Smax vs Super 8 150 vs like 150i Review and Comparison.

Discussion in 'Battle Scooters' started by klaviator, Apr 8, 2018.

  1. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer Supporter

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    Edit: Originally this was a comparison and review of the Smax vs Super 8. Since I now have a Kymco like 150i I am going to expand this comparison. Post #44 is the start of new information.

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    I've been meaning to do this for a while. These are the only two small scooters I have owned so I'm going to do a comparison. It's the best way I can think of to do a good review of the Smax.

    Starting with the Super 8. It's a 2009 Kymco Super 8 150 that I bought new at the end of November 2010 for $2200 OTD. I considered several other scooters but Kymco seemed to offer the best bang for the buck. The Kymco dealer was also the closest dealer to me and seemed like a good place to do business. I also considered the Kymco People 150 and People 200s. After a test ride of the 200s and Super 8 I bought the Super 8.

    After over 7 years and 30,000+ miles I have no regrets. If I could go back in time I'd still buy it. Over the years I have owned a few bikes that really stood out as fun to ride bikes that performed way better than the spec sheet would indicate. Interestingly one of those bike was also black and red like my Super 8. That would be my 89 Kawasaki EX500.

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    What do these bikes have in common? Both were inexpensive bikes and not exactly state of the art for their time. Both were bikes that EVERY time I got on them they just reminded me how much fun it is to get on 2 wheels and ride:ricky:ricky:ricky Both bikes were relatively light weight. Both bikes have given me a lot of great memories. Both bikes were way more capable than their spec sheet would indicate.

    Some facts about the Super 8:
    Engine: 149cc air cooled carburated 2 valve single. 10.3 HP claimed
    weight: 267 LBS claimed.
    Wheels: 14" front and rear.
    Brakes: Front disc, rear drum
    Fuel tank: 1.3 gallons


    A few pics of my Super 8:

    Picking it up from the dealer:

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    So, as you can see from the pictures, I did a few things on my Super 8.

    Here's a pic from last week:

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    I have mainly used my Super 8 for commuting around town but occasionally I have used it as a dual sport, sport bike, and even gone touring on it.

    How well does it work?

    I don't have a GPS to check the actual speed but it will hit 65-68 on the speedo which I think reads about 10% high. So figure actual top speed around 60. Acceleration is good enough to leave most cars behind when the light turns green. Gas mileage is normally around 70 MPG. With a 1.3 gal tank range is around 90-100 miles although I have never actually ran it dry.

    The seat is hard and not that comfortable but that's only an issue on long rides. Around town it's fine. Seating position is roomy enough for my 6-2, 34" inseam and size 12 feet. No you can't stretch out like a maxi scooter but it's perfect for around town or sport riding.

    Handling is great but limited cornering clearance limits speed on twisty roads. The brakes are pretty basic but work just fine. No ABS but I never missed it and the brakes are not linked like some scooters. If the brakes had been linked I would not have bought it.

    After 30,000 miles the drivetrain, suspension and brakes are still solid. I have had some electrical issues but none were very expensive to fix. The fuel gauge went out years ago and I never fixed it. I keep the tank topped off from a 5 gal gas can. The CDI went out last year. The cost for the shop to diagnose it, parts and installation was around $185. That's been by far my most expensive repair. I have done all the routine servicing except for mounting new tires. Speaking of tires, the tires on this scooter have lasted much longer than the tires on any of my other scooters.

    Routine servicing has been pretty easy. I have changed the oil every 1200 miles. I replaced the belt twice so far. Valve clearance checks take about and hour and cost nothing to do. Occasional air filter and spark plug changes are also easy.

    So that's an overview of the Super 8. I'll do the Smax next then compare them.
    #1
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  2. longhaul747

    longhaul747 Long timer

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    I am looking forward to your commentaries regarding both machines!

    I have owned a Super 8 in the past and currently have an SMax 155. Both great scoots with minor differences. I will have to dig into my own brain now and see what was different about them.
    #2
  3. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer Supporter

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    When I bought my Super 8 I figured I'd ride it 20,000 to 25,000 miles. So well before I got to that point I was looking around for a potential replacement because the Super 8 got me hooked on small scooters and I can't see ever being without one. When the Smax came out I was real excited but when I sat on one i wasn't sure I could make it work because the seating position was not tall person friendly. The local dealer got one in and let me ride it a couple of years ago. I figured I could make it work. I wasn't ready to buy because my Super 8 was still going strong and besides I really didn't care for the flat gray paint on the one they had.

    They finally sold that Smax but the new owner decided the seat was too tall and traded it back in on another scooter. It only had 150 miles on it and most of the warranty left:hmmmmm

    So last may I headed over and checked it out and rode it again.

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    It wasn't the color I wanted and I planned on waiting to buy but the price was right so:

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  4. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer Supporter

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    Some specs on the smax:

    Engine: 155cc liquid cooled fuel injected 4 valve single.
    Weight: 328 pounds wet (claimed)
    Wheels: 13" front and rear
    Brakes: Disc/disc
    Fuel Cap. 2 gallons.

    So it's definitely more high tech than the S-8.

    A few pics:

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    #4
  5. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer Supporter

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    I bought the Smax as a replacement for the Super 8 and have used it for commuting around town, as a sportbike, dual sport and I have gone touring on it. Sounds just like the S-8. Like the S-8 I have not verified the top speed. Indicated top speed is normally 73-78 MPH. Others with GPS have posted top speeds around 73 so I'm guessing my Speedo reads around 5 MPH high at highway speeds.

    Gas mileage is normally 80-85 MPG most of the time but on the occasions I get out on long rides on country roads I have often gotten 90+ with one ride where I got an even 100MPG.

    Right now the Smax has just over 4,000 miles on it, 150 were on it when I bought it. So far no problems of any kind. I have changed the oil a few times and checked/adjusted the valves once. Only time will tell how the reliability compares to the Kymco but the build quality does seem to be better. Changing the oil and checking the valves are a little easier on the Kymco but it's still pretty easy on the Smax. The service intervals for the S-8 are oil change every 1200 miles and valve checks every 2500. The valves clearances seldom changed on the Kymco so I went to checking the valves every 5000 then 7500 miles with no issues. The Smax calls for 1800 mile oil changes and 2000 mile valve checks. The 2000 mile interval seems excessive. I checked them at around 600 and as reported by many others on the forum the intakes were a bit tight. I'll be checking them again soon.
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  6. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer Supporter

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    So, how do these two scooters compare?

    I'll start with the obvious and the first thing most people notice, the styling. The super 8 looks like a miniature sportbike. I have always been a big fan of black and red. Besides my EX500 which was one of my all time favorite bikes I also have a black and red KLR650 in the garage. Of course styling is purely subjective but I have always loved the looks of my Super 8.

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    My Smax is flat gray. I have never been a big fan of that color although flat back is even worse. Other than that I like the overall styling of the Smax except for the styling of the rear of the bike. Adding a tail trunk made the bike look a lot better form the rear IMO. While I have always disliked flat gray, I have gotten used to it and don't dislike it so much any more. I'd still prefer the bike in red or blue but I buy my bikes to ride them not sit around and look at them. Of course I do take pictures of my bikes and like the S-8, have taken some pics of my Smax that I really like.

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    There is one view of the Smax I like much better than the S-8 and that's the view of the dash. The S-8 has a really basic dash with a Speedo, Odo, fuel gauge and clock, all analog except the clock.

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    The fuel gauge quit working along time ago and I never bothered to fix it. The clock is a real PITA to set so I don't bother. There is no trip odometer. That leaves only the Speedo and Odometer so it's really basic.

    The Smax dash on the other hand looks really modern and high tech with a lot of info.

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    Even though it's an automatic I love having a tachometer. The fuel gauge works although it's not very accurate. It stays on full until about a third of a gallon is used then drops to completely empty when there is still a half of a gallon left. It's still useful. More importantly there is a trip odometer which I reset when I fill up. I know I can expect at least 80 MPG and there is a 2 gallon tank so I know when to stop for gas.

    There is also a clock and another trip odometer that is meant to be reset at every oil change.

    One thing I wish this scooter had is a control on the right handlebar to reset/change the dash display. My Sport City had this and so does the new Xmax. Now I have to reach for the dash to switch between Odo and trip odo and it's somewhat awkward. It would also be nice to have two trip odometers like many modern bikes do. I guess I could use the oil change odo for that.
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  7. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer Supporter

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    The main reason I bought the Super 8 was that I thought it would make a good commuter bike. Besides the fact that it would be economical I wanted something with built in storage. Sure I could ride one of my other bikes and carry stuff in a backpack or soft luggage but I wanted something more practical. The S-8, like almost all modern scooters has an underseat storage compartment. It's not huge and won't hold any of my helmets but it's still very useful.

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    I carry a tool kit/tire plug kit. You can also see a cable sticking out of the took kit. I use that to lock my helmet if needed since the built in helmet locks are pretty useless. There is a bungee net in case I need to carry something on the seat and a small bag that will hold a fair amount of groceries and can be hung from the cargo hook. There is still some room left but the compartment does get pretty warm which limits what I will carry there. Typically when I stop I fold up my riding pants and stuff them in there.

    On the the features that I really liked about the S-8 was that a rear luggage rack came stock. this made it easy to mount a tail box. The dealer had an Emgo tail box in stock that he sold me for 50 bucks. I was able to attach the mounting plate that came with the box directly to the rack. I can't believe how many modern scooters come without a rear rack.

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    The lighting was poor today when I took these pics. I'll try to retake them on a sunny day. My helmet is not really dirty like it appears in the pic. I don't know the capacity of the Emgo but I'll guess around 28L. It will barely hold my modular helmet.

    So between the underseat storage, tail trunk, cargo hook and passenger seat the is bike can haul a fair amount of stuff. My record is 87 buck of groceries from Wally World. I documented that occasion in this pic:

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    The Smax comes with an underseat storage area considerably bigger than the S 8 but it still won't hold any of my helmets.

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    Like the S-8 I keep a tool Kit/tire plug kit and bungee net under the seat. I can fold up my riding jacket, stick it under the seat and still have a little room to spare. Because the Smax is liquid cooled the underseat compartment does not get as warm as the one on the S-8. I still wouldn't carry ice cream there.

    Yamaha cheaped out and did not put a rear rack on the SMax. I bought a Shad 40L tail box and mounting kit for the Smax. I don't remember the exact cost but it was way more than the 50 bucks I spent to put a tail box on the S-8. It is a much higher quality and bigger box. I wanted to get a GIVI box but mounting kits were out of stock. Now that I have the Shad I'm glad I got it. It can be closed without locking it unlike the GIVI's which automatically lock when closed.

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    I can stuff my helmet and riding pants into this box!

    The extra locking storage capacity really comes in handy and does make it a more practical commuter. The Smax does have a cargo hook but I almost never use it.

    One of the things I often do with my scooters is to ride and hike. With the S-8 I can put my riding pants under the seat, my jacket and gloves in the tail box and use the cable to lock my helmet. With the Smax everything can be locked out of sight.
    #7
  8. The Virginian

    The Virginian Long timer

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    Great write up Klav and thank you for taking the time to post your thoughts! May I ask what you would use two trip odometers for?

    Eric
    #8
  9. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer Supporter

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    Thanks. I still have more coming up.

    My Versys has 2 trip odometers. I reset one of them every time I fill up. I use the other just to track how much I ride in a day or a particular ride. it's not a big deal but I particularly like it when I'm on a trip. For those of you with GPS it wouldn't be that useful since your GPS normally does that. Some day I may break down and get a GPS but haven't gotten around to it yet.

    Riding is just more of an adventure when you get lost:lol3
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  10. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer Supporter

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    One of the issues with small scooters is being able to fit on them, especially for tall guys like me. On the S-8 that was never an issue. the seating position is about perfect for around town riding. As mentioned before the seat is not that great and does become an issue on longer riders. Since I don't take long rides on it that often I haven't bothered to address the issue.

    The Smax on the other hand was a challenge for me. First was the issue of the bars hitting my knees on tight turns. Second, the seating position put my Knees higher than my butt which was not comfortable. This issue is addressed in many places in the Smax thread. Some people Modified the seat to remove the hump and allow them so sit further back. Another rider bought a Corbin seat. I tried something different. I made a seat pad to raise me up and allow me to sit a little further back. This made the bike much more comfortable but didn't solve the handlebars hitting my knees issue. What I do is move my knees to the inside on tight turns. This sounds like a PITA but is not that big of a deal once you get used to it. More details on the seat pad are here: http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/yamaha-xc155-smax-thread.1005540/page-116#post-32716481

    With the seat pad the Smax is now more comfortable that the S-8 on long rides. I have gone touring on both bikes so I'll do a touring comparison of them.

    I had read a lot of ride reports of people on this forum doing long trips on small scooters and it was something I wanted to do for a long time. Finally I did it last year. I took a five day ride in the North Carolina Mountains on the S-8. Here is the S-8 set up for the trip:

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    That blue cooler on the floorboards holds a one gallon gas tank. A 1.3 gallon gas tank and 70MPG really limits your range. The bag above it held a camera. The bag on the seat was bungeed directly to the seat so that I could lift the seat and fill the tank without removing the seat. i had enough stuff for a 5 day trip but no camping gear. Since the S-8 in not highway capable I trucked it to Tellico plains and started and finished my ride there.

    I ended up having a fantastic trip.

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    If you want all the details of this trip it's here: http://advrider.com/index.php?threa...-the-rocket-city.647784/page-57#post-32236256
    #10
  11. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer Supporter

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  12. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer Supporter

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    So how do they compare as touring bikes?

    Without a doubt the Smax is a more capable touring bike.

    The Smax is fast enough to get on the interstate and comfortable enough to ride more miles in a day the the S-8. With a bigger fuel tank and better fuel mileage it has much better range and I didn't need to bring extra gas. One HUGE advantage for the Smax is that the fuel filler is not under the seat so I could put a bunch of stuff on the seat and not have to remove it every time I filled up.

    It was really cool touring on the S-8 and it felt like a real adventure. I am really glad I did it. The Smax however is much more capable and I see many more trips in it's future:rayof
    #12
  13. Manrider218

    Manrider218 Been here awhile

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    thanks bro,
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  14. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer Supporter

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    Ride and Handling comparison.

    The S-8 has a pretty firm suspension and although it has a budget suspension it seems to work pretty well in most conditions. When got the Smax it felt really harsh by comparison. As I have put some miles on it, it seems to have loosened up some. Or maybe I just got used to it. that thick seat pad I put on it also helps absorb some of the bumps. Still, I'm going to rate the kymco as having a better ride.

    Handling is really important to as i'm a Curve-O-holic and love riding twisty roads. The Super 8 is an absolute blast around town and flicks into corners with the greatest of ease. The handlebars feel like they are almost directly connected to the front axle. Not too long after I bought it I took it to Deal's Gap to ride those famous 318 curves as well as some of the fantastic surrounding roads. It didn't take to long to uncover the biggest handling issue with the S-8. While it feels like a mini sport bike and just begs to be ridden fast in the curves, it just doesn't have the cornering clearance to do it. Take a look at this pic and you will see what I'm talking about:

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    There is a steel tab that the sidestand mounts to that touches down early and hard on the left side and the plastic touches down on the right. It did put a damper on the fun but I still had a great couple of days riding. More details on that trip are here: http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/scootin-through-deals-gap-318-curves-and-11-horsepower.670468/

    So the S-8 was not perfect but I was still really glad I bought it and was hooked on small scooters.

    Next up: How the Smax compares.
    #14
  15. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer Supporter

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    After getting the Smax I ride it back to back with the S-8 and the steering felt heavy, slow, and somewhat vague. It did not have that "handlebar connected to the front axle" feel of the S-8. Still, it was fun to ride and only came up short compared to the S-8. It still felt light compared to all my other bikes.

    As I put some miles on the Smax it started to feel better. Now it feels great and the S-8 feels a bit twitchy. Some bikes just take time to get used to. I have now ridden a bunch of curvy road on the Smax and am very happy with it. Because of the greater cornering clearance I can ride it faster than the S-8. The suspension is still an issue as the front tire sometimes chatters a bit when leaned overs. It does feel more "planted" than the S-8. Neither are true sport bikes but I have passed "real" sport bikes on both of them.

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    I was a little concerned about taking the Smax off the pavement due to the smaller wheels and harsh suspension but it has turned out to make a reasonable dual sport bike although I'll give the S-8 a slight edge here due to it's lighter weight and larger wheels.

    Riding the Smax on one of my favorite roads, Winding Stair in NC. Previously I had only ridden this on dual sport bikes and my Versys.

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  16. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer Supporter

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    The Verdict?

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    Everything considered the Smax is a better and more capable scooter. IMO it's the best small scooter available in the US today. However, the Super 8 has been one of the best buys I have ever made and has earned it's spot as one of my all time favorite bikes. At over 30,000 miles there are only four bikes I have put more miles on. It was the "gateway drug" that got me addicted to scooters. I don't know how much longer I will keep it but I wall always have a bunch of great memories of my rides on this scooter. I am really glad I took the time to document those rides by taking a lot of pictures and putting them into ride reports.

    But the Smax is the future. Only time will tell if it has as much impact on my life as the Super 8 has.

    Thanks for reading this. I hope ya'll enjoyed my writeup. If you are reading this and have never owned a small scooter I hope this pushes you over the edge. They are way more fun than you would expect.
    #16
  17. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer Supporter

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    I did forget one thing. That's acceleration. As you would expect the Smax will leave the S-8 in the dust in a drag race or climbing hills. Not only does the Smax have more power but the variator does a much better job letting the motor get into the power band as well as keeping it there.
    #17
  18. Moat

    Moat Been here awhile

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    Thanks for taking the time to do this great write-up, klav - it's rare that folks get such in-depth owner's impressions. Much appreciated! :thumbup The excellent service you've gotten out of the Kymco is indeed impressive - probably spent the majority of it's life so far working pretty danged hard. Says a lot about the brand.

    The Smax front chatter when cornering makes me wonder if playing around with different front tires (tread "stickiness" & carcass stiffness/bounce) and/or fork oil viscosity (damping of chatter/movement) might make a difference - possibly improving that elusive "front end attached to the road" feeling, too. Just a thought, FWIW...

    Great stuff - thanks!

    Bob
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  19. cdwise

    cdwise Long timer Supporter

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    Good write up. While neither is on my list of scoots since the styling is too modern Asian for me I enjoyed your reading. I do also have to admit that I did give a fleeting thought to getting an xmax as a cannonball scoot. Performance for ccs is very good.
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  20. LidoCA

    LidoCA Been here awhile

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    Definitely a great write up! The fact that you can get 30k miles out of a $2,200.00 scooter, shows the reliability of it. I bought the Smax as a mini touring ride. I did not believe my Kymco would treat my backside well on a long trip. They are both great for what they are!
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