Put the Bee Wee 50 on shop­ping list

Bikes like th­ese are used by Grand Prix rid­ers, says Paul Owen.

South Waikato News - - MOTORING -

Near the bot­tom of the peck­ing or­der on the road, a cou­ple of rungs above pedes­tri­ans and cy­clists, you’ll find 50cc mo­tor-scoot­ers which are ca­pa­ble of be­ing rid­den on a car li­cence pro­vided that they are lim­ited to a max­i­mum speed of 55kmh.

When the of­fer of test-rid­ing the new Yamaha Bee Wee 50 came through, I con­sid­ered it care­fully, given that there are ob­vi­ously many more en­joy­able bikes to sam­ple, so of which hap­pen to be other Yama­has.

Would the most af­ford­able bearer of the tuning fork brand put me at risk of life and limb?

Would it re­quire a vig­or­ous pad­dling along with my feet to get it up a steep hill? Is it util­i­tar­ian trans­port only with lit­tle ca­pa­bil­ity of pro­vid­ing rid­ing plea­sure? The an­swer is none of the above. I had a def­i­nite, if some­what per­verse, ex­pe­ri­ence of free­dom and mo­bil­ity while rid­ing the lit­tle four-stroke 50.

It’s a great way to re­lease one’s self from the tyranny of pub­lic trans­port, and it’s prob­a­bly a more en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly op­tion to boot. For most of our pub­lic trans­port sys­tems pay lit­tle heed to the emis­sions they cre­ate.

Our diesel bus fleet lags well be­hind Europe’s in the fit­ment of pol­lu­tion-bust­ing gear, and only a per­cent­age of the buses on our roads can claim to achieve even lowly Euro 3 com­pli­ance.

As for our elec­tric trains and buses, all they do is trans­fer their CO2 out­puts to coal-fired power sta­tions like the mas­sive one in Huntly.

Then there’s the ef­fect that the use of some­thing like a 50cc scoot, en masse, has on ur­ban traf­fic flow. It’s been proven that a 10 per cent in­crease in mo­tor­bike use re­sults in a 30 per cent re­duc­tion in jour­ney time for all users of ur­ban roads.

That’s an aw­ful lot of fuel saved by the users of four-wheel­ers to get around our cities, purely be­cause 10 per cent of them have cho­sen to leave the car at home and ride a mo­torised bi­cy­cle to work.

So even though the cur­rent li­cence rules per­tain­ing to the use of 50cc scoot­ers date back to a time when the moped (re­mem­ber those?) was a pop­u­lar com­mut­ing op­tion in the 1950s, they have my bless­ing.

Get­ting a proper mo­tor­cy­cle li­cence and speed­ier bike still re­mains the bet­ter plan to my mind; how­ever for those not wish­ing to trou­ble them­selves with all that of­fi­cial palaver, the $2999 Bee Wee 50 is a con­ve­nient and vi­able op­tion.

That it looks just like its air-cooled Bee Wee 125 sib­ling (ie funky and vaguely mil­i­tary) and has fat tyres that ap­pear of­froad ca­pa­ble, only in­creases the fun fac­tor.

The new­est and small­est-ca­pac­ity Bee Wee is Yamaha’s re­sponse to in­com­ing new emis­sion rules that will ef­fec­tively kill off the use of two-stroke en­gines in new models come 2014.

The new 49cc liq­uid-cooled three-valve four-cy­cle sin­gle is op­ti­mised to min­imise fuel use, and by as­so­ci­a­tion, CO2 emis­sions. Yamaha claim fuel use of just 1.8 litres per 100km (155mpg), and my time with the BW50F would ap­pear to bear this out.

For the nee­dle of the fuel gauge never budged from ‘‘F’’ dur­ing my af­ter­noon ride of the BW, de­spite my op­er­at­ing it at full throt­tle for most of that time.

The WFO rid­ing style re­sulted in an in­di­cated speed of 70kmh in 80kmh speed zones, and a per­fectly-le­gal 50kmh when as­cend­ing steep city streets.

It’s worth men­tion­ing that this Bee Wee Five-Oh had the re­stric­tive washer re­moved from the CVT trans­mis­sion which would nor­mally limit the bike to 55kmh to com­ply with the moped rules that al­low it to be op­er­ated with a car li­cence.

Given that a faster bike is nor­mally a safer bike, I’d be sorely tempted to re­move this washer be­fore pass­ing the first easy step to­wards ac­quir­ing a mo­tor­cy­cle li­cence.

The Bee Wee’s sus­pen­sion is ba­sic but ad­e­quate for the mod­est speeds the bike can achieve.

Mean­while the brakes are just what The Doc­tor or­dered (I can def­i­nitely see Sig­nor Rossi us­ing one of th­ese to get around the Mo­toGP pits now that he’s back with Yamaha); the front disc has strong stop­ping power that is eas­ily man­aged, and the rear drum plays a com­mend­able sup­port­ing role. Nat­u­rally, a bike this min­i­mal is a dod­dle to chuck around and ma­noeu­vre in and out of park­ing spa­ces.

Like the 125 ver­sion, the Bee Wee 50 has a comfy seat and leg­i­ble, well­po­si­tioned mir­rors.

Un­like the 125, there’s room un­der the seat for a full-face hel­met.

Seems scoots with smaller en­gines have other ad­van­tages than just their stu­pen­dous econ­omy with fuel.

While I’d per­son­ally en­cour­age any­one to spend an­other $1300 on the 125 and get a proper li­cence to op­er­ate it, the Bee Wee 50 will be more than enough for any­one do­ing just short hops on ur­ban streets.

It is also the most en­vi­ron­men­tal­lyfriendly petrol-pro­pelled ve­hi­cle on the NZ mar­ket at present, and should be on the shop­ping lists of all who claim to ac­tu­ally give a damn.

Are you read­ing this, Doc­tor Norman?

Yamaha Bee Wee 50.

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