Saturday, August 8, 2015

All the pieces fall into place (HONDA PCX 150)

I know. I talk about Honda a lot. What can I say, I really like their products. I love my Kymco, which happens to have an engine based on a Honda design, which at this very point in time has traveled more than 24,400 miles. All with a horizontal 150cc engine! That's quality in my humble opinion. Of course, regular maintenance and occasional repairs have played a significant part in the scooter's survival, but even with regular maintenance, I've seen other brands just fall apart.

So, yesterday I tested a Honda PCX-150. Let me say up front; it looks sharp and vaguely shark-like. I understand that it is supposed to be a "sports scooter," and this contributes to the look of it. The example I tested is a 2013 model, but aside from a few cosmetic differences and the apparent addition of a 12V plug on the 2016 model, there really isn't any substantial variation between the model years.

When one straddles the machine, it feels big and a bit heavy, of course, with a curb weight of 286 pounds, it is heavier than I am used to. The next thing I noticed was the dash layout which is sharp and easy to read. The fuel meter and odometer are electronic, but the speedometer is a good old fashioned analog dial. One oddity is on the left handlebar controls, the horn and turn signals are swapped from their normal positions with the turn signals at the bottom of the cluster and the horn in the middle.

Basic inspection completed, I turned the key, depressed the left brake handle and hit the starter and had to stop for a moment to make sure it was running. I've ridden quiet scooters before, but the engine sound was like the rustle of bird wings, it was that quiet. I needn't have bothered with listening though since I soon realized through the vibrations in the seat that the single cylinder beneath me was thumping away.

So, off down Dairy Road I went. A left turn out of the driveway and quickly up to an indicated 50mph without so much as a sputter. The scooter felt planted to the ground, even as I did a little bob-and-weave down the road to test handling around non-existent potholes. The handling was much better than I've experienced with other scooters with similar sized wheels (14 inch). I didn't even need to take the scooter all the way around on my normal test route. upon reaching the bridge at the end of the road, I turned around and headed back to the dealer. 

Twice in the last two weeks I have been surprised at how a vehicle has made me feel. First, the Nissan Leaf, despite it's ridiculous price-point surprised me by how civilized and normal and nice it was to drive, and I'll admit, it was so nice I actually would enjoy owning and driving one on a regular basis, but not for anything near the price they are asking so if someone wants to give one to me, just let me know. Then along comes the PCX-150, which is actually a very sporty handling scooter that feels like a big touring scooter with a lot more power than it really has.

The riding position was comfortable, though the stock windscreen is a bit on the short side. This did make riding with a sore shoulder a bit uncomfortable and tiring, which was another reason for turning around after such a short distance. Thankfully, there are aftermarket screens available through both Honda and Givi (the Honda screen is quite pricey).

For someone like me, who likes to travel long distance on occasion, it would be the perfect machine with a taller windscreen and a bigger rear rack (more on this below). The seat is comfortable and seems like it would be so for a long duration. The under-seat storage is about twice that of the Kymco and maybe about the same as the Elite 110 but not the same shape. Fuel capacity is 2.1 gallons which is better than I've seen on a 150. It's as if the engineers at Honda said, "hey, lets make a 150cc scooter that some crazy American will take on road trips!" Who knows, it may be time to sell the Streak before she needs a rebuild.

The one big thing that could use some work for the average scootster such as myself is the rear rack. It's rather pointless. Ok, that's not true, it's sort of pointy, but it's pointiness has no point...if that makes sense. The rack is so small and has such a tiny surface area, it was obviously never intended to be used for anything other than a top-box, which is fine for some, but limiting if you want to haul a bit of camping gear. Even if you get a top box, which is available aftermarket through Givi, you have to also get an adapter plate. Of course, this isn't going to affect all riders, but for me, it's something that would need to be modified.

So, to sum up, here are the positives of the PCX-150:
  • Planted
  • Handles well
  • Good control cluster layout
  • Quiet engine
  • Feels fast
  • Comfortable seat
And here are some of the negatives:
  • Small rear rack
  • Limited accessory options (some after-market)
  • Quiet turn signals
  • Vigorous thumping from engine at stand-still
  • Short Windscreen
The real question is, would I buy one? The answer is a resounding yes. A second question is, would I recommend it to others? On the whole, yes. If you want a big scooter that sips gasoline like a mosquito yet has enough power to get out of its own way and possibly even ride short hops on the highway on rare occasions with potential for long distance riding, then yes, assuredly yes! If you're just starting out though, it might be a little too big. Just the same, I know the PCX-150 surprised me. Go, try one out. You know you want to! 

Note for the observant, when I rode it yesterday, it did not yet have a "Sold!" sign on it. I forgot to get pics yesterday and went back this morning.

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