Blurristas, rejoice, your favorite bike may be back!
Genuine’s Blur 150 was a great scooter that never sold well. Its fans will gladly extoll its virtues, especially its sublime braking, handling, and suspension. Unfortunately, Genuine discontinued the Blur after two years on the market (the 2007 model was orange and charcoal, the 2008 model was black and charcoal) and many bikes sat on dealer floors until lucky riders snapped them up at a discount in the big scooter rush of 2009.
Meanwhile, PGO in Taiwan has been making several versions over the past few years (it’s called the G-Max in most of the world) and it’s become popular in other markets. Why didn’t it succeed here? Was the modern styling ahead of its time for the U.S. market? Was it too orange? Was it the fact that a Buddy 125 was hundreds of bucks cheaper and offered roughly the same top speed? Whatever the reason, American scooterists missed out on a really well-engineered bike that was leagues ahead of most 150s in everything but speed.
Genuine knew they had a good product on their hands with the Blur, and with their huge base of Buddy fanatics considering an upgrade by now and with nothing over 150cc in their stable, it seems they’d be concerned about losing customers to Kymco, Piaggio, and Japan. Rumors of a Genuine touring scooter have been circulating for more than a year (and we have some news on that, too), but Blur aficionados have still been hoping to see the Blur return to the Genuine lineup, preferably with a larger engine.
As previously mentioned, PGO has made several variations of the G-Max, including a 150 EVO version (with a 4-valve head and a NASA-engineered cylinder), a 250cc model (with an entirely different engine and suspension that apparently wasn’t popular and was discontinued quickly), and a 200cc version that Genuine considered bringing in for the 2008 model year.
Now PGO has a 220cc G-Max with fuel injection and an entirely new engine, featuring the same beloved suspension design as the G-Max 150 and 200. Genuine has worked with PGO to develop a 16-horsepower U.S.-market version. I’ve been one of the most vocal supporters of the Blur 150 since it was introduced, I’ve owned two of them (the first was stolen), I’m in Chicago, I write 2strokebuzz, and I’d been nagging every Genuine employee that would listen about bringing back the Blur, so Genuine kindly gave me a chance to take it for a spin before they sent it off to California for EPA/CARB testing.
I’d just come from a vacation in Michigan with my Blur 150, so sprints across the countryside were fresh in my mind. Cruising speed on my 150 (I weigh 240lbs) is a hair under 60mph, I could push it over 70 with the wind at my back, in a full tuck, downhill.
Moments after taking the new 220cc bike onto Lake Shore Drive, riding into the wind, bolt upright, I hit 70 without even trying. I didn’t want to push my luck, but a lighter rider should have no problem cruising around 75mph, with some revs to spare. These are all indicated speeds, of course, but the 220 was plenty powerful to keep up with highway traffic. On the low end, it didn’t feel terribly different than the 150, it cruises comfortably at any speed, with performance on par with most 250cc bikes while retaining the smaller frame of a typical 150cc scooter.
I wouldn’t want to ride it for hours on the highway, it’s not designed for that, but for someone who travels regularly on wide-open 60mph farm roads, or has a short stretch of highway within a city commute, it’d be great. If you want a small, sporty, fast modern scooter instead of a Barcalounger, it’s perfect.
The general look and design of the bike hasn’t changed much (see my original review of the Blur 150) so I’ll just talk about the changes. (Genuine hasn’t decided on the colors yet, but you can find photos of the 220cc version on the web for reference).
The 16-horsepower fuel-injected 220cc engine is a new design. Unlike the original PGO GY6 variant, this new engine has practically nothing in common with standard GY6 engines. The airbox is larger and the cases look different, but the general layout is the same.
Genuine described the suspension as “beefed up,” with a stronger spring. I found it to be fairly similar to the original, but a bit more comfortable and less likely to bottom out on large bumps, while maintaining the same great handling. Whacking into the giant speed-bump-sized frost heaves on Lake Shore Drive is always terrifying, but the Blur 220 handled them well.
Brakes have been slightly upgraded, though I didn’t feel any huge difference. Which may be the point, since I was riding a good deal faster most of the time.
The gas tank is now made of metal (though still annoyingly small for longer trips)
The 220 features the digital console from last year’s 200cc model. I actually have the same gauge in my 150 and I love it. It’s very well-designed and features a digital tach, an odometer-driven oil-change warning, a check engine light, and can be switched between miles/km and trip/odo.
The ignition features a metal plate that covers the keyway to prevent theft. The metal plate is released with a flat key that slides out of the top of the regular key. As with the original Blur, the gas cap and seat are released with the key. If you have to remove your keys from the ignition to open your seat or gas cap, you don’t know what you’re missing.
A phone charger is located under the seat (’08 Blur had this, the ’07 didn’t). Additionally, an electronic ignition diagnostic port is located near the battery.
Other changes I noticed were still under consideration. The seat was redesigned and lower, with the hump farther back and two-tone pleather. It looks better, but cut into the helmet storage area. I actually prefer the old seat better, for comfort, seating position, and storage. Genuine is working with PGO to improve the seat.
Cosmetically, the two-tone mirrors (as seen on the Rattler) looked great, but may not be available matched to the final Blur colors.
The test bike featured the ludicrous rear-tire spoiler that’s been discussed on Modern Buddy several times. Apparently it’s a Euro requirement, and probably won’t appear on the final U.S. version, thankfully.
Grips will probably be more similar to the ’08 version with metal bar-ends, rather than the ’07 all-rubber type.
Genuine plans on 2-3 options, probably mostly based on previous G-Max color schemes, but with Genuine/Blur branding. Looking at some previous designs, one sees some great stuff, redline wheels, painted brake calipers, and a variety of front fender styles.
Of course, this isn’t a sure thing just yet. As mentioned, the bike is off for environmental testing, and assuming that all goes well, there are a lot of details to work out. The decision to bring a new scooter to America shouldn’t be taken lightly, there’s a lot of competition out there and the market’s nothing like last year. But it’s exciting to know that even while their retro-cruiser is in the works, Genuine hasn’t given up on the Blur, and great to think one of the best-handling scooters available might soon be back soon, with an engine that does the rest of the bike justice.