A tiny machine with a big motor. Twist the retro-chic brown right grip and the Buddy zips forward. I found fuel delivery spot-on, and the gear ratios and variator weights blend off-the-line pep, hill-climbing power and top end. The motor starts easily and warms up quickly, with no choke or wait time needed. I took the bike on the freeway, braving the grooved pavement of the Bay Bridge’s bottom deck and the salad-bowl sized potholes of I-580 through Oakland, and found the power adequate to keep up with law-abiding traffic. There’s probably a bit more on tap, but I didn’t want to stress a brand-new engine. Around town, you won’t feel a lack of power. You may have heard that San Francisco has steep hills – it’s true – but the Buddy 170i will squirt up any of them like a salmon leaping upstream.

You can even use your Buddy as a sportbike. That’s right – the Buddy can carve twisties. It steers so quickly you’ll think you’re crashing, what with its 10-inch wheels and skateboard-sized 48-inch wheelbase. But it’s still stable leaned over, and if you’re not auditioning for a career in MotoGP, you won’t drag the centerstand tang in left handers. The quick throttle response and good midrange pull will fire you down the straightaway to the next turn so you can brake and pitch it in again. It’s good fun.

The brakes are good, within reasonable expectations. They aren’t strong, and require a firm, four-finger squeeze front and back, but they are comparable to other scooter brakes and don’t fade. Totally adequate for around-town work. 
That’s because the Buddy, despite the displacement boost, is still ideal for around-town conditions. But that’s where it shines. Light (claimed dry weight is 242 pounds) and easy to handle, it would be my ride of choice in a dense inner city. On the freeway the Buddy feels stable and isn’t overwhelmed by bumps and lumps, but it feels frantic, like it’s working harder than it wants to.

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