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The new 123 MPG Champ: Yamaha Zuma!

Updated on February 4, 2009

Are you finally fed up with pumping $250 into your SUV's gas tank to barely be able to get to work and back for a week? Well, it may be high time that you jettison two of your four wheels and check out what we motorcyclists have known since Herr Gottlieb Daimler built his first motorized two-wheeler in 1885: Motorcycles save fuel. Lots of it.

Of course, you are going to have to make some compromises. Like getting really cold and wet in inclement weather and informing your soccer team that they have to find their own way to the game. However, if you can believe Yamaha's newly released mileage claims (based on a very artificial US EPA dyno test), their sporty Zuma is a fantastic combination of fun and practicality as well as being the current mileage champ at 123 MPG!!!

The Zuma's fuel tank holds 1.5 gallons, so you can go about 185 miles on about six bucks. Just think of it: 123 MPG would allow you to drive the entire length of the New York State Thruway for about $17. Or if you were really inclined for a nice long trip, how about Jacksonville, Florida to Los Angeles for $80?

The Zuma's electronic fuel gauge lets you keep an eye on your gas level, but don't be surprised if you don't see it move much. When you can go 50 miles on about a quarter tank, and when that quarter tank costs you about a buck and a half, you'll probably be too busy smiling all the way to the bank.

If you're a neophyte rider you could ask if motorcycles aren't difficult to ride. The Zuma makes it easy with a fully automatic transmission and pushbutton electric starting. No clutch, no gears, no choke, no kickstarter required (although it does come with a kickstarter should you drain the battery dry... it sure beats jumper cables). The Zuma features a surprisingly large underseat storage compartment which will easily hold a couple of bags of groceries, and has a a plush, long and wide dual seat to keep the butts of rider and passenger as happy as their gasoline budgets.

The Zuma looks like a Jeep among the masses of wimpy bicycle-wheeled scooters. Its all lumps and bumps and blacked out panels and looks like you could ride it to work on Friday and motocross it on Saturday thanks to its semi knobby fat, low-profile 120/90-10 front and 130/90-10 rear tires. Unfortunately this image of power is tempered by the fact that the Zuma doesn't use any hybrid, electric, or other fancy technology to achieve its 123 MPG figures. It has a tiny 49cc reed-valve-inducted, Autolube-injected, two-stroke engine fed through a 14mm Teikei carburetor. It's not exactly the motorcycle you'd choose to challenge Valentino Rossi on the track. In fact, with a full-sized adult rider it can get out of its own way, but barely.

Hey, let's face it... it's a fair weather commuter, not exactly anyone's first choice to replace an Escalade. However, if you enter the world of Zumaing with the proper expectations, you will find an exceptionally reliable, convenient, and fun fuel saver.


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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Yeah in India, we have better fuel efficient bikes, like Bajaj Discover and Bajaj XCD. A 100CC Bajaj Discover can give about 90+km/liter.

      And yes, you should keep it under 60kmph to convert every drop of gasoline into kilometers. Also if you rev harder, you will put too much stress on the engine. Also, they last only for about 30K kms and then you will have to replace some parts.

      If you are a mileage conscious person, come to India and get one bike. Even a 150CC bike designed for India will give better mileage than a 125cc bike designed for USA.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Given their colonial past, that's likely also kilometres per UK gallon, so you can knock that figure down a further 1/5th to get the final figure... 169mpg US.

      Still blows the Zuma out of the water...

      However, also, they won't be using the US EPA test. No idea what the indian one is but it's probably a constant 50km/h cruise or something (on which my car would get a solid 50mpg US or so, even though it's barely over 25 in everyday use). So all hope of a reliable comparison is out of the window unless you can find figures for the Zuma in the same market.

      I will say this much ... if I limited myself to the sorts of speeds and acceleration a Zuma can manage... I'd be looking at probably 100mpg US from my 125cc, 4-stroke Honda... I get an easy 80 riding around town with fairly common bursts of full throttle.

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      10 years ago from Toronto

      Kilometers per gallon? Well, that makes a lot more sense as the 340 km/gal would come out to 211 mpg but it's still pretty high. I have had NO luck digging up any reliable info on the mileage of that Bajaj, as I'd be very interested in discovering what their mileage secrets are! :)

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      oops. sorry. i forgot to add a K.

      it is kmpg.

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      10 years ago from Toronto

      Having no other information available on the Bajaj, I can't comment either way, other than to state that it seems that mileage of that magnitude on a conventional liquid cooled four stroke would be extremely high. If so, I most certainly would love to get my hands on one! Coast to Coast on less than 10 gallons! Wow! :)

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      hal, i know sum 125cc/150 cc bikes which can do 340+/180+ mpg in india.

      they costs way too low(you can get a 125cc BAJAJ XCD which can return well over 340+ mpg and the 150 cc yamaha R15 which can return 180+ mpg for as low as 900$/1800$ respectively!)

      the r15 is better in every means than the r125 and cbr125 both in terms of mileage and power.

      i still dont know why the r125 returns returns lower mileage than the r15.

      both are liquid cooled 4valves.

      r15 (150cc) is faster and powerful than the r125 and it returns better mpg figures than r125.

      it seems like the manufacturers are not at all concerend abt the mileage of the bikes released in USA.

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      10 years ago from Toronto

      Pretty well every scooter has severe stability problems when hitting potholes with their undersized wheels. That's why I don't ride them! :)

    • earnestshub profile image


      10 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      I can't abide the small wheels, spits you off like a Vespa


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