While Vespa is the more famous name, it was Honda that pioneered the modern scooter as we know it today. Some variation of Honda’s twist-and-go engine/transmission layout (often referred to as GY6) has been powering modern scooters for something like three decades. Since those gloriously boxy days of the ’80s, Honda got more focused on motorcycles (and in that, sadly, chasing Harley Davidson). That is, until recently.
In the past four years, we’ve seen Honda really step up its scooter game and now they’ve released their scooter lineup for 2014. It’s some old favorites, but also some new machines and significant updates. Let’s start small and work our way up.
The darling of Honda’s 50cc class, the Metropolitan sees purely aesthetic changes for 2014. The Metro was significantly updated for 2013, so we really wouldn’t expect another overhaul of the design. Honda is now offering a new array of color options, but little else seems to have changed. The Metro retains its 49cc, fuel-injected engine, linked brakes and 117 mpg fuel efficiency rating.
The original naked battle scooter returns for 2014 identical to its 2013 spec. Honda hasn’t even changed the available colors. The Ruckus has always been a bit of a head scratcher for us. Not because we don’t like it. We love it. The mystery is why Honda hasn’t seemed to catch on to the cultural penetration the Ruckus has for the scooter community around the world. It has a cult following and a vibrant custom scene, yet Honda keeps plodding along with the same old bike they’ve been making for a decade. Doesn’t make sense to us. We’re long overdue for the Ruckus 150, if you ask me. Yet what makes the least amount of sense to me is how Honda has put ZERO marketing behind the Ruckus. There aren’t even decent photos on the press site. What gives, Honda? Why no love for the Ruckus?
One of the most interesting scooters to come to America in the last decade, Honda’s PCX-150 puts contemporary, maxi-scooter looks into a compact package. As a truly modern, big-wheel scooter, the PCX-150 has daily commuter duty written all over it. For 2014, the PCX-150 is unchanged from 2013. In fact, on their website, Honda is still referring to the PCX-150 as a 2013 model, even as part of their 2014 lineup. With the PCX growing from 125cc to 150cc for 2013, looks like from Honda’s point of view, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
New for 2014, Honda is bringing its 279cc Forza model to American shores. Looking very much the PCX-150’s bigger brother, the Forza 300 aims to take on the highway commute and light touring duties the smaller scooters just can’t handle. At 422 lbs, the Forza is not exactly light on its wheels, and that shows in its relatively paltry 68 mpg. However good aerodynamics and wind shelter make the Forza a sort of spiritual descendant of Honda’s iconic Helix 250. Although a quick glance at the Forza and it’s obviously a bit more compact than the famous “Barcalounger on wheels.” One ridiculous aspect of the US-bound Forza 300 is the color choices. Or rather, the lack of color choices. Even though Honda has offered the Forza in red, white, silver, black and dark silver around the world, American buyers get one color: red. Shame on you, Honda. It’s 2013, and there’s no excuse for not at least offering one other color option. I vote for white.
Silverwing 600 ABS
Like the PCX, Honda is bringing the 2013 Silverwing ABS forward as an unchanged model, continuing to designate it as a 2013. With its soft focus on touring, the Silverwing ABS remains the largest bike in the Honda scooter lineup. It’s archetypical maxi-scooter looks and expansive under-seat storage are nothing new to Silverwing fans. However like the Forza, Honda has given Silverwing buyers only one available color: black. At just a few hundred dollars less expensive than the BMW C 600 Sport, this lack of choice is a bit baffling.
Honorable Mention: The Grom 150
Yeah, yeah, yeah we know the Grom isn’t technically a scooter, but small Honda motorcycles like the Trail and Cub have long blurred the lines between dictionary-definition scooters and regular old motorbikes. Beyond that, we just like the Grom. We like that it exists and that Honda took a chance on small. At an almost impulse purchase price point, we hope the Grom would make the perfect first motorcycle for any scooter fan.
Gone: The Honda SH-150
We can only speculate that the much sexier-looking PCX-150 heavily cannibalized sales of Honda’s other midsize scooter offering, the SH-150. Once the most popular scooter in Italy, the SH-150 never gained much traction here in the states. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in the wild. In the end, I think the SH-150’s practical looks were too plain for its own good. Especially when its sharing showroom floorspace with the PCX.
What we’d like to have and won’t get: The Honda Integra 700
One of last year’s most acclaimed motorcycles was the Honda NC700X, a slightly dual-sport inclined road bike that offered a lot of utility, power and value to motorcycle riders. However under the proverbial hood of the NC700X, you’ll find the heart of a scooter. Specifically the Honda Integra 700. Sold elsewhere in the world, the Integra 700 features the same 670cc, liquid-cooled parallel twin found in the NC700X, but its laid out like a sporting maxi-scooter. With the NC700X’s starting price right at $7,500, I can only imagine the Integra would give BMW a run for its money in this sport scooter class. We’d love to see it on our shores. If a big scooter is going to be the size of a motorcycle, it might as well perform like one.