Want to buy a new high capacity maxi-scooter? The Sym Maxsym 600i ABS, has been the quiet maxi-scooter of the Sym Thailand range, launched a few years ago but not selling in big numbers since. If the Sym Maxsym 600i ABS isn’t the first maxi-scooter that comes to mind, it’s certainly the cheapest. Coming in at 259,000 THB makes it about 125,000 THB less than the Honda Integra and Yamaha Tmax 530 are in the 469,000 THB class and the two BMW C650 models start at 525,000 THB. It doesn’t matter how you look at it, the Sym Maxsym 600i ABS looks great, but is it?
Truth is, the Sym Maxsym 600i ABS has a simpler spec than many of those pricier rivals. It’s got ABS of course but it doesn’t have traction control, which nearly all of the others do. Nor does it have the motorcycle genes of the Honda Integra or the Yamaha Tmax 530; and finally, it’s got a single-cylinder engine where all of the others are equipped with two-cylinder engines.
The Sym Maxsym 600i ABS looks, feels and sounds more like an up-sized 400cc scooter than a downsized big one. The technical spec confirms that.
The Yamaha Tmax 530 set the handling standard for maxi-scooters back in 2001 with its heavy engine bolted into the frame, motorcycle style. The Honda Integra and BMW C650 models have chain drive. The Honda Integra 750 is actual a DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) which means that it uses real gears, and changes automatic or by button selecting.
The Sym Maxsym 600i ABS has none of that motorcycle influence. The engine is mounted on the swingarm, scooter style, driving through a conventional CVT transmission – no sports setting, no push-button gears, just a straightforward twist-and-go constantly variable transmission. It’s a single overhead cam four-valve single-cylinder 565cc, with a balance shaft to smooth things out. Claimed output is 39 horsepower and 51.5Nm of torque, giving a good amount of power but less than the Honda Integra or Yamaha Tmax.
The rest of the chassis is all conventional scooter architecture, albeit on a bigger scale than some, with a steel frame, non-adjustable front forks and twin rear shocks adjustable for pre-load only. Styling-wise, the Sym Maxsym 600i looks exactly as we expect a big scooter to look, with no attempt to give it motorcycle abilities.
The true scooter genes are confirmed as you climb aboard – there’s a less high step-through to get your leg over, both the Honda Integra and Yamaha Tmax 530 have higher, to accommodate a stiffer chassis. Instead, you step in rather than climb over and settle into a nice low seat, just 740mm off the ground. It feels comfortable and it is, with a substantial backrest as well, something that’s important for these long wheelbase feet-forward scooters, where your lower back needs some support, as less weight is taken by hands and feet.
The Sym Maxsym 600i weighs 238 kilograms, which is a lot, though you don’t feel it when you ride. But it’s no lightweight, the good news is that the big Maxsym 600i is quite easy to paddle or push around, thanks to that low seat and a low center of gravity, so parking shouldn’t be a problem. The only thing you need to watch out for is that the rear bodywork and lights extend beyond the rear wheel – beware when paddling backwards towards a wall! The Sym Maxsym 600i may be reasonable well equipped, but it doesn’t have bumpers…
The 565cc engine sounds unmistakably like a big single at idle and there are a few vibes as it growls through the lower rev range, but it soon smooths out. Round town, except at very low speeds, it gives smooth and unruffled performance, but from 50km/h the big single-cylinder engine really comes into its own.
Although the Maxsym 600i has less power on paper than pricier twin-cylinder maxi-scooters, it’s not lacking in performance. Wind the twist-grip right back and the CVT allows the revs up to 5000rpm, which is very close to the peak torque, and holds them there, giving really strong acceleration, plenty for overtaking on any roads. Keep it pinned and the Sym Maxsym 600i just goes on accelerating up to just over 160km/h. It’s hard to see how anyone could need more performance than this, especially as the scooter feels so relaxed and within its limits – there are no extra vibes, no feeling that the engine is working overtime.
None of this would make much sense at high speeds, but it’s actually rock solid, without a hint of weaving or wavering, which isn’t what you want on road in Thailand. I was surprised in a way, as the front forks are soft enough to stand proud in a marshmallow factory, and they certainly dive under heavy braking, but don’t seem to upset the handling.
The Maxsym 600i comes standard with radial tires, and again the Sym felt very stable and secure round corners, with nothing touching down too early. The rear shocks crashed over potholes but delivered a fairly comfy ride, solo or two-up, on pre-load two-out-of-five. This is all backed by decent brakes – they’re not linked but twin discs with our-pot calipers on the front can easily cope with the Sym’s weight and performance. The ABS works well too, just coming in without being too obstructive or early. Mind you, it’s still worth being aware that in an age where traction control is increasingly common, the Sym Maxsym 600i doesn’t have this.
But to be honest, big scooters are more about comfort than standing quarters, and this one does well. Some maxi-scooters have short screens, which turn high speed cruising into a gale force experience. The Sym Maxsym 600i’s screen isn’t super high, but it is broad, and for me 195cm it was very effective at keeping the wind off at 100 to 120km/h. It’s also got height adjustment and there are three for-aft settings for the backrest, plus of course on this long wheelbase feet-forward scooter there’s plenty of room to stretch the legs out.
The girlfriend liked the pillion seat, but as on some other maxi-scooters, didn’t like the gap between us – before you all say, ah, how sweet, I should add that it’s more a getting used to situation.
Now then, details. The underseat space is short but deep, and Sym says it will take two full-face helmets. Even following the instructions, I found the seat reluctant to latch home with two helmets stashed away, so it’s on the limit – one full and one open face helmet is easy enough space, which includes a light, twin gar struts to hold the seat up and even immobilizer switch for extra security. There’s also a Suzuki Burgman-style anti-tamper cover on the ignition switch.
The underseat space is backed up by three front cubbies, all small but useful, and one of them lockable, while the left-hand includes both USB and conventional charge points. Another feature is the ‘warm air’ vent that allegedly directs a warming draft from the back of the radiator onto your legs. This didn’t work for me, maybe the ambient outside temperature was to high or something was wrong.
At first glance it looks like the Sym Maxsym 600i ABS has a full set of instruments but it lacks those toys we’re getting used to seeing on big scooters – average speed and fuel consumption, all that stuff. Oh, and maybe helpful for American and English owners the speedometer has the speed in kilometers and miles.
Maxi scooters can be gas guzzlers when ridden hard, but the Sym Maxsym 600i is pretty good – a mix of in-town, bit around Bangkok and a few long stretches of highways produced a bit less than 5 liters for 100 kilometers. The fuel tank is a reasonable 14.2 liters, so should be good for a range of over 242 kilometers at about the same consumption.
Should you buy a Sym Maxsym 600i ABS? Well, the Maxsym 600i has fine performance and comfort. It also seems pretty chunky, well-built and comes with a good warranty. If you want a sporty maxi-scooter then look elsewhere, because this one feels like the proverbial armchair on wheels, and it does have simpler specifications than the pricier rivals. But there’s truth – the biggest Sym scooter available in Thailand is the cheapest route to a high capacity maxi-scooter and by a long way. Also if you really prefer a sporty maxi-scooter you can get faster and more powerful sportbikes for what Honda and Yamaha charge for a sporty maxi-scooter...