By: Barry Winfield
Car drivers looked surprised at the assertive riding style of journalists attending Honda’s media ride of the company’s new PCX150. That’s because scooters generally are not particularly fast, nor are their owners particularly aggressive.
But the muscular step-off and energetic acceleration of this mid-displacement machine soon tapped into the hooligan streak inherent in most moto writers, and we carved through midafternoon traffic in Orange County, Calif., with enthusiasm. The key to this athletic performance is a new 150-cc liquid-cooled, fuel-injected single-cylinder engine that demonstrates good throttle response and a broad spread of torque. Yet the little engine starts with almost no noise and settles to a puttering idle that wouldn’t offend anyone.
Honda’s V-Belt CVT keeps the engine in its strongest operating zone, with little sense of that slipping-clutch sensation you often get with these mechanisms. The result is a flexible and responsive scooter that is fun to ride. With its new bigger engine (the 150 replaces a 125), the PCX150 can now use freeways in California and other states that ban smaller machines from their faster roads.
With a sporty fairing design and motorcycle-like tubular handlebars, the PCX150 is an attractive package, with dimensions that do not cramp six-footers nor make them look comically oversized. Yet the 286-pound curb weight is not unreasonable, and with much of it slung low in the Honda’s frame, it lends a nimble and quick-handling feel to the bike.
Honda fitted 14-inch wheels for stability and good handling, and added a combined brake system (in which the rear brake lever also applies some braking at the single front disc) to help balance brake performance. Lever feel and response seemed just about spot on.
Add a broad, plush seat, generous 2.5-liter underseat storage with a 1.5-liter front compartment and an optional topbox, and you have a 100-mpg machine that is nice-looking, practical and fun to ride. And it all costs just 50 bucks more than the 125-cc model.
In our opinion: The PCX150 is a nearly perfectly balanced midsize scooter. It’s easy for beginners to ride but has enough throttle response and torque to satisfy experienced motorcyclists.
Originally published in the August 2012 issue of Autoweek.