Lance, SYM, and the Cali Classic

UPDATE: As of early January 2011, Lance has allegedly notified dealers they’ll be taking over the western U.S. from Carter Brothers.

Mike Hickman, National Sales Manager of Lance Powersports, contacted us regarding the rumors that Lance will replace Carter Brothers as SYM’s U.S. importer.

There is of course lots of gossip I have been reading at 2strokebuzz and most is just that–gossip. I did read several things that were indeed true and that was nice, such as we are moving away from entry level scooters and offering much better quality scooters. It is true that most of 2010 we only promoted the Cali Classic which has been a wonderful scooter for us, it’s our goal to have a few more quality models available by the Spring of 2011!…

I asked him specifically if the Cali Classic was made by SYM, where it was made, and if he could officially deny that Lance was taking over SYM’s line in the United States. He responded with a video comparing the Cali Classic’s (SYM-branded) parts to Lances older (Znen) spares and a link to the SYM Allo 50.

So the Cali Classic is the SYM Allo, made by SYM, and as such, Lance does have a direct relationship with SYM, though it’s still unclear where the scooter is manufactured or how their relationship with SYM affects the Carter Brothers situation.

Lance is very similar to the recently-defunct Flyscooters in that both were originally among the many resellers of Znen scooters. Both set themselves apart with superior branding and marketing, (and both insist their quality control was better) but with so many similar cheapo scooters on the market, both looked for more visible ways to set their products apart. Flyscooters (I believe) switched manufacturers, then focused on accessories and a failed deal with CPI, along with a promising Chinese-made “Scout” Honda Cub clone that came too late. Lance has wisely shifted their focus to one product made by a respected manufacturer (even if it’s manufactured by a SYM contractor in mainland China, it’s still surely superior to most mainland Chinese scooters). It’s not a revolutionary design, it could pass for a Honda Joker clone and the frame and engine appear to be borrowed from the SYM FIddle II. In fact, we’d bet the model was designed to appease all parties in the wake of 2009’s Fiddlegate. But it is good to see Lance taking a step forward in quality, and even if Carter Brothers will continue as a SYM importer, competition with Lance will hopefully keep both companies on their toes in the accountability/support/marketing departments, which is ultimately good for dealers and consumers.

15 thoughts on “Lance, SYM, and the Cali Classic”

  1. An OEM selling to two importers doesn’t strike me as anything close to confidence inspiring. Hyosung has been doing it for years and look where it’s gotten them. They apparently have some decent product and still aren’t quite a success. In fact, the last time I can recall it worked was when Sears imported scooters and that success is probably debatable even though I’m very glad they did it.

    And now it would seem that they are following down the path of bringing in more and more models. Unless that ‘more’ is just one I think it’s the wrong plan.

  2. For the money, the Cali’s a really nice li’l scooter. I have issues with it (lack of storage, very short rear suspension), but it’d be hard to get that much scooter for that little money, elsewhere. The seat height makes it ideal for shorter or first-time riders, too, but again, negatively impacts the storage and rear suspension.

    It’s not as peppy as a Buddy, but for $7-800 less, it’s definitely worth a look.

  3. I don’t think multiple importers for the same manufacturer is generally a good idea either, Brooke, but that’s a SYM issue, Lance was smart to jump on the opportunity (and to their credit, they apparently made a clean break w/Znen, which took *some* guts). And to SYM’s defense, Carter Brothers are hardly confidence-inspiring at the moment, so whether or not they’ll be changing distributors, it’s probably not a bad idea for them to not have all their eggs in Carter’s basket and see what a different distributor can do for them.

    SYM is oversaturated in the U.S. model-wise, but Lance isn’t selling a duplicate model and they’re not branding it as SYM. I’d bet there are plenty of Buddy owners out there who couldn’t tell you who PGO or Motive Power Industries are. It’s not the optimal arrangement, but it’s a good deal for Lance and SYM doesn’t have much to lose at this point.

  4. Having seen them all as to speak but I would not go as far to say that the Lance is the SYM Alloy although I have only seen the SYM model not ridden it nor sold nor raced it nor worked on it. Carter Bros not involved.

    The Lance Cali does have a SYM engine which I have worked on and ridden, same engine used in a Tomos and SYM scooters so its an SYM produced GY6 139QMB four stroke engine at least GY6 parts fit right on it no problem so it is a GY6 why it was in my shop, on my bench out of the scooter and taken a part as are many GY6 engines from all including KYMCO, So yes I have ridden the Cali, sold it, bought some, worked on it and yes it carries a Tawian Vin and is the quality I see in Tawianese scooters like Kymco TGB and others. CPI carry the Tawain vin also but like Cali all made in china well so is Piaggio Fly for that fact.

    Ok enough of my blood letting. The Lance Cali Classic is well worth its price. Storage get the rear trunk, any model like this including Aprillia Mojito has same storage. Not as peppy as Buddy well its a four stroke engine and Buddy is a two stroke so yes its more peppy well they all are once I get my hands on them a little fine tunning goes a long way.

    Lance has a good product, a good product (one)which is where a company should start unlike Fly who wanted it all the first day so they copied or simply branded scooters on the market already. Their Il Bello was everywhere for years before they started. I sold Fly, rode Fly they were the same as all the rest the Lance is a step up or two.

    All the these companies do PR good, fashion good but none were scooter people PSF was not scooter people, I went there for years I saw and worked with them and stopped. You need to know scooters to sell them not how to use PRweb or PRnewswire or build a website thats why I love scooters, learned all about what I was doing then built a site and a shop then started racing scooters.


  5. I was comparing the 4T Buddy 125 to the Cali Classic 125. Stock, the Buddy blows the Cali away in acceleration and top speed.

  6. I’ve heard that there was an official announcement to dealers today that Lance is indeed taking over as SYM’s USA distributor.

  7. looks good enough for me. competitive pricing.SYM quality…I believe!!

  8. So, what’s the story, morning glory?

    Still no official word who’s gonna be supplying my dealer (that is, the one at which I occasionally labor) with SYM east of the mighty Mississip’, as of today. I’ve had to order parts from Canada, and while they are a helpful bunch, it helps to remember the proper sequence of key presses to get to an English-speakin’ Quebecois… and the shipping is costly and slowed down by U.S. DHS/ICE/Customs, of course.

    So while the Buddys and the Kymcos filter in and get sold almost as soon as they land, we’re also taking on the Cali Classic as a staple for this season. Hey, this year, they even have keys that don’t have the SYM logo embossed on ’em!

    Fun fact: Did you know (as I saw the MSRP had dropped)… the Kymco Like 200i is a mainland Chinese scoot? Yessirree, Bob. With EFI, even.

  9. Experience has proven to me that having difficulties getting a hold of people to conduct legitimate business is a sign to avoid such business deals.

    I want to sell two reliable brands, but over two years of searching and watching before I commit has shown me that most Asian made brands lack loyalty, and customer service.

    All I want is TWO reliable brands…. I have not been able to contact anyone for SYM

  10. April 13, 2011

    Dear SYM Owners,
    This letter is to announce that Alliance Powersports Inc, sister company to Lance Powersports, will be the new US West region distributor for SYM effective April 2011.
    Alliance is proud to have the opportunity to represent SYM in the US and privileged to serve your needs. Customer and dealer support is our top priority and we are focused and determined to restore immediate support.
    During this transition period, we are working closely with SYM manufacture to expedite all service related support. Warranty support has resumed and all parts orders are expedited to dealers nationwide. If you require any warranty service or parts related support, please contact your local authorized SYM dealer for assistance.
    If you have difficulty finding a local SYM dealer or need further assistance, please contact us and we will be more than happy to further assist you:
    We have also initiated construction on our new website:, which will showcase SYM scooters and provide news and updates. We anticipate our new website to be completed in or around July 2011.
    Moving forward, we pledge to continue the path in supporting the scooter culture and scooter enthusiast by building a more focused, stronger and more service oriented SYM distribution in the US.
    Thank you for your patients, understanding and support in SYM brand.

    Alliance Powersports Inc.

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