THE VISORDOWN Marketplace classified section is packed with sweet wheels for every pocket, and every two-wheeled desire! Each week, our man Tony Middlehurst is going to pick out a bike for sale, and give it the once-over. This week - it's a crazily-cheap brand new 100cc Sym scoot. Channel the spirit of the C90 Honda Cub for a fraction of the price!
Have you seen how much clean C90 Hondas go for these days? A couple of years ago I bought an old Yamaha T80 TownMate. Basically it’s Yamaha’s version of Honda’s world-conquering Super Cub stepthrough, but with shaft drive and a considerably lower price. As expected, the TownMate delivered absurdly cheap and reliable transport. Despite being left for weeks or months on end, completely draining the battery, one gentle lean on the kickstart would get it chugging away again.
A bit like the rights on Beethoven’s music, the statute of limitations must have expired on that original stepthru design because Taiwanese outfit Sym has been building these Symba 100s for a while now without having had their factory set on fire.
Sym has a good reputation. Our Marketplace Symba is the solo model with functional parcel shelf and coccyx-busting separator tube, but you can easily swap that for a full dual-seat (or, when in Taiwan, octu-seat). You’ve even got rear footpeg brackets, though not the actual footpegs. It’s all available.
Wondrously, it has a telescopic fork, the equivalent of rocket science for leading-link stepthruers expecting the usual Bronco Billy front-end rear-up when the anchors are applied. If you can call a saucer-sized drum brake an anchor.
Relative to the old rustheap Cubs that you’d be looking at for this sort of money, a new Symba kicks additional butt with its adjustable back shocks (gasp). You toggle between two positions indicated by pictographs of one or two passengers. For authenticity you could paint more positions onto the shocks: eight children, a teetering pile of animal cages, or 93 plastic bags stuffed with green veg.
The underseat fuel tank is shaped like a ferret-breeder’s hat, and its capacity is measured in pints, but tank titchiness doesn’t matter when you’re getting upwards of 90mpg. If you really can’t be bothered kickstarting it, there’s a button. It won’t take you long to love the four-speed rocking gearlever or the fuss-free low-speed cruising.
My first ride on that TownMate included a windy, teeth-gritted crossing of the Severn Bridge. I was maxed out at 34mph but, thanks to the box-section back tyre and six broken wheel spokes I later found, the thrill factor was superbike-high. Nasty thrills rather than nice ones, maybe, but a thrill’s a thrill for all that.
2018 Sym Symba 100 £1299 (8 out of 10)
Probably the cheapest new transport available, both to buy and run. Surprisingly amenable in town but also a great round-the-world choice. Infinitely rebuildable and much better value than a restored Super Cub.
Not much good if you’re ever in a hurry. Needs a few more quid spending to get it properly useable.