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2013 Honda PCX150: MD First Ride

Can you test a ZX-14R and then jump on a 150cc (153cc, actually) scooter and still have fun? Still be impressed? Yes and yes, if that scooter is Honda’s new PCX150.

Of course the PCX150 isn’t about mind bending acceleration and 9 second quarter miles. It is fun because it feels light and nimble, has an incredibly low CG, and has enough power to put a pal or significant other on the back.

Sort of like a Weight Watchers dessert, that enjoyment comes without the guilt.  A claimed (and believable) 102 mpg, and an MSRP of just $3,449.00.  Fill your 1.6 gallon fuel tank for $5.00, and have the power to hop on the freeway and cruise at 65mph. You could say this is the right vehicle at the right time for lots of buyers.

For 2013, Honda took the PCX125 that impressed Gabe, and gave it the extra oomph to provide genuine freeway, and 2-up capability. Oh, and they even improved its fuel efficiency in the process.

The list of engine improvements is quite long, actually.

  • An offset cylinder reduces friction caused by contact between the piston and cylinder wall.
  • Piston weight has been reduced through the use of CAE analysis (Computer Aided Engineering).
  • The cylinder sleeve uses minute spines on its outer surface to reduce oil consumption and improve cooling.
  • A shell-type needle bearing is used for the rocker arm shaft; reducing friction.
  • Small lightweight rollers work in conjunction with an optimized cam profile and valve spring load.
  • The radiator core is approximately 1.5 times more efficient, allowing the use of a smaller, lighter cooling fan, reducing frictional losses by 30%.
  • Internal modifications lower oil agitation losses, and transmission oil capacity has been reduced by approximately 25.
  • Frictional losses in the transmission unit have been reduced by approximately 20% (at 50kmh), due to the use of bearings exclusively designed to deal with the loads they individually receive.


The new, larger engine is lighter and smaller overall, which reduces the unsprung weight controlled by the rear suspension.  Honda also claims to have improved seat comfort this year with a redesigned cushion and backrest.

In addition to the ample underseat storage that swallowed my large, full-face Arai (just barely), the PCX150 features a glove box in the dash, and will soon have the option of fitting a 35-liter top box (currently in development).  You can also store a helmet by a hook and loop, which is locked in place by the seat.

Previous to this test, the smallest displacement scooter I have personally ridden is a 250cc single-cylinder Vespa.  The Vespa is a nice machine, but I actually felt the 153cc Honda engine pulled at least as well as the Vespa despite the displacement disadvantage.  The Honda pulls impressively off the bottom, as I discovered when my friend Barry Winfield and I took off on two of the PCX150s to split traffic on California’s Pacific Coast Highway.  We frequently pulled up to red lights between two cars, and blasted away from them when the light turned green.  Something you take for granted on a larger motorcycle, but impressive on a scooter of this size.

We even took the PCX150 on the freeway, where it comfortably maintained 65 mph, and appeared to have a top speed in the low-to-mid 70s.  Of course, a strong headwind or hill will reduce the top speed of any small displacement scooter, and the PCX150 is no different.

The 14” wheels are a big improvement, in my opinion, compared to the 12” wheels found on some other small scooters.  Bumps are smoothed out considerably, and the handling is much more stable at higher speeds.  The little PCX felt rock steady on the freeway, for instance.

At the same time, the narrow tires and low center of gravity make the PCX150 extremely nimble, yet still able to confidently hold its line on fast, sweeping turns.  Again, impressive for this category.

The engine performance and excellent CVT transmission combined to allow two-up riding without seeming to be much of a strain on the drivetrain.  I sampled a 130 pound female passenger, as well as a 6’1”, 200 pound male (putting us at roughly 400 pounds, total).  With the 130 pound passenger, I felt very little additional engine strain.  I could even see taking a smaller passenger on the freeway without too much trouble.  The 200 pound passenger was more obviously felt, but the bike was still surprisingly quick off the bottom.  The non-adjustable rear suspension, with a progressively wound spring, also held up surprisingly well under the additional load.

The ergonomics were comfortable, and wind protection was reasonable.  Shorter riders will have no trouble standing flat-footed at stop lights, and even Barry (6’5”) did not look comically large as he rode next to me.

Suspension performance was very good, as well.  The rear suspension, in particular, impressed me.  It is relatively firm, but smooth at the same time.

My 200 pound passenger told me the passenger accommodations were pretty comfortable, so I don't know why he wanted to strangle me.

The front disc and rear drum brake are plenty strong and offer decent feel.  Use of the rear brake will combine automatically with application of the front brake while the front brake lever is not linked.

Instrumentation is pretty basic, but very legible and includes a fuel gauge (which never seemed to move during the test).

A welcome feature is the inclusion of both a center stand and a side stand.

About the only thing I could criticize after our initial ride would be a hard seat that felt comfortable on shorter trips, but might be a bit uncomfortable on longer rides.  Of course, the focus of this bike is not long distance touring, rather shorter trips with the convenience of being both freeway legal and two-up capable.  With a very competitive price point ($3,449.00), Honda appears to have hit the sweet spot with the PCX150.  It is hard to see a category of rider that couldn’t find interest in this excellent mid-sized scooter.  If you are concerned about the environment (and your wallet), it could appeal to riders of all skill and experience levels as a second bike.  Anyone interested in fun, economical and practical motoring would be a logical candidate as well.  The PCX150 feels light and easy to handle, so brand new riders and females also fit the profile.  Who knows, this might even be one of the machines that gets disinterested Gen Z members on to two wheels.

2013 SPECIFICATIONS

Model: PCX150

Engine Type: 152.9cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke

Bore and Stroke: 58.0mm x 57.9mm

Compression ratio: 10.6:1

Valve Train: SOHC; two-valve

Induction: PGM-FI with automatic enrichment

Ignition: Digital with electronic advance

Transmission: Honda V-Matic belt-converter automatic transmission

Suspension

Front: 31mm hydraulic fork; 3.5 inches travel

Rear: Twin shock; 3.1 inches travel

Brakes

Front: Single 220mm disc with three-piston caliper

Rear: Drum with CBS

Tires

Front: 90/90-14

Rear: 100/90-14

Wheelbase: 51.8 inches

Rake (Caster Angle): 27.0°

Trail: 86mm (3.4 inches)

Seat Height: 29.9 inches

Fuel Capacity: 1.6 gallons

Estimated Fuel Economy: 102 MPG

Colors: Candy Red, Metallic Black

Curb Weight*: 286 pounds

*Includes all standard equipment, required fluids and full tank of fuel—ready to ride.

Honda’s fuel-economy estimates are based on EPA exhaust emission measurement test procedures and are intended for comparison purposes only. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you ride; how you maintain your vehicle; weather; road conditions; tire pressure; installation of accessories; cargo, rider and passenger weight; and other factors.

Meets current CARB and EPA emissions standards.

39 Comments

  1. Brian says:

    I recently moved from a major city to a more rural community of 50,000. I have no desire to ride a motorcycle on the freeway (been there, done that 40 years ago with 500cc Hondas). But I have spent time abroad where scooters are commonplace and have used them for simple transportation. They are great for short in town jaunts and, in my case, replaces a second car.

  2. mickey says:

    I Consider myself a real motorcyclist. Been riding 46 years. Have had 40 something motorcycles. Ridden to 3 out of 4 corners of the U.S. and will hit the 4 th in a few weeks. I currently own a Honda ST 1300′, a Yamaha FZ 1 a. Honda 750 Nighthawk, and a 400 Yamaha Majesty Scooter. I bought my scooter after buying one for my wife, and riding hers. Too much fun, and I’m not embarrassed to be seen riding it. I’ve enjoyed it so much I’m considering a VFR 1200 with the DCT trans. Gas and go baby!

  3. Rooster says:

    The one thing I find distasteful about most scooters in general is the styling. The only ones I can think of right off hand that dont leave me cold are the old school Vespa looking models, the Sachs ‘Madass’, and the Honda Ruckus 50cc, which I think is a really cool little machine. Scooters with more of an ‘industrial’ or offroad themed look would have a lot more appeal to 16-30 old males in my opinion, at least according to an informal survey of my circle of friends. Most of the current designs look to me to be a love child between a ZX10r and my little sisters pink huffy. If Honda would just bring back the pressed frame Trail 70 with this 150cc powerplant, I would actually consider buying one, it would look very cute parked between my B-King and my KLR. One of these days I will own a mint Trail 70………..

  4. Scorpio says:

    Arizona used to have signs indicating minimum 175cc for the interstates (where rural speed limits are 75mph); I haven’t seen those signs in a while so the law may have changed, but since traffic in my neck of the desert is commonly 10-15mph over the posted limit, I’d recommend the PCX150 stay off I-10. Anywhere else in town it would make perfect sense. I was a snob too until my ex bought an AN400 Burgman that I fell in serious like with :) Don’t knock it ’til you try it.

  5. Honyock says:

    I note with mirth that the forward lighting, instead of looking like an angry alien insectoid, is a portrait of the wise-but-cute Yoda. It (the scooter) is, in my daughter’s immortal word, “adorbial”.

  6. DJ says:

    I can’t believe I’ve read and am now commenting in a scooter review. I can understand where testing 1/4 mile times might be a bit superfluous, but 0-60 times should be helpful. Right? Did I miss it in your review?

    • Reinhart says:

      If you want to test the 1/4 time for a 150cc scooter you’d better bring a calendar and pack a lunch. It might take a while to complete the test.

  7. JCC says:

    WONDER IF THE SPEEDS QUOTED ARE FROM SPEEDOMETER OR GPS?? (oops, sorry for the caps lock)!!!

  8. MGNorge says:

    Looks like a very fun runabout. I’m a big guy but even so many of these scooters fit me fine. Thanks for the article.

  9. GP says:

    I like this, but the thing standing in the way of a true scooter revolution in the US is the registration and insurance requirements, which vary from state to state.
    http://www.mass.gov/rmv/alerts/scooter.htm

    • Dave says:

      And miles and miles of freeway, as well as our economic strength. Most countries where scooters are popular have large populations of people who can’t afford cars and their fuel prices as well as dense cities where a highway capable vehicle is unnecessary.

  10. vulcan6 says:

    I wish good scooters would catch on here, but Americans don’t live in villages. Most of our cities define the word “sprawl”. I live in Atlanta which actually covers about 5000 square miles for the metrp area. But I have a question. Is your big burly male passenger MASSAGING YOUR SHOULDERS?

    • goose says:

      I read your post and said to myself, no way. Atlanta is big and spread out but it can’t be 5,000 square miles, so I looked it up. You are incorrect but not the way I thought. The census bureau say Atlanta is 8,376 square miles! I finally know why it always took so long to get from where I was to where I was going on my trips to Atlanta.

      To your point, yes scooter like this Honda makes a huge amount of sense in big cities like Atlanta. Mid sized ones like the PCX150 also make a lot of sense in more rural areas. The small town I inhabit is about 12 miles from the big town with the important stuff (e. g. motorcycle shops). I can take a slightly longer but faster route via an interstate class road where speeds are 65 to 75 MPH and I’d be a little uncomfortable on a 150. Or, I can take a shorter road where speeds are 50 to 60 MPH and the Honda would be fine. 100 MPG is twice what my more economical motorcycle gets and three times what my car gets. Those little tires can’t costs much. Maintenance should be cheap. HHMMM… I keep going back and forth but I think something like this Honda could be loads of fun and save a lot of wear and tear (and money) I now put on my big bikes.

      MCD: Thanks for covering all bikes, not just the phallic symbols covered by the other guys.

      Goose

  11. Patrick D says:

    I’ve owned and run the PCX 125 for 18 months now in Northern Ireland. It supplements my R1200GS Adventure and Aprilia Falco for short hops to the railway station for my commute.
    The bike’s been great overall and aside from being a little slower than this one (60mph cruise, 65mph max) I agree with the tester’s verdict. It’s fun on twisting, narrow (well surfaced) roads in the vicinty that I live, but it’s no fun on the wider roads. Despite our gallons being bigger than yours, I’m barely getting 100 mpg, but I am caning it most of the time!
    Two points for Honda – That seat hump serves to store water which, when the rider sits on the saddle, promptly pees on him/her (honest!!)
    And why is there no digital clock? Commuters like to know the time!

    Excellent underseat storage for my XL Shoei (many scooters fall down at this point) and the finish seems good, despite being run during the winter when the roads here are salted.

    I’m not a Honda fan, but they make a good bike, no doubt.

  12. ziggy says:

    Sorry fellas but someone’s got to say it so it might as well be me:

    These wimpy things flat-out suck and are the antithesis of why I ride motorcycles.

    • Dirck Edge says:

      Sorry Ziggy, but someone’s gotta say your comment only serves to illustrate your insecurity.

    • Peter says:

      Ziggy,

      If you ain’t tried it you ain’t in any position to comment!

      Peter

      PS: I’ve owned and like BOTH motorcycles and motorscooters

    • Fred M. says:

      Ziggy, you don’t speak for most real motorcyclists — just the insecure minority who are using their bikes to compensate for ‘personal shortcomings’.

      I’ve got five bikes, including everything from a 150cc Vespa-style, twist-shift, metal-bodied scooter to a 146hp, 375lb. Buell 1125CR to a Russian-made Ural. I have fun on all of them. If you can’t have fun on something like the PCX150 in the article, it’s a sad comment on you, not on the bike.

    • Gary says:

      I am not prepared to say they suck but I can say they are not for me. I view acceleration as a safety feature, especially for bikes. I can’t count the number of times power has gotten me out of trouble. I think that’s true for most experienced riders. I feel like 150 cc leaves me a sitting duck on the freeway.

      For me, personally, 250 cc is the minimum … 400 cc preferred.

      But for zipping around town, hey … fine. Scooters rule.

    • Fred M. says:

      @Gary

      I’m a very experienced motorcyclist in decades. and miles, ridden. I’d never venture out on a freeway on a 150cc normally aspirated 4-stroke scooter, or even my 2-stroke 150cc scooter. It’s all about choosing the right bike for the ride, as you obviously recognize.

      My only gripe is with ziggy, who wants to disrespect an entire class of bikes because he’s insecure and using motorcycles to compensate.

    • Dave says:

      It’s too bad that the reason you (ziggy) apparently ride have so little to do with actually riding a motorcycle. If a small motorcycle could be the antithesis of a reason that you do or think anything then you’re doing whatever that is for the wrong reasons.

      Just as many look down on you for riding a motorcycle. A million scooters on the road is a good thing for you as a motorcyclist.

    • blackcayman says:

      Scooters are like Chubby Girls…

      both fun to ride, until your firends see you

      I bought my wife a 1 year old 150cc scooter for 500 bucks (it had been dropped & lightly scratched on both sides) – its fun and great to rip 5 blocks to pick up a little this or that.

  13. johnny ro says:

    The thing could have less step-through but keep floorboards and overall shape which would lead to stronger frame and more internal space for more gas and storage. I think that when they make “Scooters” they are pretty careful to hve them look like scooters.

    My Burgman has a lot of wasted space between legs, and a tiny gas tank.

    I am not complaining, I want one of these for sure.

  14. George Krpan says:

    Thanks for covering a scooter. I’ve had several and I love them.

    My first was a 1985 Honda 250 Elite and my last was a 2004 Aprilia Scarabeo 500.

    The PCX150 sounds nearly as fast as the 250 Elite which had a top speed of 80. I caught many sport bike riders by surprise who weren’t aware of how quickly it could leave the line and there was no fumbling with a clutch lever and shifter.

  15. Provalogna says:

    Wife’s been talking about a scooter. This is a gem. Like it myself, especially in red.

    True motorcycle enthusiasts are the last to fully digest the world’s current state of financial de-leveraging. Honda, as it has several times prior, leads the way with the CBR250R, CRF250L, and scooters like the above. Unquestionably both 250s can’t be touched in their respective classes.

  16. Reinhart says:

    $3500 would buy a fine used motorcycle with 5X the performance of this scooter. Plus, in my state you need at least 250cc’s to legally drive the freeways. My guess is that you’ll end up spending about $4,000 after tax, lic, freight and set-up. Pricey for a 150cc scooter.

    • Provalogna says:

      Used bikes would not exist if there was no good reason to purchase new. $3500 could (and sometimes does) buy a used bike with an undisclosed main seal leak and/or hidden frame crack.

    • Gary says:

      I’m pretty sure 250cc is the minimum size engine for freeway running in Cali-fornicate.

      • goose says:

        I’m not sure what state you are talking about but in California the minim displacement for freeway use is 150 CC.

        Goose

  17. soi cowboy says:

    same bike is 2000 usd in Thailand. How much gas do you have to save to pay for it?

  18. Gary says:

    “blasted away from them when the light turned green.”

    Errrr … no.

  19. paul246 says:

    Looks like a lot of fun in a neat little package.

  20. ABQ says:

    I believe the law requires at least 250cc to hop on the freeway.
    And, again, I want a larger gas tank.

    • ApriliaRST says:

      In my experience, you believe wrongly. Most states’ laws require a certain horsepower. Even if not, it would make more sense.

      • whisperquiet says:

        Illinois requires 150cc+ to ride on a controlled access highway (Interstate/FREEWAY).

    • Dave says:

      Maybe but what are the odds of being pulled over if you are able to maintain highway speed?

      Why the need for a bigger tank? This is an urban commuter. I can’t see most owners riding it much more than 10 miles at a time.

      • ABQ says:

        Impeding traffic is an offense when the traffic is flowing at beyond 65: which it is always doing.
        I always want a larger tank because here in NM, and in most western states, everything is sprawled out over long distances. If this scooter gets 100mpg then why not put a three gallon tank in? That way the typical commuter or college studet may ride a week between fill ups. Or somebody like me may ride all day without stopping for gas in the middle of the desert where there are no gas stations. Why do I always have to explain the need for larger gas tanks??? If you really believe your scooter or motorcycle is a joy to ride, then put a large enough gas tank on it so your customers may take joy in riding it!

        • Dave says:

          You won’t get a ticket for going 65 (which this apparently manages) in a 70mph zone. If you have faster highways then that in NM then yeah, this is the wrong thing for you, just about any scooter is.
          Again, this is an urban commuter. If you’re crossing deserts and commuting 40+ miles each direction then you’re looking at all together the wrong vehicle. They make better bikes for you.

  21. Michael H says:

    Say what you will about Honda, they pack a lot of engineering into even their small engines.

    That is an attractive scooter, very good for around-town use. Now if Honda would bring over its SH300i for better riding on interstates and highways.