Genuine Buddy 170i - Review

Genuine Buddy 170iEvery once in a while, you ride something that seems so right, you wonder why you go through all the other stuff you go through to ride those other scoots. The new Genuine Scooter Company Buddy 170i is one such scoot. It does so many things well, you begin to wonder if it might not be the perfect scooter for all riders. Maybe not, but it's got to be the perfect scoot for a lot of riders. 


The Genuine Buddy is, by all accounts, the most popular scooter in the US and like a classic sports car, it keeps getting better. The Buddy burst onto the scooter scene in 2006, entering with a vaguely Vespa-ish plastic body available with a peppy two-stroke 50cc or a surprisingly performance-oriented 125cc four-stroke engine. The Buddy is known as the "BuBu" in its home country of Taiwan, where it is manufactured by PGO. The Genuine Scooter Company (based in Chicago), was looking for a small, fresh, scooter to add to it's Stella-only line-up and they found a willing partner in PGO, whose wares were not widely distributed in the U.S. at the time. Of course, Genuine helped change the specification of all the Buddies that have come to the US over the years, and with that the breed has been improved. With each revision, it just keeps getting better. 


To say that the Buddy is the most popular scooter in the US is a bold statement, but pause to think thatBuddy is great for everyone since its introduction (with 50cc and 125cc engines), its also featured a 150cc carbureted version on the way to its current 170cc fuel-injected four-stroke. Add in the fact that it's also been available in special models; the colorful "International" series (Pamplona, St. Tropez and Italia) and the rare and wonderful Black Jack performance variant. Ah, the Black Jack, resplendent in its flat black, chrome and red and packed with a performance-enhanced fork up front and gas-charged shock in the rear, along with a flashy front disk brake, sport exhaust and red-piped solo seat. It was an immediate sellout and many are disappointed that they missed it (I know that I am). The current lineup features 50cc versions of the Internationals plus the standard (non-International) 50cc versions, the 125cc Buddies and finally the new 170i version.


Approaching the 2012 170i, one finds that it's almost exactly identical to the last 150cc versions of the Buddy. There is a new "chrome" Buddy 170i appliqué on the diminutive leg shield and on the haunches. The instrument panel is slightly different (with a new "engine" warning light), and the exhaust has seemingly been tweaked to provide a bit more noise than the last of the 150s (perhaps it's all of those crazy 168 ccs?). Whatever they did to the exhaust note, it's the right thing. The 170i sounds like a proper scooter - throaty, but humming. The biggest visual difference is one that some people might not even notice; it's Buddy oil filter and coolerthe addition of a spin-on oil filter and substantial-looking finned oil cooler near the bottom of the leg shield. It's shielded by a substantial piece of steel, ensuring that the filter and cooler are protected in the event of a trip over a curb. Still, I'd be careful dropping that front wheel off much of a lip at all, especially at any sort of speed. 


The engine starts with a brief touch of the starter, and that's a good thing. Like all injected scoots, the back-up kick start has been sacrificed, because if the fuel pump can't run and the injector can't fire, there is no way that the engine can run with just a kick. The message here is to maintain that battery! It starts quickly and idles very smoothly, seemingly much more refined than the 220cc engine in the Genuine Blur SS220i. Of course, the Buddy, even in its fire-breathing 170cc version doesn't represent the same raw, performance edge that the Blur has, either. Horses for courses?


The Buddy 170i moves off with quite a bit of acceleration, and I was able to keep up with my (admittedly a bit heavier) friend on my Blur 220i for the first couple hundred feet. It's no high-speedGenuine Buddy 170i and Genuine Blur 220i demon, but 55 mph seems easily attainable in just a few seconds. The ultimate speed that I saw on this admittedly not-broken in scoot was just a hair under 65 mph indicated. After a proper break-in, I have no doubt that given enough space, this scooter would comfortably cruise at 55-60, and perhaps, given the right conditions, probably hit a real 65 or so (GPS measured speed) flat out. It's no freeway cruiser, however, as the 10-inch wheels are spinning mightily at 60, and they are not big enough for the scoot to feel really stable at speeds much greater than 60 or so. Life on a scooter is meant to be lived a little slower anyway, and on the Buddy 170i you won't feel like a top speed run all the time. The contrast between the Blur and the Buddy is dramatic, and as we switched scoots all afternoon we learned to appreciate both the power, handling and brakes of the Blur and the all-around panache of the Buddy. They are both extremely good scoots, and are almost entirely different. And although I love my Blur, I am desperately trying to come up with a way to justify the Buddy 170i. 


Handling on the 170i is indistinguishable from the 150s. It's an extremely light scooter, and with its incredibly short wheelbase (~48 inches) it feels like it could swap directions with a mere thought. Although I'm not used to such a small scooter, within a couple hundred yards I was cutting through corners like a seasoned pro. It's not the roomiest of scoots, but it was very comfortable as soon as I backed my 5'10" frame back on the seat a bit. 


Genuine's philosophy with the Buddy is one of steady, subtle improvement. The addition of a few more ccs of displacement, the fuel injection (and enhanced oil cooling) and the little things like the retuned exhaust all combine to make a very good small scooter even better. I liken it to a modern version of the old Vespa smallframe ("smallie") Primavera, which came in a killer 125cc version. The Buddy 170i stands tall by itself, with perhaps not all of the chops of the hottest smallie, but in modern real world usability, handling and emissions, the redoubtable smallie is in the shadow of the Buddy.


Genuine Buddy 170i  On the downside, the unit that I tested featured a stiff rear brake lever, and, well, that's about it. The engine started immediately, reacted like chain lightning, and purred like a particularly happy kitten. We rode out probably close to 60 miles that day and through all kinds of traffic conditions, on pock-marked Detroit roads and suburban cut-through gravel and all the time, the Buddy was begging for more. Now I understand why these Buddies get such use. Like a comfortable old jacket, you just somehow find a way to wear it all the time. Same deal with the Buddy 170i, as Genuine has somehow found a way to tweak the scoot to make it even better. Try one today, I bet that you love it. 



I rode the Genuine Buddy 170i courtesy of Genuine Scooter Company. 


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Uploaded By: RonArnold
3 years ago
Level: Freshman
Points: 5637

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