Genuine Blur 220: test ride

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.

10 thoughts on “Genuine Blur 220: test ride”

  1. Is this new bike a full 220cc displacement or rounded up a la the HD200? Some of the new features seem very interesting (I particularly like the sound of the new key system). I really like the addition of fuel injection and think we will start to see FI on a lot more scooters in the USA very soon.

    Is the bike air cooled? If so, I think its going to be the bike’s only downfall as its power output isn’t going to rival a GT(S) (21 HP) series Vespa or any other liquid cooled, large displacement scooter. Right now this Genuine is putting out about HD200 HP numbers with a 50cc advantage. That being said, with the new 280cc-300cc touring model coming I suppose it would make sense to create this Blur in such a way that is wouldn’t compete with other models. In this light the 220cc displacement make sense as it will essentially be the largest displacement small framed scooter in the states with not much competition.

  2. I don’t know the precise displacement, but the performance seemed on par with the displacement, if not better, and it would be very strange to round up anything under 210cc to 220, so I imagine it’s close to what’s advertised.

    It has an oil cooler like the original Blur, but yes, it’s air-cooled. But I think you’re right about it’s niche in the market, it’s fairly small for its displacement. (150cc frame with 200 or 250cc-ish performance.)

    I know everyone loves the HD200, and SYM’s offered me the chance to try out any bikes, but I haven’t had a chance to try the HD yet. I think the HD is pretty blah-looking, though, so unless riding it offered some serious user-experience revelations, if they’re priced similarly, I’d go with the Blur just on looks.

  3. A 220 Blur with the flux-capacitor rear suspension? Yikes! Everybody who’s ever ridden a 150 Blur will know what a great idea that is. But there are two problems with the idea. One is price and the other is that the total number of folks in the United States who have ridden a Blur is around 1000. Kudos to Genuine for doing the gutsy thing and trying again with what many of us know to be one of the great scooters, ever. This time, right out of the gate, Genuine needs to hit the right price point with the right color combo and a financing deal and hope the economy keeps picking up.

    P.S. Bb, you really should try the HD. It’s pretty good, it really is.

  4. P.P.S. Thanks for bringing us the news on the new Genuine products.

  5. I would take any HP rating given from the manufacturer with great caution. If there were only scooter magazines that would test them like motorcycle magazines it would be great. Just don’t forget to block the variator to get a true reading. No one ever seems to do it correctly in any of the English language reports.

  6. IIRC, the Vespa GTS puts about15 1/2 HP down on the ground. If the B220 can put 12-13 HP down on the ground, it would be a HOOT to ride.The thing is, the Blur looks the goods and it handles and stops like the goods, but a B220 is going to have to go like the goods or it’s not going to succeed regardless of the price point or color scheme or financing.

    My $0.02

  7. Is the Blur 220 even fighting with the GTS250/300 for the same customer? Seems like the folks we sell the GTS to couldn’t care less about a modern styled scooter.

    I never have a customer in my shop who is seriously going back n’ forth between a GTS250 and a Citycom 300 or Grand Vista 250.

    I think the Blur 220 e.f.i. and Retro-Touring Scooter 300 are both important additions to the Genuine line. Putting a top floor on the best supported and best marketed brand in the US could ensure market dominance.

  8. Yeah, the Blur would compete more with the BV200 and HD200 I would think, and maybe the BV250 and others on the higher end.

    Pricing’s going to be key. Pricing is all over the place in that range because the bigger bikes get so much more diverse and complicated, there are a lot of good 200s well under $4k (Kymco People 200 is closer to $3000), but then 250s and 300s generally cost closer to (or over) $5000.

    Hopefully they can keep the price close to $4000, if it’s under, it’ll be an amazing value. If it starts to edge towards $5000, it’s going to be a pretty hard sell, I’d think.

    Obviously, there’s a lot of risk involved, in this economy and this crowded scooter market, especially considering the 150 wasn’t a big success. So I’m sure pricing will be an important consideration when they decide whether to pull the trigger or not. Rumor had it that the proposed Blur 200 was dropped because the performance increase over the 150 wasn’t worth the difference in cost. That bike just had an upgraded top end, so even though the performance of the 220 is not in doubt, the added cost of EFI, a whole new engine, and other upgrades might be more than the U.S. market will want to pay.

  9. Thanks for setting em straight, guys. That post of mine was poorly worded. I was just trying to respond to Brooke’s comment about scooter horsepower ratings and my point was that if the B220 gets about the same percentage of rated HP to the ground as the GTS does, then it will be a hoot to ride. I didn’t mean to imply anything beyond that at all, sorry.

  10. The Blur 220i What a Great FUN Bike!

    This scooter does what no other scooter has done before – it’s a crossover vehicle. The motorcyclists don’t know if it is a scooter or some new racing sport motorcycle. It is so much fun to ride (so much fun)! Also, it is well made and looks great!

    I was planning to buy a motorcycle but backed off on purchasing a bike because of ALL the shifting I would do driving it around town. Now I have that motorcycle, but one that is twice the fun to ride! The Blur SS 220i.

    It is an excellent vehicle I suggest you seriously consider it if you are looking to purchase a scooter or motorcycle.

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