger
grab rail that you see back there. Never fear, there are rear racks, topcases,
metal "milk crates", front baskets and front racks available from your Genuine
dealer that are made for the Buddy.
The Buddy 170i is
powered by an air/oil-cooled 4-stroke 168cc engine which is fed via fuel
injection. Power gets to the rear wheel via a CVT (Continuously Variable
Transmission). The front brake is a disc grabbed by a dual piston caliper,
rear braking is handled by a drum. Starting is electric only, unlike the
carbureted Buddy models, the 170i does not have a kick-start option.
For comparison, I
selected the Vespa LX 150 and the Honda PCX125 because they are also fuel
injected. The Honda SH150i is fuel injected and closer to the Buddy in
displacement, but it's a big-wheeled scooter and I felt that the PCX is closer
to the intended use and market of the Buddy. The Buddy has the shortest
wheelbase, the lightest weight, lowest price, and best warranty.
With the added
feature of fuel injection, I consider the Buddy 170i MSRP of $3,299 to be a very
good deal. The Buddy 150 International had an MSRP of $3,199 and it was
carbureted. The addition of fuel injection involves much more than just
replacing the fuel/air mixing unit. There needs to be a fuel pump, sensors, and
increased electronic engine control.... WAY more than $100 worth.
The Buddy 170i starts
easily and quickly settles into a smooth idle. It was HOT and HUMID outside
while I was riding this scooter and the Buddy did not stumble once. I've ridden
ALL the Buddy 4-stroke versions a good bit and have owned (or still own)
a 125 and a Blackjack. The Buddy 170i is smoother running and more responsive
than either the 125 or the 150. It's a touch quicker as well, but we're not
talking a huge difference. I attribute this to the fact that the Buddy 125 is
likely the quickest scooter in its class to begin with. As displacement
increases and fueling improves, there are gains but not quantum leaps.
Before I talk about
the handling and braking of the 170i let me just say that I have been spoiled by
the Buddy Blackjack. That scooter comes equipped with brakes and suspension that
are class-leading and the Buddy 170i just isn't to the same level. That's NOT to say
that the Buddy 170i isn't a hard-braking-flickable-blast-to-ride... it is. It's
just not the insane machine that the Blackjack was (unless you can find a
dealer with one, a new Blackjack is a thing of the past).
Riding on 10 inch
tires with good suspension and braking, the Buddy 170i is nimble, responsive and
easy to handle. The brakes are plenty strong enough for a scooter of this size.
Acceleration from a stand-still up to about 50 MPH is surprisingly strong. It's
especially surprising to the cars around you who don't expect a scooter to pull
away from a stop like the Buddy 170i does. Roll-on acceleration from 20 MPH
to 45 MPH is more fun than it should be. I found myself routinely zipping up to
speeds rather above the posted limits on city streets just because it was such a
good time. The note from the exhaust is pleasantly "rumbly" without being at all
intrusive and I can't think of anyone who would call it loud. At higher speeds (oh,
say, 50 MPH and up) the Buddy 170i is "twitchy". I wouldn't call it exactly
unstable, but those same 10 inch wheels that make the Buddy so much fun around
town are definitely NOT the best choice for highway cruising. In fact, even
though all the 4-stroke Buddy scooters have the engine performance for highway
jaunts, the small wheels, short wheelbase and light weight don't add up to a
good highway machine.
The ergonomics of the
Buddy 170i are ideal for "medium" people. I would say that from 5' tall to 6'
tall you will find a comfortable position on a Buddy as long as you don't have
unusually long legs or large feet. The floorboard is relatively narrow and
slightly curved. The reach to the handlebars is not too long or too short. The
seat is formed with space for two people and there are passenger footrests (those
silver-colored thing below the seat) but two-up riding is not what the Buddy
does best. It's certainly possible, especially with two small-to-medium sized
people, but the Buddy excels as a one-person machine. The Buddy is
a scooter that one sits "on" and not "in" which is part of what makes it feel so
nimble. As long as it fits you, riding the Buddy 170i is fun. Everything about
it speaks to having a good time on one's scooter.
The Genuine Buddy 170i is currently
available in three colors:
1.) green with a white stripe, brown seat & grips, and green interior plastic
2.) silver with a black stripe, seat, grips& interior
3.) brown/beige with brown seat, grips, interior and no stripe.
OK, that's probably not completely true... the "available" part anyway. Check
local Genuine dealer to see what they have in stock.
Fit and Finish
In the past several
years, I've been lucky to have been able to "prep" quite a few scooters, often
as part of our review process. The Genuine Buddy is on my "impressive" list so
far as condition of scooters from the factory is concerned.
The Buddy is manufactured in Taiwan
by PGO for Genuine. Good Taiwanese manufacturing is as good as anything from
Japan or Europe and sometimes better. The components utilized in the Buddy are
of good quality. The assembly of those components is also quite good. Look at
the seams between panels, especially between "shiny" colored panels and flat
plastic panels. Those seams will be tight and uniform. Look at the plastic
chrome ring around the headlight. It will fit tightly and securely. Try all the
switches and buttons. They will have positive engagement and feel solid. Take a
few screws out and look at them. They will be of good quality and well finished.
There is a kind of "joke" among some scooter dealers that the fasteners the
Taiwanese utilize in their shipping material are better than the
fasteners utilized by mainland Chinese manufacturers for their vehicles.
Suffice to say that the fit and finish on the Genuine Buddy 170i is very good.
Maybe just a notch below Honda which I consider to be the king of the hill for
scooter fit and finish.
The color finish on the silver
version of the Buddy 170i is exceptional. The pictures simply don't do the
"metal flake" silver justice. The green and 2-tone brown versions are also nice,
but the silver really stands out.
At $3,299, the Genuine Buddy 170i
is a great deal. Fuel injection is a very beneficial feature in any scooter and
I expect we see more and more new scooters with fuel injection in the coming
years. If you already have a Buddy 125, International 150 or Blackjack 150
should you rush out to upgrade? Hmmmm, probably not. If you're like Bonegirl on
ModernBuddy.com and you have 30,000 on your Buddy, by all means go for the new
170i. If you like a somewhat smaller, good-looking, well designed and well made
scooter that is an absolute blast to ride you should head over to your local
Genuine dealer right now. Better hurry, they may already be sold out of Buddy