Yamaha  NVX

Finally after 15 years of  Yamahas iconic Nouvo the NXV made its debut in 2017 and Im a big fan. On the plus side it has a great new look and Im happy with the handling though a rear suspension upgrade on the early ones was a big improvement. The front end is a bit soft out of the box too but can be cheaply stiffened up. Probably okay standard for lighter riders in fairness. The passengers seat is thin and though I never ride pillion I imagine not too comfortable long haul. The 125cc version is bit slow out of the hole as the bike is considerably bigger than the Gen 6 Nouvo before it so the 155cc is better matched to the bike in my opinion. I had one of these as my personal town bike for a while and had my engine builder take it to 250cc. That certainly made it one of my favourite scooters ever. Worthy of note if you are 180cm tall plus, the leg room behind the dash is insufficient unless riding with your legs splayed which compromises safety and posture.

Yamaha Nouvo Generation 5 and 6

Yes I put these two together as other than cosmetics there isnt too much between them. A small reduction in engine size from the Generation 4 but going to fuel injection was the right move forward and power delivery is at least equivalent with improved fuel economy. The handling and agility in traffic is at least as good as anything in its class and comparitive to the Honda Airblade which here amongst the locals is its favoured competitor although it doesnt hold its value quite as well so is a good option at the price point second hand.

Yamaha Nouvo  Generaton 4

This bike changed the whole perception of  Nuovos for many. Yamaha made a major marketing error by keeping the Nouvo name at this point in my opinion as it is unlike the first three generations which were bit lacking in so many ways. Firstly the 108cc engine of its predecessors went to 132cc, they improved the transmission and changed the geometry. In short a spritely and powerful commuter which poses very good value for money and became a favoured choice for companies hiring out bikes to tourists and expats alike. One of these in good order still poses good value to someone on a budget that still wants a good performer with reasonable reliability.

Yamaha Nouvo Generation 1, 2 and 3

These, in their glory years were previous to my tenure in Vietnam though I have over the years used them as a budget rental and set countless numbers of them up with luggage racks to head North for the motorpacker also with tight purse strings. They get a pretty bad wrap these days which isnt completely fair. Gen 1 dates back to 2002 and are now pretty rare. Gen 2 and 3 though cosmetically a bit nicer and with the inclusion of dash pockets are still around in their thousands and given the last one rolled off the assembly line over a decade ago its fair to argue they have indeed stood the test of time. Most likely fuel or electical issues will be responsible for a breakdown. Many can be easily identified by the sound of transmission bearing noise due to lack of maintenance. Mostly the motors despite often being neglected also tend to be reasonably bullet proof.

Honda Vision

This is hands down my favourite scooter for smaller ladies. Hit the streets in Vietnam in 2011 and has taken a big chunk of the ladies market.  Its an aircooled 110cc so light weight but still has plenty of punch. The cut away style makes it easy to get on and off and even wearing a short skirt or dress allows you to keep your dignity. Theres a hook for shopping bags and ample underseat space for a decent helmet and rain jacket. Lovely little bike.

Honda Lead

The earliest ones of these Ive seen here are 2009 and they have 110cc engines. In 2013 we started to see the water cooled 125cc versions and a big surge in popularity. On the positive side they have a smooth, strong power delvery, loads of under seat storage, a big wide floor space and a low seat height. In short seen as ideal for the family shopping vehicle. For me the down side is the smaller wheel circumference. The tyre is wider than many scooters so braking efficiency is still pretty good but the handling on our less than perfect road surfaces here and particularly in flood water can be an issue. Also for smaller ladies a bit of a lump to manouver in and out of parking. All in all though a good practical bike.

Honda Winner

The Winner came here in 2017 as Hondas entrant in the 150cc underbone manual race. By race I mean that quite literally. These 150cc manuals are now the most popular bike with the young and spirited riders amongst the locals and they find deserted areas at night to put their riding ability to the test. The Winner in true Honda form trumped the opposition at least on paper with a DOHC engine and 6 speed gearbox. It sits a little higher too so is favoured my taller riders. On the downside the seat is terrible particularly over any reasonable distance and slopes forward. It can be fixed for 650k and believe me this is a must. Surely they will fix this in future models. Fun factor its five star but with no under seat storage a backpack everywhere or a top box fitted is a must for it to be an effective commuter.

Yamaha Exciter

Where to start with these? Im going to start at the end by saying I think out of  the box the latest Exciter is the best manual underbone Ive ridden. Its a SOHC, 5 speed so sure the Honda Winner on paper has the edge around claimed horsepower and top end but unless your racing it doesnt mean much around town. Keep in mind Yamaha have had this market in Vietnam pretty much to themselves until recently so their decade of experience should have it right. Prior to 2015 these were 135cc and they are a good little pick up if looking to get onto a manual at the lower price point. As with all the manuals no under seat carry space so its a back pack or top box fitted as an effective commuter.

Honda Vario

New to the market in 2018 these are basically little rockets. They run a 150cc  water cooled engine in a bike pysically not much bigger than a Vision. It would be hard to argue against this as the quickest and possibly also most agile full auto bike for city commuting. If I had to find a down side it would be that it has a drum brake and only a single pot front disk caliper. It seems to pull up pretty well but I get the feeling as it ages braking efficiency might be lacking compared to the speeds it is most likely to be ridden at. Having said that there is already an aftermarket rear disk kit available so it really isnt a deal breaker. It short it puts a big grin on my face riding it and thats a lot of what riding is about. Thumbs up!

Honda SH 150i

This has been my daily city bike for the last few months and the longer I ride it the better it feels. Coming off the NVX 155 high speed cornering wasnt confidence inspiring but as time went on it got a lot more sure footed as I changed my riding style to suit it. It certainly performs better when you ride it aggressively. What I really do love about it is its stature. Its high ride position helps read the traffic ahead better and the leg room and comfortable seat make it one of the best on the market for long journeys. Far from a cheap bike but if your prepared to shell out the money it holds its value very well so over time works out pretty cost effective for a very nice big scooter. For men over 180cm its the king for sure.

SYM Shark

This for me of the budget end bikes for taller males is the winner. I have many as rentals and they rarely give problems and are very cost effective to maintain in any case. Even with a couple of crash damaged ones I was very surprised how cheaply they were repaired. The majority of these are 125cc but also were offered new with a 150cc and 170cc engine. You rarely see the 150s so I assume anyone who could afford the upgade went straight to the 170. Many dealers may not have even stocked the 150 option. The 125 is a solid bike but does lack power at the bottom end. Once its up and going the power delivery is adequate for such a big bike. The bottom end acceleration issue can be simply solved though with a cost effective engine upgrade to 175cc. Ive done this conversion countless times without ever having a problem and it improves the power considerably. This however does not equal the factory 170. The 170 is standard with a rear disk brake as it should be on a big bike with a strong power curve. The 170 as it is harder to find has held its value really well and for the same year and kms sits at least 5M VND higher in the market but in ny opinion worth every dong!