HONDA METROPOLITAN / JAZZ - OWNER REVIEWS
2005 HONDA METRO / JAZZ (CHF50)
Milage: 10,000 - 20,000 Miles
Likes: Speed (over 40mph easy), nimble, ease of use, gas milage, stylish looks, dependable
Dislikes: Wish Honda made a 125cc in the same style
Review: “I've had a 2005 Red and Cream Jazz since 2010. It had about 2300 km on it when I bought it used, and it's gone past the 9,999 mark [odometer roll over] within a couple years (it’s now at a 'new' 3750km). It's been raced on 700km/24 hour race called the Mad Bastard Scooter Rally here in Canada and ridden to gigs loaded with costumes, fire dancing tools, amps and other odd things. I can load fresh produce and eggs under the seat and bungeed to the rear rack.
More people stop and ask me about this bike than do my bigger motorcycles. I've maintained the bare minimum (brakes and oil changes) and it's still running like a dream. Even in cold winter months, as long as the streets are dry, it still starts up and takes me short distances (too cold on my face otherwise).
I LOVE this bike so much, I got another used 2008 one with only 1200 km on it. This way I can customize the 2005 (paint the wheels, fix scratches etc) while having a spare. This is my favourite ride!”
2007 HONDA METROPOLITAN CHF-50
Milage: 0 - 1000 Miles
Likes: It’s quiet
Dislikes: It won’t run
Review: “I bought this used with 45 miles on the odometer. At about 50 miles I started having TROUBLE. I have had it in an independent motorcycle shop, who felt the fuel system needed cleaning for $68.00. I was the one who got cleaned. It still wouldn't run, so I took it to a Certified Honda dealer. Their mechanic couldn't fix it either; he had long phone conversations with Honda factory, who advised "try this" blah blah "try that". None of which worked, but Certified shops make a lot more money than independent shops-this was to the tune of $315.00. STILL WON'T RUN!!!!!”
2009 HONDA METROPOLITAN
Milage: 10,000 - 20,000 Miles
Likes: Reliable, smooth, light and easy to hand, maneuverable, easy to handle, stable, fuel efficient.
Dislikes: Slightly underpowered, low speed, slow uphill, drum brakes
Review: “I had my Metro for 2.5 years and have never had a single issue with it. It has 16,000 miles on it now. It is still getting over 100 mpg and runs as new (slightly slower top speed though). The engine is amazing.“
2009 HONDA METROPOLITAN
Milage: 0 - 1000 Miles
Likes: Style, build quality, ride, engine, mileage
Dislikes: Ignition key cylinder is a pain
Review: “I’ve owned and ridden many different types of motorcycles over the last 35 years. Yet the Honda Metropolitan has one very unique and cool feature that nothing else I’ve ridden has. More on that later. I have two Metropolitans, both 2009 models, one in “monza” red and the other in “graphite” dark grey/light grey.
The Metropolitan is roughly the same size as an old small frame Vespa. I’m 5’ 11”, and weigh 155 lbs and fit okay on the Metro, though it took a bit of practice to find the most comfortable riding/foot position. The small size of the bike, coupled with the very low center of gravity and the 10” wheels, make for a super response ride. The bike responds to commands instantly, and can dart and weave about traffic and urban settings like a Jack Russell Terrier chasing a cat.
As for the styling, the Metropolitan resembles a cross between a Lambretta LD of 1955 at the front end, combined with a Vespa 50 of 1963 at the back. It’s a very curvy design, I like it, obviously as I own two of them, but you may not. Fair enough, style is an each to their own thing. Honda tends to favor the Lambretta two tone paint styles. Few Metros have come in a single solid color from the factory. Handlebars are exposed, the speedometer and fuel gauge are combined in a slick little pod, while the turn signal indicator is a welded to the handlebars in an aftermarket looking setup. Instead of the aircraft landing wheel style of front suspension that Vespa’s have, it has simple forks. The wheels on all Metros are an old Honda steel design that dates back to the early 80’s and the Aero 50. Surely Honda could do better than this ancient steel rim, but that’s what we get.
The brakes are often much maligned in various reviews I’ve read, called everything from “merely adequate” to “useless”. I disagree. At no time have I ever felt that the brakes, drums front and rear, were not up for the challenge of slowing me from any speed or in any situation. This is a light bike, 176 pounds with a tank of fuel, and while drum brakes may be medieval in 2011 they still work acceptably for this scooter.
Indeed the brakes have one of my favorite features, the combined braking system which links front and rear brakes. A pull of the left brake handle activates both rear and some, not all, of the front brake. For a lot of simple about town buzzing around I’ve found that simply using the left handle to brake works well enough, making a simple ride even simpler. (disclaimer, of course you are always supposed to use front and rear brakes equally, etc, etc,) I’ve done some informal measuring of the amount of front brake being applied by the combined system, it’s about 2/3rds on my two Metropolitans.
One of the things I find that scares off some potential motorcycle riders is the idea of grabbing too much front brake and going over the handlebars. Having gone over a few handlebars myself as a young man, this fear is not without basis. With the combined braking system a new rider can rest a bit easier as they learn how the brake, let the combined system do the chores for a while as you learn how to navigate traffic, balance the machine, and keep out of the way of that giant Chevy SUV with the inattentive driver who is talking on his phone, adjusting his music, and eating French Fries.
The Metro’s ride is surprisingly pleasant, considering that it only has a single rear shock and limited travel. The roads in my burg are what could be described as “neglected improperly maintained rubbish” and yet the Met handles the bumps fine. I had my doubts about the 10” wheels but they do the job, just don’t hit any of the gaping potholes that extend the to center of the Earth.
One thing that excited me about the Metropolitan was the engine, and it’s a classic Honda beauty of sophistication and polish. Liquid cooled, rare in the 50cc class, and incredibly fuel efficient. My last tank’s mileage was an honest 101.4mpg, and that’s pretty much at wide open throttle all the time on acceleration. It has an ECU which manages the timing, auto choke, electric fuel pump, alternator and the slick way it uses the alternator as a starter. It starts up pretty much dead silently, uses the alternator to spin the engine, very neat. The stock muffler has a catalytic converter, which I like the idea of taming the pollution some, and it’s so quiet at idle that you can easily have a conversation with bystanders without shutting off the bike. If you are of the loud pipes philosophy then you will find the Met’s utter lack of exhaust note disappointing. There is a goofy little kick starter that’s fun to use a time or two. There is no side stand so you are forced to use the center stand all the time. That’s quite easy as the bike weighs so little, and was one factor in my wife choosing the Metropolitan over a new Elite.
Now for the performance, an area of some controversy with the Metro. Most reviews I read, from the motorcycle mags and such, label the performance weak at best. I disagree. The engine is no barn burner, it’s only a 49cc 4-stroke, but I can keep up with traffic around town. I’ve never felt like I’m totally out classed on the Met in urban driving, it’s no barn burner for sure, but then most traffic isn’t either in urban settings. I’ve owned 50cc 2-strokes in the past, which have been quicker to top speed, but again I don’t feel that the Met is the terrible weak machine that it’s been labeled to be by some reviewers. You do have to use the throttle, I’m almost always at WOT when picking up speed, so you have to work it for sure. But full disclosure here is required, I’ve removed the restriction plates from our 2009 Metros which limit the amount of fuel/air charge that can enter the cylinder. This plate is an easy removal, loosen the carb and pull the plate out. It does not add to top end at all, but improves acceleration and speed holding ability. (not all Mets have this restriction plate)
Now when the roads move up to speeds of 45mph and faster is when the Met runs out of steam. My Metro will do 40-41mph consistently, while my wife can hit 43mph on hers. Weight of the rider is clearly a factor here as she only weighs in at 125 pounds. Indeed she can always accelerate faster than me, and can pass with me ease when I’m doing my top speed. Some mathematically inclined fellow I read once theorized that the Metropolitan was good for 46mph, with it’s gear ratios and power output and rev limiter, which of course was then cut down by wind resistance and weight and rolling resistance.
Adding a windshield makes a significant, in Metro terms, speed improvement. With a Honda windshield my Metro can hit 43mph regularly and my wife can hit 44mph. Headwinds are the bane of the Met, it can cut my speed down to 37mph if the wind is strong. But with the windshield I can maintain 39-40mph in the same wind. Also my acceleration is faster with the windshield. Of course the darn Honda windshield is a little over a hundred bucks, so that’s a lot of money for 2-4mph speed increase. Worth it? You decide.
Build quality is top notch, as expected. Plastic panels over a very neat aluminum cast frame. The plastic is actually painted, not molded in color, which is nice for polishing and making the machine shine up well. A full face helmet fits under the seat, at least mine does, and there is a grocery sack hanger beneath the handlebars as well. The Metro’s claimed maximum cargo weight is 277 pounds, which is significantly more than one would expect.
One problem area is the ignition cylinder. Fitting the key in can be an exercise in futility as the key has to be aligned perfectly to go in. Add that Honda did not set up the cylinder so that you can see it easily from the seat, you have to bend down to see the alignment, and inserting the key is like trying to thread a needle behind your back. I ended up doing some minor sanding on my key itself to smooth jagged edges, and also shooting a lot of waterproof lubricant into the cylinder. This helped, but it’s still a problem.
The gas gauge is also pretty goofy, it stays on full till you’ve used up quite a bit of that little tank. Then it starts to drop and fast, Honda could have done a better job here on accuracy as you don’t have a lot of gas, 1.3 US gallons, to play with.
As for that one thing I mentioned that the Metro has that is a cool and unique feature, well it’s the response it gets from people. No other motorcycle I’ve owned or ridden, and that ranges from sport bikes to cruisers to standards to dirt bikes to mopeds, has gotten the positive reaction that the Metropolitan gets. People smile as you go by, they wave, they give a thumbs up. At stop lights people in cars ask about it, does it run on gas or is it electric, where did I get it, how much are they. Countless comments of “cool” and “nice bike”. It’s a total kid magnet, park in any neighborhood and the kids start coming over, “how fast does it go?” and “can I have a ride?”
Now I’ve never owned any scooter that had the traditional Italian look, so perhaps this reaction is common to some readers. But for me and my wife it’s been a new and fun part of owning the Metro, the positive feelings it generates in passersby is unlike any other motorcycle experience I’ve had.
Overall the Metropolitan is a very solid machine for around town scooting. I find that it’s now my ride of choice when I have errands to run, or to ride to work, because it’s so easy to use and plain fun to ride.”
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