Scooters as urban transport. If you’ve visited this site before, you know that I can (and do) go on and on and on about this topic. When it’s just you and a few items to haul around, scooters are a FANTASTIC alternative to a car. The Honda Elite 110 looks to me to have been designed for urban transport. With liquid cooling and fuel injection it should run well for a long time in a variety of conditions. It has SUBSTANTIAL storage and is easy to operate. Like the Honda Elite 80 before it, the Honda Elite 110 is in a not-very-common-in-the-USA class of engine size. Most scooter manufacturers go from 50cc to 125cc with nothing in between. In other countries, 100cc sizes are much more common. There are those who claim that the Elite 80 came about to match the power of the 50cc 2-stroke scooters back in the day. The Elite 80 is a 4-stroke, as is the new Elite 110.
This Honda Elite clearly demonstrates that very good quality products can come out of mainland China. The Honda Elite 110 is manufactured in Honda’s plant in Guanzou China. In fact, Elites have historically been made outside of Japan. Until the mid 1990s, all Honda Elites were manufactured by Kymco of Taiwan. The US market has been deluged for years with very low quality scooters out of mainland China. Today’s intelligent scooter buyer looks askance (with good reason) at mainland China scooters. The Honda Elite 110 is one example of a fine machine coming out of China. This certainly doesn’t mean that all scooters now being made in China are of excellent quality. It just means that it can be done.
Speedometer Reading/Speed/Fuel Economy
Standard procedure during our reviews is to do some GPS testing. Most of the time, scooter speedometers read optimistic, frequently by at least 10%. That is to say that when the speedometer indicates 40 MPH the actual speed is something like 36 MPH. Our GPS tests of the Honda Elite 110 found it to be more accurate than the norm. I would say more like 3% – 5% optimistic. The odometer was spot on. The top speed I got out of the Elite was an actual 52 MPH. Keep in mind that I’m about 220 pounds. My wife Beverly also spent some time on the Elite and she did not have the GPS attached, but I suspect she coaxed an additional mile or two per hour out of it. During 80 miles of mixed riding (different riders, different roads and conditions) fuel economy was 91 miles per gallon. I consider that to be excellent. Honda advertises up to 107 MPG which I suppose would be possible under ideal conditions with a light rider and sticking to a 30 MPH top speed.
Sometimes it can be a challenge to select comparison scooters for these reviews. In this case, I knew I would need to select (slightly) higher displacement scooters because there just isn’t anything else in the 100cc class from major manufacturers in this market. I knew I wouldn’t have another liquid-cooled AND fuel-injected comparison machine for the same reason. As such I selected machines that are very different in design, but probably compete for the same potential buyers as the Honda Elite 110. The Yamaha Zuma 125 is much “sportier” in appearance, but it IS fuel injected. The Genuine Buddy 125 is not liquid-cooled or fuel-injected (it’s 170cc big brother is a fuelie) but it is (arguably) the most popular 125cc scooter in the market.
The Honda Elite 110 is powered by a 108cc liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, single overhead cam motor. A CVT (Continually Variable Transmission) transfers power to the rear wheel. The front suspension is a conventional hydraulic fork while the rear is a swingarm with a single shock. The front tire is a 90/90 12 inch and the rear is a 100/90 10 inch. A single disc brake up front is actuated by a dual piston caliper and a 130mm drum brake slows things down in the rear. The brakes are linked. The starboard lever operates the front brake only (standard for most scooters), but the port lever operates BOTH the rear and front brakes together. Wheel base is 50.2 inches, seat height is a shade over 29 inches and “wet” weight (including fuel) is 254 pounds. The Elite 110 holds 1.6 gallons of fuel. The Honda Elite 110 has a MSRP of $2,999, but every dealer I spoke with had this discounted by at least $200 and in one case $500.
Under the seat is MASSIVE storage space. There is also a nice rear rack standard on the Elite as well as a small glove box. The petrol fill is located on the floorboard under a door. The dash is easy to read in any light and includes a speedometer biased to miles. There’s a temperature gauge and fuel gauge flanking the speedometer. Above are turn signal indicators, a high beam indicator and engine light. All the controls were easy to operate.
The Elite is equipped with an anti-theft devise integrated into the main switch. There is a metal “door” that engages to help prevent a thief “punching out” the ignition switch. The seat is opened from this switch by putting it between the “off” and “on” position and pushing in. There is also a front end lock engaged by turning anticlockwise.
The best word I can think of to sum up riding the Honda Elite 110 is “smooth”. To fire it up, turn the key to the on position, wait for the fuel pump to charge (a dash light goes out when ready), hold the port brake lever and press the starter button on the starboard side controls. You’re running. You’re also idling smoothly. Fuel injection rocks. No more Honda-cold-blooded fiddling with a choke lever and feathering the throttle at stops for the first several miles of riding. Just twist the starboard grip and you’re rolling. Acceleration is decent and (here’s that word again) smooth right up to the top speed. No flat spots. Braking is (you guessed it) smooth and the Honda linked system works just fine. The ride is fairly soft and (getting bored yet?) smooth. Even though it was HOT outside while riding for this review, the liquid cooling kept the engine in it’s happy place and running very (yawn) smoothly.
In comparison with some other scooters, I found the ride on the Elite 110 to be overly soft. On the plus side, it absorbed some rough road features that other scooters would pass right through to the rider. On the minus side, handling was not as precise as I like. The ergonomics of the Elite are interesting. With a 12 inch front tire, getting the seat height down to 29 inches means that leg room suffers. Not much of a concern for me with a 30 inch inseam, but the longer-legged amongst us might not be comfortable on this scooter. The seat is LARGE and soft, maybe just a touch too soft. It was easy to accommodate two riders.
My wife Bev also road the scooter and had this to say:
The look is clean. Fantastic paint. Comfortable seat and more-than-enough room for two. Underneath the long seat? Tons of storage space! With an additional piece of luggage on the back, you could carry a large amount for a day of running errands, going to work, or just romping around. The mirrors are wide and easily adjustable. The grips are a perfect size and perfectly positioned. The dash is neat and legible. The turn signal switch took some getting use to; when turning the signals off I found I had just pushed the switch to the “other” signal instead of off. No worries, the turning signal warning sound is loud enough to keep a person from forgetting they are on.
I had never ridden a fuel injected scooter and the start-up was interesting: wait for a light to turn off and THEN press the starter button. No throttle tweaking required.
David and I were both riding “review” scooters the day I rode the Honda Elite. I was riding a 50cc and David was on the Elite. We swapped and I hopped on the Elite. David was leading (on the 50cc) and I had to quickly adjust my start-out speed to stay behind. Once we were rolling, I saw more of the benefits of fuel injection – smooth acceleration and running. The handling was very nice. I felt completely in control. The braking was excellent – even in quick stops I felt very much in control and was able to bring the scooter to a stop with no drama.
Fit and Finish
The Honda Elite 110 scooter has excellent fit and finish, no surprise from a Honda. I’ll mention again that this scooter is made in mainland China and shows that high quality products CAN be achieved there. The seams in the body panels were consistent and the fasteners utilized (often a serious deficiency in Chinese scooters) appeared to be good quality. The switches and controls might be just a touch below the best out of Taiwan right now, but it’s a close call. Honda takes their reputation for quality and longevity seriously and I would expect the Elite 110 to hold up well over time.
At $2,999, less expensive scooters such as the Genuine Buddy 125, Kymco People 150 and others would probably take some buyers away from the Honda Elite 110. That being said, a lot of buyers don’t have easy access to a Genuine or Kymco dealer but DO have a local Honda dealership. A good local shop is an important factor in your scooter ownership experience and should not be taken lightly. There is no question in my mind that the Buddy 125 is more fun to ride and most people will find it more visually appealing than the Elite, but the Honda is a solid machine with superior features. With MSRP being discounted on this machine, it’s tough to think of a better scooter for urban transport.