HONDA RELEASES 2016 EDITION PCX150
2016 MODEL IN SHOWROOMS THIS MONTH
The PCX 150 - a two time winner of the Motor Scooter Guide readers pick poll (2013, 2015) - is returning for 2016 via another early release from Honda. Apparently inventory of 2015 models was running low, which isn’t surprising since the PCX is a great scooter at a great price and Honda released the 2015’s way back in April 2014.
The announcement for the 2016 model was back in April, but the new machines are just rolling into showrooms over this month.
After being substantially revamped last year, the PCX is rolling over without major changes. Honda has increased the MSRP by $50 to $3499 in the USA while also mixing up the color options. In Canada the 2016 PCX 150 is listing for $3999, a bump of $100 over last year which is small considering how much the Canadian currency has devalued.
The new colors for 2016 are dark red and grey, which replace the 2015 color options of black and white in the USA and red and bronze in Canada. Honda USA is calling these new colors Dark Cherry Red and Steel Grey. In Canada only grey is being offered for 2016 but as always the Honda Canada folks have gotten more creative with the naming so they are calling it Matte Techno Silver Metallic.
No news yet on the rest of Honda’s scooters. That announcement should come in September or October.
TOP SCOOTERS OF THE DECADE: PART 3 - 2000'S
In the decade from 2000 to 2009 an incredible 77 new scooters models were introduced into the USA and Canada. This was a huge increase from the paltry 6 new models that were introduced the 90’s. More importantly, the scooter market diversified as it grew from a trio of Japanese makers (Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki) to include Italian brands (Vespa, Aprilia, Piaggio) and several Taiwanese manufacturers (Kymco, Genuine/PGO, SYM).
The 2000’s are also notable for being when the maxi-scooter concept was really developed, with machines going far beyond 250cc designs like Honda’s Helix and cranking that up to 500-650cc. Another noteworthy change this decade was a shift from 50cc 2-strokes to 4-strokes, with new 2-strokes becoming rare by the end of the decade. Scooter sales during this time had some strong years (2005 - 2008) followed by a 50% collapse during the 2009 recession - a sales level which remains to this day.
Choosing just 3 machine to represent the best of the 00’s from the list of 77 is difficult. The following machines were selected because they combine top notch design with historical importance. There are numerous fantastic machines that have been left out.
Vespa S 150 (2008 - 2014)
Vespa returned to North America in 2001 with their ET model, but it wasn’t until the S was launched in 2008 that Vespa really connected with North American enthusiasts. The ET was a bit awkward and it’s LX successor was a bit cheeky. When Vespa took the same LEADER motor and LX frame and wrapped that in the edgier S styling they had their first real hit in North America in 3 decades and became relevant again.
The S has been offered in 50cc and 150cc versions, but the 150 is the real deal with power to match the capabilities of the rest of the machine. It lacks the handy glovebox of the LX, but the style is more than enough to make up for it. If you’re in the market for a machine from the 00’s, the S provides edgy style and top notch quality in a reliable package.
Suzuki Burgman 650 (2004 - present)
Aprilia was the first to introduce a proper maxi scooter to North America with their Atlantic 500 in 2000 and Honda followed that up in 2002 with the even better, but full mastery of the maxi-scooter concept wasn’t demonstrated until Suzuki released the Burgman 650 in 2004.
The Burgman 650 has advocates everywhere and for good reason. It matches highway power with a full array of touring amenities, and goes a step further than touring motorcycles by providing a package that is easier to mount and ride. Quite a few maxi’s have been introduced since, but none have dethroned the Burg 650.
Honda Ruckus (2003 - present)
More than any other scooter, Honda’s Ruckus is responsible for making scooters cool again in the new millennium. Prior to the Ruckus, most small scooters were meekly styled plastic blobs that most people would be embarrassed to be seen on. I love a good 90’s machine, but it’s fair to say that style struggled to gain mass acceptance.
In addition to it’s rugged style, the Ruckus is also a top notch machine with an aluminum frame, liquid cooled 4-stroke motor and and clever bits like a new alternator design that shed the need for a starter motor. The Ruckus is the complete trio of great style, clever design and top quality. It’s the type of machine that helped Honda build their reputation for reliability.
TOP SCOOTERS OF THE DECADE: PART 2 - 1990'S
In the second instalment of this series, I’ve deliberated over and served up my top 3 picks for best scooters of the 90’s. A core requirement is that a scooter must have been either introduced or substantially overhauled in the USA or Canadian markets during this decade. Simply keeping an 80’s machine on sale into the 90’s is not enough to qualify.
The 90’s were a darker time in North American scooter history. This sales had dived after record sales in the 80’s and new models were sparse. It’s a strong parallel to today, where scooter sales have yet to recover to anything approaching the pre-recession levels. Thankfully sales today are 50% of what they were pre-recession, while sales in the 90’s fell to only 20% of the 80’s peak.
As a result of slow sales, scooter lineups in the 90’s were mostly comprised of machines left over from the 80’s boom. Late 80’s machines like Honda’s Elite 80 and Elite SR, and Yamaha’s Riva 125 were mainstays. In fact, Honda didn’t introduce a single new scooter model to the USA throughout the 90’s after introducing 18 in the 80’s. The extent of their attention to their scooter lineup in the 90’s was resuming sales of the Helix in 1992, introducing the Dio to Canada, and revising their Elite SR with a new motor for ’94. Yamaha didn’t do much better, introducing only the CY50 generation of the Jog in 1992.
Another Japanese maker, Suzuki, had yet to offer scooters in North America in the 80’s, but surprised everyone in 1990 when they released their first scooter, the Hyper aka AE50, to the Canadian market. It wasn’t offered in the USA, but it qualifies for consideration here as it was both new and sold in either Canada or the USA.
By the late 90’s it was clear that the Italian brands (Vespa, Aprilia, Piaggio) were planning a return to North America, but only Aprilia managed to get their scooters in showrooms in the 90’s when they rolled out a limited release of their SR50 and Scarabeo 50 models in 1999.
1999 - 2003 Aprila SR50
The SR50 was easily the most significant new scooter launched in the 90’s. When it was launched for 1999 it became the first 50cc scooter sold in North America to offer liquid cooling, fuel injection, a rear disc brake and 13” rims. In doing so, it brought many features normally reserved for bigger motorcycles to 50cc riders.
The SR50 was also easily the most “sporty” scooter offered date, drawing direct inspiration from Aprilia’s sportbikes. It took the semi-sporty concept of scooters like Honda’s Elite SR and Yamaha’s Jog to an entire new level with advanced technology, impressive power, aggressive styling and class leading digital instrumentation.
With all that technology, the MSRP was high ($2699 in 1999) which limited it to a smaller niche as an enthusiasts machine. Sales were never high, but was a fantastic scooter and remains appealing today on the used market.
1992 - 2001 Honda Dio (Canada only)
The Dio is likely Honda’s best selling scooter globally but it has only appeared once in the North American market. Honda introduced the Dio to Canada for 1992 where it remained on sale for 10 years while American’s were offered the similar but watered down Elite SR.
The Dio has long represented Honda’s best effort at making a practical and sporty 50cc. It’s a highly refined, supremely reliable and notoriously easy machine to squeeze more power out of. Only the base model was offered in Canada, but that’s just as well as it leaves the joy of bolting on cheap and readily available suspension bits, rims and go-fast parts to the owner.
Honda eventually shoehorned the Dio’s 5.6 horsepower motor (AF16E) into the Elite SR for 1994, but the result wasn’t quite as elegant since that scooter still used the previous generation of exhaust, carb and intake. Elite SR owners can brag about their glovebox, but the Dio has superior telescoping front forks and most of the design is a decade newer.
The lasting greatness of the Dio is apparent on any forum for 80’s or 90’s Honda scooters, where the common response to anyone asking about souping up their scooter is to “get a Dio motor” and mod from there. Whether you get a proper Dio or just a ’94+ Elite SR, you’re benefitting from the finest 2-stroke 50cc design Honda’s come up with to date. Yamaha’s CY50 Jog was a tough competitor, but the Dio was the best small 2-stroke of the era.
1999 - 2006 Aprilia Scarabeo 50
The Scarabeo 50 is a noteworthy machine that makes this list not because it was great, but because it was the first big wheeled scooter offered in North America. Aprilia took a gamble introducing the 50cc Scarabeo into North America hoping buyers would be practical like they are in Europe. They weren’t, but Aprilia still sold enough to keep it in the lineup.
The ‘Beo was the best 90’s machine for the practical scooterist. In that sense it was the opposite of the SR50 which catered to the pure enthusiast. It’s large wheels worked well on rough roads and with glove box storage and an optional top case it was easy to live with. A 4-stroke motor would have been even more practical, but no one offered 4-stroke 50’s in the 90’s.