Inexpensive Basic Transportation And Not Much More

Lifan expands its small-displacement vehicle footprint with the S-Ray scooter that rocks sporty looks sure to appeal to a younger buyer base with a 150 cc engine delivering friendly, controllable power appropriate for entry-level riders and sufficient for urban travel. This is definitely one of the lesser-known brands in the U.S. market, so today I’d like to dig a little deeper into this little ride and see how it stacks up against a mainstream marque.

Continue reading for my review of the Lifan S-Ray.

  • 2017 Lifan S-Ray
  • Year:
    2017
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    single cylinder
  • Displacement:
    149 cc
  • Price:

Design

2017 Lifan S-Ray
- image 786835
It has quite the sporty look between the actual body shape, the palette and the graphics, though dry storage capacity leaves some to be desired.

Lifan set out to make a sporty scoot with a youthful appeal, and it’s safe to say mission accomplie at this point. The S-Ray presents an almost aircraft-like front fairing that is dominated by the recessed headlight/turn-signal housings below a subtle panel detail and badge that is set within a black area that matches the hue of the small flyscreen and ties the whole visage together. Below the lights, the fairing opens up into a sportbike-like cowl scoop that forms the legguards and provides a place for some edgy graphics to go with the other decals to add some more curb appeal.

A fairing encloses the handlebar and contains the single analog gauge and cluster of indicator lights on the backside with a helmet hook and pair of open storage cubbies for your electronic devices and a 12-volt port to charge same. A flush-deck step-through provides effortless mounting/dismounting with plenty of room for some ’tween-feet storage to help make up for the lack of capacity below the seat. Yeah, the compact construction leaves little room for cargo, and the dry storage under the saddle will accommodate only a single full-face bucket or a handful of groceries. The meager cargo capacity is bolstered somewhat by the mini luggage rack and the passenger’s grab rails and butt pad that provide a place to hang a bungee net for a little more room for your stuff. If you want to carry some human cargo, the flip-out footpegs provide the additional necessary points of contact.

Upswept lines along the bottom of the subframe add even more sporty appeal to the S-Ray as they converge at the point of the tail with the taillight riding recessed within the terminus. A rather long mudguard contains the fling from the rear wheel and mounts the tag and winkers to finish out the gear in the rear. Overall, it has quite the sporty look between the actual body shape, the palette and the graphics.

Chassis

2017 Lifan S-Ray
- image 786836
There's no adjustment in the suspension at all, not even the preload tweak out back so it's about as simple as it gets.

The S-Ray rides on a proper underframe rather than relying on the stressed-skin method of support, and of course, that’s how the factory was able to give it that wide-open step-through. Up front, a set of motorcycle-style hydraulic forks provides the suspension while a set of coil-over shocks dampen the motion of the swingmount drive unit out back. It seems like there’s no adjustment in the system at all, not even the preload tweak out back so it’s about as simple as it gets.

A wave-cut disc and hydraulic caliper slows the front wheel, which is modern enough as far as it goes, but the rear wheel runs an old-fashioned drum brake with no ABS protection at all. I’d point out that it’s not an unusual setup for the small-displacement scoots, so it shouldn’t be all that disappointing or surprising, especially with 12-inch rims.

The tires and cast-aluminum wheels are symmetrical all the way round with a 120/70-12 front and rear. Although it’s a rather compact package with a mere 50 inches between contact-patch centers, seat height is sufficient to keep you out of the land of the Lilliputians at 30 inches off the ground.

Brakes: Disk/Drum
Wheel: Al-alloy
Front Tire: 120/70-12
Rear Tire: 120/70-12

Drivetrain

2017 Lifan S-Ray
- image 786849
Along with the push-button electric start feature, it also sports a kicker than makes a nice backup and gives you an opportunity to look cool kicking it to life.

Power comes from the traditional swingmount unit that sees engine and transmission bolted up as a stressed unit that mounts the rear wheel and articulates for same instead of using motorcycle-style swingarm to take care of business. The air-cooled thumper runs a 57.4 mm barrel with a 57.84 mm stroke for a nearly square layout and 149 cc displacement. Compression is mild at 9.2-to-1, so you can get away with mid-grade pusholine and get plenty of mileage out of it as well with a claimed 100-plus mpg rating.

A SOHC times the light, simple valvetrain that relies on just two valves to control the combustion chamber. The factory got more complicated with the starter than it had to; although it comes with a push-button electric start feature, it also sports a kicker than makes a nice backup and gives you an opportunity to look cool kicking it to life.

What does that give us? Well, the mill grinds out 8.5 horsepower at 7,000 rpm with 8.5 pound-feet at 6,500, and after that power washes through the centrifugal clutch and CVT gearbox, you can expect to get around 55 mph out of it. That’s enough for urban areas, generally speaking, but you’d better stay off the superslab.

Engine: 149 cc, air-cooled, single cylinder, four-stroke, SOHC, 2 valves per cylinder
Bore and Stroke: 57.4 mm x 57.84 mm
Compression Ratio: 9.2:1
Max Power: 8.5 hp @ 7,000 rpm
Max Torque: 8.5 lb-ft @ 6,500 rpm
Start: Electric
Transmission: CVT Fully Automatic

Pricing

2017 Lifan S-Ray
- image 786841
Suggested retail price puts it squarely in the “very affordable” range.

The factory is tight-lipped on MSRP, but NADA Guides puts suggested retail at $1,600. That seems about right.

Competitors

2017 Lifan S-Ray
- image 786855
2016 - 2018 Yamaha SMAX
- image 733515
Yamaha, predictably, comes out on top except at the check-out counter.

Since the S-Ray is vying for a slice of the American scooter market, it’s only fair to see how it stands up to the likes of a proven model from a well-known brand, and Yamaha’s SMAX seems to fit the bill quite nicely. The Tuning Fork Company jumps to an early lead in comfort with a large vented windshield that makes for a much larger rider’s pocket. A recessed headlight arrangement lends the SMAX a look not unlike the S-Ray at the entry, even if that similarity quickly dissipates in the face of the rest of the design.

Yamaha shuns the handlebar fairing in favor of a naked look, but it blesses the SMAX with a full step-through, just like the Lifan. Brakes see another point in favor of the SMAX as it runs hydraulic discs all around against the disc-and-drum setup on the S-Ray.

Yamaha shows its experience in the powerplant; the 155 cc thumper runs a four-valve head with a spicier 11-to-1 compression ratio that punches the grunt up to an even 10 pound-feet of torque for another clear advantage. The SMAX rolls for $3,699, and unless the S-Ray is at least a grand cheaper, it’s going to have trouble competing against the Big Four, and other.

He Said

“Cute enough I guess, but not my style. If I were to buy a small scooter, it would probably be something from the classic Italian category and not something quite so “young” looking. Fit and finish leave a little to be desired as well against the Japanese, but is equal to most of the other Chinese builders and is about what one would expect.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “I don’t know much about Lifan other than they’re a Chinese company that makes motorcycles and cars and they have an eastern Asia presence. That aside, the S-Ray looks adequate for casual transportation in and around an urban or less-demanding suburban area, but in many cases the fit-and-finish just isn’t there for long-term ownership. I could be wrong; sometimes I don’t mind being wrong. It strikes me as to be like a Bic lighter: use it up and throw it away.”

Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: 149 cc, air-cooled, single cylinder, four-stroke, SOHC, 2 valves per cylinder
Bore and Stroke: 57.4 mm x 57.84 mm
Compression Ratio: 9.2:1
Max Power: 8.5 hp @ 7,000 rpm
Max Torque: 8.5 lb-ft @ 6,500 rpm
Start: Electric
Transmission: CVT Fully Automatic
Chassis:
Brakes: Disk/Drum
Wheel: Al-alloy
Front Tire: 120/70-12
Rear Tire: 120/70-12
Dimensions & Capacities:
Length x Width x Height: 71″ x 26.5″ x 44.3″
Wheelbase: 50″
Net Weight: 242 lbs
Seat Height: 30″
Fuel Capacity: 1.4 Gals
Max Speed: 55 mph
Fuel Consumption: 100+ mpg

References

Yamaha SMAX

2016 - 2018 Yamaha SMAX
- image 733512

See our review of the Yamaha SMAX.

Motorcycle Manufacturers Are Scrambling For New Riders

Motorcycle Manufacturers Are Scrambling For New Riders
- image 725024

See our article on the shift in the market.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source:| americanlifan.com, yamaha-motor.com, honda.com

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