First Ride: 2010 Honda SH150i

    Nov 01, 2009

By Kristi Martel

The Honda SH150i may be unknown in the United States, but it’s been zooming off showroom floors in Europe. In fact, Honda says it’s the bestselling feet-forward machine in scooter-crazy Italy, land of Vespa/Aprilia/Piaggio. Surprised? Me too. But maybe we shouldn’t be. The reasonably priced, mid-size SH150i is everything a scooter rider wants. With plenty of power, high-tech brakes and a modern, sporty style, I can see why the SH150i is king.

The grunt for this little pony comes from a fuel-efficient, 153cc single cylinder engine chock-full of Honda ingenuity. An overheadcam engine, fuel injection and liquid cooling all help the little scoot sip fuel and operate trouble-free. Pull in either safety-switch equipped brake lever, push the starter button and the SH150i purrs to life. Twist the grip and you’re magically moving forward on a steady swell of power, aided by Honda’s smooth three-speed V-Matic transmission. Off-the-line acceleration is enough to excite, but not so remarkable that it’ll raise the eyebrow of the local constabulary. Flat-out acceleration on level ground earns you 65 mph in roughly 15 seconds, but anything faster will require a downward-sloping roadway. Although the SH’s top speed and displacement make it freeway-legal, I wouldn’t feel safe riding it on the interstate.

The front wheel carries a single 220mm disc that’s pinched by a twin piston caliper. The rear hub holds a standard drum brake that’s linked to the front via Honda’s Combined Braking System (CBS). Pulling in the left-hand brake lever applies the rear brake and also routes some pressure to the front for improved braking performance. But it’s a one-way street: Pulling the right-hand lever does not activate the rear brake. This way, the rider can choose sportier front-wheel-only braking or squeeze both levers together for a stable, lickety-split stop.

Unlike its tubby counterparts, the SH has a lean, sporty look. Large, 16-inch aluminum wheels help, as does the thin tail section and exposed twin shocks. The cockpit is roomy and comfortable, but comes at the expense of storage space. A small cargo hook holds a bag on the floorboard to schlep delicates home from Victoria’s Secret, but under-seat storage is minimal. Better ask for a small to-go box or spring for the $268.95 accessory trunk.

With just over 3 inches of travel front and rear, the SH is a bit jarring over larger bumps, but the cushy diving board of a seat kept my tush comfy. And those big wheels smooth out small to mid-sized road imperfections way better than an old 10-inch-wheeled scooter! I also spent some time as a passenger, and couldn’t find fault with the ergonomics. This scooter is definitely a player when it comes to comfortable, two-up transportation.

So, will the SH150i succeed in the States? If comfortable, twist-and-go transport with the fuel efficiency and reliability of a Honda sound appealing, then this king of scooters might just reign on your commute.

Originally Published in the November 2009 issue of Motorcyclist ®

Honda Powersports
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