HONDA's RELEASES 2017 SMALL SCOOTERS
RUCKUS AND METROPOLITAN QUIETLY RETURN
This week Honda quietly announced the 2017 editions of their 50cc models: the Ruckus and Metropolitan (known as the Giorno in Canada). Both scooters are returning without any updates, nor new color options.
After mixing up the Ruckus color options for the first decade, Honda has apparently decided that black and white/red are the best colors for the Ruckus, as these have now been offered for 6 years running (2012 - 2017). As the previous owner of both black and white Ruckus’s, I agree these are nice shade but I’m still partial to my 2008 shade of silver. All the year by year color options can be viewed on the Ruckus page.
The Ruckus has been on sale since 2003 in North America (2002 in Japan) which means 2017 marks its 15th anniversary here. The white/red color combo was originally introduced for it’s 10th anniversary but obviously has stuck around. Honda has clearly finished updating the Ruckus and it’ll probably just live on until sales reach a certain point. It is still a great scooter - now entering classic territory - and seems reasonably popular. It’ll be interesting to see if it can last longer than the Elite 80 (1985 - 2007), which had an impressive 23 year run in North America.
The Metropolitan / Giorno was overhauled last year, so the lack of mechanical changes isn’t surprising, but I did expect Honda to mix up the colors as they usually do. Instead, white, blue and red are back for a second year.
No word yet on pricing for 2017 but there’s no reason to expect substantial changes. Honda also offers two larger scooters, the PCX 150 and Forza 300. There’s no word yet on the 2017 Forza but the 2017 PCX was announced in early summer as it continues to be popular and sell well. I expect we’ll hear about the 2017 Forza soon.
2017 HONDA MODELS TO DATE: Ruckus, Metropolitan / Giorno, PCX150
2017 HONDA PCX 150 ANNOUNCED
NOTHING NEW EXCEPT IT COMES IN BLUE
Honda has continued their tradition of releasing the next years model of the PCX super early with an announcement this week for the 2017 PCX 150. It is expected in showrooms later this month.
Like last year, Honda hasn’t made any mechanical changes since the major overhaul for 2015 which won the MSG Scooter of the Year Award, however there are some new colors. 2017 color options are Pearl White (like 2015) and Pearl Blue, which is a nice new shade we haven’t seen from Honda before.
Pricing is unchanged for 2017 with a MSRP of $3499 and a $320 delivery charge. No word yet on Canada but it’s likely to follow suit. We expect the PCX will continue to be a very popular scooter, as it’s a refined and well rounded machine for an attractive price.
STATE OF THE SCOOTER SCENE 2016 - PART ONE
9 NEW OR IMPROVED MODELS ARRIVING IN SHOWROOMS
With 2016 models mostly in showrooms, it’s time to review all the new and improved models. Please take a second to vote for your favorite. If you’re not familiar with the choices, read on!
As usual, complete details for each manufacturers lineup and specific models are found their respective pages here on MSG. A full report on 2015 scooter sales will be released in Part 2 of MSG’s State of the Scooter Scene, along with the winner of the poll. With just one entrant, it’ll be interesting to see if Honda can make 2016 their 4th straight win.
New 2016 Scooters
Genuine Buddy Kick
Genuine Venture 50
Updated 2016 Scooters
BMW C 650 Sport
Piaggio MP3 500 Sport
Vespa Primavera Tourer
Vespa Sprint Sport
Vespa 946 EA
Yamaha Zuma 125
Kymco MyRoad 700i
New scooters are sparse for 2016, comprising just two models from Genuine. These new models consist of a nice addition to the Buddy lineup called the Buddy Kick, and the low cost 50cc Venture. Thankfully quite a few more models received major updates.
For 2016 BMW resumed sales of their C Sport model, now calling it the C 650 Sport. It still uses the same 647cc motor so the new name just corrects the earlier non-sense of calling it the C 600 Sport. The 2016 upgrades include freshened styling, traction control and tweaks to the suspension, CVT and exhaust. Honda took 2016 as an opportunity to heavily overhaul their popular Metropolitan with a new liquid cooled motor, revised styling, new glovebox, 12V port, rims and an in floor fuel tank to increase underseat storage. The Zuma 125 from Yamaha is also less recognizable, with all new style, instruments, more room and improved brakes and suspension.
The Italians haven’t been sitting idle either. Piaggio surprisingly resurrected their MP3 in North America after several years in the grave (although it was on sale overseas). The new MP3 is called the 500 Sport but rather than resembling prior Sport models, it’s actually the softer original MP3 styling but with a new grill, rims and Piaggio’s larger 492cc motor. Vespa reworked three of their models for 2016, adding Tourer and S variations to the Primavera and Sprint models respectively. The Sprint S receives fairly mild styling tweaks while the Primavera Tourer gets the full set of Vespa racks and accessories similar to the LXV of years past. Last is the 2016 edition of the 946, called the Emporio Armani edition. This EA edition gets pretty neat green/grey paint but otherwise is similar to past 946 editions in style, function and price ($10g).
Also gone but not nearly as iconic is Kymco’s MyRoad 700i, which was only offered for two years in the USA and never saw much sales success against the big maxiscooters from the Japanese.
In total there are 52 scooter models being offered from the 9 major manufacturers covered on this site. That’s down 2 from last year but up quite a bit from 45 models 5 years ago.
HONDA LAUNCHES NEW LIQUID COOLED 2016 METROPOLITAN
REVAMPED METROPOLITAN HEADLINES HONDA’S 2016 SCOOTER LINE
The Metropolitan has been majorly upgraded for 2016 with an all new motor, revised style and improved amenities. The new Met gains liquid cooling, an in-floor fuel tank, larger underseat storage and a small glovebox with 12V charging socket. This new Met is essentially Honda Japan’s new Giorno Clip model, which is replacing the discontinued regular Giorno in Asian markets. In Canada, Honda is also offering this new model but under the overseas Giorno name.
The 2016 Met utilizes Honda’s new AF74E liquid cooled motor. This new motor is similar to the GET2 design in the 2002-2009 Metropolitan, with a clever side mounted radiator and reversible alternator that doubles as the starting motor. Power from the new motor is similar with 0.1 less horsepower (now 4.4) but coming at a lower RPM (8000 vs 8250). The main appeal of the new motor is the improved efficiency, made possible with higher compression (12.0:1 instead of 10.1:1) and an idle stop system, although the idle stop system appears seems to be nixed from the North American market. In Japan this model is rated at a staggering 132 mpg in real world conditions (180 mpg in Japan’s wildly optimistic 30km/hr test), which is 13% better than the departing Metropolitan which was rated at 117 mpg. Honda USA is sticking with their 117 mpg claim, but it’s likely they haven’t had the chance to run the new model past the D.O.T. yet, either that the axed idle stop system contributed that much.
In terms of the style, it’s the same core machine but Honda reworked the side flanks with new horizontal streaks and freshened up the front of the legshield. Also new are the 8 spoke rims and instrumentation, which gains a digital trip odometer. There’s also new black shrouding under the floor, which conceals the relocated 1.2 gal fuel tank. The frame itself appears to be the same and the wheelbase is unchanged at 46.5”. There’s a good video walk around of the new style here.
In terms of amenities, the revised Met replaces the open legshield storage cubby with a smaller one under the ignition good for a bottle of water and then a more useful but small glovebox on the left side. This glovebox has a small 12V outlet perfect for charging a cell phone.
Colors for 2016 are Pearl Blue, Pearl White and Red. Pricing has now been announced and it’s up $400 in Canada and the USA to $2399 (USA) and $2699 (Canada). It’s a big increase that likely partially reflects the increased cost of the machine but also reflects a new strategy for Honda of less skimpy margins.
HONDA RELEASES 2016 EDITION PCX150
2016 MODEL IN SHOWROOMS THIS MONTH
The PCX 150 - a two time winner of the Motor Scooter Guide readers pick poll (2013, 2015) - is returning for 2016 via another early release from Honda. Apparently inventory of 2015 models was running low, which isn’t surprising since the PCX is a great scooter at a great price and Honda released the 2015’s way back in April 2014.
The announcement for the 2016 model was back in April, but the new machines are just rolling into showrooms over this month.
After being substantially revamped last year, the PCX is rolling over without major changes. Honda has increased the MSRP by $50 to $3499 in the USA while also mixing up the color options. In Canada the 2016 PCX 150 is listing for $3999, a bump of $100 over last year which is small considering how much the Canadian currency has devalued.
The new colors for 2016 are dark red and grey, which replace the 2015 color options of black and white in the USA and red and bronze in Canada. Honda USA is calling these new colors Dark Cherry Red and Steel Grey. In Canada only grey is being offered for 2016 but as always the Honda Canada folks have gotten more creative with the naming so they are calling it Matte Techno Silver Metallic.
No news yet on the rest of Honda’s scooters. That announcement should come in September or October.
TOP SCOOTERS OF THE DECADE: PART 3 - 2000'S
In the decade from 2000 to 2009 an incredible 77 new scooters models were introduced into the USA and Canada. This was a huge increase from the paltry 6 new models that were introduced the 90’s. More importantly, the scooter market diversified as it grew from a trio of Japanese makers (Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki) to include Italian brands (Vespa, Aprilia, Piaggio) and several Taiwanese manufacturers (Kymco, Genuine/PGO, SYM).
The 2000’s are also notable for being when the maxi-scooter concept was really developed, with machines going far beyond 250cc designs like Honda’s Helix and cranking that up to 500-650cc. Another noteworthy change this decade was a shift from 50cc 2-strokes to 4-strokes, with new 2-strokes becoming rare by the end of the decade. Scooter sales during this time had some strong years (2005 - 2008) followed by a 50% collapse during the 2009 recession - a sales level which remains to this day.
Choosing just 3 machine to represent the best of the 00’s from the list of 77 is difficult. The following machines were selected because they combine top notch design with historical importance. There are numerous fantastic machines that have been left out.
Vespa S 150 (2008 - 2014)
Vespa returned to North America in 2001 with their ET model, but it wasn’t until the S was launched in 2008 that Vespa really connected with North American enthusiasts. The ET was a bit awkward and it’s LX successor was a bit cheeky. When Vespa took the same LEADER motor and LX frame and wrapped that in the edgier S styling they had their first real hit in North America in 3 decades and became relevant again.
The S has been offered in 50cc and 150cc versions, but the 150 is the real deal with power to match the capabilities of the rest of the machine. It lacks the handy glovebox of the LX, but the style is more than enough to make up for it. If you’re in the market for a machine from the 00’s, the S provides edgy style and top notch quality in a reliable package.
Suzuki Burgman 650 (2004 - present)
Aprilia was the first to introduce a proper maxi scooter to North America with their Atlantic 500 in 2000 and Honda followed that up in 2002 with the even better, but full mastery of the maxi-scooter concept wasn’t demonstrated until Suzuki released the Burgman 650 in 2004.
The Burgman 650 has advocates everywhere and for good reason. It matches highway power with a full array of touring amenities, and goes a step further than touring motorcycles by providing a package that is easier to mount and ride. Quite a few maxi’s have been introduced since, but none have dethroned the Burg 650.
Honda Ruckus (2003 - present)
More than any other scooter, Honda’s Ruckus is responsible for making scooters cool again in the new millennium. Prior to the Ruckus, most small scooters were meekly styled plastic blobs that most people would be embarrassed to be seen on. I love a good 90’s machine, but it’s fair to say that style struggled to gain mass acceptance.
In addition to it’s rugged style, the Ruckus is also a top notch machine with an aluminum frame, liquid cooled 4-stroke motor and and clever bits like a new alternator design that shed the need for a starter motor. The Ruckus is the complete trio of great style, clever design and top quality. It’s the type of machine that helped Honda build their reputation for reliability.
TOP SCOOTERS OF THE DECADE: PART 2 - 1990'S
In the second instalment of this series, I’ve deliberated over and served up my top 3 picks for best scooters of the 90’s. A core requirement is that a scooter must have been either introduced or substantially overhauled in the USA or Canadian markets during this decade. Simply keeping an 80’s machine on sale into the 90’s is not enough to qualify.
The 90’s were a darker time in North American scooter history. This sales had dived after record sales in the 80’s and new models were sparse. It’s a strong parallel to today, where scooter sales have yet to recover to anything approaching the pre-recession levels. Thankfully sales today are 50% of what they were pre-recession, while sales in the 90’s fell to only 20% of the 80’s peak.
As a result of slow sales, scooter lineups in the 90’s were mostly comprised of machines left over from the 80’s boom. Late 80’s machines like Honda’s Elite 80 and Elite SR, and Yamaha’s Riva 125 were mainstays. In fact, Honda didn’t introduce a single new scooter model to the USA throughout the 90’s after introducing 18 in the 80’s. The extent of their attention to their scooter lineup in the 90’s was resuming sales of the Helix in 1992, introducing the Dio to Canada, and revising their Elite SR with a new motor for ’94. Yamaha didn’t do much better, introducing only the CY50 generation of the Jog in 1992.
Another Japanese maker, Suzuki, had yet to offer scooters in North America in the 80’s, but surprised everyone in 1990 when they released their first scooter, the Hyper aka AE50, to the Canadian market. It wasn’t offered in the USA, but it qualifies for consideration here as it was both new and sold in either Canada or the USA.
By the late 90’s it was clear that the Italian brands (Vespa, Aprilia, Piaggio) were planning a return to North America, but only Aprilia managed to get their scooters in showrooms in the 90’s when they rolled out a limited release of their SR50 and Scarabeo 50 models in 1999.
1999 - 2003 Aprila SR50
The SR50 was easily the most significant new scooter launched in the 90’s. When it was launched for 1999 it became the first 50cc scooter sold in North America to offer liquid cooling, fuel injection, a rear disc brake and 13” rims. In doing so, it brought many features normally reserved for bigger motorcycles to 50cc riders.
The SR50 was also easily the most “sporty” scooter offered date, drawing direct inspiration from Aprilia’s sportbikes. It took the semi-sporty concept of scooters like Honda’s Elite SR and Yamaha’s Jog to an entire new level with advanced technology, impressive power, aggressive styling and class leading digital instrumentation.
With all that technology, the MSRP was high ($2699 in 1999) which limited it to a smaller niche as an enthusiasts machine. Sales were never high, but was a fantastic scooter and remains appealing today on the used market.
1992 - 2001 Honda Dio (Canada only)
The Dio is likely Honda’s best selling scooter globally but it has only appeared once in the North American market. Honda introduced the Dio to Canada for 1992 where it remained on sale for 10 years while American’s were offered the similar but watered down Elite SR.
The Dio has long represented Honda’s best effort at making a practical and sporty 50cc. It’s a highly refined, supremely reliable and notoriously easy machine to squeeze more power out of. Only the base model was offered in Canada, but that’s just as well as it leaves the joy of bolting on cheap and readily available suspension bits, rims and go-fast parts to the owner.
Honda eventually shoehorned the Dio’s 5.6 horsepower motor (AF16E) into the Elite SR for 1994, but the result wasn’t quite as elegant since that scooter still used the previous generation of exhaust, carb and intake. Elite SR owners can brag about their glovebox, but the Dio has superior telescoping front forks and most of the design is a decade newer.
The lasting greatness of the Dio is apparent on any forum for 80’s or 90’s Honda scooters, where the common response to anyone asking about souping up their scooter is to “get a Dio motor” and mod from there. Whether you get a proper Dio or just a ’94+ Elite SR, you’re benefitting from the finest 2-stroke 50cc design Honda’s come up with to date. Yamaha’s CY50 Jog was a tough competitor, but the Dio was the best small 2-stroke of the era.
1999 - 2006 Aprilia Scarabeo 50
The Scarabeo 50 is a noteworthy machine that makes this list not because it was great, but because it was the first big wheeled scooter offered in North America. Aprilia took a gamble introducing the 50cc Scarabeo into North America hoping buyers would be practical like they are in Europe. They weren’t, but Aprilia still sold enough to keep it in the lineup.
The ‘Beo was the best 90’s machine for the practical scooterist. In that sense it was the opposite of the SR50 which catered to the pure enthusiast. It’s large wheels worked well on rough roads and with glove box storage and an optional top case it was easy to live with. A 4-stroke motor would have been even more practical, but no one offered 4-stroke 50’s in the 90’s.
TOP SCOOTERS OF THE DECADE: PART 1 - 1980'S
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).
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.
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
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.
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
STATE OF SCOOTER SCENE 2015 - PART TWO
HONDA PCX150 WINS READERS POLL, SCOOTER SALES FLAT FOR 2014
2015 Readers Pick: Best New Scooter
Honda continued their dominance of the annual MSG readers poll for best new scooter, having won the poll three years in a row. The substantially overhauled PCX150 was voted into the top spot with 42% of the vote. That’s the second win for the PCX150, which also nabbed the award when it was last overhauled for 2013.
Yamaha’s new SMAX was also a popular pick with 31% of the vote. Third place (16%) went to Vespa’s new Primavera and Sprint models, with offerings from Genuine and Kymco lagging with single digit support. Consistent with other trends, mid-sized scooters dominated the poll.
Scooter Market Sales
The USA scooter sales figures for 2014 are in from the Motorcycle Industry Council. The faint recovery from the 2009-2010 recession seems to have stalled in the USA as sales were flat at 33,528 units. That’s down 1214 machines or 3% from 2013 (34,742 scooters) and about half of the pre-recession sales.
While a full recovery would be great, the 2006 - 2008 period was an unusual spike in scooter sales second only to the mid-80’s boom. The current level of sales at 30-40k units is about the historical norm for scooters, as similar volumes were sold from about ’88 to 2004.
As usual, the 2014 figures aren’t in yet for Canada but the MMIC has finally posted the 2013 numbers. In Canada scooter sales rebounded moderately after a pretty dismal 2012. Including all the major, non-Chinese brands, 3912 scooters were sold in Canada in 2013. On a per capita basis, that’s a bit better than in the USA but still a far cry from the pre-recession popularity. Hopefully things take an upturn in 2015. eBikes seem to be stealing sales from the 50cc segment, but mid-sized scooters seem to be selling well.
STATE OF THE SCOOTER SCENE 2015 - PART ONE
MID-SIZED SCOOTERS ARE TAKING OVER IN 2015
With the new year almost here, it’s time to round up the news on new and departing scooters in North America for 2015. Before we delve into this, please take a second to vote in the poll for your favourite new scooter (If you’re not familiar with this models, read on!). As always, the full details on each manufacturers lineup is found on the respective manufacturers pages, and here we’ll just run down the new and departing models.
New 2015 Scooters:
Genuine Buddy Riot
Kymco Super 8 X 50 / 150
Kymco Super 8 R 50 / 150
News on 2015 models has been a slow trickle this fall, with full 2015 lineups still not announced from Genuine and the Piaggio group. Oftentimes these makers blend one model year into the next with little fanfare except for new models. Thus we’re assuming all the usual scooters will be back in 2015 except for models that have clearly been replaced, such as the Vespa LX and S.
All told, there are seven substantially new models launching in North America for the 2015 model year, which come in a total of 12 versions as many are offered in both 50cc and 150cc sizes. Interestingly, all of the new machines are either mid-sized (150-155cc) or they come in a mid-sized version. It’s a stark turn around in the mid sized segment compared to 4 years ago when mid-sized machines were less popular.
The first 2015 scooter was announced way back in February, which was Vespa’s new Primavera (above right). The Primavera is Vespa’s new small frame model and thus replaces the LX. Alongside the new Primavera is the new Vespa Sprint (above left), which is the same core model but with edgier styling that will replace the Vespa S. These scooters are available in both 50cc and 155cc sizes, with the latter featuring standard ABS.
The Japanese makers were also eying the mid-sized segment, with Honda producing a heavily overhauled PCX150 (above left) that gets new styling, a little more power and new amenities. The PCX looks like it’ll have stiff competition from Yamaha, who launched the new SMAX 155 (above right) in North America this fall. The SMAX is a physically larger scooter that looks like a great modern design featuring a high tech motor and long list of amenities.
The other new models for 2015 are from Genuine and Kymco. Genuine is launching a new limited edition of the ever popular Buddy named the Buddy Riot (below right), which features an upgraded suspension and a mean looking gunmetal and black color scheme. Kymco’s new models for 2015 haven’t been officially announced, but we’re expecting to hear new X and R versions of a new generation of the Super 8 announced soon. The X version has styling with an off-road slant, while the R version is a street style (below left) This new Super 8 aims to bring sporty transportation to a lower end of the cost spectrum by basing the new Super 8 off Kymco’s lower cost Agility model.
Kymco Compagno 50 (USA Only)
Kymco Like 50 (USA Only)
Kymco Movie 150 (USA Only)
Kymco Super 8 50 / 150 (USA Only)
Kymco Xciting 500 (USA Only)
Yamaha Majesty (USA Only)
The discontinued models for 2015 are disproportionately from Kymco USA, who have opted to refine their formerly huge range of offerings from 13 models to 11 models. Even with the trim, Kymco USA is still fielding the largest lineup of any scooter maker. Kymco’s lineup adjustments for 2015 appear aimed at targeting the lower cost end of the spectrum. Their more expensive small and mid sized machines have been dropped, and the new Super 8 X / R models appear to be based on their entry level design so the MSRP should be lower. Kymco has also discontinued the Xciting 500 for 2015, but this move likely reflects the popularity of the newer MyRoad 700i. Kymco Canada has yet to announce their 2015 line.
The other departing models for 2015 are older designs. The Vespa LX and S have been around since 2006 and 2009 respectively, but have now been replaced by the new Primavera and Sprint models respectively. Yamaha’s Majesty (left) hasn’t been replaced, but it is an old model dating back to 2005 in the USA. This model is cut in the USA but continuing on in Canada.
Overall the number of new scooters outnumbers the departing list by 1, and thus the number of scooters on the market increases from 53 models to 54 for 2015, assuming the Piaggio group doesn’t have any surprises in store. The slight increase in new models like reflects the overall health of the scooter market quite well. The scooter market plummeted in half during the 2008 recession and it’s recovery has been very slow with only 5-10% annual increases. When the scooter sales for 2014 are announced around February we’ll issue part 2 of this annual report to discuss the results.
OP-ED: THE FUTURE COULD BE ELECTRIC
Over the last five years there’s been a lot happening in the world of electric powered transportation. Companies like Zero and Brammo are making pretty nice electric motorcycles and upstart automaker Tesla is selling electric cars as fast as they can build them.
In this opinionated piece, I’ll take a look at the pros and cons of electric powered scooters, what electric scooters are being offered today, where eBikes have gone wrong and what it would take to create a compelling electric scooter.
The Potential For Electric
Before we get into this, we ought to know why there’s even a push to go electric. What are the advantages besides tree-hugger cred? The main draws are instant power, low fuel costs, reduced maintenance and low emissions. Scooters don’t use much fuel, but running on electricity is way cheaper than gas which means $1 fill ups. Secondly, maintenance on an electric vehicle is virtually nil. There’s no oil changes or coolant. You wouldn’t be replacing drivebelts or rollers because electric motors don’t need a transmission. There’s also the perk of reduced emissions, since the only emissions are from when we make the electricity in the first place, which is way cleaner than running on gas even if the power is coming from coal.
HONDA QUIETLY RELEASES RETURNING 2015 SCOOTERS
RUCKUS, METROPOLITAN AND FORZA ARE BACK
Today Honda quietly announced the 2015 versions of their returning scooter models. As expected, the Ruckus, Forza and Metropolitan (Giorno in Canada) are back and largely unchanged. Accompanying these returning models in showrooms for 2015 is the PCX 150, which was heavily updated and announced much earlier. We’ve covered the changes to the PCX150 in an earlier news post and on the PCX page, so here we’ll take a look at the updates to the returning models and comment on the health of Honda’s lineup.
The USA market Metropolitan fared a little better with one change to its three color option list. For 2015 a two tone color combo of White and Grey (shown) replaces the outgoing Candy Orange/Black combo. Honda Canada didn’t change any of the colors there, but they did spruce up the color names. There was a big shift from two word color names (i.e. Candy Orange) to three word names (i.e. Candy Blaze Orange). Fancy words like “Pearl” and “Gemini” were also liberally sprinkled throughout. Yes, it’s an exciting time to reading Honda press releases. A full year by year color list is at the bottom of the Metropolitan page.
While the news for most 2015 models is status quo, Honda does have a great lineup right now. The PCX 150 and Forza are both new and great machines that won the MSG Scooter of the Year readers poll for 2013 and 2014 respectively.
What Honda ought to do is flesh out their lineup with new machines at both ends of the spectrum. What’s missing is a modern styled 50cc and a maxi replacement for the Silverwing (2002 - 2013). The Ruckus and Metropolitan are both solid machines, but they appeal to distinct market niches. A broadly appealing modern 50cc like the Honda Dunk or Dio could be a strong seller to the mainstream practical market at the right price. At the other end of the spectrum, Honda needs a new maxi above 500cc. Their new-ish 580cc Silverwing GT (right) would fit the task. Maybe for 2016?
NEW HONDA PCX + HONDA FORZA TAKES SCOOTER OF THE YEAR
CAN HONDA WIN IT THREE YEARS IN A ROW WITH THE NEW 2015 PCX150?
This win by the Forza makes it two years in a row for Honda, who nabbed the readers pick a year ago with the revised PCX150 capturing a dominating 41% of the vote. Now Honda will have a chance at making it three years in a row with a new 2015 PCX150 that was just announced for the USA and Canada.
The new 2015 PCX150 (below) resembles the bigger Forza more than before and will be available in July wearing Metallic Black or Pearl White in the USA. No you can’t have the wonderful grey below, but you can have Candy Noble Red or the classy Bright Bronze Metallic (think mahogany) if you’re in Canada. This iteration of the PCX is heavily overhauled but not entirely new. In short, it’s a new body and a tweaked motor packed around the same frame. The updates are plentiful and noteworthy. Besides the new styling, there a big increase in glovebox storage in the legshield with a 12V charge port inside. There’s also an extra half gallon or 2 liter boost to the fuel tank capacity. This new 2.1 gallon tank in combination with efficiency improvements (reduced engine friction, faster rolling tires) pushes the PCX150’s range beyond 200 miles. Other new features include all LED lighting, a clock and a hazard lighting button on the dash. The LED lighting reduces power demand which of course is a good thing since there are 720 watts in a horsepower. This means the conversion of the headlights to LED’s frees up a solid 0.1 horsepower for other uses like smoky burnouts. There’s also a new seat that opens via a loaded spring and is claimed to be much more comfortable. The previous seat on the previous PCX150 was widely criticized, so hopefully the new saddle is much better.
Powering the 2015 PCX150 is the same core motor, but tweaked to deliver an extra 0.4 ponies. The grand total is now 13.4, which equates to a 3% rise. Unfortunately Honda has again nixed the idle stop feature from the North American market. There does seem to be a new catalytic converter in the 2015 model and a trio of new bearings in the final drive that minimizes transmission drag. For all the tech details check out the press release, but be aware quite a bit of the engine tech claims were actually new for the 2013 model (ie. offset cylinder, spiny cylinder) and they’re being re-hashed.
The price tag for 2015 remains unchanged at $3449 in the USA. No word yet on Canadian pricing. Check out the PCX150 page for all the details.
STATE OF THE SCOOTER SCENE 2014 - PART ONE
A SUMMARY OF THE NEW AND DEPARTING MODELS FOR 2014
In this first portion of MSG’s annual state of the scooter scene (SOTSS) address, we’ll run down the full list of new scooters arriving in North America for 2014. We’ll also pay homage to the departing scooters, of which thankfully there are few.
First, please take a second to vote for your favourite new model for our “Motor Scooter Guide 2014 Scooter of the Year” award. Last year Honda’s PCX 150 took the top spot.
New 2014 Scooters:
Aprilia SR Motard
Kymco MyRoad 700i
Piaggio Fly 50
Piaggio Fly 150 (USA)
Suzuki Burgman 200
Yamaha Zuma FX / X
Aprilia SportCity One 50 (USA)
Aprilia SportCity One 125 (Canada)
Kymco Vitality 50 (Canada)
Kymco Downtown 200 (USA)
Kymco People GT 200
Vespa LX / LXV 150 (Canada)
Vespa S 150 (Canada)
The new machines announced for 2014 are a diverse bunch, with motor sizes ranging from 50cc to 700cc. Overall there are 8 significantly new scooters for 2014, based on 5 completely new designs and a significant new take on the Zuma style. While the list of departing scooters is a bit longer, many of these machines are only leaving either Canada or the USA. Accordingly, the total count of scooters on sale in the USA rises from 49 to 53 models, while Canadians will be offered 39 models (from 38) from the eight major brands covered here on MSG.
In the mid-size category, Piaggio has also launched their new Fly design with a 150cc motor boasting similar technology. Suzuki’s new Burgman 200 also qualifies as a mid-sized
The Burgman 200 (above) is going to be an interesting scooter to watch, as sales could take off if buyers see it as a more affordable way to enter the maxi scene and aren’t put off by a marginal 75mph top speed. It’s Suzuki’s first new scooter in some time, and their smallest offering ever in the USA.
Buyers that are looking for a full speed scooter will also want to consider Honda’s new Forza (below grey), which picks up where the old Reflex left off. At 279cc, the Forza can close in on 100mph and does so with style and refinement. This scooter is a great model from Honda and early reviews seem to very positive as it blends maxi scooter features with a price tag and fuel usage that is easier to swallow.
The last new model for 2014 is Kymco’s MyRoad 700i (white), which makes no secret of its status as a highway devouring mega-scooter. The MyRoad 700 is big and heavy at 608 lbs, but it provides a supremely comfortable and powerful highway tool that offers a larger motor and lower price that Suzuki’s popular Burgman 650.
Appendum: Genuine Scooter Co. is also on the cusp of releasing two substantially new models: An all new 170cc Hooligan rugged scooter and a 125cc Automatic version of their popular vintage Stella model. Here is more details.
Kymco has also opted to drop the 200cc version of their People GT (below) and Downtown models, leaving the more powerful and top selling 300 versions to carry on. This decision is hardly worth lamenting except Kymco Canada was only offfering the People GT in 200cc form, which means the end of the end of the line for that model in Canada.
Aprilia Canada - which is managed by the Piaggio group like Vespa - has also dropped their lone mid-sized offering, the SportCity One 125. It’s too bad to see the shift away from mid-sized machines, but the SportCity One remains around in 50cc form, unlike the USA where Aprilia has dropped it to reduced redundancy with their new SR Motard 50. As Piaggio Canada also opted not to import the new Fly 150, you can no longer buy any 125-150cc machines from this major group of scooter brands in Canada.
2014 LITTLE HONDA'S: RUCKUS + METROPOLITAN
METROPOLITAN / GIORNO RETURN WITH 3 BOLD NEW COLORS
In the traditional fall release season, Honda has announced the return of their ever-popular Metropolitan and Ruckus. Up in Canada (and in the rest of the world) the Italian inspired Metropolitan is badged a
Honda hasn’t made any changes to either of these models for 2014 except for three new colors for the Metropolitan (NCH50). The 2014 color options for the metro are now pink, royal blue and orange, which Honda has elegantly named Pink Metallic, Pearl Blue/Black and Candy Orange/Black respectively.
The Ruckus heads into 2014 with the same color options as 2012 and 2013: Black or White/Red (shown). Historically Honda hasn’t paid much attention the Ruckus aside from annual new colors, but now with the same colors now returning for a third year it’s clear Honda isn’t paying any attention at all to this older model - or they ordered way too many white and red parts when they made the first batch and they’re still clearing them out.
MSRP’s have yet to be announced, but they aren’t likely to stray far from the 2013 prices of $1999 (Metropolitan) and $2649 (Ruckus).
For complete information on these little Honda’s, check out the Ruckus and Metropolitan/Giorno pages.
TOKYO SHOW RELEASE: HONDA DUNK 50
HONDA TAKES THE WRAPS OFF THE ROBO-SCOOTER
Honda has reveiled their new Dunk scooter ahead of the Tokyo Motor Show where it will be on display.
The Dunk is a sharp new 50cc with unique style. Honda’s added some nice touches to it, including an LED taillight,
The aggressive edges and blacked out rims combine for a great modern look. It’s half scooter and half space shuttle. Honda is powering this little space machine with a brand new liquid cooled 4-stroke 50. It uses some of the same engineering tricks as the Ruckus: a side mounted radiator, floorboard located gas tank, camshaft driven water pump and ACG starting technology (no starter motor). The Dunk actually goes beyond, as it also incorporates fuel injection and idle stop systems like non-North American versions of the PCX 150.
There’s no word yet on North America, or even if Honda has planned this as a world model. There will likely be some hint at the upcoming Tokyo show in late November, but any North American introduction won’t be for a while. If it does come here, a name change might be in order - Honda Tron has a nice vibe to it. Check out a nice gallery of Dunk pictures from Honda UK. What do you think? If it does come here, all this technology will likely mean a premium price.
BLAST TO THE PAST: HONDA'S 1996 SCOOTER BROCHURE
DOWNLOAD HONDA’S SCOOTER LINEUP CIRCA 1996
While the 90’s don’t seem that long ago, somehow it’s been 17 years since Honda released their 1996 lineup. While the 80’s are considered to be the glory years of Honda’s scooters, the mid 90’s actually featured some darn nice artwork in their scooter brochures.
1996 was one such high point artistically for Honda, with profiles of their various machines weaved together with an elaborate - and likely funnier with time - detective story. Two 80’s stars (Helix, Elite 80) as well as a 90’s newcomer (Elite 50 SR/S) are presented here in fine form. This brochure is certainly worth checking out for any scooter enthusiasts, so download the Honda Scooter Lineup 1996 PDF.
Also head to the Downloads page for a look at the rest of the brochure scans from Honda, Yamaha and others stretching back to the early 80’s.
2014 PIAGGIO FLY + HONDA FORZA HEADED TO NORTH AMERICA
THREE NEW 2014 MODELS HEADED FOR NORTH AMERICAN SHOWROOMS
Piaggio’s line has taken a huge step forward with their announcement of a second generation of the popular Fly scooter. The original Fly debuted in North America for 2005, so it was due for some revisions. Piaggio took the wraps off the second generation style in fall 2011 at the Milan show and with producing starting last fall, but up until now we’ve been left wondering if it’ll arrive in North America and what motors will be offered.
That speculation ended this week, when Piaggio announced both 50 and 150 models for the USA and only the 50cc variant for Canada - all of which are arriving now. The Fly 50 continues to use Piaggio’s fancy 4 valve motor (of Vespa fame) which was added for 2011, while the Fly 150 gets Piaggio’s much anticipated 3 valve fuel injected 150cc motor. This new motor boosts both power (+0.5hp to 12.1) and fuel economy over the outgoing model.
Honda has also been juggling their scooter line in recent years, with short lived forays with the Elite 110 and SH150i before finding success with the PCX150. In that same vein, Honda’s new Forza takes the style of the PCX150 and amps it up into the highway devouring category. The Forza 300 has now been announced as a 2014 model for both Canada and the USA and is expected in showrooms in the next few weeks.
Unlike their misstep with the SH150, Honda has priced the Forza aggressively from the get go. In America the MSRP is $5599 - directly in line with Kymco’s competing Downtown 300i. Antilock Brakes add $500 for a $6099 bill, while ABS is standard in Canada as part of the reasonable $6399 price tag. It’s great to see Honda filling in the gaps in their lineup and getting more aggressive with pricing instead of resting on their laurels.
Both the new Fly scooters and the Forza are attractive and highly practical new offerings in their respective segments. It’s great to see manufacturers introducing excellent new models and pricing them to sell. We’ll be seeing a lot of all three on the road in the years to come.
STATE OF THE SCOOTER SCENE 2013 PT 2: SCOOTER OF THE YEAR
READERS CHOICE WINNER: 2013 HONDA PCX150
With the votes counted, Honda’s revamped PCX 150 ran away with the top honours in the 2013 readers choice poll. The faster and more refine
Piaggio’s new 2013 BV350 captured the second spot with 29.3% of the vote. Yamaha’s reintroduced and now fuel injected Vino 50 rounded out the top three with 8% of the vote.
USA: 2012 SALES
Scooter sales in 2012 rose for the third consecutive year, this time increasing by 7.7% to the highest level since the 2009 crash. That’s healthy news for the industry, especially when you consider 2012 sales were mostly current scooters being sold at regular margins, as opposed to the 2009 market crash leftovers that buoyed up sales in 2010 and 2011 with heavy discounts. The chart below shows scooter sales in the USA over the past seven years, but realize that this MIC data doesn’t include several smaller makes (Genuine, SYM) nor does it include the swell of Chinese makers.
Despite the nice annual rise sales remain a far cry from the 2008 heyday, which was the culmination of years of steady growth. From 2000 to 2007, mainstream scooter sales hovered in the 40,000 - 55,000 unit range - or about 20% higher than we’re seeing today. Mainstream USA sales were 34,294 in 2012, which may actually be there new norm as the non-represented Chinese makers have captured a portion. Popular Chinese makers like SunL and Znen are rumoured to be selling in the five figure range.
The news in Canada is both lacking and lackluster, so it slips in here at the bottom. The Canadian industry group (MMIC) is still sitting on the 2012 numbers, but we can report the 2011 numbers which were too late to slip in to this report last year. In short, Canadian scooter sales took a big dive in the wrong direction in 2011. Canuck sales were a healthy 10K units in 2008, which dropped to 6K for 2009 and 2010. Instead of a rebound, sales dropped further in 2011 to 4.6K units. Hopefully things were rosier in 2012.
STATE OF THE SCOOTER SCENE 2013 - PART ONE
A LOOK AT THE NEW AND DEPARTED MODELS FOR 2013
Welcome to the first instalment of MSG’s annual State of the Scooter Scene address. In this first half, we’ll run down the new machines going on sale in the USA and Canada for 2013, as well as reflect on the discontinued mounts winding down their showroom days. Part two will follow around March, when the sales figures are released and scooter story of 2012 can be told in full. Please take a second to vote in the poll for your favorite new or resurrected model.
New 2013 Scooters:
Honda Metropolitan / Giorno
Genuine Lemonhead Buddy (USA)
Kymco Movie 150
Kymco Compagno 50 / 110 (USA)
Kymco Like 50 / 200 (Canada)
Piaggio Typhoon 50 (USA)
Piaggio BV 350 (USA)
Yamaha Vino 50
Suzuki Burgman 650 [Late addition]
Kymco Sento 50 (USA)
Piaggio BV 300 (USA)
Piaggio BV 500 (USA)
Piaggio MP3 line (Canada)
While the numbers won’t be released for some time, 2012 appears to have been a stronger year for the scooter industry. Sales were surely up across the board, and confidence from the manufacturers seems to higher than it’s been in some time, with many manufacturers taking the opportunity to introduce new models. Of particular note, Kymco Canada displayed the highest amount of confidence by carrying over all 10 of their 2012 models plus adding three new steeds for MMXIII.
For the coming year things look bright, with the return of some popular scooters (Yamaha Vino 50, Honda PCX), new generations of some old favorites (Piaggio Typhoon 50, Honda Metropolitan) and an impressive list of all new nameplates from Kymco USA and Piaggio. All told, 10 scooters are either new or returning after some time off, while 2 (Canada) or 5 (USA) are on their way out.
This translates to a total of 49 significantly different scooters on sale in the USA (up from 45 last year) from the main eight manufacturers covered here on MSG. Meanwhile in Canada 37 models are going to be offered for 2013, a four scooter increase. And that’s not counting the smaller Taiwanese brands (SYM, TGB) and the seemingly infinite number of Chinese makers.
Before delving into the new mounts, reflection is warranted for the (thankfully few) scooters on their way out. The most noteworthy machine on this list is Suzuki’s Burgman 650. However even here the news isn’t all that somber, as Suzuki showed a heavily revised Burgman 650 at the recent EICMA show, which stands a good chance of landing in North America soon. Still, the Burgman 650 as we know it - all 613 lbs of it - has ended its run after nine years (2004 - 2012).
[Edit: The revised Burgman 650 is indeed coming to North America for 2013.]
Piaggio has unleashed two major new models as 2013. The new BV 350 (left) has been a long time coming as the latest iteration in their BV series. With the overhaul, this new model is the easily the sharpest BV ever and is earning wide praise including accolades from Motorcycle-USA. At 330cc, this new model offers a great blend between highway touring capability and fuel milage (70mpg).
The other new Piaggio is a smaller 50cc version of their Typhoon scooter (top) which initially debuted as a 125 last year.
The biggest news from Kymco for 2013 is their new Movie 150 scooter (right). The Movie takes the sports concept of the Super 8 150 and matures it, while adding a more powerful motor and a rear disc brake.
In addition, the retro yet fuel injected Compagno (50cc and 110cc) makes it way to the USA market after being introduced last year in Canada as the New Sento. Finally, the Like 50 & 200 make it to Canada for the first time.
The other Honda news for 2013 is the return of the PCX (shown at top). This time around the PCX gets a 25cc boost to 150cc, which makes it freeway legal in most states and bumps the top speed 5mph. In addition to the larger bore, PCX150 motor has been refined from the CVT to the bearings.
Lastly, Yamaha is bringing back the Vino 50 (right) for 2013 after a year off. While it’s a bit of a stretch to call this one a new model, Yamaha did give it some nice revisions so it makes the list. The most notable update is a new fuel injection system which creeps fuel milage even higher (~110mg) . The other changes are fairly minor, but it’s still great to have this popular scooter back on the market.
EICMA 2012: NEW SCOOTS FROM VESPA, SUZUKI AND HONDA
2014 SUZUKI BURGMAN 650, VESPA 946 AND HONDA FORZA 300
As always, the EICMA show in Milan delivered as the years most exciting new scooter event. This time around there were many special edition scooters from all manufacturers as well as several new machines. In addition to the three new scooters highlighted below, Piaggio also revealed the production versions of their new Fly and X10 models which are going into production eminently. You can see the new Fly here (and read about it too if you’re Italian).
A year after debuting the concept scooter, Piaggio pulled the wraps off the production version of their new 946 scooter (aka Quarantasei, which is Italian for 46). The biggest surprise here was the lack of changes for the production variant. Vespa kept this one very true to the concept, which is great news for the enthusiasts out there. There hasn’t been an announcement for North America yet, but the 946 is expected to go on sale globally and there’s a good chance North Americans will see it for 2014.
The new 946 uses Vespa latest mill - a 3-valve single putting out 11.7 hp in 125cc form. However, a North American models would likely be equipped with a more powerful 150cc motor in the 14 hp range. Compared to the concept, the changes are fairly subtle. The rear end is less pointy and lacks the indentation on the sides. There’s also been a few body seams added to the flanks. Up front there’s been some minor reworking of the horn grill area and of course mirrors had to be added. Without comparing the two scooters side by side, it’s tough to spot the changes which is a good thing.
The new Forza (NSS300) is a successor to the Reflex that was offered to North Americans from 2001 to 2007. Compared to that scooter, the new Forza is a technical tour-de-force offering fuel injection, roller rocker arms, 4-valves and ABS. While ABS is optional in Europe, it’s slated to be a standard feature in Canada.
Canadian pigment options are Pure Red and Seal Silver.
Perhaps the most famous maxi-scooter of all time, the Burgman 650, was at a crossroads recently with Suzuki pulling it from their 2013 USA line. Suzuki’s lack of attention over the past few years left many wondering what the future held, if anything.
At EICMA 2012 Suzuki revealed what they had been up to when they unveiled an overhauled Burgman 650. The core frame and motor carry on with just small refinements, but the transmission is new and more efficient. Most noticeably, the styling is tastefully reworked to freshen the look and give it a slimmer profile. The instrumentation is also brand new and contains a mix of analog and digital instrumentation.
It wouldn’t be an update to the Burgman if new features weren’t added, so Suzuki continued to up the maxi-scooter ante with power folding mirrors, heated seats and even heated backrests. A number of Executive trim features have also become standard perks.
Even with the same motor, Suzuki is claiming a 15% increase in fuel efficiency due to the subtle refinements, a new clutch design and the slimmer shape. Also noteworthy is a new ABS system with uses floating discs and weighs half what the older system did.
The new Burgman will enter production shortly and hopefully we’ll see it arrive in North America mid-2013.
For more pictures of the reworked style and a look at the new dash, head over to the Scooter Station.
HONDA'S MISSING LINK: THE EXPRESS SR SCOOTER-PED
EVOLUTION OF SCOOT - MOPEDS GROW PANELS
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
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.
NEW HONDA'S FOR AMERICA - 2013 PCX150 AND METROPOLITAN
HONDA USA ANNOUNCED ALL NEW 2013 METROPOLITAN AND MORE POWERFUL PCX150
Top speed should rise from 60mph to about 65mph unless Honda forgot to remove the old 64mph rev limiter. Most likely Honda tweaked the gearing to keep the redline the same RPM but raise the redline speed to around 70mph. American’s still don’t get the idle stop technology that Honda includes in many markets to shut off the engine after 3 seconds and re-start it in an instant when the throttle is twisted.
The 2013 Metropolitan didn’t receive mere tweaks to its mill, it gets an entirely new frame and fuel injected motor plus many other updates. The style of the Metropolitan is completely overhauled, with no body panels left unchanged. The front end received the biggest changes, as the headlight was restyled and moved up from the leg shield to the headset. The new look is more reminiscent of Vespa’s LX model and less like Yamaha’s Vino. The front fender looks to be carried over from the previous (2009) Metropolitan but the rest of the body is new. The lines are freshened up and the rear flanks are raised up a bit higher to show more of the rear wheel. Also new are the gauges, handlebars, blinkers, locking ignition cover and seat.
Honda made the Metropolitan even more practical for 2013 with the new PGM-Fi (fuel injected) engine and additional storage options. Honda added a storage cubbyhole
The motor in the updated 2013 Metropolitan is an all new design with few details currently available. The biggest news for this new motor is the addition of fuel injection. That should boost milage moderately. Honda is claiming 117mpg for this new motor, which is 3mpg better than their claim for the old carbureted engine. This motor is still a 2-valve design with the same bore and stroke as the old GET2 motor, but it’s obviously a new design as the engine is now bottom mounted to the frame and it’s no longer liquid cooled. Honda’s specs say this new engine is liquid cooled, but it sure looks like an air cooled motor and a bit of research reveals this engine is almost certainly Honda’s AF70E air cooled motor rated at 4.5 HP @ 8250 RPM.
Overseas, Honda announced the updated PCX150 for some markets (ie. Thailand) about 2 weeks ago. The new Metropolitan is going to be sold as the ‘Giorno’ in Japan. It was just announced March 28th for the Asian markets.
The new Metropolitan is going to be a really compelling scooter. In addition to adding fuel injection and reworking the styling, Honda also lowered the price $50 to $1999 and added more storage. The downsides are the switch away from liquid cooling and the move to a steel tube frame. Color options for the 2013 Metropolitan are Pearl Black, Pearl Black/Red and Pearl White. Don’t be mislead by the silver and brown Japanese market models shown. The new 2013 Metropolitan is expected in showrooms in June, while the PCX150 is going to show up later in the summer.
A LOOK BACK: 1984 HONDA USA SCOOTERS BROCHURE
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.
STATE OF SCOOTER SCENE 2012 - PART 1
PART 1: A LOOK AT THE NEW AND DEAD MODELS FOR 2012
Part one of this address looks at the new scooter models are set hit the market for 2012. Please use the poll to vote for what you think is the best and most significant new scooter for 2012.
Part two will look back at scooter sales in 2011 and evaluate the health of the scooter market specifically in the context of the larger motorcycle market. It will be another month until the full 2011 data is out, but so far 2011 looks to be a big recovery over the painful recession years (2008, 2009) and the slightly better 2010.
New 2012 Scooters:
Aprilia SR Motard 50 / 125
Genuine Buddy 170i
Genuine Psycho Buddy
Kymco People GT 200 / 300
Kymco New Sento 50 / 110 (Canada Only)
Kymco Agility City (Canada Only
Piaggio Typhoon 125
Yamaha TMAX 530 (Canada Only)
Yamaha Zuma 50F
Honda PCX 125
Kymco Sting 50
Kymco Grandvista 250
Kymco Xciting 250
The scooter scene is in a positive upswing right now and enthusiasm is high for 2012. Scooters sales recovered quite a bit in 2011 (more on that in Part 2) so the back logs of dealer inventory from 2008 and 2009 are now largely cleared out. The only model to die for 2012 without an obvious replacement is Honda’s PCX 125. The PCX strangely makes it three one year wonders in a row for Honda (SH150 & Elite 110 being the other two), which indicates either sales haven’t been good for Honda or they’re indecisive about what they want to offer to North American scooterists.
The other three dropped scooters for 2012 are from Kymco. The Xciting 250 and Grandvista 250 have been replaced in the last year or two by the newer 2011 Downtown 200 / 300 and People GT 200 / 300 scooters that are a big step up technologically. The People GT is perhaps the first truly good looking large wheeled scooter sold in North America. The smaller Sting 50 is just a scooter who’s time has come, with nicer replacements like the Like 50 already introduced a couple years back.
The new scooters for 2012 are an exciting bunch. The Aprilia SR Motard and Piaggio Typhoon 125 are basically the same machines with tweaked styling and an extra 2-stroke 50 motor option for the Aprilia. These scooters don’t break any technological ground, but they do offer great styling and low MSRPs that will reduce the number of value oriented sales that the Taiwanese (Kymco, Genuine/PGO and SYM) have been snagging.
Lastly Yamaha made news in summer 2011 with their early release of the all new 4-stroke Zuma / BWs 50. They played it pretty safe with the styling - choosing to just refine their existing bug eye look rather than try something new. The 4-stroke engine in itself was probably a radical enough change for the Zuma fan base. Having long been known as a peppy 2-stroke that is easily modified, the 4-stroke model will alienate some enthusiasts but attract quite a few more due to it’s increased fuel economy and refinement. While it’s always sad to see one of the last remaining 2-stroke engines go, Yamaha did replace it with perhaps the best 4-stroke 50cc engine on the market right now. No one else can claim to have a fuel injected, liquid cooled 4-stroke engine that uses more than 2-valves.
All told, there are now 52 scooters available to the USA market for 2012 from the eight largest brands which are covered on this site. The number of offerings is the highest its been in a few years and in general the lineups are fresher. With warm weather right around the corner these new models and the annual favourites will by flying out of showrooms soon.
RARE SCOOTER BROCHURE SCANS: 1985, 2001
1985 HONDA AERO 80 AND YAMAHA 2001 SCOOTER LINEUP SCANS
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. 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.
CANADA: NEW YAMAHA TMAX & HONDA RUCKUS RETURNS
NEW GENERATION OF YAMAHA TMAX AND HONDA CANADA RETURNS WITH 2012 RUCKUS
This week Yamaha Canada quietly updated their website with the addition of the hugely revised and improved 2012 TMAX maxi-scooter. This new generation of TMAX was announced at Milan last month and the updates have really made this a strong sports-maxi scooter. The styling is significantly overhauled and the best news is the reworked motor
Yamaha only briefly offered the earlier generation of TMAX in Canada for 2009, so its been a few years for Canadian fans. Most likely Yamaha USA will announce the new generation of TMAX soon, but since the previous TMAX was offered there in 2011 they likely need a bit more time to clear out dealer stock. This TMAX addition to Yamaha Canada’s 2012 line likely completes their 2012 scooter stable, which began to take shape way back in mid summer with the new BWs/Zuma 50. The full 2012 scooter line from Yamaha Canada is BWs 50, Majesty and TMAX. Curiously missing for 2012 is the BWs 125 (aka Zuma 125).
2012 news is a bit more sparse from Honda Canada, who quietly updated their website today with the 2012 issue of just the Ruckus. Just like Honda USA announced a month ago, the 2012 Ruckus gets no real changes aside from a spiffy new red/white paint option which joins the always popular black color scheme. The 10th anniversary Ruckus (as it’s called only in Japan) is essentially a white Ruckus with a neat red seat and red decals. Canadian MSRP is unchanged from 2011 at $3069. The Ruckus looks to be the only 2012 scooter offering from Honda Canada, although there are still a few dusty 2010 SH150i in showrooms.
NEW SCOOTERS AT MILAN (EICMA) & TOKYO MOTOR SHOWS
NEW SCOOTERS FROM YAMAHA, PIAGGIO AND HONDA
It’s the season for motorcycle shows, with the important Milan (EICMA) and Tokyo motorcycle shows taking place in early November and December respectively. This year Yamaha, Piaggio/Vespa and Honda have all rolled out new designs.
Also of interest from Yamaha is an updated Majesty which gets new styling on the front end. No word yet if either of these updated scooters will be arriving in North America. Full press release from Yamaha.
The big news from Piaggio is a new X10 maxi-scooter with a far more modern/futuristic look than their current maxi, the X9. The scooter is going to be sold in some markets in 2012. There’s no word yet on North America, but this scooter looks like an obvious replacement for the aging X9.
The new X10 is going to be sold in 125cc, 350cc and 500cc versions, all of which are liquid cooled and fuel injected. The frame is the same for all engine configurations. The X10 boasts some neat amenities like traction control, backlit handlebar controls and optional electrically controlled rear suspension.
On the concept scooter front, the Vespa turned heads with their new Quarantasei
Lastly from Piaggio is a re-styled Fly (50, 125 and 150cc) and a 350cc SportTouring version of the Beverly (or BV 300) that boasts an all new 350cc engine cranking 33hp. The SportTouring variant also gets standard ABS and traction control plus a few nice design touches like different rims. The new Fly is a fairly cosmetic overhaul, with fresh yet familiar styling and the same motor options found the previous generation. Check out the full Piaggio EICMA Press Release with larger photos.
Honda also made a splash at EICMA, by releasing a smaller their new 700cc Integra model which is half bike and half scooter. This new bike/scoot uses a unique dual clutch transmission that is going to wind up in a few Honda motorcycles as well.
Joining the Integra at the Honda booth is a 50cc version of their also fairly new Vision 110 (released a few months back). The Vision is Honda’s larger wheeled scooter in Europe (as opposed to the smaller wheeled Lead) and this time around you have the choice of a 14” or 16” wheel up front. Lastly, a new model of the Wave110i was released. The Wave110i traces is ancestry to the famous Cub, but it’s a lower end model that’s usually not sold in North American or European markets.
2012 HONDA's RELEASED: RUCKUS AND SILVERWING
2012 HONDA SCOOTER ANNOUNCED: RUCKUS AND SILVERWING
Today Honda USA announced their 2012 line of scooters, which is going to consist of only the Ruckus and Silverwing. Gone is the PCX 125 and any hopes of other scooters like the Met, Elite 110 and SH150i returning after a year or two absence.
The best news for 2012 is ‘10th Anniversary Edition’ of the Ruckus, which gets some special design touches including a classy red seat. Honda USA isn’t calling this Ruckus a 10th anniversary model, but this same color scheme was announced by Honda Japan (who designed this scooter) as a 10th anniversary model two months ago. Honda USA is calling this a White/Red Ruckus and it joins Black as the second color option for 2012. The White/Red Ruckus is essentially a white Ruckus (sold in 2006) but with a red seat and red side decals. Look for it in showrooms in February.
On the other end of the scooter spectrum, Honda’s steady selling Silverwing scooter will be around for another year (its 11th). No new colors are being made available for this scoot, so your choices for 2012 will be black, black or black.
The Elite 110 and SH150 are two Honda scooters that had already taken a year off after being only offered in 2010. Since these scooters weren’t announced for 2012, that pretty much confirms Honda isn’t going to sell those scooters here again. That’s really too bad, as the Elite 110 is a really nice little Honda. It’s got all the right attributes of a good Honda scooter - physically small size, clean styling, modern engine and lots of well engineered aspects like the storage areas.
Finally, all hope can now be extinguished for the return of Honda’s Metropolitan / Jazz scooter, having most recently been offered in 2009. The only Honda scooter to ever return the North American market after 3+ years away is the Helix, which accomplished this feat twice (not sold 1988 - 1991 and 2001 - 2003). The absence of the Met leaves a hole in Honda’s thin lineup. Hopefully we’ll see some new great small scooters from Honda for 2013.
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.
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.
NEW 125cc SCOOTER ENGINE FROM HONDA
HONDA ANNOUNCES NEW GLOBAL 125CC SCOOTER ENGINE
Honda (Worldwide) announced an new mid-sized ‘global standard engine’ for their future 125cc scooters. This new motor is a 125cc liquid cooled 4-stroke that will be used in quite a few future scooters starting next year. Honda hasn’t announced any specific scooters that will use this engine yet, but it’s good to get to know this motor, as it will likely make it to the North American market in some form in the future years.
Honda announced this motor as a ‘global standard engine’, which means they will eventually create quite a few variations to meet different price points and scooter designs (ie. different swing arm lengths to accommodate different wheel sizes). On first glance, this motor might not look like anything radical, but there are a number of nice improvements that will benefit scooterists. Honda claims they focused on three areas with this new motor: durability, fuel economy and quietness. The most interesting of these areas is the fuel economy.
This engine ‘accommodates an idle stop system’, which means that higher end scooters sold in places like Europe and Japan will get the idle stop system which shuts off the engine at stop and instantly restarts it, while in other markets Honda will cut costs and omit this system. Honda’s first scooter to incorporate an idle stop system is the 2011 PCX 125, which doesn’t get this system in the USA market, but does elsewhere. Like the idle stop feature, fuel injection is another feature that this engine ‘accommodates’, so most markets will get that but some countries will get budget versions with carbs.
Honda claims a big overall improvement in fuel economy of 25%, which likely assumes the use of both the idle stop feature and fuel injection. Honda also improved fuel economy by making a big effort to reduce friction in many areas of the engine. This friction reduction has been accomplished by a large number of small tweaks. Some of the more note worthy ideas are needle bearings on the rocker arm shafts (most scooter engines have no bearings here and just rely on oil), roller rocker arms (very cool, a 125cc scooter first), an offset cylinder to reduce friction against the wall (see diagram below), a more efficient radiator which requires a smaller lighter fan, lighter piston, less oil agitation in the transmission etc. Ideas like idle stop technology and fuel injection are already present on some Honda 125cc scooters, but the needle bearings on the rocker arm shafts and the roller bearing rocker arms (on left where they contact the camshaft) are an industry first in a 125cc scooter and very nice to see. These features are normally only seen on higher end motors.
Fuel economy and friction aside, Honda has made a few other neat tweaks. They’ve found a new ‘high-elasticity’ rubber for the drive belt that is both quieter and more efficient which is good news. Typically scooter CVT’s are only about 80-85% efficient, so there is some real room for improvement here. Honda has also included a brushless ‘ACG’ starter which has been seen on a few other Honda’s before this (ie. Honda Ruckus, Metropolitan and PCX 125). This ACG design is great (simple, lighter and silent) and for this new generation of engine Honda has increased their electronic control over this starter to make the idle stop system work better and all starting easier.
One thing that stood out from Honda’s press release, was this motors similarities with the current Honda PCX 125 engine (idle stop system, fuel injection, 125cc displacement, ACG starter etc). Digging a little deeper revealed that the bore (52.4mm) and stroke (57.9mm) of this new engine are coincidentally identical to the PCX 125 motor. Accordingly, this ‘new’ engine might be better considered as a new generation / refinement of the current PCX powerplant. While likely PCX based, the engine improves in a large number of areas including overall weight, lower friction in the transmission, offset cylinder, new drive belt material and the great roller rocker arms and needle bearings on the rocker arm shafts.
Honda plans to announce the first models using this engine next year as 2013 models. The USA/Canada might get this motor in an updated 2013 PCX 125, or North America might lag a bit further behind and not receive this motor until the 2014 model year. There’s also the possibility Honda won’t roll it out here for a number of years until they replace the PCX 125 with a new model. Honda is impossible to predict for the North American market, but I do think they’ll make an effort to get this engine here eventually.
You can get all the details on the motor at Honda’s Press Release. There’s also a really good photo gallery of this engine on Gizmag along with Honda’s new 700cc maxi-scooter/motorcycle engine.
2012 HONDA SCOOTER LINEUP PREDICTIONS
HONDA SCOOTER LINEUP PREDICTIONS FOR 2012
I do expect we’ll see the PCX 125 return as Honda has high hopes for that scooter as a world wide model and it is indeed a great scooter. Scooter sales were slower in 2011 though, so it’s possible Honda will skip a year. The Elite 110 is a tough call, because this is a great little scooter but it also overlaps a lot with the PCX 125.
One of these years the long-running Silverwing is going to get the axe, but it has avoided being dropped for a decade now so I bet it’ll hold on for another year yet. Since Honda doesn’t really have a replacement for it, most likely the Silverwing will return with the usual new color offering and continue to sell at low numbers.
The most interesting area for 2012 is the 50cc segment. The Metropolitan wasn’t sold for 2010 or 2011, but Honda definitely needs to fill this spot (50cc aimed at urban/retro/female riders) in it’s lineup now that existing dealer inventories are pretty much depleted, so I think we’ll either see the return of the Met or a replacement sometime in the next year or two. My guess is we’ll get something new, but not until 2013 or later. I think the safest bet for 2012 is that the rugged Ruckus will again be offered because Honda has little else like it and it’s a popular scooter every year. The Ruckus design is long paid off and I think it’ll continue to be sold until sales eventually drop too low...which could be many years away.
Honda Canada usually has a very similar lineup as Honda USA, so we can learn a bit from the situation there. In Canada, the SH150 and Jazz (same scooter as Metropolitan) are both being cleared out a steep discounts (ie. $1000 off a Jazz) so it’s pretty clear these scoots aren’t coming back to Canada or likely to the USA. The Silverwing is also completely gone from Honda Canada’s website (last offered for 2009 there) so it’s days are likely numbered in the USA as well.
So without further ado, my predication for Honda’s 2012 Scooter Lineup is: Ruckus, PCX 125 and Silverwing. I’d love to see a 50cc replacement for the Met which is going to be less retro and more modern - perhaps the Honda Today or Giorno - but I don’t think that’s going to happen until 2013 or 2014. While I’m at it, I’ll guess Honda USA’s 2013 lineup is going to be Ruckus, new modern styled 50cc and PCX 125.
Besides the soon to be hugely popular Dio, of course they would keep the Ruckus, but please upgrade it to the fuel injected, 4 valve engine found in Europe. Maybe the carb can stay to make working it easier, but please give us 4 valves for a little more power.
The Elite 110 would stay because it’s a great little Honda and so would the PCX 125. Fleshing out Honda’s lineup would be the nice 250cc Forza. The Forza is an awesome new model that looks a lot like a big brother to the PCX 125. I’d be fine to see the Silverwing go away for a year or two (or maybe try offering the Silverwing 400 GT instead to mix it up). The Silverwing has been a good scooter but it’s due for a redesign. If Honda isn’t going to give it any attention then they axe it.
The Metropolitan could stay, but I’d rather Honda mixed it up for a couple year and offered us the Today or Giorno that are sold overseas. For a look at some of the fine scooters Honda offers overseas, check out Honda’s Japan Lineup.