Review of the Lance Soho 50 Scooter
Minnesota, we don't have any scooters. Nope. None. According to the
Minnesota Department of Motor Vehicles, we have mopeds and we have
motorcycles. Mopeds? Like those bicycle-looking things from the 1970s
gas crisis? Well, yes, I suppose, but mostly scooter-looking things that
are licensed as a moped. In Minnesota, that means less than 50cc
displacement, two horsepower and a maximum speed of 30 MPH on a level
road. Meet those three requirements and your scooter can have a license
plate that says "Moped" on it. What good is that? First and foremost, it
opens up a whole new world of parking possibilities. On the main campus
of the University of Minnesota, students (and faculty and employees)
can get a parking permit on their moped-legal scooter that allows free
parking in designated areas on campus. In the downtown areas,
moped-legal scooter parking in bike racks is often permitted at no cost.
With current monthly parking in the $200 - $250 range, a moped can be a
big deal financially.
The second element that some people look for is in
the licensing area. In Minnesota, anyone with a valid driver's license
can operate a moped. No "motorcycle" endorsement required. I don't
consider this a big deal because it is incredibly easy to get a
motorcycle endorsement in Minnesota.
Read the book, take a multiple-choice test, and you've got a permit.
With your permit in hand,
take a class.
Upon successful completion of the class, you can get your full
motorcycle endorsement. You can also ride around with your permit until
you feel your skills and confidence will allow you to pass the road test
at the DMV. Take the class. Trust me. You'll learn a lot and the process
is easier than the DMV road test process.
The "Moped" rules in your state may very well be
different from those here in Minnesota.
Assuming you have the need or desire for a
moped-legal scooter, you may find yourself looking at the Lance Soho 50.
Lance scooters are marketed in the USA by
LancePowersports.com which is run by the same people who
import and distribute SYM in the USA,
AlliancePowersports.com . That's a natural connection, because the
Lance scooters are manufactured by SYM. That's a good thing because SYM
is a top tier Taiwanese company, right up there in quality with
companies like Kymco and PGO (makers of the Genuine Buddy).
It's off to visit Marty at
GoMoto in Minneapolis and pick up a new Lance Soho 50.
Speedometer Reading/Speed/Fuel Economy
Speedometer accuracy.... on a
moped? With a top speed of 30 MPH, what's the point? Yes, that's 30 MPH
maximum when restricted. Marty at GoMoto was kind enough to de-restrict
the Soho so I could see what the real capabilities of the scooter would
be. I mounted up a GPS unit and got to testing. As is fairly typical on
most scooters, the Lance Soho was about 10% optimistic. At an indicated
20 MPH the GPS-verified actual speed was 18 MPH. At an indicated 30 MPH
the actual speed was 27 MPH. The odometer was only about 3% optimistic
registering 11.3 miles on my 11.0 mile GPS test. Top speed was 40 MPH.
That's on a new, not-yet-broken-in motor AND with a 100 kg (220
pounds, but kilograms sound so much... lighter....) pilot.
Fuel economy was very good at 90
MPG. No, not the over-100 MPG that is advertised, but these were 90 real
miles on real roads. The Soho 50 utilizes the same high quality SYM
engine as the wonderful Mio scooter, with a
longer CVT case to accommodate the much bigger wheel on the Soho. I
would expect fuel economy to improve a bit after break in, but I
wouldn't expect much more than the 34 MPH top speed that I saw.
The Lance Soho 50 is a value priced scooter with the
focus on functionality, reliability and longevity. There's not a lot of
features there, but what is there appears to be of good quality. The
first thing I noticed was the lack of a headlight switch. Scooters in
the USA have to have their headlights on all the time - not supposed to
be an "off" switch, but the Soho has no switch at all, so no high beam
and low beam selection. I've seen this before on some other newer 50cc
scooters and I guess it's as good a place as any to save a couple of
bucks. Does one really need high beam on a moped-legal scooter? The Soho
50 is powered by a 49cc four-stroke air-cooled ceramic coated carbureted
engine and gets power to the 16 inch rear wheel automatically through a
CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission).
Aside from the aforementioned lack of a headlight
switch, the control layout is typical of a modern scooter - rear brake,
turn signals and horn by the left hand with the front brake, engine stop
switch and starter button by the right hand. The dash is basic and
offers a large, round analog speedometer biased to miles. Kilometers are
printed smaller on the inner part of the display. The odometer (miles)
is integrated into the speedometer. A round fuel gauge is to the right.
Left and right turn signal indicators are on either side and single
check engine light is located in middle upper part of the dash. That's
it. No clock or trip meter or tachometer or seat open indicator or....
you get the idea. Simple and basic.
For storage the Soho provides a luggage hook and glove
box on the inner legshield, underseat storage, and a small rear rack.
The glove box is made up of two compartments and is lockable. The seat
is released by turning the key in the multi-function switch
anti-clockwise. With the seat lifted, you'll find the fuel filler cap
and room for a half helmet or maybe a smaller three-quarter. My XXL full
face would not fit under the seat.
The Soho 50 has a seat large enough to accommodate two
people, though the two people would have to be pretty light-weight to be
adequately propelled by the tiny engine. There are fold out passenger
foot pegs as well. The electric starter worked just fine, but in case it
doesn't (dead battery for example) there's a kick starter. I
there's anything easier to kick start than a 50cc four-stroke I don't
know what it is. I swear, after it was warmed up, the Soho 50 kick
starter would get things running just be looking at it hard. OK, I might
be stretching things just a tiny bit, but I'm used to starting vintage
British motorcycles with a kicker. Not a task for the timid.
The Lance Soho 50 fired right up, but needed a minute or two before it
would idle smoothly. It's just a little cold-blooded as it ran smoothly
after the initial burbles. I noticed the same thing on subsequent cold
mornings - allowing a minute or two for warm up is a good idea. Another
"running" note - this a carbureted scooter so it will be much happier
burning Non-Oxygenated fuel (E0). The ergonomics of the Soho 50
were very good up to a point, and I'd say that point is about 32
inches. If your inseam is much longer than that, you'll likely be a bit
cramped on the Soho. I found the Soho very comfortable as did everyone
who tried it aside from the longer-legged. Even they didn't complain
much, just wished for some more leg/foot room.
Taking off from GoMoto, I was
immediately reminded that this is moped-legal, small-engine machine. I'm
a heavy person and acceleration was barely adequate to keep up with
traffic on surface roads. It probably didn't help that I had ridden a
750cc Moto Guzzi motorcycle over to GoMoto. Getting off that and onto a
50cc scooter only amplifies the lack of performance of the small
scooter. That's OK, this isn't a machine to buy for performance. It's
for cheap urban transportation with a BIG parking advantage (in
Minnesota). Acceleration on the Mio scooter
(which has the same engine) was better, but I suspect that the
much smaller wheels on the Mio had something to do with that, along with
the fact that the Mio was more broken in. The Soho 50 is also a
four-stroke which means it's not going to have the acceleration of some
other moped-legal scooters equipped with two-stroke engines. The thing
is, two-strokes are becoming harder and harder to find in new scooters.
As of this writing, Kymco has dropped them completely, Lance only offers
four-strokes and even SYM only offers one two-stroke model, the Jet 50.
Part of my regular test routes include some hills and one of them is
both long and steep. On this road, going up the hill, the Soho held
25MPH by the top of the hill. That's with 100kg load and maybe just a
touch of headwind. On the flipside, I saw 45 MPH going down the same
hill. OK, there's a whole paragraph about something that shouldn't
matter to you if you're looking for a moped-legal scooter. If you want
to go 45 MPH uphill, get a 100cc - 150cc scooter.
Handling was VERY good on the
Soho 50. There single rear shock did a fine job even over rough roads.
The 16 inch wheels really shine when it comes to smooth riding. Ten
inchers may be quicker to take a turn, but they can't compare to the
stability and comfort of big wheels. Nothing rattled and nothing
bottomed out which leads me to believe that the Soho quality is high in
both components and assembly. Braking was more than up to the job with a
strong and responsive disc up front and a drum in back that didn't show
any signs of fading even after repeated use. When I REALLY hit the rear
brake, I could lock it up, but I don't think this would occur under
In a couple of days of commuting
the Soho 50 worked flawlessly and once I got used to the performance
limitations I had no issues with traffic. As long as I stuck to routes
posted 30 MPH or even 35 MPH without any steep hills to climb, the cars
behind me suffered no great delays. There's a nice color-matched topcase
available from Lance that would make a great commuting addition to the
Fit & Finish
SYM builds a very nice machine.
Even in the "discount" line of Lance, the level of quality is higher
than one might expect. I have recently taken to utilizing a body panel
gap gauge to check fit on scooters. When the fit is tight and uniform,
there's very little to no fluctuations on the gauge. When the gauge
moves a lot, the gap is not uniform. The only place I had much movement
was between the dash panel and headset cover and it wasn't a lot. That
means good quality panels and a good fit. The switches, latches and
other easily visible components appear robust. While riding, nothing
rattled. The true indicator will be time, but I'd expect the Lance Soho
50 to hold up well. I'd place it just a notch below the
no-longer-available-in North-America Kymco People 50 and several notches
above the mainland Chinese generic models out there.
Lance Soho 50 vs.
If you're out looking for a NEW
moped-legal 16 inch wheel scooter, the Lance Soho 50 is your only real
choice. The Soho is similar in many ways to the outstanding
Kymco People 50 2T, but that scooter is no
longer offered in the USA. That being said, you may well find a good
used People 50 out there because a LOT of them were sold over the years.
The Aprilia SportCity 50 was dropped from the USA line-up after 2013. It
was initially a fast two-stroke and then went four-stroke. Not many were
sold here, but I included it in the chart because it's similar in layout
to the Soho.
The Kymco People 'S' 50 is
another no-longer-available big-wheeled moped-legal scooter that
utilized a four-stroke 49cc powerplant. Not NEARLY as many of those were
sold in the USA as the two-stroke People 50, so I didn't include it on
the chart. It was also much more expensive at $2,449.
I liked the Lance Soho 50 for what
it is - a four-stroke moped-legal big-wheel scooter. The component and
build quality are good and it offers a smoother and more stable ride
than it's smaller-wheel brethren. It is frustrating that there are no
current new-scooter alternatives to consider, but the Soho 50 impressed
me enough to make that less of a worry. Kudos to Lance and SYM for
keeping a big-wheeled moped/scooter in our marketplace.
One again, a BIG "Thank You" to
Marty at GoMoto for facilitating this review.