Review of the
Genuine Buddy BlackJack Scooter
UPDATE - Another
Lora Murtha gives her thoughts on the BlackJack
HIGHLY reflective 3M checkerboard on a BlackJack
I think it's safe to say that the Buddy from Genuine is a phenomenon in
the scooter world. The story of Genuine Scooters is largely the story of
the Stella and the Buddy. There have been (and continue to be)
other scooters, to be sure, but those two struck a chord that continues to
resonate with the scooter-buying public.
The Buddy hit the ground running in 2006 and hasn't looked back since.
Initially offered with a zippy 50cc 2-stroke or an unusually fast 125cc
4-stroke, the Buddy was the right scooter at the right time. The
combination of quality components, attractive design and skilled marketing
put the Buddy at the front of the scooter craze. It's cute, it works well,
there are TONS of accessories available and Genuine has done a great job
of marketing the scooter.
A couple of years later, the International Buddy appeared with a 150cc
powerplant. Offered in two-tone colours with whitewall tires and LOUD
horns, the success of the Buddy line continued.
Now we're here in 2009 and there's a performance Buddy - the BlackJack.
The concept of the BlackJack reminds me a little of some of the 1960s and
early 1970s small-frame Vespas. It's based on a scooter that one would not
necessarily associate with "performance" yet it delivers a fun riding
experience when pushed a bit. The brakes and suspension on a standard
Buddy 125/150, though more than adequate, don't encourage "sporty" riding.
To me, that's what the Genuine Blur was for. The BlackJack integrates some
goodies from NCY along with the dealer-installed option of a performance
exhaust from Prima that results in a package that is MORE than the sum
total of its parts.
Are you sensing a pattern here? Genuine certainly does a good job of
delivering on a complete scooter that strikes a chord. Several chords in
fact. Want a cute, quick 50cc scooter? Get a Buddy. Want a retroish
two-tone with class -leading 150cc speed? Get a Buddy. Want a surprisingly
good-handling, flat black scooter with an exhaust note that growls? Get a
This review is going to be a bit different that others we have done. I
own a BlackJack. I'm going to get other people to ride this machine and
report on their findings. I'm going to play with adding accessories.
Additions to this review will be posted at
Speedometer Reading/Speed/Fuel Economy
For this review, I left the original exhaust on the BlackJack for the
first 300 miles of riding. I wanted to do the break-in and then see if
there was a big difference in "the numbers" between the stock exhaust and
the performance exhaust. There wasn't. As I have come to expect from most
scooters, the speedometer is optimistic. It indicates about 10% faster
than the actual speed. When the speedometer indicates 30 MPH, the GPS
reads almost 27 MPH. When the speedometer indicates 50 MPH, the GPS reads
44 to 45 MPH. The top speed and fuel economy numbers have been adjusted to
reflect the inaccuracy of the speedometer.
Top end searching was quite an experience. The GPS mount that I
normally use would not stay on the BlackJack. After two near drops of the
GPS unit, I either held it in one hand, or just used duct tape. I DO NOT
recommend riding a scooter a highway speeds on a very windy day while
trying to hold a GPS unit. After break-in with the stock exhaust, I was
doing my top speed tests on a windy day so it was a little tough to find a
spot without nasty head-winds or "pushing" tail-winds. I also weigh in at
about 220 pounds. The best I could get out of the BlackJack was a GPS
indicated 64 MPH (the speedometer indicated about 73 MPH). On a
slightly less windy day, a 160 pound volunteer reported a speedometer
indicated 75 MPH. I didn't want him to risk his life holding the GPS unit,
so I'm estimating his actual speed was 66 MPH. With the performance
exhaust installed, the top speed stayed the same. WITH NO CHANGE IN
CARBURETOR JETTING, I have not noticed much of a change in performance on
the BlackJack after installing the exhaust. I am planning to up-jet to a
95 in the near future. My seat-of-the-pants feel is that there is slightly
more mid-range with the performance exhaust installed. What DID change is
the sound. The optional performance exhaust gives the BlackJack a serious
growl that I think sounds FANTASTIC.
Fuel economy on the BlackJack was all over the place. A scooter is
generally going to get its best fuel economy at slow speeds (30 MPH)
with a small rider (120 - 150 pounds). After break-in, having a 220
pounder riding in high winds trying to find the top speed resulted in 61
MPG - the worst result we recorded during the review. With my wife (115
pounds) running around parkways in the St. Paul area, fuel economy was
85 MPG. That's quite a spread. I would say that an average sized rider
running at 30 - 45 MPH most of the time could expect about 80 MPG on
average. If you are a smaller person and live at speeds of around 30 MPH,
you may well see better fuel economy.
Of course a big part of the "problem" with fuel economy on the
BlackJack is how much fun it is to thrash the bike around. I found my
right wrist suddenly twisting like mad for no good reason other than fun.
This total lack of discipline on my part certainly contributes to the less
than stellar fuel economy results.
Genuine doesn't provide terribly complete specifications on their
website or literature. I had to get the dry weight of the Buddy from a
shipping scale. I had to get seat height from a yard-stick, T-square and
level. That problem was minor when faced with the issue of coming up with
other scooters for comparison. I really couldn't think of a major brand
scooter that offered performance goodies on a 150cc bike. In the end, I
went with a couple that have a sporty look and offer a platform on which
to add after-market performance components.
In this comparison, the BlackJack is the most expensive, but comes
equipped with the best components already installed. To get the
suspension, brakes, CVT and exhaust up to the standard of the BlackJack, a
TGB or Piaggio owner would have to invest considerable money. The
BlackJack is the lightest, has the lowest seat height, and the best
warranty (roadside assistance is included). I guess what I'm trying
to say is that there really isn't a DIRECT comparison scooter in the
market just now.
The BlackJack shares a lot with the other Buddies in Genuine's line-up.
It has nice bright lights, good storage space, a 12V accessory plug, high
quality switches and controls as well as the usual optimistic speedometer
and fuel guage that's really just there as a reminder. Throughout our
testing, the gauge would read "full" when filled and then race to "empty"
when there was still nearly half a gallon of fuel in the tank. Like the
Buddy International, the BlackJack has a LOUD horn as standard equipment.
Seems like kind of a small thing, but it shows the consideration Genuine
has put into the Buddy line. Making other drivers on the road aware of
scooters is a concern and this horn will definitely get you noticed.
Unlike the other Buddies, the BlackJack has a solo seat. I found it
very comfortable. It's also a bit taller than the seat on the other
models. Though the passenger footrests are there, integrated into the
bike, the Blackjack is really a one-person mount. The BlackJack is also
stuffed with goodies including a NCY billet racing fork, NCY adjustable
pre-load and dampening rear shock, a NCY big front disc brake with dual
piston caliper, and (as a dealer-installed option) a Prima
The operation and control layout of the BlackJack is the same as other
Buddy scooters. For that matter it is the same as most modern scooters.
The left hand controls the rear brake. On the left control there is also
the high/low beam selector for the headlight, the turn signals featuring
push-to-cancel and the horn. The right hand twists the throttle (and
twists the throttle, and twists the throttle, and...) and controls the
front brake. On the right control there is the "engine off" switch, hazard
flashers and the starter button. On the right side below the hand-grips is
the multi-function switch. It turns the ignition on and also engages the
front fork lock or operates the seat release.
The rear-view mirrors are on long stalks and actually allowed even a
wide-load like me to see at least some of what was behind me. The front
tray is useful for small items and I actually powered my GPS unit with the
accessory plug. Everything worked flawlessly on the BlackJack during our
Remember back in the 1970s, that souped up Opel/VW/Datsun that your friend
had? Really? You do? Wow, you ARE old..... The BlackJack reminds me of
that small, cute car that was actually much faster and handled much better
than you expected it would. The same could be said of some small-frame
scooters from that time. I've put a lot of miles on various Buddies. 50cc,
125cc, 150 Internationals, lots of different Buddies. They are all quick
for their class, they all have nimble handling and decent brakes. The
BlackJack continues with the quick acceleration common to the other
Buddies and adds excellent braking and sportier handling. The ride is
firmer and feels more secure in corners. You will still be limited by the
10 inch wheels, but for the "spirited" riding that a lot of people enjoy,
the BlackJack's suspension delivers the goods. The rear drum brake was
easy to modulate and only locked up under HARD pressure. The front brake
is a dream - strong, controllable and no fade.
The BlackJack is NOT a replacement for the Genuine Blur. The Blur is no
longer offered in Genuine's line-up, but it was more of a native sport
scooter than the BlackJack. The Blur had handling and breaks that were
among the best I've ever experienced on a scooter.
The suspension on the BlackJack responds quickly and holds well, even on
rough roads. The combination of light weight, strong engine, a CVT that
likes the low/mid speed ranges, superior suspension and strong brakes
results in a scooter that is easy to ride at a very quick pace. Yes, the
ride will feel stiff. I would rather have a scooter that gives me accurate
feedback on the road than one that is too soft or wallows. The solo seat
on the BlackJack allowed me to sit further back than I would on another
Buddy which results in a nice riding position for cruising the local
The BlackJack comes off the line quickly and has nice roll-on acceleration
in the mid-range. When cruising at 25 - 45 MPH, a nice little leap forward
is just a throttle twist away. Getting to the top end of the BlackJack's
speed takes a while. Though capable of maintaining highway speeds, this is
NOT a good choice for a touring scooter. The same elements that make it
blast to ride around town (light weight, quick handling, small wheels,
etc.) are at odds with the heavier weight, large wheels, wind
protection and so forth that make for a good highway touring mount.
For this review, the BlackJack was ridden by Lora at Scooterville, my wife
Beverly, me, a couple of friends, and even a couple of people from shops
that carry competing brands. Lora has a Buddy 50 that is pretty built-up.
She loved the BlackJack. In fact, I had to lock her in the restroom at
Scooterville, steal the keys from her jacket, and sneak out the door just
to get it away from her. I'm SURE someone has let her out of the restroom
by now... Bev was very pleased with the BlackJack and preferred it to her
125 Buddy. Even competing dealers expressed a very positive opinion of the
Fit & Finish
BlackJack is available in any colour you want as long as it's flat black.
The solo seat has red trim, the wheels are red, and whitewall tires are
standard. The graphics reflect the card-playing nature of the name. As I
have found with other Buddy models, the panels are well finished and fit
together nicely. The switches and controls are very good, one of the areas
that usually show the cheapness of a "bargain" scooter. The next time you
are out riding around on your Buddy, park next to one of the $850 Chinese
scooters at the mobile phone store and you'll see what I mean about the
switches and controls.
Having been introduced in 2006, it's only a few years that we have had
Buddy scooters available. They have demonstrated lasting quality and I
expect the BlackJack will be no exception.
What are you looking for in a scooter? Great fuel economy? The Buddy
125 would be a better choice. Long distance highway riding? Get a Burgman,
Xciting, Majesty or CityCom. Something that will accomodate your 6'8" 300
pound frame? Nope, sorry, a Buddy isn't for you. Do you want excellent
handling and braking? A smaller scooter that won't bore you? A machine
that brings a big (just slightly evil) grin to your face? Go out
and get yourself a BlackJack.
Information on all of the Genuine offerings and a list of dealers can
be found at:
Murtha of Scooterville in Minneapolis
Minnesota Rides the BlackJack
The rumors are true, I have a love affair
with another scooter. The Genuine Black Jack 150 has stolen my heart. I
love my little Buddy 50 (well, ok itís a 70cc) and have over 12,000 miles
on it. I ride that thing everywhere, but when I had the chance to steal
Daveís Black Jack for about 2 months I jumped at it. (Thanks Dave!)
Itís not even fair to
compare the speed on the two scooters. I am quite a speed demon (stuck
on a 50cc so not THAT much of a speed demon), so the ability to take
it on the interstate was a BIG plus for me. (Donít worry Dave, I didnít
do it that often) I have always been impressed with the acceleration
on the Buddy. When the light hit green and I took off I really surprised
the guy next to me in the car. I was able to stay ahead of him going up
hill. I do not think he was pleased that a girl on a scooter was beating
Besides beating cars
off the line I was really impressed with how it handled on the corners.
The upgraded suspension allowed me to scrape the center stand around some
tight corners. My commute takes me on a few twisty tight corners and the
Black Jack performed so smoothly. It never felt like it was going to
bounce out of control no matter how hard I leaned. I hardly felt the bumps
in the road, which is especially amazing on any of the Minnesota roads in
Being on a scooter
always has some risks involved. One of which is people never seeing you
and pulling out in front of you and then stopping, or doing something
equally as frustrating. This scooter is equipped with two wonderful
devices to help you in these situations. The first is the air horn. I
think I saw a lady throw her coffee up in the air when I hit that horn.
The second being the amazing brakes. I never knew one could almost stop on
a dime. I didnít have a dime with me or I would have tested this theory.
You grab those little black levers and you stop! I didnít lock up the rear
tire or hit the car that pulled out in front of me, but I did come to a
safe stop and was impressed.
Jack might not be for everyone, but it is defiantly something for me. I
love the looks; the flat black with the red rims and whitewall tires just
makes me smile. The performance is quite an upgrade to what I have now so
of course I love that. Now I just need to find a way to squeeze a fourth
scooter into our already packed garage.
Checkerboard on the BlackJack
Yes, I am out of my tiny little mind. Lots of people have told me this,
especially after they see that EVERY scooter or motorcycle in my garage
has checkerboard on it, usually reflective. I'm a firm believer in doing
whatever one can to increase visibility to other drivers when I'm on two
wheels. To this end, I added custom graphics to a Genuine Buddy BlackJack.
The material used is high grade 3M red reflective material that was
hand-cut and applied to the front, sides, and rear of the Scooter.