WHAT WE LIKE
NOT SO MUCH
-- '80s instruments
-- Fuel filler
When I learned of my next assignment, reviewing the SYM CityCom 300i, while my boss was at Phillip Island cracking out 270km/h runs down Gardner Straight riding a high-tech chunk of German engineering, I was a little miffed.
But truth be told at the end of the week-long test on the back of this Taiwanese scooter, such feelings of envy faded away.
Sure, it's not a speed machine and may not have the street cred of an exotic sportsbike, but there's something about the simplicity and practicality of the CityCom 300i that makes it an enjoyable ride.
Priced at $5790, SYM's 300-class scooter was launched in 2008 and rivals models such as Kymco's Downtown 300i ($7490) and Honda's SH300i ($8990). Not even Piaggio's X7 ($6990) can compete with the SYM on price.
So what do you get for your seven large? A fair bit of kit, as it turns out. Powered by a 264cc single-cylinder liquid-cooled four-stroke engine, the CityCom 300i is also fuel injected -- hence the 'i' in the name. The engine is good for 23hp (17kW) at 8250rpm and 24Nm of torque at 6500rpm -- though try as we did, the revs rarely got above 7000rpm.
Other bits and bobs worthy of a mention include the brakes, with 260mm discs clamped by twin piston calipers front and rear. Sitting on 16-inch wheels and with fairly long suepnsion travel, the SYM CityCom 300i has a more mature look than some smaller wheeled scoots and has a better ride quality too, able to roll over acute bumps and deal with pot holes without shattering the rider's spine.
Getting on the scooter was no trouble for the author, the 790mm seat seeming fairly low compared to my everyday ride, a 1999 Honda CBR600 with an 810mm seat height. The seat cushioning is supportive and comfortable, the riding position relaxed with wide footrest cavities.
There are also good hand holds for pillion passengers and though riding two-up does take its toll on straight line performance, it can still be hustled along at a good clip.
Indeed, it's a nice thing to punt around on, and the tall screen is one of the best in class, ensuring that even a freeway sojourn doesn't become a battle with the Pazuzu the Babylonian wind demon.
The CityCom 300i responds well to throttle input and though it doesn't output quite as much power as the Piaggio X7, it still takes off from standstill rapidly, which is handy in dense commuter traffic, as it allows you outpace most four-wheelers to 60 or 70km/h.
The CVT gearbox means you just twist and go and for the most part it works well, feeding engine power to the rear wheel effectively.
Perhaps the only issue with the driveline is mid-gear roll-on acceleration, as the scooter takes a few moments to respond to a fistful of wide-open vengeance (but this is due to the gearbox more than the engine). It can reach a claimed speed of 130km/h and was fine on the freeway, with very good wind protection from the tall screen.
Deceleration is par for the course for this size of scooter, with neither amazing nor sluggish braking. The rear brake felt stronger than the front, despite both being identical, but that could be because our test bike had more than 8000 clicks on the clock and the front end naturally received more punishment.
After the test I was impressed to learn the scooter had been to Cameron's Corner and back -- it's done some hard work this one, yet still performed without catastrophically malfunctioning.
It's a fairly agile scooter, well suited to avoiding traffic bottlenecks and can be mildly satisfying through fast corners. I rarely arrived at the office after the morning commute in a foul mood as the CityCom 300i has a good blend of power and dexterity, allowing savvy riders to expedite their journeys with effortless ease while making a good time of it to boot.
Weighing 182kg dry it's not the heaviest scooter in its class, but neither is it the lightest. For the number crunchers, the CityCom 300i is 2210mm long, 785mm wide and 1445mm tall.
Switchgear looks a little old school (to put it kindly) and the instrument and surrounding design looks like it was dreamt up in the late 1980s, but beyond the classic aesthetic everything works. I especially liked it when the indicators were turned on, as they emit an ultra-loud "tick-tock" so you'll rarely be cruising around oblivious to an errant indicator signal.
One thing that did stand out like a pimple on an otherwise unblemished peach-like face was the fuel tank. It holds fuel alright, but filling the thing was a right royal pain in the backside, as the fuel filler neck hole is too small for most petrol pump nozzles. The result is the ponderously slow filling of the fuel tank, likened by one Bikesales Network staffer to a "dribbling prostate".
Other than that little hiccup, there's not much to whinge about with SYM's mid-sized scooter. Sure, it might not look as snazzy as some of its rivals, but it's more affordable, performed flawlessly and isn't without character.
The CityCom 300i also has very good storage; you can fit a full helmet under the seat with room to spare, or a large laptop bag surrounded by several counterfeit DVD box sets from Thailand. It's got a good cruising range too, able to sip fuel instead of gulping it down and we covered more than 400km on our first tank (10 litre capacity), much of that at wide-open throttle on the freeway.
There's a four-year limited warranty on the SYM CityCom 300i and though it's not the prettiest scooter in its class -- and not capable of 270km/h runs down Gardner Straight -- it's one of the most affordable models in its class and serves its purpose admirably. Simply put, it's a good fun, no-nonsense scooter with a malformed fuel filler.
SPECS: SYM CITYCOM 300i
Type: 264cc, liquid-cooled, OHC, four-stroke, single-cylinder
Bore x stroke: 73 x 62.8 mm
Compression ratio: 11.2:1
Fuel system: Electronic fuel injection
Final drive: Belt
CHASSIS AND RUNNING GEAR
Frame type: Tubular steel
Front brakes: Single 260mm disc with twin-piston calipers
Rear brakes: Single 260mm disc with twin-piston calipers
DIMENSIONS AND CAPACITIES
Wet weight: 182kg
Seat height: 790mm
Fuel capacity: 10lt
Max. power: 38hp (17kW) at 8250rpm
Max. torque: 23Nm at 6500rpm
Price: $5,790 (manufacturer's price before dealer and statutory costs)
Colours: Black, Blue, Silver
Bike supplied by: Select Scooters Australia, tel: (02) 9270 1111
Warranty: 4 years, unlimited kilometres