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Yamaha Zuma 50F hits streets of S.F. (photos)

To test the 2012 Yamaha Zuma 50F scooter, Yamaha chose the hilly streets of San Francisco. The zippy little bike offers an interesting alternative in urban travel with its adequate speed and an engine that gets 152 miles per gallon.

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John Lewinski

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2012 Yamaha Zuma 50F Scooter

SAN FRANCISCO--Yamaha assembled journalists here in the foggy city this week to road-test the 2012 Yamaha Zuma 50F Scooter. The little scooter with a 50cc engine proved it could get around tight Bay Area traffic and up the steep hills that make the city famous.

Smaller than a motorcycle but beefier than a traditional scooter like a Vespa, the Zuma 50F will likely win hearts with its mileage count of 132 mpg.

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Under-seat storage compartment

Yamaha designers moved the 1.5-gallon fuel tank on the 2012 Zuma 50F to under the rider's feet, freeing up the space under the seat for storage.
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2012 Yamaha Zuma 50F dual headlights

For a smaller vehicle like the 2012 Yamaha Zuma 50F, visibility is a problem. The double headlamps on the scooter are in place not only to illuminate the road ahead for the rider, but to make the smaller bike stand out to other drivers.
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Thicker tires of the 2012 Yamaha Zuma 50F

Yamaha designers say they wanted to give the 2012 Yamaha Zuma 50F a more rugged look. So, their engineers chose 10-inch knobby-type front and rear tires.
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Yamaha adds disc brakes

To bring the 50cc 2012 Yamaha Zuma 50F to a stop, Yamaha chose 180mm diameter wave-type disc brakes. They came in especially handy when this reporter had to lock up a bike to avoid a clueless driver making a blind right turn in front of him in San Francisco's Japantown.
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Handlebars of 2012 Yamaha Zuma 50F

Designers borrowed styling from Yamaha dirt bikes for the 2012 Yamaha Zuma 50F's handlebars, headlights, and indicators.
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Instrument reads

The 2012 Yamaha Zuma 50F doesn't get much above 40 mph in city traffic, but its fuel readout takes its time descending with the vehicle's 132 mpg.
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Yamaha Zuma 50F luggage rack

Yamaha gets audacity points for calling this tail add-on for the 2012 Yamaha Zuma 50F a luggage rack. Fortunately, the ample storage space under the seat makes up for it.
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Magnetic ignition switch

While a couple of stout lads could admittedly steal a scooter by scooping it up and throwing it in the back of a truck, Yamaha guards against theft in the 2012 Yamaha Zuma 50F by placing a magnetic lock on its ignition switch.
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10 of 11 John Scott Lewinski / CNET

Relocated 2012 Yamaha Zuma 50F fuel tank

To lower the center of gravity and stabilize the 2012 Zuma 50F scooter, Yamaha relocated the fuel tank to under the footrest, opening up the under-seat area for storage.
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Tackling the San Francisco hills

It may have only a 50cc engine, but the $2,490 Yamaha Zuma 50F had enough horsepower to ride up this San Francisco hill en route to Twin Peaks.

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