Back on two wheels again, wheelworldreviews Editor David Hooper gives a Chinese-made Baotian Falcon scooter a try.
FOR a 16-year-old teenager looking for his or her first taste of freedom on the road without the effort of pedalling, a scooter can be a good way of getting around.
For this age group, money is often tight, yet with kids today being what they are, they won’t want to compromise on style, so this little learner-legal 49cc two-stroke Falcon, from Chinese manufacturer Baotian, could be the answer to their prayers.
Priced at £1,269 on the road, it’s a great looking machine which can be ridden on “L” plates after completing a CBT course, and to help youngsters get on the road, the company has negotiated an insurance deal which will cost a new rider £159 for a third party only policy, through Baotian, which will cover anybody in any area on any licence. For 19-21year olds, it’s cheaper at £129, and for people over 22 years of age, it’s cheaper still at £99.
The Kchina Baotian Motorcycle Co Ltd was founded in 1994 in Jiangmen City, the capital city of the Wuyi region of China. It now occupies a 60,000 sq metre factory and is in the process of building a second, larger factory as the demand for its products grows.
The UK importer has been busy developing a dealer network, and in the last couple of months has appointed several in our area.
So let’s have a closer look at the company’s 50cc Falcon flagship model, one of three new bikes for this year. The first thing to say is that if you were to judge it on looks alone, this little machine is an immediate winner and it was a hit with one of my son’s friends who has recently bought a second-hand scooter of his own. Whatever your age, I think few people would argue that it’s a good looking bike with its twin headlights at the front and indicators built into the faring on either side. Available in various colours, the model I’ve been testing came with silver paintwork with contrasting red alloy wheels. Even the stickers look good, adding to the overall effect, as does the red-finished exhaust.
Capable of carrying two people, the seat is black at the front and bright red at the back where a passenger would sit – but only after you’ve passed your full bike test, of course.
The digital instrumentation is also pretty comprehensive – as well as the speedometer, it comes with a rev counter, trip meter and digital fuel gauge. The backlit dial also changes colour, cycling through blue, red, green and a purply pink hue, which is something else which will appeal to trendy riders.
On the handlebars there are headlight and indicator switches on the left, and an engine starter button and a kill switch on the right, but that’s about it.
The Falcon comes with a centre stand and a side stand, so you have the best of both worlds when it comes to parking. It is easy to manoeuvre and you won’t sprain your spring getting the bike on its centre stand as you might with some heavier machines. It also has something else bigger bikes don’t have – under-seat storage. Although it is crash helmet shaped, my full-face helmet did not fit in the available space, although there is a helmet hook on the bulkhead.
The Falcon is very easy to ride. To start it, all you have to do is squeeze a brake and hit the starter button and the little engine comes alive, then you simply twist and go. The two levers on the handlebars operate the front and rear disc brakes which provide assured stopping power. There is a slight delay between the engine revs increasing and the scooter moving off, making it sound like a frenetic bumble bee, but once the transmission winds itself up, the Falcon is quite nippy and is great for whizzing around town.
On the road, the suspension has a firm feel to it and I thought the seat was quite hard, particularly after a longer ride, but the bike handles well, and despite its small engine, is actually good fun to ride. As I have a full licence, the machine was derestricted for me, so instead of having a top speed of 30mph it would do around 45mph on the flat, perhaps a little more when the engine is fully run in, although on my last run out on it, I did briefly see 50mph on the clock – downhill with a following wind!
The bike seemed to be reasonably well made, the only problems I found with it being a fuel gauge that didn’t work properly, and the coloured lights on the dash display changing when they felt like it, usually when I went over a bump in the road, but this was a new bike, and teething troubles like these would soon be rectified by a dealer.
I enjoyed riding the Falcon more than I expected to and was pleasantly surprised by how it coped with an excursion out of its natural urban environment and onto the Wolds.
It looks good, is fun to ride and cheap to buy and insure. If you’re on a limited budget, but want a new scooter, the Baotian range is definitely worth a look.
THE VITAL STATISTICS
Model: Baotian Falcon BT49QT-28.
Engine: 49cc two-stroke.
Brakes: Front and rear discs
Fuel tank: 6.5 litres.
Price: £1,269 on the road.
Warranty: 12 months parts and labour.