Mention the subject of Italian cycling and several names come to mind: Aprilia, Ducati and Moto Guzzi on the motorcycle scene, and Piaggio or Vespa in the scooter marketplace. The scooter scenario has changed dramatically however, with Honda now offering what may well be the best-selling scooter in Italy and other European countries -- it's the 2010 SH150i scooter.
The Italian-made Honda scooter is now offered in the U.S. as viable and practical urban transportation. Admittedly, there are many motorcyclists -- especially within the sportbike crowd -- who shun any thought of being seen aboard any craft resembling a scooter.
I'm here to say though, that scooters have a definitive place in the world of two-wheeled rides. They can be great fun and are proving to be highly functional in the proper scenario.
The Honda SH150i combines smart Euro styling elements along with low maintenance requirements and economical operation. Power for the visually non-traditional scooter is provided by a responsive 153cc SOHC, two-valve, liquid-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke motor with automatic enrichment PGM-Fuel Injection. Energy is delivered to the rear wheel via Honda's V-Matic belt-converter automatic -- a Continuously Variable Transmission and shaft final drive.
The SH150i is capable of two-up cruising within city limits, as long as the two on board are not overly large in stature, and provided the terrain to be traversed is relatively level. In fact, given the 153cc displacement, freeway travel is highly discouraged even if riding solo, particularly if the rider is in the 200-pound-plus category.
The cruising sweet spot for the SH150i is really in a range between 40 and 50 mph on level ground. I found that 55 mph was the absolute maximum on a level, with the throttle twisted to a full stop, which really isn't in the best interest of top fuel economy for an extended period. Exceptionally tall riders may find the riding position of the SH150i to be on the short side as far as legroom and maximum windscreen effectiveness are concerned.
On the plus side, the SH150i offers a comfortable ride with its larger than scooter normal 16-inch wheels and tires mounted on five-spoke alloy wheels, along with the 33mm hydraulic forks up front providing 3.5 inches of travel, and the rear swingarm with dual hydraulic shocks and spring preload adjustability with 3.3 inches of travel. Bringing the SH150i to a halt is accomplished by a hydraulic front 220mm single disc with two-piston caliper and a drum with a Combined Braking System in the rear.
The wheelbase is 53.4 inches, while the overall length measures a highly maneuverable 79.7 inches. Getting the scooter up on its center stand is quite easy, with its 302-pound curb weight. The relatively tall seat height (30.9 inches) really poses no problem for short riders, since, in traditional fashion, there's no frame cross-member to contend with.
Controls are easy to use -- there's no clutch or foot brake to worry about -- just twist the throttle and go. The seat is long and comfortable for two-up riding, with a large under-seat storage area, and the option of an accessory rear box and passenger backrest pad for the trunk that's not only fashionable, but functional as well. The fuel filler for the 1.8-gallon tank with a 0.5 reserve is located aft, beneath the locking seat.
My test 2010 Honda SH150i scooter was finished in a subtle Metallic Black and came with a base price of $4,499. The Honda SH150i is a comfortable, simple to ride scooter. It won't smoke the tires off the line, won't do a "wheelie," and won't keep up with most freeway traffic, even in the so-called slow lane, but it is right at home in an urban setting, which is what it is intended for.
It is lightweight and highly maneuverable, not to mention fun to ride. It is obviously not as well suited to riders who are much more than 6-feet tall and who tip the scales at 235 pounds.
When riding the Honda SH150i, think Italian villages, olive groves and vineyards, and enjoy life at a more relaxed pace. It may well be the coolest way to get around on a warm summer's day. -- Arv Voss, Motor Matters
Copyright, Motor Matters, 2010
Copyright © 2010 Motor Matters
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