A Little Big-Wheeled Scooter

Built by SYM and rebranded for Lance, the Soho 50 scooter answers the call for both economy and mobility in personal urban transportation. An estimated 117 mpg and the ease with which you can park this gem makes it a go-to ride for running errands in cities, towns, campuses and gated communities when walking won’t do and transportation options are limited. Not classic and not modern-aggressive, the Soho 50 falls into a more retro-contemporary style; a typical 50 cc scooter without looking like a sportbike-wannabe like you might find in the Zuma from Yamaha or the Super 8 from KYMCO.

Continue reading for my review of the Lance Soho 50.

  • 2016 - 2018 Lance Soho 50
  • Year:
    2016- 2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    single cylinder
  • Displacement:
    50 L
  • Top Speed:
    30 mph
  • Price:
    1799
  • Price:

Design

2016 - 2018 Lance Soho 50
- image 654662
The Soho 50 is rated for 117 mpg, but in the real world, you can expect 85 or 90 mpg

Typical of scooters, there’s underseat storage that accommodates a half-helmet. The compartment holds up to 22 pounds and it is not weathertight. You’ll be okay if caught in the rain; but when washing the scooter, take out anything you don’t want to get wet. There is a glovebox in the front tower, but it’ll only hold little bits and bobs. For a little extra storage, the Soho 50 comes with a rear luggage rack, and of course, there’s always the cargo deck between your feet.

The Soho 50 is rated for 117 mpg, but as with any fuel economy rating, that’s under ideal conditions traveling at a moderate speed. In the real world, you can expect 85 or 90 mpg, which is still quite fuel efficient and makes the 1.2-gallon fuel tank last a long time.

Instrumentation on the Soho’s retro dash cluster is adequate for a scooter: speedometer and odometer, turn signals, high-beam indicator and an easy-to-read fuel gauge.

Chassis

2016 - 2018 Lance Soho 50
- image 654656
The 16-inch aluminum rims, an almost unheard of size for scooters, give you a smoother ride than the little wheelbarrow wheels that usually come on a scooter.

SYM, one of the largest scooter manufacturers in the world, built the Soho 50 for Lance using a fairly traditional layout. Though the factory specs are a bit ambiguous, Mike Hickman down at Lance Powersports in Mira Loma, California, assures me that it runs on a tubular steel underframe, and not a monocoque or unibody as some of the design aspects seem to suggest. The frame comes with a full drop allowing for a dead-flat foot area, and the little between-feet cargo deck scooter riders like to use for a bit of extra cargo capacity for grocery-getting missions.

Telescopic front forks buoy the front end, while a single, coil-over shock floats the rear between the swing-unit motor and rear subframe. The rear shock mounts to the left of center, which leaves it looking a bit asymmetrical from the rear, but it makes sense because that is closer to center-of-mass for the drive unit.

The 16-inch aluminum rims, an almost unheard of size for scooters, mount the road rubbers. These uncommonly large wheels handle rough patches better than the smaller versions, track well on the straights and make the Soho 50 corner with more enthusiasm than one might expect. I’ve always hated the little, wheelbarrow tires many scooters run, and this makes for a refreshing change. Right off the top of my head I can think of at least half-a-dozen, full-sized bikes that run smaller wheels, so the little Soho is ahead of the game in this department.

A dual-pot, piston-and-anvil, hydraulic caliper pinches the 226 mm front brake disc, and a 130 mm, mechanical drum binds the rear. No ABS or any such bollocks, just good, old-fashioned brakes with honest feel and feedback.

Frame: High Strength Steel
Front Suspension: Telescopic Fork
Rear Suspension: Unit Swing
Brake, Front: 226 mm Disc
Brake, Rear: 130 mm Drum
Tire, Front: 110/70 - 16
Tire, Rear: 110/70 - 16
Wheels: Aluminum

Drivetrain

2016 - 2018 Lance Soho 50
- image 654657
It sports both an electric starter and a kickstarter, so you have that little bit of redundancy along with opportunities to look cool kicking it to life, win-win.

A 49 cc, four-cycle, air-cooled thumper engine drives the Soho up to 30 mph, restricted. Ni/SiC ceramic treatment on the cylinder wall resists wear for longer engine life and low-friction operation. This little mill produces 1.9 horsepower at 7,500 rpm and 2.3 pound-feet of torque at 6,500 rpm, sufficient for the work it has to do. It sports both an electric starter and a kickstarter, so you have that little bit of redundancy along with opportunities to look cool kicking it to life, win-win.

Engine: Four-Stroke Single Cylinder, Forced Air Cooled with Ceramic Coating Cylinder Technology
Displacement: 49 cc
Compression Ratio: 12.6:1
Maximum Power: 1.9 Horsepower at 7,500 rpm
Maximum Torque: 2.3 Pound-Feet at 6,500 rpm
Cooling System: Air Cooled
Starter: Electric and Kickstarter
Transmission: C.V.T.
Clutch: Auto Centrifugal Type

Pricing

2016 - 2018 Lance Soho 50
- image 658730
MSRP hangs in there at last year's prices along with the same colorways.

MSRP on the 2018 Soho 50 is $1,799 and comes in your choice of Butterscotch Yellow, Arctic White, Ruby Red, Midnight Black, Sky Blue. Lance offers a 24-month limited warranty.

Warranty: 24-Month Limited Warranty
Colors: Butterscotch Yellow, Arctic White, Ruby Red, Midnight Black, Sky Blue
Price: $1,799

Competitors

2014 - 2018 Piaggio Fly 50 / Fly 150
- image 658899
2016 - 2018 Lance Soho 50
- image 658729
Right out of the gate both rides follow a rather conservative overall design without swinging too far into the retro or progressive styles.

Given the vast number of scooters produced by SYM, I feel it is fair to pick another big name manufacturer for my head-to-head. While Vespa comes to mind, I know they’re rather proud of their scooters and the price is usually much higher than their competition. I want to pick one more in the same ballpark as the Soho 50 and the Fly-50 from Piaggio seems to fit the bill nicely. You will notice right out of the gate that both rides follow a rather conservative overall design without swinging too far into the retro or progressive styles, and both carry a flat step-through for easy mounting and a little extra cargo space on the deck.

Piaggio’s experience with small engines shows in the performance numbers. While the Soho’s output is adequate with 1.9 horsepower at 7,500 rpm and 2.3 pound-feet at 6,500 rpm, the Fly engine comes off looking like “the mouse who roared” with 4.5 horsepower at 9,500 rpm and 2.8 pound-feet of torque at 8 grand.

In addition, the Fly has a top speed up around 39 mph, versus the restricted 30 mph of the Soho. Don’t let that alone put you off the Soho, there are plenty of YouTube videos detailing how you can remove the restrictor and unleash the beast for an additional 10 mph. Okay, maybe not a "beast," but you get what I’m saying.

Seat height isn’t as important on a scooter as it is on a motorcycle, because you can always slide forward off the seat if you need to reach the ground. I’ll add, though, that the Soho’s seat height is rather typical at 31.5 inches while the Fly’s seat height is the lowest of the Piaggio scooter lineup at less than 30 inches.

All these subtle differences take a backseat, though, when I look at the wheels. The Fly has 12-inch wheels, which is no slouch when it comes to scooters since 10-inch wheels would be considered adequate on a 50 cc ride. The Soho comes with 16-inch wheels, a size that approaches proper motorbike dimensions. Bigger wheels means a smoother ride, a larger contact patch for better traction and better handling, especially in the corners.

Any advantage Piaggio had takes something of a nosedive when we get to the sticker. The Fly rolls for $2,299 MSRP, while the Soho sneaks out at just $1,799. For me, lower price and bigger wheels wins the day.

He Said

My husband and fellow writer, TJ Hinton, says, “Aside from the big rims and tires, I see very little here to set the Soho 50 apart from the rest of the field. It isn’t quite as classy as, say, a Vespa, nor is it quite as modern as some of the other, more-progressive models out there, but something in the middle. In that respect, you could call it a well-balanced design that doesn’t go too far in any particular direction. I see this ride as a viable option on campus, or around a college-type town, but I would be scared to death to hit my local roads on it, just not quite enough oomph."

She Said

"I know it is popular to remove the speed restrictor on these little scooters, but you should check with your state’s regulations. You may need a motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license if you remove the restrictor. "

Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Four-Stroke Single Cylinder, Forced Air Cooled with Ceramic Coating Cylinder Technology
Displacement: 49 cc
Compression Ratio: 12.6:1
Maximum Power: 1.9 Horsepower at 7,500 rpm
Maximum Torque: 2.3 Pound-Feet at 6,500 rpm
Cooling System: Air Cooled
Starter: Electric and Kickstarter
Transmission: C.V.T.
Clutch: Auto Centrifugal Type
Drive: Belt
Ignition: CDI
Battery Capacity: 12V 6Ah (closed type, maintenance-free)
Chassis:
Frame: High Strength Steel
Front Suspension: Telescopic Fork
Rear Suspension: Unit Swing
Brake, Front: 226 mm Disc
Brake, Rear: 130 mm Drum
Tire, Front: 110/70 - 16
Tire, Rear: 110/70 - 16
Wheels: Aluminum
Dimensions & Capacities:
Length: 78.74 inches
Width: 27.16 inches
Height: 44.29 inches
Seat Height: 31.5 inches
Wheelbase: 52.36 inches
Ground Clearance: 7.5 inches
Weight Capacity: 333 Pounds
Net Weight: 251.32 Pounds
Fuel Capacity: 1.27 Gallons
Details:
Recommended Fuel: Premium Unleaded
Fuel Economy: 117 mpg
Top Speed: 30 mph (Restricted)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Government Certifications: EPA & DOT Approved, C.A.R.B. Approved for CA
Warranty: 24-Month Limited Warranty
Colors: Butterscotch Yellow, Arctic White, Ruby Red, Midnight Black, Sky Blue
Price: $1,799

References

2014 - 2018 Piaggio Fly 50 / Fly 150
- image 710765

See our review of the Piaggio Fly.

Source: Official Lance Soho 50 Video

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: lancepowersports.com, piaggiousa.com

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