SYM gossip

Wow! Then again, this might actually turn out to be a step up from Carter Brothers.

19 thoughts on “SYM gossip”

  1. You know that SYM builds the Lance Cali Classic 125, right? And, it’s the only new scooter Lance offered this past year.

  2. That’s very interesting about their new Cali Classic strategy. If they are truly only importing one scooter and doing it from a higher quality manufacturer it sounds like someone is trying to do things right. Second, if they take on the 9,528 different models and colors previously offered by Carter I think they will be doing the wrong thing. One or two good models with a very small number of options should be the norm.

  3. Well Lance was going to sell (basically) the Fiddle, which is made for SYM in China, SYM insisted that a third party had illegally sold them to Lance and put the kibosh on that. Is the Cali Classic made by SYM, or is it made by SYM’s chinese contractor? In either case, this news makes the “Fiddle War” even more curious.

  4. A textbook case of “How Not to Sell Scooters (or any other consumer product) in the U.S.” Geez.

    There was an Allstate Compact on the show floor at the Seattle motorcycle show last weekend, and it was accompanied by the page in the Sears catalog showing it and an Allstate Cruisaire. I’m coming around to the idea that a big national retailer would be best able to sell and support a basic 125cc scooter.

    Let the scooteristi gnash their teeth and rend their garments all they want, the pool of riders is shrinking. The idea of riding needs to be sold, and Target or Walmart has the resources to do that. And new scooters are pretty much maintenance-free, save for an occasional oil and filter change or a new tire. Design the bike so that’s easy, and off you go. Kinda like the original Vespa…

  5. The Cali Classic is essentially a Fiddle II frame w/different body panels, and a 13″ wheel on front instead of a 12″.

    All I know is that the key is plainly marked SYM, and all the engine bits & electrics are interchangeable between the two models.

  6. (also)

    I assume the Cali Classic is built in China ($1999MSRP), but whether it’s a SYM plant, or someone else’s, I do not know. It may be similar to the Kymco arrangement for making Super 8s and Agilty models, where corporate QA people are on-site at the Chinese manufacturer to insure that quality meets the brand standards.

  7. JP, the VIN should be fairly reliable to determine the site of final assembly, no? Do you have access to one?

    Orin, I agree on most parts. I don’t think the pool is shrinking. Unless that pool you are describing is number of people that can afford a new GTS. The idea of maintenance free is a relative concept . People are so used to the great reliability of even the worst of new cars on the market, compared to 25 years or more ago. It’s hard to match that today. And for the Targets and Walmart to get into the business it’s much more likely to mean electrics. And while we are on the verge of them being a real viable alternative in terms of performance and design, the price will be unlikely to match the 1965 mass market push.

  8. Brooke — Not today, I don’t, but maybe in a few days. Pretty sure they’re at least assembled in China, but I’m not sure what the SYM arrangement is there in China.

  9. I have a SYM Citycom 300i that is a fantastic scooter. Carter Bros. merely distributed them, had nothing to do with manufacturing. Since Carter folded, SYM Canada has provided good dealer support from all I’ve heard and my own minor warranty experience.

    The usual marketing functions are still important: product, promotion, price, and distribution. SYM, made in Taiwan, certainly has quality products. Their US pricing was competitive. The two areas from the distributor: promotion and actual distribution were very poor. Their poor US distributor choice has let Kymco own the market for years.

    Given the quality parity between Kymco and SYM coupled with Kymco’s weird choice for model names and high prices, if SYM had a good distributor, they could become a serious competitor in the US just as they are in other parts of the world.

    I don’t know who would be their best distributor but I would vote for SYM Canada.
    Larry G

  10. It’s the original SYM Fiddle (I). If you google “SYM FIDDLE” (no -II) you’ll see pictures. They are just using the original Fiddle body design, rather than the later (-II) styling.

    As for the prospect of SYM switching from Carter Brothers to Lance, it’s probably not a great move but you can’t blame them – Carter Brothers is dead meat ever since the fire (arson), and even before that they sucked. What SYM really should do, however, is fund their own operation in North America – it’s expensive, but the only way to really establish their brand and get their scooters out of the lawn mower shops and into legitimate motorcycle/scooter dealers (that is, along side Honda/Yamaha/Kawasaki/Suzuki).

  11. The Cali Classic is built in China as are the SYM Fiddles and possibly some of the 50s.

    I like most of SYM’s product , but still think there are some real issues with the lineup that hurt them in the US.

    Like Kymco, they have too many models here. In particular, three 50cc models is a waste. Honestly, those scooters aren’t up to par with some of their others.

    Their (arguably) best models, the HD200 and Citycom are oddly positioned in the market. The HD200 doesn’t appeal to casual (especially first-time) buyers because it’s ugly. The Citycom is too maxi for most people who don’t want an actual maxi. The RV250 is somewhere in the middle.They’re not big enough for the Burgman crowd, not sexy enough for the Vespa crowd and not cheap/fun enough for the Zuma, SR50 and Ruckus crowd. They’re solid and practical but fall too much in between things, so most of their appeal is to established riders who appreciate the quality and performance.

    The problem with the Cali Classic is that it’s a Joker clone. At best, it could be the least crappy Joker clone for sale in the US. But it’s still going to be confounded with the many others that still somehow get sold here despite Flyscooters and other Chinese scoot resellers going belly up. Having the Cali for sale as a SYM in the US (if that happens) could dilute their lineup and confuse buyers.

    Finally, Lance… ugh, Lance. I appreciate they’ve made an effort to sell less junk. Good for them. But that effort’s preceded by a well-earned reputation for double dealing, shady business practices, not supporting warranties and leaving dealers hanging out to dry.

  12. I went by the old factory import building in Alabama during Vintage Days at Barber… and it looked like a small crew of people were working still. and I ran into a guy at Vintage Days that said Carter Bros. was in talk of selling the SYM side of things and only doing the parts side of the company… how ever that might work….

    as for lance thoses guys are nice but a pain in the ass at the same time…

    if you ever have a chance to deal with these guys its about as weird as it gets but they are always get me my parts….

  13. It’s strange that the Cali Classic seems to be Lance’s only product at the present time. What happened to all the others they used to carry?

  14. Jason, Carter Brothers will presumably keep their kart business, their biggest fault as far as scootering was concerned was that they saw SYM as a (profitable) distraction from the kart biz and everyone I’ve ever talked to that worked closely with them tells me their hearts just weren’t in it. I can’t imagine they’d still be involved with scooter parts if they’re no longer selling SYM, it’d just be the kart parts and accessories.

    I agree that SYM makes great bikes (at least their Taiwan-made product) but that their lineup is oversaturated, esp cheapo 50s. I would add that their pricing is always just a little on the high side when compared to Genuine/Kymco, which I think hurt them in the long run.

    I don’t think SYM would do well on their own, just like TGB, they just don’t understand our weird market and expect too much for too little effort. Genuine, as usual, is the model here, but there aren’t many (any) other existing dedicated scooter-specific businesses with the money and patience to become an importer and do it right, especially not in this economy.

  15. One bike doesn’t make an eligible distributor.
    Tomos has a 150cc scoot manufactured by SYM as does E-ton a 50cc. 4st and it is their less expensive offering.
    I believe Cobra offered the same 50cc 4st model.

    BTW original Fiddle and the Cali are two different scooters. I’ve seen and sat on the Cali and I have the resurrected (limited offered) Fiddle 2st in my showroom.
    I have spoken to Importers that have been to the SYM contracted plant in China and they were all asked,
    “What model and how many?” In other words, anyone can buy from them.
    It’s a big investment.

  16. It’s the original SYM Fiddle (I). If you google “SYM FIDDLE” (no -II) you’ll see pictures. They are just using the original Fiddle body design, rather than the later (-II) styling.

    Not the same bike at all. Having ridden both, and having both in a showroom for extended periods, I can tell ya, the Cali Classic is, for all intents and purposes, a Fiddle II with a few minor changes, as I outlined above.

  17. I’ve been talking to someone at Lance, he’s sent me more info that I haven’t had a chance to look through yet, hopefully it’ll clear some of this up.

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