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Motorcycle or scooter? Adly’s RT50 blurs lines

By Liz Keener

49cc street legal model quickly becomes a top-seller

The first question I had when I opened the box containing my Adly RT50 demo unit was: What is it? My dad, a lifelong Gold Wing rider asked the same question, as did my husband.

The RT50 was sent to me from Bintelli Scooters, the exclusive U.S. importer for Adly, a Taiwanese scooter manufacturer since 1978. It’s street legal with a two-stroke 49cc like a number of scooters and mopeds. But you straddle it like a motorcycle, and if you asked an Average Joe on the street, he’d probably call it a motorcycle from its styling alone.

The mystery, and the fact that the RT50 can’t be easily defined, is what Bintelli president Justin Jackrel enjoys about the unit.

“There’s no wrong way to describe it. That’s actually what’s cool about it,” he said.

The 28-inch seat height appeals to a variety of riders, from 6-foot-4 Bintelli Scooters employee Jackson Haskell, shown here riding the RT50, to 5-foot-2 PSB managing editor Liz Keener.

The 28-inch seat height appeals to a variety of riders, from 6-foot-4 Bintelli Scooters employee Jackson Haskell, shown here riding the RT50, to 5-foot-2 PSB managing editor Liz Keener.

Even on Bintelli’s website and at the Bintelli office in Charleston, South Carolina, the RT50 is described as having “the heart of a motorcycle and the soul of a scooter.”

“It’s really like a motorcycle and a scooter had a baby,” Jackrel joked.

After a few weeks of riding the RT50, I’m still not sure what to call it, other than a fun little unit to run around town, or to learn how to ride aboard.

Is the Adly RT50 motorcycle or a scooter? Justin Jackrel, president of Adly importer Bintelli Scooters, says it’s a bit of both.

Is the Adly RT50 motorcycle or a scooter? Justin Jackrel, president of Adly importer Bintelli Scooters, says it’s a bit of both.

Trying to rack up the miles for a proper test ride, I mostly traversed around my neighborhood and a couple surrounding neighborhoods — anywhere I could get while traveling 45 mph or less. It rode like a motorcycle, and I received the traditional waves and nods usually earned while on two wheels.

While I didn’t run any errands on the bike, I did venture toward a park, a local baseball field and the strip mall a few blocks from my house. Jackrel said one RT50 owner in the Charleston area has gone as far as securing a basket to the rear fender for storage.

This type of bike was designed for someone looking for a unit just for running around town. In my area, for example, I cannot only get to numerous strip malls, department stores and gas stations on 45 mph and under roads, but taking the right route, I could also make it too downtown Minneapolis or the Mall of America. Who needs freeways? (OK, I couldn’t drive to the office because it would’ve taken over an hour to snake through back roads. But, again, for tooling around town, it served its purpose.)

And with 80-100 mpg and a 1.64-gallon tank, I never had to fill up after the first time I put gas in it.

From the photos people have seen, Jackrel said the first question he gets is about the unit’s size. Many are surprised at the RT50’s stance when they finally see it in person.

For my not-quite-5’2” frame, the 28-inch seat height was perfect. I could, with no challenge, stop flat-footed, a feat on most bikes. Jackson Haskell, a 6-foot-4 Bintelli dealer support specialist, was able to ride it with ease as well, no complaints about the size.

“It’s bigger than dealers expect it to be,” Jackrel said. “It’s not nearly as small as what it looks like it the pictures.”

He sees the height as a great selling point because while tall riders can be plenty comfortable, those who are vertically challenged, like myself, are also comfortable swinging a leg over the RT50.

“It’s that great bike where it doesn’t matter how tall you are,” he added.

The height opens the bike up to buyers that may have never considered a motorcycle before. Jackrel said some customers are small-stature college cheerleaders who haven’t been able to sit flat-footed on any unit.

PSB managing editor Liz Keener took an Adly RT50 from Bintelli Scooters on a demo ride for a few weeks in late May and early June.

PSB managing editor Liz Keener took an Adly RT50 from Bintelli Scooters on a demo ride for a few weeks in late May and early June.

The 49cc engine and automatic transmission also makes the unit ideal for learning the basics of riding without the concern of maneuvering a heavy motorcycle or shifting the transmission.

“It’s a great starter bike. Being automatic, it’s a great way to learn how to ride a motorcycle,” Jackrel said. “It’s a perfect starter bike.”

One customer, for example, bought an Adly RT50 because she wanted to ride alongside her husband, but she was intimidated to start with a larger unit. Now the duo spin around their area side-by-side.

“It’s a nice little bike, which is really nice because there are so many models out there that have similar style, but like the Honda Grom, they’re 125cc,” Jackrel said.

The Adly RT50 can be pulled out of the garage for a quick run to the store or a ride to anywhere else where the speed limit is 45 mph or under.

The Adly RT50 can be pulled out of the garage for a quick run to the store or a ride to anywhere else where the speed limit is 45 mph or under.

In most states, you need a motorcycle endorsement to ride a 125cc bike, while you don’t for a 49cc. Registration for a 49cc unit is also usually easy, or not required in some states. For Bintelli dealers, who, for the most part, have only had scooters until now, 85 percent of their sales stem from 49cc models.

And those dealers are enjoying the Adly RT50. After Bintelli began importing Adly scooters last summer, the company decided to ship a trial run of the RT50 models to the U.S.

“We did the sample run and saw how it did, and it sold like crazy,” Jackrel reported. In fact, he said the first shipment sold out in just a matter of days.

It was then that Jackrel knew he had a hit on his hands, and he ordered more RT50s to be shipped in from Taiwan. The first big shipments came in April and May, and they quickly sold out as well.

“Now that it’s a product that’s moving for us, we’re bringing them in non-stop,” Jackrel reported.

Dealers appreciate that they’re easy to work on, as the RT50 doesn’t have the plastic body pieces that a typical scooter has. Although, Jackrel said the air-cooled, two-stroke JT-50 engine needs no valve adjustments, and it’s easy to maintain.

But the units are also selling at retail at an impressive rate, with one dealer reporting he sold one before it was even all the way off the delivery truck.

“The dealers are just loving them, as they’re selling so fast,” Jackrel said.

The Adly RT50 comes in three color options — black, yellow or burgundy, with burgundy being the most popular. Each unit comes with two years of complimentary roadside assistance and a two-year unlimited mileage warranty. The Adly RT50 retails for $1,699.

 

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