Honda city with scooter. Electric motorcycle scooter

Motorcycle Scooter: The best way to get around the City

Truth be told, my motorcycle scooter saves my day every day. It does not need massive maintenance, did not cost a lot of money and starts fresh every morning. You can go around swerving cars during rush hour and park it virtually anywhere. In sum, I am very proud of my scooter habits and thought I should write an article to tell you about them. Perhaps, you can take these great habits as well and together we can make scooter life cool. Although I do it daily, I am still feeling a little awkward, so I want to come clean and tell you all the wonders of it.

I’m also going to throw in the data of an amazing accessory I found little time ago and blew my mind. Are you ready for a great two-wheel, small engine, colourful experience? Let’s do it!

Best motorcycle scooter

From the times of Vespas after the Second World War, scooters have taken a million different shapes. It is, in fact, one of the most colourful and varied bike models in the market right now. That is definitely one of the things I like the most about scooters, they are, above all, fun. You can get one of the massive BMW state of the art ones or a colourful Vespa or even something smaller. I think that for the purpose of moving around in city limits, scooters are the best two-wheelers after bicycles. For medium-distances commuters like me, a scooter is, indeed, the best means of transport.

So, these are the bikes that I think are the best for the task. Let´s get started.

Motorcycle scooter 50cc

At 50cc, these scooters are the closer you get to a bicycle. In fact, if you are starting in the two-wheel culture, a scooter is a great way in. You can always go from that to a 150cc and continue to go up until a 3,000cc Triumph. The good thing is getting used to the freedom you feel being on this kind of bike. That sensation is the same you will have all your life once you are haunted by the motorcycle culture. Then you can say “it all started with a 50cc motorcycle scooter”!

Honda Cub 50

Well, my discovery of this great bike was by complete chance. I was watching one of these Discovery Channel programs called “The best 50 bikes of all times”. It went through some jaw-dropping classics I was drooling all over the screen until it got to the first position. It was the Honda Cub 50. I couldn´t believe it. They put the motorcycle to all kinds of tragic, abusive events. First, the host changes the engine oil for some greasy, frying oil from a fast-food chain. The bike keeps going. Second, he loads it with 4 times its weight and the bike keeps going. Finally and as a final destructive measure, they drop it 22 meters into the ground. They kick it and it starts. Here´s the video about all that; it´s not HD but it is super fun to watch.

All this was to tell you that after that I bought my eldest daughter one, she got it in bright yellow and it still is a beautiful bike. She did some things to it like crashing it several times, forgetting it at the campus and lending it to strangers. The bike survived all that and is still going strong. She is the proud owner of a Yamaha VMAX now and won´t touch the Cub 50 which turned into my toy bike. I ride it regularly for grocery shopping or simply touring around town. It is lightweight, very responsive and you can get parts anywhere. As a summary, I can say that I don´t agree it is the best bike in the world, but there´s no beating it in its category.

Honda sold 100 million bikes of the model in sixty years. That should tell you a thing or two about just how good it is.

Yamaha Neo’s 4

Speaking about beating it in the small scooter motorcycle category, the Yamaha Neo’s 4 is an amazing bike. It is also only 50cc but it feels like a piece of high-tech in your hands. For starters, the body is really stylish and beautiful. Second, the blue LCD display is much more modern than the Cub´s round speedometer. Finally, I love the way it rides and the dual front lights that illuminate streets at night.

I guess that if the video from the Honda Cub 50 did not convince you of getting one of those beautiful retro machines, this could also be a great choice.

honda, city, scooter, electric

What makes the Honda Navi special?

It’s really down to a simple formula. First, 10-inch rear and 12-inch front wheels are pretty small for a motorcycle, and they make it very easy to dart around in slow-speed city traffic, producing a quick-on-its-toes sprightliness to the Navi.

Add in a low, 30.1-inch seat height, straightforward cockpit controls, and especially the absence of a clutch lever or shifter, and a motorcycle really couldn’t be less intimidating.

How does the Honda Navi ride?

A 109-cc motor will either seem anemic if you’re already a throttle twister, or won’t mean anything at all if you’ve never ridden. If the latter describes you, know that this is a somewhat large displacement in the scooter realm, and that creates pep — if not fireworks — from about 0–30 mph. At about 45 mph and above, acceleration gets glacial. You can stretch the little Honda to 55 mph, depending on whether or not you’re steaming into a headwind — but without a fairing to help make the Honda more aerodynamic, you will be limited to local roads. And don’t even think about the interstate.

honda, city, scooter, electric

So what you’re looking at is a commuter bike for around town, and for that duty, it’s excellent. The ergonomics make the seating position pretty comfortable. Unlike a lot of scooters that require your feet to be inboard, ahead of you, like you’re sitting in a chair, with the Navi, you straddle the bike and use your right foot on a pedal to apply the rear brake (your right hand controls the front brake lever).

This classic motorcycling posture feels safer, because it lets you use your legs to grip the seat and soak up potholes and jolts. All of that gives you more control — and you’ll want it, since the Navi’s suspension only has 3.5 inches of travel from the fork and 2.8 inches at the shock (and you remember those tiny wheels, right?), which means the little Honda can get bounced around on rough roads. Using your legs for balance offsets these oscillations.

Plus, it’s an entertaining little machine, easily as nimble as any electric bicycle I’ve tested. I was a human grin from stem to stern blasting along winding roads, and the Honda rides especially playfully when you’re on an “excuse mission,” like buying a pint of ice cream. That would feel like a chore in a car; on the Navi, it’s a carnival lark with an ultra-cheap cost of entry.

Also, the Navi is comfortable. You sit in a very upright posture, and although I didn’t want to ride the Navi all day — mostly because bikes without fairings tire you out with the constant air pressure — riding a few hours was, if anything, invigorating. You’re not going to rocket anywhere, but there’s also no temptation to try. You can’t fly, so you glide instead.

There are some oddities to the Navi equation. Fuel economy, as mentioned, is extraordinary. but the 0.9 gallon fuel tank is tiny. It would be swell if that tank could drink in, say, another half-gallon?

Also, where there’d ordinarily be a clutch ahead of the left grip, there’s a parking brake lever. Remember: This bike has a CVT, so you can’t park it in gear like a conventional moto to keep it from rolling when the engine’s switched off. The brake locks the bike’s front, and you need that brake to be engaged to start the Honda with its push-button ignition. Once fired to life, release the brake, twist the throttle on the right-hand grip and away you go.

Braking is a little soft if you’re used to any modern motorcycle. Drum front- and rear brakes slow the Navi just fine, but there’s not much bite to the one in the back. Down a longer hill, approaching a stop, you can feel that nearly all the braking takes place on the front tire — and if you were riding in the rain, that probably means you’d have to work the stoppers more carefully to safely bleed off speed.

A final beef: A simple gauge cluster is fine, but the turn signal indicator is too dim; in direct sunlight, you can’t tell if it’s still on, and that’s a hazard in traffic.

Does anything else stand out about this bike?

The single-cylinder motor is positioned under your butt. On most motorcycles, it’s perched further forward in the chassis, just ahead of your body. That rearward positioning gives the Navi a bit more stability than other scooters I’ve tested, so despite a wheelbase shorter than some electric bicycles, even at 50 mph, the Navi doesn’t get unsettled. I rode it on a windy day, and even with a stiff crosscurrent pushing sideways against me and the bike, it wasn’t hard to keep the Navi on course.

Also, that funky motor arrangement leaves room for a 15-liter box within the frame. That keyed, waterproof “trunk” is just big enough for bringing takeout dinner back to your pad — or, provided you don’t wear size 15 kicks, to stow a pair of shoes and a jacket, or a change of pants and a shirt. You should wear protective clothing when you ride, but that introduces the conundrum of how to carry a change of garb when you arrive. This way, you could toss the protective jacket in a backpack and carry your shoes inside the bike.

Honda also makes a rear rack and other accessories for the Navi, expanding use cases and capabilities. Not bad for a mini moto that’s super utilitarian, super fun, and dirt cheap.

How much does the Honda Navi Cost?

The base price for the Honda Navi is 450,807 for all colorways: Red, Grasshopper Green, Nut Brown and Ranger Green.

Engine: 109-cc air-cooled, 4-stroke, single-cylinder

Gearbox: CVT

Seat height: 30.1 inches

Wet weight: 236 pounds

Top speed: 55 mph

honda, city, scooter, electric

EPA Fuel Economy: 110 mpg

Features

There are not a lot of features on the Honda BeAT and that is expected for its class as an entry-level scooter.

Your instruments at the dash are basic. It has an analog speedometer, digital odometer, and a fuel gauge. It’s so basic that It doesn’t even have a Trip A and Trip B for recording your mileage.

However, a feature that I found extra useful was its green ECO light indicator that will help you get the most out of your fuel consumption. As long as it lights up, you know you’re running the engine in its sweet spot.

The BeAT is also equipped with an idle-stop feature for whenever you’re at a full stop. In five seconds of being stationary, the BeAT will shut down its engine and as soon as you pull the throttle, your engine will turn back on automatically. This should also help save on gas.

Furthermore, this scooter both has an electric starter and a kick starter. And with most Honda bikes, a kill switch to the engine is present whenever the side stand is down. It’s a good safety feature that I personally love about Honda bikes.

Specifications

The Honda BeAT is powered by a 110cc single overhead camshaft air-cooled single-cylinder engine equipped with Honda’s Enhanced Smart Power technology that promises safety, performance, and fuel efficiency.

It has 8.7hp and 9.21Nm of torque with an automatic tranny. The suspension comes with a telescopic fork in front and a mono-shock single-sided swingarm at the back.

You also get a single disc brake in front and a drum brake at the rear with no ABS or Anti-lock Braking System. However, it does have CBS or Combi Brake System. This means it only uses one brake lever to activate both front and rear brakes.

I found this new brake system odd at first, but I started to slowly appreciate it because of its convenience during heavy traffic of just using one hand when you need to brake frequently.

This scooter also has a handbrake that allows you to safely park your bike in an inclined area without the worry of your bike falling or sliding.

Performance

It commands an upright riding position which is comfortable and gives ample space for the legs.

Although one thing I noticed was that my feet do not fit in the footboard which is uncomfortable at times because my 11.5-sized shoes (US) were often slanted sideways while riding. So that’s one thing to consider if you have shoes close to my size.

When it comes to open roads, this scooter can only do so much as it only has an output power of 8.7 horses.

Testing its full speed while the center stand is on, I got a top reading of 110kph but on the road with me at 5’11” and around 200lbs, it goes up until 90kph.

However, the scooter is noticeably light and nimble as it only weighs around 93kg. Changing lanes is effortless as well as turning and performing U-turns. The shocks are on the softer side so the ride is as comfortable as it can get.

The BeAT flourishes as a city ride and is forgiving on bumps and potholes. It has enough torque to get ahead of the rest at traffic lights and the bike is narrow enough to squeeze through tight spaces like a breeze. It’s a perfect bike getting through city traffic especially in Metro Manila.

Honda claims that its gas consumption is around 60km/L. As I tested the bike without minding the ECO light, I clocked in at around 44km/L with up to 52km/L if I’m conscious about the ECO light indicator.

It’s not 60km/L but still good enough for everyday errands. Again, fuel consumption varies on the weight of the rider as well.

Pricing and final thoughts

With the price tag of PhP 70,400 for this top-of-the-line model, you get a no-fuss and efficient city scooter perfect for those on a budget. With traffic getting more and more congested in the metro and gas going up, this is an ideal everyday bike to have.

But if you are looking for performance and all the bells-and-whistles of a scooter bike, it might be better to check something else. This is a bare-bones bike that will get you from point A to point B easily.

It’s not the fanciest and most equipped scooter in the market but for beginners or even experienced riders who just want a quick scoot to go around the city, the Honda BeAT effortlessly does that. Additionally, this bike is assembled here in the Philippines so the price for servicing the Beat won’t be an issue.

Suspension and Brakes

Let’s start with the suspension, there are two shocks at the front and a single mono-shock at the rear scooter style single-sided swingarm. In the case of the brakes, the Motocompo features drums at the front and rear because of simplicity. Thanks to the simplicity, the Compo only weighed 45kgs.

Engine

Since the bike had to be light as possible, Engineers at Honda dropped in a 49cc 2 stroke engine which was used in other Honda scooters also back then. The engine was coupled with a single-speed transmission with an automatic clutch, again, for the sake of simplicity. The engine was capable of producing 2.5 HP at 5,000 rpm and 3.72 Nm of torque at 4,500 rpm. Average top speed of the Motocompo is 30km/h, however, it all depends on the rider weight. Given the size of the Compo, even 30km/h top speed isn’t that bad. Combined with the small 49cc engine and the 2.2 L tank, the bike could actually go up to 130km!

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Production

Honda produced the Motocompet from 1981-1983. The Motocompo was sold for 800,000 yen (US 750 | RM 3,230), which was actually 10% of the price of the City itself! Did you know the scooter and car were marketed in conjunction with the British Ska Band Madness? Check out the funky retro commercial here!

Honda Motocompo Specifications

Honda initially planned to sell 10,000 units monthly, however, just around 53,000 units were sold until 1985. Is it a failure? the answer is NO! Motocomp currently maintains a cult status among collectors and compact bike enthusiasts. Motocompo goes up for sale and auction online but you have to be really fast to grab them before the collectors and JDM fans! In the US the Motocompo sells for USD 4000-5000, however since we are closer to Japan, used Motocompo sells for Rm 7,000 and above in Malaysia. The next time you come across one, grab one because these would only go up in value! Believe it or now, there have been a few brand-new units sold online recently!

Motocompo that went up on an auction recently (Zero mileage)! Photo Credit: Mecum

Did you know, Honda showed off their Motocompo electric scooter concept in 2011 at the Tokyo Motorshow? Come to think of it, if Honda wants to bring this combo back in an all-electric version, they could simply combine the electric Motocompo with the latest compact Honda e electric car.

How did Honda create an electric scooter “just right” for people’s daily lives?

The EM1 e: – Honda’s first personal-use electric scooter – will go on sale on August 24, 2023. How did the development of this model start?

Honda has a long history of electric motorcycle development, which started with the CUV-ES scooter launched in 1994, followed by the EV-neo in 2009 and the PCX Electric in 2018.

I am sure that many people have seen the BENLY e: which we unveiled in 2019 on city streets because the Japan Post has been using it for its mail delivery and pickup services.

All electric bikes we have launched since 2018 have one thing in common. They are powered by the Honda Mobile Power Pack (MPP) swappable battery and have been very well received in the market because, by having the second battery charged in advance, customers can keep using the bike without waiting around while their battery is charged.

We want to make this technology more easily accessible to more customers, which also will contribute to the reduction of the environmental footprint of our motorcycle products. With such a future vision, we decided to work on the development of electric scooters designed for personal use.

How did the concept come about for the “scooter ‘just right’ for people’s daily lives”?

Electric motorcycles are quiet and very comfortable to ride. I felt that this kind of mobility product fits well with our daily lives and is “just right” as a convenient means of transportation. This is how we came up with the EM1 e: concept.

Many of us on the development team are regular users of motorcycles and scooters, so by incorporating some of our personal input, we identified the specifications such as range, riding performance and output balance, which will make this model “just right” for people’s daily use.

Usage-wise, we envisioned people using it for short distance rides such as commuting to school, to a part-time job, or to the nearest train station.

The riding distance we had in mind was 10 to 15 km (approx. 6-9 miles) one way. When fully charged, the EM1 e: has range of about 40 km (approx. 25 miles) on city streets, so it should give enough range for the user to get home, even if they decide to make an extra stop or two.

We achieved the usability “just right” for most people’s daily transportation needs, which makes me want this bike personally.

Quiet and easy to ride – How was the riding experience unique only to EM1 e: realized?

What are the unique features of the EM1 e:?

Of course, the big difference is that this model is electric, so it does not emit any exhaust gases. Also, having less vibration makes it easier to ride and less tiring for the user, even during a longer ride. Another unique feature is its quietness.

Even when the user needs to leave home early in the morning or come home late at night, they can ride and park the EM1 e: quietly in a residential area, making it a friendly vehicle for our customers and people around them.

What did you do differently in terms of engineering and styling design to make this model achieve the usability “just right” for people?

If you look at the foot area on the floor, you can see there is quite a bit of space. We developed packaging which enables anyone to be able to enjoy riding this scooter comfortably regardless of their body type and/or type of clothing they prefer.

The body of the EM1 e: was designed based on the U-GO released in China in 2021, but the position of the battery slot is different. For the U-GO, the battery was installed underneath the floor, but for the EM1 e: the battery goes underneath the seat, which enabled us to lower the floor.

Also, we were able to reduce the cost by commonizing some body parts. Based on our calculation, when it is used for more than four years the running cost of the EM1 e: will be lower than that of a scooter equipped with an internal combustion engine (ICE).

What were the difficulties the team faced during the development phase?

An electric scooter is so quiet that some noise, which would not bother us with an ICE scooter, bothered us.

With an early prototype, some of the exterior parts were vibrating due to the driving force of the motor and an uneven road surface during the use, and that vibration noise bothered us.

So, we devised better mounting methods for some exterior and other parts and reinforced the backside of such parts to increase rigidity to ensure quietness. It took steady work and patience to identify the source of every single noise we wanted to address, but we did it until we obtained satisfactory results.

I hope our customers will enjoy such fine tuning and the quiet and comfortable ride the EM1 e: offers, which represents the team’s commitment to the pursuit of perfection.

As the assistant development leader, I coordinated the conducting of various tests. Naturally, there were times when opinions were divided among the team members. Every time that happened, we brought the scooter we were working on at that time to our company test course and took a ride, then we followed all of the necessary steps to reconcile difference of opinions. This was our way of practicing what we call the “Three Realities Principle” at Honda.

Yes. For example, there were different opinions about what the upper speed limit should be for the “ECON mode,” a riding mode which features mild power output characteristics, that the rider can select with a simple switch operation to reduce battery consumption.

We had a lot of discussions to identify what speed would be “just right.” Some said 15 km/h or 20 km/h (9.3 or 12.4 miles/h), so the team members took the actual bike to the course and took a ride at those speeds. As a result, the upper speed limit for the ECON mode was determined to be 30 km/h (18.6 miles/h).

Entry model for new riders – Continuous pursuit of joy for people by offering a fun and unrestricted mobility experience

Motorcycle products will be increasingly electrified in the future. From an engineer’s perspective, how do you feel about this trend?

Throughout my career at Honda I have been working mainly in the areas of motorcycle body design. So, regardless of the power source – engine or motor – I believe that the “value of mobility” will remain the same in the future. We can apply technologies we have amassed through the development of ICE models on electric bikes. My goal is to continue developing new mobility products so that we can continue offering the value of mobility.

The essential difference from ICE models is that electric motorcycles require a balance between power output and range. When we increase the power, the bike can travel faster, thus we express the “fun” of motorcycle riding. But such high-power bikes use up more electric power, so the range will be shorter, thus “convenience” will decline.

Yes. Finding that balance may be a difficulty unique to the development of electric motorcycles.

In terms of the “fun” of motorcycles, I have a feeling that the quietness of electric models will create a new “fun” that ICE couldn’t have. For example, when two motorcycle riders are standing next to each other waiting for a traffic light to change, if they are on electric motorcycles, they can enjoy conversation without being disturbed by the engine sound.

In the future, riders might be able to communicate with each other without using an intercom while riding in tandem or as a touring group.

How would you like to see the EM1 e: getting used by our customers in the future?

We developed this electric scooter model with a wide range of use in mind, so we would be happy if this model will be enjoyed by riders who are switching from their current bikes to this one, as well as new riders who were not so interested in motorcycles before, but who will try EM1 e: as their entry model.

Unlike ICE models, electric bikes do not require a stop at a gas station. The EM1 e: doesn’t need an oil change. So, we are hoping that people who were avoiding motorcycles because of the hassle of such maintenance tasks will readily enjoy EM1 e:.

The EM1 e: was on display at the JAMA booth in the exhibition held in conjunction with the G7 Hiroshima Summit, introduced as one example of electrification initiatives in Japan. We hope that the EM1 e: will be a model that creates an opportunity for more people to experience the joy of mobility using an environmentally-responsible product.

Honda has a brand slogan, “The Power of Dreams,” which was redefined this year with the addition of a new tagline “How we move you.” This represents Honda‘s belief that it is important for those of us who work at Honda to have our own dreams and convey them to our customers. So, as we conclude this interview, could you tell us about your dreams?

I believe that personal-use mobility products feature some exciting and uplifting elements such as making our daily lives more convenient with additional “fun.” So, I want to keep developing mobility products which make people’s daily lives more enjoyable. That is my dream.

“I want to make fun bikes.” That was the passion I joined Honda with. But in reality, I have been working on development while thinking, “What exactly is the ‘fun’ I wanted to create?” So, while cherishing my initial passion, I would like to offer the “pure fun” of mobility to more and more people, by finding the good balance between “convenience” and “fun” for our mobility products.

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