Pros: Top speed of 45mph, Over 100 mpgs, Unique Styling, Conversation Starter, 4 stroke
Cons: Top speed of 45mph, No cargo space, Drum brakes, Not fuel injected
The first thing most people notice about the Ruckus are it's rugged looks. The Ruckus doesn't look like the typical Tupperware-coated scooter you see roaming the streets. It looks more like a sporty mini-bike from the 80's that has somehow been modernized and made legal for road use. Be warned - if you buy a Ruckus and ride it anywhere in public, you'll get a lot of questions. Price, top speed, fuel economy, and engine size are the most common.
Top speed on the 2006 model has been raised due to a higher revving engine, higher speed/rev limiter, and a better flowing head. The 2006 model also features an electronic PCV system, which the 2005 and below models lack. Fuel economy on the Ruckus is exceptional; at over 100 miles per gallon, the Ruckus could easily pay for itself in a few years if ridden as a vehicle replacement on a regular basis.
Controls for the Ruckus are where you'd expect them to be on a scooter or motorcycle. The Ruckus doesn't require you to manually shift gears, so there is no clutch lever on the bars. Both bar mounted levers are for brakes. Other bar mounted controls include a bright/dim switch for the headlights, a kill switch, a horn, and a twist throttle.
Maintenance on the Ruckus is easy with the help of the center stand. Since almost everything is exposed, getting to any part of the engine that requires routine maintenance is a breeze. Oil changes are a simple matter of propping the bike up on its center stand, unbolting the train plug to drain the oil, putting it back, undoing the filter bolt and replacing the filter, and then filling the Ruckus back up. The entire process is outlined in the manual and is designed to be DIY. Air filter replacement is fairly straight forward as well, and is also outlined in the manual.
Around town the Ruckus feels fun and quick. It's not a sport bike by any means, but it accelerates from stop lights faster than some cars with the help of a little push to get it started. On any roads that are above 25 mph you'll constantly find yourself with the throttle wide open as the Ruckus heads to its top speed of around 42mph on flat ground. The 2006 Ruckus is electronically limited at 45mph, so without the aide of a replacement CDI box, which can be purchased online, that's as fast as you'll go even downhill with the wind at your back.
Modifications can be purchased online to make the Ruckus faster. Typically people start out by replacing the roller weights, the variator, and the drive belt to make the Ruckus' launches more peppy. I didn't do this with my Ruckus but I know some people who have and they claim that it helps considerably. This won't help with top speed, as there is the electronic limitation, but it will help with acceleration. Simple modifications like this are fairly inexpensive, but when you start adding pipes, intakes, and the replacement CDI box in to the mix you're forced to replace carburetor jets and do some tuning. This gets expensive fairly quickly, and at that point it's almost more worth it to go out and buy a faster scooter.
One of the down sides to the Ruckus is its lack of storage. Typically scooters feature some kind of under-seat storage, which the Ruckus lacks due to its all-tubular frame. I've seen a lot of people, including a couple friends, install some kind of mesh netting to the under seat area in order to enclose it and provide for some storage space. This works well if you plan on not leaving the Ruckus unattended for any period of time, as the flip-up seat doesn't lock closed.
My only other complaint about the Ruckus is the brakes. Namely the fact that they're both drums, so stopping the Ruckus really requires you be fairly hard on the front and rear brake at the same time when coming to a complete stop. Having ridden bikes before with at least a front disc if not front and rear discs, stopping power on the Ruckus seems quite bad.
If I'm really being nit-picky I also don't like the fact that the Ruckus is no fuel injected. The 2006 and 2007 models are virtually identical in that both are upgrades from previous years, but neither are fuel injected. The Ruckus, sold as a Zoomer in Japan, has already been converted to fuel injection there... so I'd like to see the 2008 model in the US with some kind of fuel injection system. Much lower maintenance and much less to worry about in the long run. This would of course reduce the ability to tune the Ruckus yourself if you've modified it, but would increase performance, reliability, and fuel efficiency. Some people love carbs - I don't.
All said and done the Ruckus is without a doubt the coolest little scooter you can get for $2,000US brand new. Yamaha recently released the C3, which is their replacement for the Zuma and answer to the Ruckus. It's worth checking out, but if you're going for rugged looks the Ruckus still wins in my opinion.