THE sweet smell of two-stroke wafted around me as I waited for the lights to turn green on a gridful of impatient, wide-eyed loons. My senses were wound to maximum. The instant I saw green I was ready to have the throttle on the stop. And, in a heart’s beat, we were off – and I was heading my rivals up the first hill.
OK, this isn’t a GP, but getting the drop from the lights is almost as important to scooter riders in Rome. And when the rest are on two-strokes and make you feel lower than dirt just by running an eye over you, well, you have to do your best to impress.
And I had around 100 opportunities riding Yamaha’s new four-stroke 125cc Teos scooter in Italy’s capital city. And what Rome is to Italy, Italy is to scooters. A small matter of 550,000 of them were sold there last year.
Like the recently launched Honda @125 scooter, the Teos is a four-stroke aimed at the " more mature " scooter rider - that’s over 25 and under 35 in scooter marketing speak, grandad.
At first I was petrified by the apparent chaos of the Roman traffic (if you want a white-knuckle ride, take a taxi) but after being blown away by my fifth grandma on a 10-year-old 50cc scooter, it finally clicked that the whole city is geared to small vehicles zipping and nipping, flicking and tucking. Everyone is looking out for you. This is a place where the scooter is king.
Throughout the drama, the Teos remained stable and predictable and the extras available like a top box, side crash protectors and a user-friendly sidestand are obvious signs of designs for city life. The Teos has one big advantage over all the race-piped 50cc machines that buzz their way around the Mediterranean - it actually has usable grunt and a decent level of performance around town. I saw around 70mph on the clock with everything tucked in.
There are loads of nice touches that make the Teos usable: Room for a lid under the seat, a clever little ignition switch that will flip the seat/boot open without having to take the key out and the essential hook for a shopping bag.
The wheels are bigger than the usual tiny scooter rims and the stability of the machine benefits - even on bumpy Roman cobbles. The bumps of Britain shouldn’t pose too much of a problem. It could just do with a better rear brake. Ditch the drum and fit a disc!
But if you want a really easy rider, this is it.
YAMAHA TEOS 125
Availability: Yamaha UK: 01932-358000
Colours: Blue, silver, red
Engine: 124cc four-stroke single
Power:11.6bhp @ 9000rpm
Top speed: 70mph (est)
Fuel consumption/average mpg/tank capacity/range: 96mpg, 9 litres, 190 miles