By: Don Canet
From a head-on full frontal view, Honda’s new-for-2011 PCX scooter can be easily mistaken for a pintsized sport bike. While that fun visual trick may make an approaching PCX rider look like an adult straddling a Shetland pony or, better yet, a street-legal NSR125, the PCX is in fact a roomy midsize scooter, packing solid performance and fresh styling. Big Red has targeted a younger audience with the $3399 PCX, pricing the 125cc liquid-cooled four-stroke $1100 below that of its own retro-styled SH150i.
As the first 2011 model-year rollout for American Honda , the all-new PCX made its splash with motoscribes gathered at a recent intro staged in Manhattan Beach, California. I saddled up and rocked the PCX off its center stand with little effort and found its novice-friendly 29.9-inch seat height allows firm footing at stops. A thumb of the starter but-ton brings the engine to life with all the complexity of flicking on a light switch. Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI) with automatic enrichment makes for a smooth and quiet idle on cold startups and delivers ultra-fluid forward motion as power is applied through the Honda V-Matic automatic transmission. With no hand clutch or foot shifter for a rider to fuss with, the PCX’s twist-and-go operation is very intuitive even for a total newbie such as the wobbler riding Allie two-up on a scooter in a recent episode of “The Bachelorette” reality TV show; um, don’t ask!
For me, the PCX’s handling proved very light, yet its stability was competent, aided by 14-inch wheels that are larger than what’s typical for scooters in this one’s class. Along a level stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway, I counted up to “15 potato” in my head while accelerating from a standstill to an indicated top speed of 56 mph. Slowing the 280-pound machine (with a full fuel load) is handled by a combined braking system that links the rear drum to a 220mm single front disc. The front brake allows independent operation, while squeezing the hand lever for the rear also smoothly applies CBS action at the front.
I experienced the full benefit of the nimble PCX while squirting about on surface streets exploring the beach town. Resting on the side stand while parked on a steep incline proved the worth of the parking brake, which is cleverly set via a pull knob. Another luxury feature is the two-way rocker toggle that pops open the locking seat and gas filler access door. The 25-liter under seat storage area can swallow a full-face helmet and jacket, and there’s also the added convenience of a glove box in the dash.
Fun, convenient, fuel-efficient transportation in an inspiring, sporty wrap is what the PCX package delivers. Its 1.6-gallon fuel capacity and claimed 110-mpg estimated fuel economy give Gen-X 176 good reasons to jump on the PC bandwagon with a green mode of transpo.
Originally published in the July 2010 issue of Cycle World