2012 Yamaha Zuma 50F Review

2 Jun 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2012 Yamaha Zuma 50F Review

Yamaha Zuma 50 F

2012 Yamaha Zuma 50F Review

Most serious motorcyclists see 50cc scooters as no more than pit bikes, handy for scooting around on at tracks, but not seriously intended for real transportation tasks. To refute that notion, Yamaha invited a bunch of writers to San Francisco to take part in a city tour with 10 scenic spots conveniently programmed into a Garmin Nuvi 220 GPS navigator.

We were instructed to photograph the locations to prove we’d been there (yes, there was a prize as an incentive), then move on to the next spot. In the course of a daylong sight-seeing tour of California’s most popular tourist attractions, we rode up and down some of the steepest hills imaginable. You’ve probably seen them in movies, if not in person.

True, some of them had to be negotiated flat-out at no more than 10mph, but the dinky scooter plugged away relentlessly, and it was never beaten. If you bear in mind that I am six-foot-five and 220 pounds, the extent of the little Yamaha’s feat can be appreciated.

New for the Zuma 50F in 2012 is a fuel-injected, liquid-cooled, three-valve, four-stroke single hooked to a continuously variable transmission. It is equipped with a dual catalyst for clean running, and sports a tiny radiator at the side through which air is drawn by a crankshaft-mounted fan.

According to specs we found on European websites (where they have a scooter called Neo’s 4 that uses the same engine), the little single makes about three horsepower at 7,000 rpm, and about 2.3 pound-feet of torque at the same revs.

That’s not a lot, but the machine managed to keep pace with traffic in downtown San Francisco quite well, and even when ridden pretty much flat-out the whole time, returned better than 100 mpg from its 1.2-gallon supply. Yamaha quotes EPA fuel consumption estimates as “up to 132 mpg”, but that’s never going to happen in San Francisco!

But the new engine is not all that‘s new on the Zuma 50F. The single-pipe tube frame carries new bodywork that features a large underseat compartment that will accommodate a helmet, a low-slung fuel tank filled at a point between your feet (where it does not require the seat to be lifted), and tube-type handlebars with dirtbike-like clamps.

Most scooters have shrouded handlebars, but the Zuma’s are naked, and the instrument binnacle floats free ahead of the bars. Dual headlights are fitted, as before, giving the bike that utilitarian look many riders prize. There’s a cupholder-sized stash pocket inside the fairing, and a hook to hang bags securely between a rider’s knees.

A single key slot handles ignition, steering lock and seat-release duties, and the Zuma needs just a stab at the starter button and a twist of the throttle to go. There’s a single hydraulic disc brake up front—accented with a red caliper and hub—and a drum out back. Both are controlled by handlebar levers.

We found the brakes quite strong during our up-hill-and-down-dale adventures, with quite good lever feel. The Zuma steers very lightly, and has big knobby tires that negotiated San Francisco’s famous streetcar rails without a moment’s instability. There’s a fair bit of cornering clearance before the stand touches down, so you can get quite adventurous in the corners.

Of course, this is a commuter/urban runabout, so any handling talent is just a bonus to its convenience features. Those include a big, comfortable seat for two and mirrors with which you can actually see behind you.

With a top speed of no more than 45 mph or so, the Zuma 50F is not intended for freeway use. But if you can commute and shop on surface streets, the Zuma will tackle it with surprising facility. And it will most likely make you smile at its determined efforts to haul you around

Zuma 50Fs are available in Raven (black), Alpine White, and Team Yamaha Blue.

Yamaha Zuma 50 F
Yamaha Zuma 50 F


Beginners, intermediate and experts will all ride the Yamaha Zuma 50F easily. Its twist ’n’ go mode takes all the guesswork out of riding. Everyone will appreciate the storage capacity and the ease with which this little machine handles.

Every rider knows that carrying a helmet is the biggest downside of getting around on two wheels, and having the Zuma swallow it while you get about your business is one of a scooter’s biggest attractions. Experts may be frustrated by its modest power output, but they might also just find themselves enjoying the challenge of competing with traffic.


Honda’s Metropolitan is a carryover model from 2009, but it has a liquid-cooled, carbureted four-stroke engine much like that of the Zuma, and it costs about $500 less than the Yamaha. The design is more staid, and it has a drum front brake, but you can’t beat the price.

Aprilia offers its Sportcity 50 model for a little more than Yamaha’s price, and the bike has an air-cooled four-stroke engine and a disc front brake. In most other ways, its technical specification is very similar to the Zuma’s. Choosing one over the other probably depends on which design you like, the location of the dealer and your own idea of who makes more reliable machines.

Vespa’s S50 4V is also a direct competitor to the Zuma 50F, boasting a four-valve four-stroke engine, a steel monocoque frame, Vespa’s famous trailing link front suspension, adjustable rear spring preload, and a disc front brake. The prices are somewhat higher than competitive models, and the S50 4V is about $660 more than the Zuma 50F’s MSRP of $2,540

For more information on the Zuma 50F, go to http://www.yamaha-motor.com

Yamaha Zuma 50 F
Yamaha Zuma 50 F
Yamaha Zuma 50 F
Yamaha Zuma 50 F
Yamaha Zuma 50 F

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