After years of stagnant neglect, the major Japanese manufacturers are starting to care about scooters again. In particular, Honda has expanded its scooter lineup in recent seasons. The latest of those offerings to reach American shores is the Forza 300. We got a chance to go hands on with the Forza at the IMS this weekend and it looks like Honda is definitely on to something.
In all of powersports, 300 is the new 250. Though the engines have grown that little bit, the chassis class size for these bikes remains compact. When I first encountered the Forza, I thought it was the smaller, 150cc Honda PCX. The two scooters are definitely siblings. With their modern lines and compact proportions, both machines manage to be contemporary without following the typical maxi-scooter formula of cookie-cutter spaceship design.
The Forza’s details are very nice given Honda’s focus on being a value brand. While not as loaded with bells and whistles as say, the BMW C-series or the Suzuki Burgman 650, the Forza still sports some impressive features.
Starting in the dashworks, the Forza features two cubby compartments, one on either side of the steering column. One locks with the ignition, the other appears to remain accessible while the scooter is parked. A centralized switch plate makes opening all of the Forza’s storage compartments very straightforward.
The Forza features flip-down passenger pegs that look sturdy, but blend with the bike when folded up. They’re right off the old Elite 250 when you think about it.
Under-seat storage runs the full length of the seat, but its depth is lacking. We didn’t have a helmet on hand to see if one would fit, but at this point we’re skeptical.
The Forza’s gauges are large, but not too large. Gauges feature nice detail and fairly clean design. The look and feel are squarely Honda, which is neither a compliment nor a dig. It’s just Honda. Practical, durable, but unremarkable.
Hand controls are high quality and easy to use, as we’d expect. Sitting on the Forza, the ergonomics felt good. With a relatively low seat height, the Forza will accommodate a variety of rider sizes comfortably. At 6’3″ myself, the Forza’s handlebars didn’t interfere with my knees at full stop. Foot boards are generous, however taller riders will find the forward-foot positions too compact to really use. The seat itself is very comfortable, with a bucket-style backstop for the primary rider. Again, taller riders might struggle with this fixed seating position, but shorter-to-average height riders will likely be very comfortable.
The exterior design of the Forza is a nice blend of straightforward design and nice details. While not as visually extreme as the BMW C 600 Sport, or as artistic as the Vespa 946, the Forza is a handsome scooter. The engine and transmission cases don’t have the “parts bin” look that many scooters have. Instead, these look specifically designed to work with the Forza’s exterior lines.
All in all, short of hopping on for a ride, the Forza looks like a contender for anyone looking for a midsize scooter. Particularly suited for commuter duty, the Forza is a nice size for anyone looking to get around town, but with that extra bit of power that will let you hop on the freeway for a little while if you need to. Right now our harshest criticism isn’t for the Forza itself, but aimed squarely at Honda for only offering one color for the US market. One color! That lack of choice feels like a small level of contempt for Honda’s American customers. It’s not as though there aren’t other colors available at the factory. There are. C’mon Honda, you can do better.
Interested in the rest of Honda’s lineup, we give you the full breakdown here.