April 06, 2019 Filed under: Aprilia | 2019 Models
NEW INSTRUMENTATION AND MORE
The SR Motard is entering its 6th year on sale in North America, so Aprilia has decided that it is time for some updates. Of course it’s nothing too exciting, but at least they are paying some attention to the lone scooter offering left in their scooter lineup.
From a distance, the most notable change is the revised graphics with the large “a” on both sides of the legshield. However, a closer look finds re-designed passenger pegs as well, which fold vertically instead of horizontally.
More meaningful than any of that is the new instrumentation (below left) compared to the 2014-2018 models (below right). The new gauges look nicer and digitize the fuel gauge and other information.
The other change noted for the 2019 SR Motard is the addition of a USB plug in the underseat area, which will be appreciated for charging electronics.
Pricing is up $100 in Canada to $2645 due to the low dollar there, while remaining at $2199 in the USA. Colors for the upcoming year are matte black (Canada) and white (USA). Full details on this model are available on the SR Motard page.
March 24, 2019 Filed under: Honda
IS HONDA GETTING SERIOUS ABOUT ELECTRIC SCOOTERS?
This week Honda showed off an electric version of their Benly scooter at the Tokyo Motorcycle Show.
Hopefully this signals the start of a more serious electric effort from Honda, but I’m skeptical. Eight years ago Honda had their EV-Neo that was a reasonably good electric scooter for the time, but they never did anything with it and instead let e-Bikes continue to encroach on their small scooter sales, as has the rest of the scooter market.
Last year they showed off an all electric version of their PCX, which they said is production bound, but since then only a few have actually trickled out to customers hands. More problematically, it’s a low effort model because they are shoe-horning an electric powertrain into an existing scooter rather than starting with a fresh design where they can optimize for electric (e.g. using the batteries as a structural component). The PCX Electric doesn’t show a lot of progress given the 7 years between the EV-Neo and PCX electric.
Now Honda has taken their Benly utility scooter that is normally powered by a 110cc engine and tossed in the same electric motor and removable/swappable batteries they are using for their PCX Electric. Again, it’s nice to see a bit of interest in electric from Honda, but retrofitting other models isn’t going to be compelling for customers. For one, it fills up the underseat storage area with batteries.
I also think Honda (and others) are taking the wrong approach with swappable batteries. Improving fast charge technology has killed the rationale for battery swapping. Modern batteries and chargers can now charge at a rate of 300 miles in 20 minutes (and this is improving all the time). An electric scooter with a good range (e.g. 200 miles) and fast charging could conveniently charge at home overnight for day to day use so there would be no need to seek out swap stations, and on rare occasions when you road trip over 200 miles you can fast charge. After 200 miles you’re ready for a 20 min break anyways. Battery swapping is clumsy because you don’t own your entire machine, and you’re reliant on proprietary network that might not be around in 10 years. If a fast charge network fizzles out, at least you can still use your scooter, whereas some swapping companies like Gogoro even disallow you charging your own machine so you use their network more.
Hopefully Honda has something better in the works because their strategy over the last couple years of retrofitting gas models with swappable batteries isn’t going to cut it in the future. If they want to be successful with electric scooters, they need to get serious with a dedicated platform for electric.
January 04, 2019 Filed under: 2019 Models | Honda
AN AGING RUCKUS AND METROPOLITAN ACCOMPANY A NEW PCX150
All indications are that Honda has finished their 2019 scooter announcements for the USA and Canada, although they could surprise at any time. Thus it’s as good an opportunity as any to summarize what’s new for 2019 and what isn’t.
The main thing that’s new for 2019 is the third generation of the PCX 150, which by all accounts is a fantastic machine. It boasts Honda’s latest technology both in the engine and throughout, such as the LED dash. However this machine was first announced way back in April 2018 so it hardly counts as news now. Thus for full details on this 2019 model check out our 2019 PCX article or the full PCX page.
One more recent bit of news on the 2019 PCX is that Honda Canada surprisingly hasn’t followed suit with an introduction there. Thus 2018 looks to be the last for the PCX in Canada.
The rest of Honda’s 2019 announcements have come more recently as Honda rolls over their existing models. The Metropolitan is back again in the USA without changes to the form or price, which stays at $2499. There is a new color however, with a pastel “Coastal Blue” replacing the darker “Denim Blue Metallic”.
If there’s one thing we’re good at here at MSG, it’s reporting on the lack of attention that Honda pays to the Ruckus. Despite being perpetually popular, Honda hasn’t substantially updated the Ruckus since its 2003 introduction - a fact we’ve been reporting for over a decade. With its unmodified return for 2019, the Ruckus has now reached its 18th consecutive year without substantial changes - an impressive run which is closing in on the 23 year record held by another Honda - the venerable Elite 80. Currently the Ruckus sits third on this list as it also lags Yamaha’s Riva 125 (22 years).
Despite the lack of changes, Honda USA did deem it time to increase the price of the Ruckus as it rises to $2749 (from $2699). Honda Canada didn’t have the same audacity, so it remains at $3399 there.
Pricing for the Metropolitan remains at $2499 in the USA, while in Canada there is no sign of its return. Thus Honda Canada is fielding a scooter lineup (if you can still call it that) of merely one machine - the Ruckus. Even here the white/red color option available in the USA isn’t offered, so scooterists in Canada are being offered a mere one color of one scooter. Things haven’t been this grim for Honda scooters in Canada since the Dio only lineup in the 90’s which was only offered in purple some years.
2019 HONDA MODELS: Ruckus, Metropolitan (USA Only), PCX150 (USA Only)