With A New Two-Stroke Engine

Piaggio rebuilt its fun-and-young Typhoon 50 ahead of the 2018 model year, and the changes are sufficient to give it an “all-new” tag. New body details modify the looks slightly, but what remains is still recognizable as a Typhoon with plenty of key elements that keep it close to the family tree. Not only is the engine new, it’s a super-clean two-stroke that meets Euro 4 standards due to a number of improvements in induction and emissions control. The factory plans on bringing this little ride to the U.S. for the entry-level/teenager market, so let’s take a look at what the Italian scooter maker has in store for us.

Continue reading for my look at the Piaggio Typhoon 50.

  • 2018 Piaggio Typhoon 50
  • Year:
    2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    single cylinder
  • Displacement:
    49 cc
  • Price:
    1999
  • Price:

Piaggio Typhoon 50 Design

2018 Piaggio Typhoon 50
- image 783637
Overall, the new Typhoon displays the usual youthful exuberance, just like you'd expect.

Piaggio preserved the shark-nose front end for that familial look that comes complete with the typical quartet of slots on either side of the binocular headlight arrangement. The splash of gold that is the front brake caliper pops quite nicely against the generous blackout treatment that claims both wheels and hits many points in-between to include the front fender and fork sliders right off the bat.

In keeping with its mission to draw in a youthful crowd, the Typhoons usually run with edgy graphics for a nice splash of attitude to go with the overall sporty design and the next-gen, 2018 models are no exception. The decals dress up the panels nicely, though they were hardly necessary as there aren’t exactly any large areas that need to be visually broken up. At least they stop short of making the Typhoon look too busy.

Behind the oh-so-Italian-looking handebar fairing resides the new instrument panel that comes laid out with an analog clock for the speedo and an LCD screen and warning lights for everything else. No tachometer, but it’s nice having a proper fuel gauge rather than going strictly by the odometer. The steering column surrenders to the step-through completely, so with no tunnel, there’s no obstruction to complicate mounting up and you get full use your ’tween-feet storage space.

A new seat cover comes with a smooth finish as the factory ditches the faux tuck-and-roll on the MY17s, and the seat itself flips up to reveal a helmet compartment that will store one full-face bucket with a USB port for convenient charging of your mobile devices. The subframe rises to elevate the pillion pad that comes complete with flip-out footpegs and a new, beefier grab rail, ya know, in case your passenger and yourself aren’t that close.

LED lights and a mudguard/plateholder finishes off the gear in the rear, and the new muffler cover updates the look of the powerplant just a bit. Overall, the new Typhoon displays the usual youthful exuberance, just like you’d expect.

Piaggio Typhoon 50 Chassis

2018 Piaggio Typhoon 50
- image 783635
There is a disc up front, but no ABS fandanglery; as small as it is, it's not really missed.

Dual-surface hoops provide some soft-terrain capability with an emphasis on blacktop performance. The cast, 12-inch diameter rims, while typical of small-displacement scooters, don’t do the Typhoon any favors in the handling department, but it is what it is, and that’s what you can usually expect with bottom-tier scooters.

A single-cradle steel frame provides the standing structure with a hydraulically dampened telescopic fork up front and preload-adjustable shock to support the rear end and control the motion of the swing-mount drive. The factory stuck with an old-fashioned, 140 mm drum brake to slow the rear wheel but went with a modern hydraulic caliper and 220 mm front brake disc to do the bulk of the work. No ABS fandanglery either, but that’s hardly surprising. The wheelbase measures out at a compact 53.1-inches long with a 30.3-inch seat height that should be convenient for all but the shortest inseams.

Frame: Single cradle structure in tubular steel with pressed reinforcements
Front suspension : Telescopic hydraulic fork with straight stanchions, 3.4 in (86 mm) stroke
Rear suspension: Oscillating engine unit with single hydraulic shock absorber. Wheel travel: 3.0 in (76 mm)
Front Brake: 220 mm diam. disc with dual piston floating caliper
Rear brake: 140 mm drum
Front tire: Tubeless 120/80 -12"
Rear tire: Tubeless 130/80 -12"

Piaggio Typhoon 50 Drivetrain

2018 Piaggio Typhoon 50
- image 783639
New engine with new induction control system and new exhaust have all things covered in the powerplant department.

Just when I thought I’d seen my last new two-cycle engine, Piaggio pulls this thing out of its hat. A forced air-cooled thumper, the 49.4 cc plant runs a nearly square layout with a 40 mm bore and 39.3 mm stroke, but it’s the new induction control system that steals the show. An electronic carburetor uses a solenoid valve to control the fuel-air mixture rather than the old wrist-actuated butterfly plate, and its this computer-controlled delivery that helps it meet the demands of the emissions authority to meet Euro 4 specs.

A new exhaust system boasts dual catalytic converters and dual secondary air injectors to cook off any free hydrocarbons that make it past the exhaust port and keep the exhaust relatively clean. Yeah, the requirements aren’t as rigorous for the littlest engines, but still, a two-stroke that meets any kind of credible emission standards nowadays is something to be respected. I also like the fact that the Typhoon comes with a push-button starter as well as a kicker for emergencies, even though sometimes the emergency is that you desperately need to try to look cool while pre-flighting your ride.

Power numers are about right for this displacement with 4.1 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 3.39 pound-feet at six grand even. A centrifugal clutch and continuously-variable transmission delivers twist-and-go operation with no need for clutch or shifter.

Engine: Single cylinder 2-stroke
Displacement: 49.4 cc
Bore x Stroke: 40 mm x 39.3 mm
Starter: Electric starter and kick starter
Cooling: Forced air
Transmission: CVT with torque server
Clutch : Automatic centrifugal dry clutch

Piaggio Typhoon 50 Price

2018 Piaggio Typhoon 50
- image 783638
MSRP looks to be quite budget-friendly at $2k.

The 2018 Typhoon looks like it’s gonna’ roll for a mere $1,999. Color choices include Bianco Lucido (Bright White), Nero Opaco (Matte Black) or Verde Metallizzato (Metallic Green).

Piaggio Typhoon 50 Competitors

2016 - 2018 Lance PCH
- image 726296
2018 Piaggio Typhoon 50
- image 783640
There's a reason that two-strokes were used for so long; the power-to-weight ratio is far superior to the weaker, heavier four-cycle engines.

Sometimes the lesser-known builders can have exactly what I need, and that’s the case here. Importer Lance Powersports offers its PCH 50 (actually a rebranded Orbit II from SanYang Motors) as a competitor for the same slice of the market, so let’s see how it stacks up against the likes of the Italian heavyweight.

Right off the bat, the discrepancy in fit-and-finish between the two are obvious, and it’s not news at all that Piaggio makes a more well-polished product than just about every other small-scooter builder in the world. The PCH leads off with a similarly narrow entry but opts for a cyclops headlight to split the night. A full step-through gives the PCH the same ease of use and utility as its counterpart, but the under-seat storage leaves room for only a half helmet so you’ll have to carry your bucket around with you if you wear any sort of serious head protection.

Like the Typhoon, the PCH runs a drum out back and a disc up front with no ABS to clutter up the works, and the 12-inch wheels break even with the Piaggio as well, so neither gain any advantage here. The Typhoon quickly re-establishes its dominance in the engine category against the 49 cc, four-stroke SYM mill. There’s a reason that two-strokes were used for so long; the power-to-weight ratio is far superior to the weaker, heavier four-cycle engines, and that bears out here with only 1.9 horsepower and 1.84 pound-feet from the PCH versus 4.1/3.39 from the Typhoon. Yeah, that’s right, getting a power pulse out of every single revolution instead of every other one makes that much difference.

Piaggio really brings the pain at the checkout. In spite of the reduced power and lower quality fit-and-finish, Lance is unable to get the price lower than $1,599, and I fear that isn’t low enough with the Typhoon hovering just below the $2k mark.

He Said

“Yeah, the Typhoon is a cute little ride, I just don’t know where you’re going to ride it except in very controlled circumstances with limited traffic. The top speed is around 40 mph, so it won’t cut it on anything but school campuses and neighborhood roads. If that’s all you need, then I got good news for you.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “My husband hasn’t spent much time in congested urban areas to really appreciate what a scooter can do as far as ease of commuting. I like it but it’s definitely aimed at a younger crowd. It’s light and nimble so even a boring street can be a lot more entertaining. Two-strokes can be fun in a way that four-strokes just can’t match. Put it on the centerstand, rev it up, and then rock it forward off the stand and you’ll take off like a bat-out-of-hell.”

Piaggio Typhoon 50 Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Single cylinder 2-stroke
Displacement: 49.4 cc
Bore x Stroke: 40 mm x 39.3 mm
Starter: Electric starter and kick starter
Cooling: Forced air
Transmission: CVT with torque server
Clutch : Automatic centrifugal dry clutch
Chassis:
Frame: Single cradle structure in tubular steel with pressed reinforcements
Front suspension : Telescopic hydraulic fork with straight stanchions, 3.4 in (86 mm) stroke
Rear suspension: Oscillating engine unit with single hydraulic shock absorber. Wheel travel: 3.0 in (76 mm)
Front Brake: 220 mm diam. disc with dual piston floating caliper
Rear brake: 140 mm drum
Front tire: Tubeless 120/80 -12"
Rear tire: Tubeless 130/80 -12"
Dimensions & Capacities:
Length: 76.3 in (1,940 mm)
Width: 28.3 in (720 mm) (at the levers)
Saddle height: 30.3 in (797 mm)
Wheelbase: 53.1 in (1,350 mm)
Fuel tank capacity: 1.8 gal including 0.4 gal reserve (6.9 liters including 1.5 l reserve)

References

Lance Powersports PCH

2016 - 2018 Lance PCH
- image 726305

See our review of the Lance Powersports PCH.

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: piaggiousa.com, lancepowersports.com

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