Some general questions in regards to scooter quality
By - limitless_match
Poor quality scooters have cheap fasteners, parts that are made to sloppy tolerances so they don’t fit together well, various components that are not standard and are difficult/impossible to identify or replace, brittle plastic and rubber components, poor solder joints, smaller-gauge wire, bad welding, tacky/weird decals, soft metal parts, low quality brake components, and finicky carburetors. Interestingly, cheap scooter ENGINES are often pretty solid. But there are innumerable non-engine things that can go wrong.
Chinese scooters have so much that goes wrong with them, and so often attract cheapskate buyers who don’t know what a mess they’re getting into and often aren’t willing to invest in the necessary tools even if parts are available, that I ignore them on Reddit. Enjoy the debate on which ones might be barely acceptable without me.
Japanese, Italian, and Taiwanese machines are a league apart. You can’t go far wrong with any of them.
Yup. If you want a scooter to be a fun and practical part of your life, skip the Chinese scene altogether. If some factory actually is using Japanese parts it’s because they got a deal on a defective lot of them. Just look through this sub and other forums. Almost all the joy comes from people with Japanese and Italian rides, 90% of the “my scooter broke again” posts are from the Chinese brands. It’s not that the Chinese can’t or don’t build a quality scooter but all the ones they export to the US/Europe are 100% designed to compete on price. Like the previous post said, every single corner is cut to get there. You don’t want that between you and the road.
>I've read online that some Chinese scooters have Japanese parts inside them. Is this true, and to what extent?
I think there may be a misunderstanding here. Sometimes, for example Honda will source parts from other places (Taiwan and Thailand come to mind) that are made to their specs. Labor is cheaper outside of Japan, so common and simple parts (sometimes even engines) can be made elsewhere with excellent quality. It wouldn't make a lot of sense to try to build a cheap scooter with expensive parts. The math doesn't work out. Most regular Chinese people in the PRC don't have the money to shop for an expensive scooter.
>How does Taiwanese brands such as SYM or Kymco compare to Chinese scooters? Which parts are of better quality on Taiwanese made scooters, compared to Chinese scooters?
Taiwanese brands sometimes get (wrongly) lumped in mainland Chinese scooters, which are generally trash. There is a long and complicated political history I won't get into here, but basically they've been two different countries since around WWII. The Communists chased the old regime into Taiwan, but never actually wiped them out or even ended the civil war. So Taiwan is (functionally) a capitalist country to this day.
Kymco made parts, engines, and even entire scooters for Honda for years. They're not necessarily exactly as good, but many consider them to be an excellent value for money.
>When someone says some Chinese scooter uses a "Honda" engine, do they refer to the scooter having a Honda branded engine, or they are referring to a copy of the design of a Honda engine?
They're knockoffs that are often made to worse standards or with modifications that make them cheaper to manufacture. GY6 scooters are very common.
Quality - Starts from more important parts to the least important, are worse when you buy worse quality bikes. Every single component is worse, the engine poorly made and will fail faster because it runs dirtier and it goes all the way up to the plastics, which will crack earlier because its poorly made. Better quality scooters will have these better parts thatll last longer and run better.
Piaggio/Vespa, Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, Genuine/Pgo, Lambretta, SYM, and Kymco all make good bikes. The quality is more or less in that order, sometimes one is better than the other but its approximate order from Italian to Japanese and then Taiwanese. Other brands are Chinese and Indian and theyre almost all pretty bad with the exception of the Bajaj Chetak.
1. No Chinese scooters have Japanese parts inside of them. Not true. Some Taiwanese brands have made bikes for Japanese brands and they have taken some of their tech and know how to make similar bikes/almost the same bikes. These are not Japanese parts however they do make quality bikes with some cheaper components, for example the fit and finish of Kymco bikes arent as good as Hondas, although most of them have good fit and finish (the plastics are more brittle though). No company will respond to your requests typically.
2. Situation is meh. Most basic parts are available, however if youre looking for a specific part for a specific bike youre going to be in trouble. Sites are hard to find for plastics, and you have almost no supply chain unless you buy something like a WOLF brand Chinese bike which have their supply here. Even those companies are getting slammed from this lack of cargo containers so parts can be delayed for weeks to months.
3. Everything goddam fails because theyre very cheap. The QC can be very shitty so a lot of it is just luck on what you get but even if you get one that is decent and the engine doesnt seize and parts work more less like they should, parts will fail on the faster than other bikes. Carbs fail and you have to get a new one, bolts break off for no reason, screws fall out when you ride, the plastics yellow early, etc. Really random things fail, and then things that dont fail have premature wear. Its really better to say what typically wont break, like usually engines dont seize up, frames typically dont break apart, batteries are usually okay once charged, but thats about it.
4. Most scooters have parts diagrams on sites that you can order from. This way you can get the right part. Sometimes you can call a distributer to get them to get you whatever part has failed. You can also check forums if you have a strange chinese bike.
5. You have to see if theyre advertised from a more reliable factory or if the company only buys them. Znen, probably the best factory in China for scooters makes all of Wolf's scooters. VINS that begin with L5Y are from Znen plants.
6. VIN numbers, you can also look up forum talk on which factories make the best bikes in China. Even the best Chinese bike is worse than all the other companies Ive listed for you.
7. A copy of a Honda engine which is reliable HOWEVER the Chinese copies are usually worse than the Honda. These Chinese bikes use outdated/older Honda engine designs that they copy. The copies are made with less precision and are worse than the original Honda engines. I would take a 1980s Honda made engine over a 2021 Chinese made engine.
8. ZNEN, if it comes from the ZNEN factory and its not some weird copy brand that uses the name, I would take that over other companies. BAotian and Yiying is crap, worse than normal crap, they make bikes so cheap that you have to wonder if its safe to be riding on 500 bucks of material.
9. Everything is better on Taiwanese scooters. They have better manufacturing on important parts like engines and carbs and fuel injection that doesnt fail. They have reliable frames and wiring harnesses that don't fuck up for no reason. Plastics have good fit and finish and come together without gaps. Finally, even the little rubber bits and small screws are better and they dont typically just shake off. Theyre not even in the same league.
10. Piaggio has better parts than SYM/KYMCO but you pay the premium price. All parts have different quality... better engine, more advanced braking, better tires, better plastics, etc.
I will tell you I have a brand new ice bear malibu 150 (Chinese scooter) with less than 100 miles and so far to get it running properly I have:
Replaced the plug, wire, and coil
Replaced the stator
Had to get new headlights (scooter shipped with blown ones)
And I have a new carburetor on the way
This is all after I realized there was a broken kill switch on one of the kickstands that was preventing me from getting a spark (the real culprit responsible for all of the electrical problems up there ^ )
I still can’t get it to run for more than 15 minutes without it dying.
Honda and Yamaha are the best. Chinese scooters are junk. You can barely get parts for them. Specially if it’s a couple years old. No they don’t have jap parts.
Keep in mind we are on the verge of war with China. Then you get zero parts!
I don’t even touch Korean scooters. They won’t survive like a nap scooter will. I have 94,000 kilometers on a Honda.
I also have two Yamaha xmax.
I’ve worked on the Chinese scooters. I tell the customer to get the parts or I’m not touching it.
The wiring is so small too. It breaks easily. No Chinese junk does not use a Honda engine!
China copies everything then makes it cheaper. There is no such thing as a warranty in China!
I’m at the point of not even helping others fix their Chinese junk. I’m an American in Thailand. You won’t even see a Chinese scooter here.
Honda, Yamaha, then Suzuki and kawi. After that is Vespa and lambretta.
If you aren’t mechanically inclined, do not buy one. It will die.
My Honda has never had the engine opened up, doesn’t leak and doesn’t use any oil.
Why do people keep asking the same question? Maybe the Chinese are good quality and they decided to sell at cost without profit. Not. Or they used to make crap but now they make good stuff for the same price. Not. Why ask? You know the answer. Chinese scooters are crap.