2006 Honda Big Ruckus Review
So ugly it's cute
Perhaps the designers at Honda were bored. Perhaps there was a military contract they were trying to attain. I can just picture it now, the phone call from a ranking officer to the poor schmuck who handles the new equipment contracts: “We need a new vehicle for Iraq... It’s gotta be big, and made of pipes, and it has to able to pull a tank out of a ditch... and don’t forget it has to look like a truck. Oh yeah and make it big...really big, yes indeedy, make it huge!”
Probably not...maybe they had just run out of plastic at the factory and had huge piles of steel pipe lying about all over the place. I don’t really know how the Big Ruckus came about, all I know is that when I rode this... um... contraption the following words came unbidden into my poor, addled brain.
Get your motor runnin’. Head out on the highway. Lookin’ for adventure, and whatever comes our way. Yeah nothing’s gonna make it happen, take the world in a love embrace. Fire all of your guns at one time... explode into space.
The words aren’t mine, and the accompanying imagery of long deserted roads stretching to a big, blue sky that they conjure in your mind have nothing to do with me either. However the opening scene of the 1960’s film “Easy Rider” does a good job of wrapping up my initial feeling on the Honda Big Ruckus. Not to mention the fact that I had that very song stuck in my head for hours after I first rode the Ruckus away from Honda.
What on earth does a movie that features big American Harley-Davidson motorcycles have to do with a 250cc Japanese scooter? On paper, there is very little correlation at all. However, when you ride the Ruckus, the riding position and overall feeling that the bike conveys is more closely related to a big cruising motorcycle than a conventional scooter. It’s a big, long, low slung, heavy device that is so unconventional looking as to be, to put not too fine a point on it... bloody ugly. One person asked if I had crashed a Harley into a mobility scooter! I just laughed, because, you see, this bike is so ugly it’s cool. If any scooter can be described as macho this is the one, other scooters are cool. The Big Ruckus has a hairy chest. If John J. Rambo where to ride a scooter, this would be it. In fact in a fight, the Ruckus would roundhouse kick Chuck Norris.
Riding the Big Ruckus makes you loose your mind; you see the numbers say this bike should be just OK. It makes 19 horsepower from its 250cc engine; the brakes are not astounding considering the big front disc. The suspension is a bit off; it can be induced to bottom out quite easily yet still manage to send every bump from the road through the well-sorted chassis. There is virtually no storage space.
'Honda’s Big Ruckus has the most comfortable seating layout imaginable without resorting to a La-Z-Boy.'
She is wide and a bit awkward for traffic slicing duties, though you can get a bit more control if you lever yourself off the backrest and sit forward in the seat. In fact, regarding what I normally consider important categories for a good scooter, the Honda Big Ruckus (called a PS250 in Japan) falls down quite hard. But, and this is a big BUT, I absolutely love this bike. For all its foibles I cannot help but grin when I get on it, hell I grin just looking at the ugly brute.
Honda’s Big Ruckus has the most comfortable seating layout imaginable without resorting to a La-Z-Boy. The set up includes a very comfortable seat with a padded backrest. The backrest drops to become a pillion seat when riding two-up, which is effortless and comfortable for everyone involved. Your feet rest on forward mounted plates similar to those on most cruiser style motorcycles. The aforementioned seat also slides to allow simple adjustment. Unlike most Hondas we have tested, the Ruckus has a factory-installed side stand to compliment a well-balanced centre stand. You pretty much just slide into the Ruckus 250 as you would your favorite armchair, put your feet up and ride. The engine, although not especially potent, provides a reasonable range of momentum through the rev range and has plenty of acceleration to pass most cars at city speeds and will comfortably cruise on the highway. One note about highway driving however: this is a very naked bike, which means plenty of punishing wind, especially at highway speeds.
The features this pared-down machine does provide are good, the functional front disc is let down by a drum in the rear and excess weight. Headlights are extremely good: twin front lights are powerful and point in the correct direction. This is made more obvious by how badly let down most scooters are in this department. The instrument cluster is reasonably good with a trip counter and audible as well as visible indicator warnings. The speedometer is a bit cluttered due to having both MPH and Km/h readings however if your native speed is miles per hour this won’t be an issue as the MPH figures are dominant.
All in all, when the review team put their heads together to gauge the final ratings I think the Ruckus will drop down the order a little, but this is a bike that manages to be more than the sum of it’s parts. If you ride one I have little doubt you will give it a 5 star, 10 out of 10, 100% approval rating. Get your motor running, head out on the highway, if you want some adventure and a smile that will only be removed with a baseball bat take the Ruckus for a ride... Fire all of your guns at one time and... um... explode into space???