Buddy: Out Vespa-ing Vespa?

The LA Times finally said today what we’ve all been thinking: The Buddy is kicking the Vespa’s ass lately. Sure, Vespas are more glamorous, and have a 60-year history at the top of the scooter industry, but Vespa abandoned their ideals of economy and utility long ago, and Genuine has totally stolen their thunder by knowing the American market. Genuine found a cheap-but-reliable alternative (the PGO Bu Bu), priced it right, totally nailed the rebranding and marketing, and (most importantly) built a quality network of dealers and riders that instantly fell in love with the product and spread the word with fairly minimal advertising required.

Sure, they were also in the right place at the right time, but unlike many of the current players in the U.S. scooter market, Genuine (well, Scooterworks) has been prospering for years by knowing the market and their customers, and they’ll surely be one of the few that remain successful after this boom ends. If half the “new Stella” rumors I’ve heard are true, they’re just getting started.

25 thoughts on “Buddy: Out Vespa-ing Vespa?”

  1. No comments on the 200cc fuel injected rumors at the bottom of that article? That’s the first I’ve heard those rumors for the Buddy, maybe I’m behind.

  2. They said “the first 200cc Genuine” so clearly theyr’e talking about a 4-stroke E.F.I. Stella. : )

  3. Now I’ve heard those rumors :) Wonder if they’ll come true.

    However in the article they never mention any of Genuine’s other models, and it says that Genuine’s lineup is made in Taiwan.

    Shoddy journalism or a 200cc Buddy? Only time will tell.

  4. A new 4T Stella would be sweet… except for the fact that I just bought a 2T Stella a few months ago! And noone can take my 2T idle rumble from me, nobody!


  5. Am I the only one who doesn’t see anything “vintage” looking in a Buddy? It looks like just another modern plastic scooter to me.

  6. I like that it’s not “retro,” or trying to look like something it isn’t. It’s an original design and even though it’s not amazing, Genuine’s color choices and branding really make it look great.

    It doesn’t look like a Vespa any more than a Salisbury does.

  7. I blogged about this at examiner today! I love how very LA the tone of the article is…

    And yeah, I really do want to know what the plans are for that 200. A lot of our customers are upgrading, I bet they’ll want the next step.

  8. illnoise:

    You should edit that troll’s free advertisement from his post or get him to pay up. Clearly this jerk knows nothing about motor scooters. If it weren’t for the excellent Taiwanese scooter manufacturers such as PGO and Kymco among others, we would not have affordable quality scoots and the current resurgence of the motor scooter market. Hell, if it weren’t for these same manufacturers, the elite, overpriced Italian marques couldn’t even exist.

  9. The Buddy beats the LX on both top speed and MPG. I’ve been averaging 59-60 mpg on my S though it’s still not properly broken in.

    The ET4 was a huge failure in Taiwan largerly due to it’s crappy fuel economy. This is the same engine that Piaggio uses in the LX and S. PGO probably learned from this failure engineered a better motor.

    I still haven’t examined a Buddy up close (I’d love to ride one!) but it seems much smaller and lighter. It would also be interesting to see real EPA test results on both scooters. I kind of suspect the the Vespa is much cleaner burning, and as a result, the speed and economy have been compromised. This is only a suspecion based on looking at all of the complex junk on my scooter and the fact that the scooter comes from Europe.

    I have a Vespa bias but I’m also honestly musing here. I’m not trying to pick a fight or make a particular point. The scooter company that would really win me over would be the first to produce a small cc fuel injected motor. (Rear disk brake would be nice too.) Bajaj is doing this with motorcycles and Yamaha will hopefully follow thorugh with their 150cc Zumas.

  10. Yamaha already has a ‘small cc’ FI scooter in the C3. I’m sure they’ll follow through on the 125cc Zuma. They typically won’t put up the bike on the main US website unless it’s coming for sure.

    The spammer, Kyle Bennet, sounds like a typical know-it-all Brit (knowing a little and telling it all). I’d alter his post to something fun, but I’ll leave that to Bb. He makes nice websites though!

  11. A 125/150 f.i. C3 would be sweet! Yeah, I’m pretty confident the new Zuma is coming. I wonder how far along Piaggio is with there small frame fuel injected scooter?

  12. From what I can tell, Taiwan is mandating EFI on all scooters effective 2009 model year, so I was guessing all Genuine models would go to EFI next year, but Genuine has publicly said that the Buddy won’t change for 2009. (Genuine could of course order their Buddies with the current ignition). EFI would add to the cost, and it wouldn’t be a big selling point for bargain-hungry Buddy shoppers, but hopefully the 09s *will* have it. We’ll see.

  13. My Yamaha dealer just quoted me a September delivery date on the Zuma 125. As a matter of interest, they also say that the TMax 500 must be special ordered and they’re saying “Octoberish” delivery on that model.

  14. I have the Vespa lX150 my friend Has the Buddy 125. The Buddy smokes my Vespa off the line . My Vespa doesn’t take long to keep up with the Buddy. The Buddy is kept at my house so I ride both often. The Buddy is definitely a better value. But better scooter I don’t think so. Besides the fit and finish the Vespa is much more comfortable. I borrowed the Buddy for an all-day ride and was sore the next day from being jostled around on the Buddy. I’ve done many all day rides on the Vespa and found the ride more comfortable and stable. My friend the Buddy owner loves her scooter but is considering a Vespa.

    The Buddy was on my short-list when I was upgrading from a 50cc, however I was lucky to find a used Vespa which ended up being about $300.00 more than a Buddy would cost.

  15. Sure, a new Vespa is better than a Buddy, it’d be tough to deny that, but the Buddy is just a far better value, it’s reasonably priced and well-suited for the demands of most new scooterists, and the operating and maintenance (not to mention repair) costs are lower. Even the Buddy’s resale value has been surprisingly great, though that will likely come to an abrupt end once they catch up on production.

  16. Bryan, I agree that the Buddy colors were chosen very well. The orange says “BUDDY!” and even their red is different than most other scooter reds. (it straddles the line betweeen burgundy and true red. It’s sporty without being to “look at me! I’m a badass on my fast red machine”-ish.

  17. Spammer? Don’t know what I’m on about?

    Right, I’m actually a qualified motorcycle technician, and have worked exclusively with mopeds and scooters for 5 years now. Done loads of Piaggio courses too, I know who makes quality scooters and who doesn’t

    The buddy is a re-branded cheap chinese scooter and they are not good quality at all. It’ll never be a patch on Vespa.

    If any of you lot had to work day in day out exclusively on scooters, you’d quickly learn what are the best brands to work on, and they’re the major italian and japanese brands – Piaggio, Yamaha etc, all great bikes, excellent quality parts and next day spares in the UK.

    If you think I’m just spamming, then go ahead and delete my first comment, I don’t care, it’s not like my website sells anything, it’s for scooter tuning mainly as a fun project for my spare time.

  18. excellent quality parts and next day spares in the UK.

    “in the UK” is the key phrase in that sentence. You’ll never know the abortion that is PiaggioUSA.

  19. Personally no, I don’tk now how PiaggioUSA work, but PiaggioUK don’t actually deal with spares directly themselves, a place called Fowlers Motorcycles does. They’re the official spares stockists for Piaggio (+Vespa Gilera Derbi MotoGuzzi Aprilia), Yamaha, Honda, Kawasaki and Triumph. Just about every major brand is covered by then with next day backup and online ordering for dealers

    We won’t work on Chinese scooters now at all, overall they’re not too bad if you understand what they are: cheap transport that you can throw away after a year or two and not loose any money, but most people don’t realise this and expect rolls royce quality from a £350 scooter. Everytime we have worked on chinese stuff in the past, you worry about every bolt snapping and causing you a world of problems for something as simple as a tyre change (which requires exhaust removal)

    Maybe its shows more in the UK with our weather causing more corrosion

    The Vespa’s are £1600+ for a reason, they’re made bloody well. If you produce cheap chinese ones, something has to be sacrificed, and thats usually production quality.

    Piaggio even have the Zip produced in China now in an attempt to rival the cheaper stuff in prices, but thats still £999 as they haven’t sacrificed the quality of the parts.

    I have wrote an buyers guide for the 3 main types of chinese scooter (in the UK anyway) covering my opinions on them and what to look out for but I’ll no doubt get flamed for spam if I link to it =)

  20. You’re welcome to your opinion, and it has basis in reason, but I think you’re selling PGO and Kymco short. Mainland Chinese bikes are almost universally trash (though don’t forget that Yamaha and Piaggio and many others produce some global-market scooters there, and they’re generally up to standard). But the Taiwanese brands, (PGO/Kymco/TGB/SYM/etc) while admittedly not meeting the same standard as some european or japanese bikes, are many steps ahead of the Chinese crap, featuring original design and engineering. Unlike the mainland bikes, which aren’t even worth the little you pay for them, the ROC bikes are arguably better-made than their price implies.

    If you don’t agree, PGO doesn’t care, the Genuine Buddy (PGO BuBu) is one of the top-selling scooters in America for the last couple years. The reliability is good, the price is low (Piaggios and Vespas are a bit more expensive here than they are in Europe, knocking them above the range of what most Americans want to pay for a scooter), and most american dealers prefer working with Genuine Scooter Co. (The PGO importer) over Piaggio, for better dealer support. Parts supply is dismal for any brand these days, but PGO is definitely not any worse than Piaggio in that area, either.

  21. Strange, it’s literally the opposite here

    I’m designing a website for a Sym dealer at the minute coincidentally, rang the main importers up to ask them to send me any promo pics and material and their attitude was like they couldn’t care less, almost like they didn’t want their products promoting, yet when I’ve dealt with the Jap and Italian importers, they’ve bent over backwards to help me

    Would you be interested in a link exchange by the way? Couldn’t seem to find any contact details on here, if you are drop me line – scooter at tunemyscooter dot com

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