Minor complaints aside, the Elite 80 is a very well engineered scooter.
Great Reliable Engine
Fuel Milage (~75 - 80mpg)
Loads of OEM / NOS parts available
Minimal amount of storage
Lacks fuel filter and kickstarter
Few aftermarket parts
HONDA ELITE 80 (CH80)
Honda introduced the 4-stroke Elite 80 (model code CH80) in 1985 as the eventual successor to their 2-stroke Aero 80. Honda had released an entirely 2-stroke line up of scooters in ’83 when it entered the North American market, but increasingly stringent emissions regulations prevented Honda from selling 2-strokes larger than 50cc for very long. In 1984 Honda released its first 4-stroke modern scooter, the Elite 125, and then released both larger (Elite 250) and smaller (Elite 80) siblings for 1985.
During the 1985 model year, the Elite 80 was sold alongside Honda’s Aero 80, but for ’86 the Aero 80 was dropped and the Elite 80 left to stand on its own against Yamaha’s 2-stroke Beluga / Riva 80 (which lasted until ’87). The Elite 80 was quite a successful scooter and it enjoyed a remarkable run from 1985 all the way to 2007. That’s an impressive 23 model years with virtually no changes. It’s almost as if Honda kept this scooter around just to outlast Yamaha’s Riva 125 (1985 – 2006).
For the 1989 model year, Honda did shift the assembly from Japan to Mexico and changed the rims from steel to aluminum rims. The headlight was updated for 2001 to make it possible to change the bulb without buying an entirely new assembly. Owners of earlier Elite 80’s will need to spend $50 – $100 buying a new headlight should their aging bulb fail. If you do wind up in this situation, buy the newer design so in the future you can just replace the bulb. Honda also tweaked the front drum brake for 2005, so the front rim for 2005 – 2007 is different and not interchangeable with the one on earlier Elite 80’s.
Honda’s Elite 80 contains an extremely nice scooter engine. It’s not because of the technology, it’s a pretty standard 2-valve, air-cooled 4-stroke engine. The reason this engine is great is because it small yet powerful and it runs smoothly and reliably all day at full throttle. It never sounds like it’s working hard, and it makes a solid amount of power for scootering around town. You won’t be doing wheelies with this scooter but you won’t be frustrated off the line either like you can be with some 50cc 4-strokes. When you twist open the throttle the Elite 80 pulls solidly and predictably to its top speed of 45mph. You get the power of a 50cc 2-stroke engine in a quieter, more reliable and more fuel efficient 4-stroke package.
If you’re for insane power you’re better off looking at an easily modified 2-stroke, but for efficient and reliable around town propulsion, the Elite 80’s motor is perfect and it sips fuel (about 100 miles per tank if you run it dry).
Despite the Elite 80’s popularity and long model run, an aftermarket scene never really developed for this scooter. Battlescooter did briefly produce an exhaust for this scooter but besides that there really isn’t anything Elite 80 specific. Most aftermarket scooter parts are created in Japan and Taiwan and the Elite 80 was never that popular over there which is why there aren’t go fast parts available. Until recently, the Japanese and Taiwan folks have seemed to focus on only 2-stroke scooters and mostly 50cc ones at that.
Storage & Convenience
Compared to the Aero 80 that it replaced, the Elite 80 offers a bit less storage space. The front ‘trunk’ of the scooter gives you enough storage to stow a windbreaker or a couple cans of pop but that’s about it. The Aero 80 could hold at least this much stuff in its easier to access glovebox, plus the ’85 Aero 80 had a nice storage compartment in the side panel that you could toss your lunch in. As a side note, the stylistically updated ’85 Aero 80 appears to share an identical rear end as the Elite 80.
Both the Elite 80 and Aero 80 do have a little storage under the seat but it’s only enough to keep a spark plug and couple small wrenches. I think Honda could have done better with the Elite 80 because the Elite has the same size of gas tank under the seat as the Aero 80, but it doesn’t have an 1 litre oil tank like the Aero 80. Honda chose to use this space for the battery instead. Overall the storage is alright and it’s much better than Yamaha’s competing CV80.
There are a few downsides to the Elite 80 which are good to know about. First, the CH80 doesn’t have a fuel filter. I’ve seen people left stranded because crud from a rusty fuel tank collected in the carb and clogged the main jet. Anyone with an Elite 80 should spend $5 on a universal fuel filter and then snip your filter line and slip this in. This is especially important if you’re getting an Elite 80 running after several years of sitting and it might have some grub in the tank.
Secondly, the Elite 80 loves to snap exhausts where the header pipe meets the muffler. The design simply fatigues over time and fails, so there’s not much you can do about it short of reinforcing it beforehand, or buying the aftermarket Battlescooter exhaust.
Lastly, the Elite 80 doesn’t have a kickstarter. This isn’t a huge issue but it would be nice to have incase you drain the battery or old age means the battery grows weak. Kickstarters are pretty standard on scooters of this size. Thankfully the battery is easily accessible under the seat if you do wind up with a dead battery.
Minor complaints aside, the Elite 80 is a very well engineered scooter. It’s got a cool indicator on the dash that lets you know when it’s time to change the oil. This indicator is based purely on milage though and is not an indicator of actual oil quality. The indicator flips from green to red whenever the oil change interval milage has been driven. Compared to my old Yamaha CV80, everything seems very well thought out. The body panels pop off nicely when working on the scooter. The seat is large and quite comfortable. The Elite 80 has nice large passenger pegs, the rear rack is chromed. It’s quality stuff. There’s a reason this scooter was sold for over 20 years with barely any changes. If legislation didn’t encourage 50’s, Honda would have sold a lot more still.