If you don’t need a fast scooter or you’re driven by the challenge of making something really tiny and slow go fast, then the Spree is a fun scooter to get.
Fairly popular so OEM parts aren’t too hard to find
Limited aftermarket parts
Not suited for bigger riders
Lack of storage on ’84-’86 examples
HONDA SPREE (NQ50)
The Spree (NQ50) is a remarkably small scooter produced by Honda from ’84 to ’87. It was positioned as Honda’s entry level 50cc scooter, with the larger and more fully featured Aero 50 slotted in as their premium 50cc offering.
From 1984 to 1987 the Spree was offered in both the USA and Canada. Elsewhere in the world, the Spree was sold as the Nifty 50 (most common), Eve and Smile. Usually there were a few differences, such as a round headlight and different gauges. In the UK Honda sold a scooter called the Vision Mini, which was also very similar.
In addition to the regular Spree, Honda also sold an ‘Iowa Spree’ which was restricted to 25mph to meet moped legislation in Iowa and a handful of other states where it was also sold. After 1987 the Spree was replaced by the Honda Elite E/ES, which shared the same motor.
For the 1985 model year, Honda redesigned the Spree logo on the side panel. The new logo was much larger. The white Spree above shows the original logo, and the other photos show the new larger logo.
A year later Honda added a ‘Special’ version of the Spree, which essentially got buyers a two tone Shasta White/Lollipop Green paint job. There weren’t any other differences between the regular and Special models. For 1986, Honda also tweaked the logo again and added a kick starter which is a great backup. Mechanically, Honda made a bunch of minor tweaks which did have a significant overall effect. The ’86-’87 models are a few mph faster than the earlier Spree’s.
For 1987 Honda added a glove box, which provided some much needed enclosed storage. The spot is great for carrying a few spare tools, a small bottle of oil, or your camera. Honda also revised the blinkers and dash design for this year.
The Spree was powered by a 2-stroke 50cc engine that used just a belt drive without a multi-ratio variator like Honda’s other scooters. Accordingly, a properly running Spree tops out at about 30mph and thus is moped legal in quite a few states. In states where the moped limit was 25mph, Honda sold a restricted version called the Iowa Spree. You can read more about this 25mph restriction here. In essence, Iowa Spree’s used a heavily restrictive muffler to reduce power. Switching to a regular Spree exhaust will add 5mph unless your eBay score is half plugged with carbon.
One of the unique things about the Spree is that it does not have a belt driven CVT / variator drive train like most scooters do. Rather, the Spree uses a single speed belt drive. The lack of a transmission makes performance modifications harder because your stuck with one gear ratio. Overseas Honda did sell versions of this motor with a longer crankshaft that used a regular variator, but the parts needed to retrofit this are extensive and not practical to source.
Honda did make a number of tweaks to the Spree’s engine for 1986 that added a few MPH. These changes included the main jet size, piston shape, compression ratio, ports, air fan/shrouds, final drive gears and intake. 1986 – 1987 Spree’s can do 32-33 mph.
If you’re looking for a bit more speed, there are some big bore kits available for the Spree and swapping in the intake/reeds from the SB50 (Elite E/ES) helps performance as well. If you’re really serious about adding speed then you’re best off to swap in another Honda 2-stroke motor. The motors found in the Aero 50, Canadian Dio and SA50 (Elite LX / SR) are quite easy to swap in. Start chatting over at the HondaSpree.net forums if you want to learn more about engine swaps.
After the run was over for the Spree, Honda continued to use this engine for a few more years in the Elite E / ES scooter. There were several differences though including:
Improved intake/reed design in the SB50, different exhausts
Different drive case shape (SB50 was arched vs. flat bottom in NQ50)
Belt drive / pulley was different design
Smaller transmission bearing in the SB50
Design and Amenities
The Spree was a simple and bare bones scooters. This was apparent in both the price ($398 in 1984) and weight (85-94 lbs). For most of its run, the Spree didn’t have any sort of enclosed storage, but Honda did add a nice glovebox for the final year.
The brakes and suspension on the Spree was basic. Drum brakes were used front and rear, while the 2” of suspension travel takes the edge off bumps. You shouldn’t need much suspension anyways for the kind of speeds the Spree can achieve.
There are almost no aftermarket parts for this scooter but Honda did sell a decent range of accessories. Check out the image at the bottom of this page for a look at these accessories.
Since the Spree is so tiny and unique, it’s got a cult following of owners over at HondaSpree.net. If you’re looking for a scooter for regular day to day use, you’re probably better off getting something a little faster like an Aero 50 or Salient (or pretty much any other 50cc). However, if you don’t need a fast scooter or you’re driven by the challenge of making something really tiny and slow go fast, then the Spree is a fun scooter to get.
Living with the Spree is a mixed bag. On the downside, the physically small size doesn’t work for larger riders and all Spree’s except the ’87 models have zero storage except for the chrome rack on the back. On the plus side, the Spree is ridiculously light, so it’s very easy to toss into the back of your pickup truck or yank around the garage. It also gets pretty good milage for a 2-stroke. 70-80mpg is what you can expect under normal usage.
Fairly popular so OEM parts aren’t too hard to find.