By: MARK CERNICKY
Say hello to the bestselling scooter in Italy. That’s right, scooter-mad Italians bought more of Honda’s SH150i last year than any other model. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the 150i is manufactured in that boot-shaped country, apparently satisfying the style-conscious Italian consumers with its sleek lines and good performance.
Slide into the cockpit and hit the starter button, and the dash–including speedometer, gauges for water temperature and fuel level, odometer, clock and twin tripmeters–lights up. Once you are under way, the SH150i’s bodywork provides generous wind protection for legs and feet, the latter resting on spacious step-through footboards (passenger pegs flip down).
I was pleasantly surprised by how assertively the fuel-injected, liquid-cooled, two-valve, 153cc four-stroke Single and seamless V-Matic automatic transmission propelled the Honda into the flow of traffic, and it does this with an uncanny and utilitarian operational ease.
Large 16-inch, five-spoke wheels contribute to good cornering clearance and excellent stability, which combine with the cushy suspension (3.5 inches front travel and 3.3 out back) to help the Honda eat up potholes and rough road surfaces typically found in urban riding situations.
Making the SH stop is just as easy as getting it going. The right-hand lever operates a powerful two-piston caliper and 220mm front disc. The left lever activates the Combined Braking System, which applies both the front disc and rear drum to generate excellent stopping power–albeit with a lot of lever travel.
One advantage that modern scooters typically have over motorcycles is storage space. So we were disappointed to discover that an open-face helmet won’t fit in the compartment under the seat. If you need more space than is offered, Honda sells a 35-liter, color-matched, accessory top trunk ($269), which bolts to the existing rack (without interfering with the grab rail) just aft of the passenger seat.
The $4499 SH150i, in red or black, is fun, relatively inexpensive and easy to operate. Just ask Italy.
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