TOP SCOOTERS OF THE DECADE: PART 1 - 1980'S


Honda-1984-Scooter-Lineup
For a new series, I’m going to run down my picks for the top 3 scooters of each decade, starting with the 80’s. These top three lists will leave out a lot of great machines, but I think they’ll capture most of the machines that stood out.

In the 80’s Honda and Yamaha pretty much had the scooter market to themselves with Vespa and Lambretta on the way out. A lot of neat machines were introduced during this decade, with some of the best machines coming in the late in the decade after the
scooter craze died off. 1983 - 1985 were huge years for scooter sales, with ’86 - ’89 selling only a small fraction of that.

In the 80’s
Honda and Yamaha combined to serve up 18 new models which ran the gamut from practical (Honda Elite 150) to just plain weird (Honda Gyro).

Yamaha Riva 180 - Red
1987-91 Yamaha Riva 200
Like the other scooters on this list, Yamaha’s big Riva had teething problems in the early years. The Riva 180 suffered from autochoke issues that makes nearly all machines hard to start today. However, when Yamaha returned for 1987 with an upgraded version that added 28cc (171cc to 199cc) and remedied the autochoke issue, they had a real winner.

The Riva 200 rips on the highway with an 80mph top speed. With gold rims and the spaceship look, the Riva 200 combines 80’s glory with highway cruising practicality. It gets the win over Honda’s big scooters for being just as fast as an Elite 250 while looking even more awesome. Full info
here.

1985 Honda Aero 50 - Monza Red
1986-87 Honda Aero 50
Honda’s first generation of Aero 50 was a neat machine, but the second generation introduced for 1985 improved everything (faster, easily upgradable, glovebox, better suspension, new seat). The first year of the second generation lacked a kickstarter and throttle controlled oil injection, but when these were added for 1986’s Honda arrived at 2-stroke 50cc perfection.

The final version of this masterpiece was only sold for ’86 - ’87, but if you can find one in good condition it’s a great buy. They are seemingly immortal and have to been one of the most useful and fun 50cc scooters to own. Compared to 50cc’s from Yamaha, the Aero 50 was years ahead in power and engineering. Full info is here.

1985 Honda Aero 80
Honda-Aero-80-1985-Scooter
The Aero 80 is the most fun to ride stock small scooter ever, with it’s incredible torque making wheelies easy in stock form. It’s a package that’s gotten even more fun with time, as cruising around today on an Aero 80 combines memories of the 80’s with that amazing blast off the line. Moving slow or fast, the Aero 80 is awesome.

The ’83 - ’84 Aero 80’s suffered from a few issues, specifically the power cuts off at full throttle so a careful hand is needed for peak acceleration. Honda remedied this for 1985, plus they boosted the top speed and added storage in the side panel to achieve perfection. While an 80cc scooter isn’t as cheap to operate as a 50cc (insurance, fuel), the 1985 Aero 80 is easily the most fun to drive scooter from the 80’s. Full info is
here.

Honorable Mentions
Honda Helix - The original maxi scooter
Yamaha Riva 50 / Salient - Not a great machine, but a neat looker
Honda Aero 125 - Another 2-stroke torque monster
Honda Elite 150 - Perhaps the most practical 80’s machine.
Honda Gyro - This 3 wheeler easily wins the odd-ball award

HONDA'S MISSING LINK: THE EXPRESS SR SCOOTER-PED


EVOLUTION OF SCOOT - MOPEDS GROW PANELS
Honda-Express-SR-1981
A recent bit of discussion in the MSG forums over the definition of a scooter led to the study of Honda’s unique Express SR. Is it a scooter? Oddball moped? Neither?

While it’s not hard to come up with a scooter definition that most could agree with, it’s also easy to see not every vehicle fits nicely into one category. Honda’s 1981-1982 Express SR (NX50) is a nice example of this.

While this bike’s ancestry lies in Honda’s Express line of mopeds (Express, Express II, Express Deluxe), moped purists would see the
Honda-Express-SR-1982-Blue
Express SR as an outsider. Lacking pedals and a chain, this odd ride slots in better as a scooter. While utilizing moped style handlebars and lacking the full rear wheel body panel coverage and full sized legshield found in most modern scoots, the basics are all here: step thru frame, swing arm engine & floorboard.

Accordingly, the Express SR has now been added to the scooter guide on this website and its 1981 existence could be considered the first foray of modern scooters into North America. This missing link introduced technology like auto choke, CVT transmission, oil injection and 12 volt electronics into the North American scooter scene. For a complete look at this unique scooter-ped check out the new Express SR page.

Also worth a look is the freshly scanned in
1981 Honda Express SR brochure. Right click to download. Please speak up in the comments section about the Express SR and/or what you consider to be a scooter.


A LOOK BACK: 1984 HONDA USA SCOOTERS BROCHURE


Honda-1984-Scooter-Lineup
HISTORIC GOLD: 1984 HONDA SCOOTER BROCHURE
Fresh in from the scanning room is Honda’s 1984 brochure. A gem from the formative years of the modern scooter era.

Honda did a nice job with this one. It’s the only North America brochure to ever contain the short lived Aero 125. The smaller Aero’s (80 & 50) are here too, along with the Gyro, Spree and first Elite, the 125. Those latter three scooters and the Aero 125 were all new models for 1984, making it the biggest introduction year for Honda scooters ever.

Check out this brochure and many others in the
Downloads section.


RARE SCOOTER BROCHURE SCANS: 1985, 2001


1985 HONDA AERO 80 AND YAMAHA 2001 SCOOTER LINEUP SCANS

1985 Honda Aero 80 Brochure
Through the 80’s and 90’s, Honda and Yamaha created some really neat literature for their scooter lines. Honda’s quality has waned in recent years (bikes and scooters are now lumped into one), but Yamaha has continued to do a fairly nice job.

The 80’s were the peak of the effort put into this literature and 1985 was Honda USA’s magnum opus - the year they put out an artistic brochure for their entire scooter line, as well as multi-page quality brochures for each of their 7 models.
Yamaha USA Scooter Brochure 2001
27 years later these brochure are rare, but once in a while one pops up on eBay. About 6 months ago I posted a scan of the 1985 brochure on Honda’s complete scooter line, and now I’ve been able to acquire the 1985 brochure on the Aero 80. Here is the 1985 Honda Aero 80 brochure.

In addition, I scooped up Yamaha USA’s 2001 scooter lineup brochure and scanned that in as well. It’s also a neat brochure. 2001 may sound pretty recent, but having a look at scooters like the Razz and original Zuma will make it feel older than that.

Browse over to the full
Downloads page to have a look at the growing collection of scooter literature.


HIGH QUALITY HONDA & YAMAHA BROCHURE SCANS


HIGH QUALITY HONDA AND YAMAHA BROCHURE SCANS

After much delay, high quality scans of many scooter brochures from Honda and Yamaha are now online (to replace the camera taken low-quality PDFs that were online). All of these new PDFs and more are on the Downloads page.

Honda-Scooter-Accessories-1989
In addition, a few more old Honda (3) and Yamaha (2) brochures have been purchased recently and those will be scanned in soon (Update: Honda USA 2001 and 2008 now added. 2001 is very neat). These old brochures are pretty neat and hard to get. If anyone has any they’d like to share, please Contact MotorScooterGuide.

The brochures that have been re-done are:

Honda USA -
1985, 1989 Accessories, 1993, 2001, 2008
Honda Canada -
1984
Honda UK -
1984 Mopeds and Commuters
Honda Japan -
2003 Zoomer
Honda Australia -
NH80 Brochure
Yamaha USA -
1996, 1998, 1998 Alternate Version
Yamaha Canada -
2008, 2009

Check out the
Downloads page to see all the brochures and manuals available for download.