Sales of smaller capacity utility scooters have rocketed over the last year, thanks to the rising cost of fuel, car insurance hikes and our increasingly congested towns and cities. Consumers have also begun to realise the versatility and fun that can be had on a modern day scooter.
Yamaha launched this stylish and affordable Xenter 125 in Barcelona earlier this year and we were there. The Xenter utilises a brand new liquid-cooled, four stroke, four-valve automatic engine which has been developed to offer a good blend of economy whilst still providing strong acceleration. The scooter has been designed and built to appeal to a wide spectrum of riders so it has a seat height of just 785mm, a linked UBS braking system which distributes optimum braking force to the front and rear wheels simultaneously by using a single brake lever. It also has large 16” wheels for improved handling and an unorthodox ‘Monocross’ rear suspension system to improve stability and tidy up the rear end of the scooter. Thought has also been put into the ease of use, the centre stand for instance has been deigned to pivot close to the scooters centre of gravity, which makes it very easy to put on the stand, something our female riders will no doubt appreciate. The scooter has bright LED rear lights to aid safety and the twin front headlights make sure you can see and be seen. The Xenter also has a modern digital dash with information for service intervals, speed, trip distance, ambient temperature, time and fuel. Storage is always a selling point on any scooter, on the Yamaha there’s a handy pop open storage area on the handlebars and a small space beneath the seat, unfortunately most of the underseat space is used to accommodate the 16” rear wheel and the suspension linkage but Yamaha supply the scooter complete with a large and stylish colour coded top box as standard. The flat floorboards offer additional storage space; they’re quite wide and were actually designed to accommodate a six-litre water bottle, a popular item to carry on your scooter in many parts of Europe apparently. The Xenter also comes equipped with a decent sized screen to keep the worst of the weather at bay and Yamaha offer a matching apron for the rider as an optional extra.
Press launches are often in warm and dry locations but unfortunately the weather was against us as we took to the streets of Barcelona in heavy rain. Not to worry though because these are the kind of conditions we’re used to riding in back home. Barcelona’s roads are notoriously slippery in the wet but the Duro tyres coped admirably and didn’t cause any concern as long as I picked my lines carefully over the treacherous painted road markings. The Xenter rides very well and has a responsive engine with enough power on tap, which allows it to keep up with the flow of traffic without a problem. The front forks and rear suspension do a superb job, as do the larger than average wheels. They soak the bumps up much better than a smaller wheeled scooter, which can only be a good thing. The UBS (Unified Braking System) is another fine piece of Japanese development, it stops a ham fisted novice (or experienced) rider from inadvertently locking the wheels during heavy braking in less than ideal conditions. I tried to lock the wheels on a number of occasions but the system took care of things for me without fuss.
With the Xenter, Yamaha set out to create a useful and good looking scooter to appeal to the kind of rider who may be considering giving up a second car in favour of a scooter and they’ve succeeded. The Xenter is smart looking, learner legal (so you only need to be 17 or over and take a one day CBT course to ride it) and boasts a 100mpg fuel efficient and environmentally friendly engine (beat that in a car). At just £2999 on the road the price tag fits into the utility price bracket as well, or should that be scootility? Maybe this spring is the time for you to take the plunge and get on to two wheels; you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it years ago.