Why a 125cc motor scooter? Well, it's economical to run, it's great looking, it will keep up with city and country (backroad) traffic, it's easy to operate because of its smooth, completely automatic V-belt transmission and it's just plane fun to ride! There are a number of other more technical reviews on the internet for the Vino 125, so this one will be more in the way of "personal experience" than others. That's usually the kind of review that stays with a person anyway.
Recommend this product?
My wife and I started out with 50 cc scooters as many folks do. The problem with most 50 cc bikes is that they often struggle to make it to just 30 mph, they struggle to make it up even modest hills at 20 or 25 mph, some nearly bog down at 10 to 15 mph on steep hills and they just seem rather fragile and under-built for longer term life spans. Most are also 2-stroke engines that probably won't last too long when consistently run wide open. I'm a pretty big guy as well, about the size of a professional linebacker, and a 50 cc scooter seemed way too small for my frame, I actually felt a little odd on one. Not so however with the Vino 125! With this scooter, I feel that I'm not straining it to it's carrying-weight limit and can easily get it to travel at 50 to 55 mph on a straightaway. About the same as my wife can with her much lighter frame. Climbing hills is no longer a strain on the bike either, and the majority of the time I'm not even close to wide-open on the throttle. All-in-all, it just feels like a much better fit.
Actually, my wife was the lucky owner of our first Vino 125 purchase. I had purchased a used Yamaha Riva 125 cc (2001) scooter a few months earlier for myself, but then my wife could no longer keep up with me on her 50 cc Honda, so the new Yamaha Vino 125 seemed a good choice for her. Once I tried her new Vino, however, I knew that my Riva 125 was soon to go.
Here's why I like Vino 125 over the Riva 125 that I had. The Vino feels more like a motorcycle, the handlebars have a "spread" similar to a motorcycle's and I feel it gives better control as well as being less fatiguing on my arms during longer rides. The controls themselves on the Vino (horn and turn signals) are easier to get to, they seem more "intuitive" than on the earlier Riva. When I need to get to the horn, for instance, it's needed immediately, I don't want to make a mistake or have to "hunt "for it. The other handlebar instruments also look and operate more like a motorcycle's than those on the typical scooter.
I like the rear brake control on the left handlebar too. It's faster and easier to get to than the rear brake on the right-side of the floor of other 125 cc (and higher) scooters. While some long-time motorcyclists may find this takes some getting used to, most Vino 125 owners seem to like the idea. Remember that the Vino 125 requires a Class M or motorcycle license to legally be operated in most states and territories. Personally, I find the left handgrip rear brake a real convenience because it allows much finer rear brake control than does a right foot brake pedal on the floor or side. If you're currently a motorcycle rider and used to clutching with your left hand, shifting with your left foot and rear-braking with your right foot, I don't think you'll find it too difficult to switch-over to no shifting and rear-braking with your left hand. If you're new to the 2-wheeled power community, then of course it's a breeze.
I also like the large, locked, under seat storage on the Vino for small tools, a camera, paperwork and for a few groceries when you stop at the store. The Riva didn't have that. There is also room on the Vino's rear "luggage rack" for an enclosed secure case or perhaps just an add-on wire basket. The shape of the seat on the Vino tapers in the front and is less fatiguing on my upper legs on long rides than the seat on the Riva. Again, it's more like a motorcycle. That may seem like a minor point, but after a couple of hours on the road, the term "minor" takes on new meaning!
Here's a little technical stuff: The Vino 125 has two internal oil strainers (as opposed to none in the Riva!) and changing the oil is a relatively easy process. The second strainer is a very difficult one to get to, but it need be checked only infrequently. Best to leave this one to Yamaha. There was no way to start the Riva if the battery wouldn't make it, but Yamaha put a manual a kick-starter back onto the Vino, "just in case". On the subject of starting, the Vino runs rings around it's older brother. The Riva can be difficult to start and keep running when cold (that's putting it mildly), but the redesigned Vino 125 seems to start and run well under all conditions (Yamaha added a carb heater for when the engine temp is under 50 degrees). The headlight stays off until the engine is up to normal idle, because the headlight is run on A.C., directly from the alternator output, instead of placing additional strain on the battery during starting (very good idea!) The electrically operated automatic choke on the new Vino 125 also seems to be better designed than the one on its Riva predecessor.
I feel safer and more comfortable riding the Vino over the Riva. It may just be a personal thing, I don't know, but after riding my wife's Vino a few times, I knew that I wanted one. I had to wait until the 2005s came in because there were no more 2004s to be had. Be aware that this has been a very popular new scooter for Yamaha, so if you find one in your area, don't wait too long before making a decision or it will likely be gone. The new Vino 125 comes in either Silver and black or burgandy and black. Get the burgandy, it's probably easier to touch-up the inevitable tiny ding or scratch. Silver tends to be a very unforgiving color.
Engine: 4 Stroke, Single Cylinder, Air Cooled
Displacement: 125 cc (approx.)
Gearbox: Automatic V-belt
Ignition: Electronic CDI
Choke: Automatic electric
Carb: Automatically heated for easier cold weather starting
Starter: Electric (on-board 12V battery) with manual kick-start backup
Fuel Tank: 1.2 US gal (4.5 L)
Seat Height Above Pavement: 29.8 in (759 mm)
Dry Weight: 229 lb (104 kg)
MSRP: $2,499 (Some dealers are adding freight and set-up charges to this figure, try to find one that doesn't)
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Amount Paid (US$): 2,499
Model Year: 2005