Receiving a dose of updates in 2008, the SH sold in the European market for a few years before coming to America. The previously carbureted SH150 picked up an injector as well as roomier rider ergos. Now that Honda North America has cleared the floor of 2009s, they’re fulfilling the demand for economic and stylish rides with the liquid-cooled fuel-injected 153cc four-stroke Single SH150i. The ‘i” refers to the fuel injection of course, not “Italian-designed craftsmanship” like I had first thought.
Honda says the 150i is the best-selling scooter in Italy, of any brand, so it's already a hit in Europe. The SH is ready to take on the dollar-conscious and style-picky American melting pot – as well as a passenger – all in one easy to manage package.
Not since the 1987 model year Elite 150 has American Honda offered anything of this size. They believe the time is right for riders of all ages to enjoy the fun of scootering. Come 2010 they’ll have two new middleweight scoots between Honda’s 50 and 600cc units. Almost perfect timing from Honda as gasoline prices are peaking again with the arrival of the first weeks of summer.
Standing mid-pack among the Japanese maker’s scooter line-up with an MSRP of $4,499, the SH150i competes for your dollar against the Vespa 150 [$4,399] and the closest competitor by spec, the Kymco People 150 [$2,799] – both being air-cooled versus the Honda’s liquid-cooled ride. No other manufacturer makes an L-C 150. Bookending Honda’s line-up will be the 600cc Silver Wing at $8,199 and the pocket-sized 50cc Metropolitan for $2,049. The Big Ruckus has been axed, leaving only the 50cc Ruckus for $2,499. Making a similar euro-update and return to the American market is the Elite, this time in a fuel-injected110cc version and selling for $2,999. More to come on the Elite this fall.
Blasting along the city streets, the narrow SH feels smaller than it looks, which some of you may or may not like. You couldn’t call the Japanese-built Honda flimsy or cheap, just light and flickable. Fit and finish is true to Honda’s reputation of clean and solid builds for every product, but not so light you’d be blown off the street by a passing 5-ton. With a claimed 302-pound curb weight (full of gas and fluids), twist that throttle and away you go! The 53.4-inch wheelbase lends to a stable ride, responding quickly to steering input. The rear wheel is convinced to take you anywhere by way of super-smooth Honda V-Matic belt-converter CVT transmission.
The programmed fuel-injection (PGM-FI) provides snappy throttle response and aids in stretching your dollars per mile. No claims were made for miles per gallon, but look for future comparison testing on MO for details such as this.
Sporting large-diameter 16-inch wheels head-to-toe and wrapped with Dunlop tires, you could call the SH's handling “Breezy.” The front and rear rubbers differ only in width: 100/80 in front, 120/80 in the rear. Smooth power delivery and nimble free-wheeling, the SH makes quick work of navigating any city’s pot holes, curbs, nicks and scrapes. The 16-inch wheels offer high-speed stability lacking in competitors’ 10 and 12-inch wheels.
Braking is done by Honda’s scooter-version of linked brakes, the combined brake system or CBS. As is with traditional motorcycles, the right hand lever applies the front brake. The left-hand lever applies pressure to both the two-piston caliper and 220mm single front disc as well as the rear wheel’s drum. Simultaneous application of both the drum brake arm and disc brake’s hydraulic piston is done via a mechanical crossover wire connected to the left hand lever for more balanced stopping power.
Saddling just 30.9 inches from the ground, there’s room enough for loosely flat-footing the scooter while seated. Between potholes and manhole covers you’ll find yourself smiling at the neighborhood as it buzzes along at an easy 50 mph. Top speeds can reach up to 65 mph (indicated), but the real fun is weaving through stopped traffic and parking where only bicycles dare tread. Clear, buzz-free rearview mirrors show you how far your worries are behind you.
Folding passenger floorboards provide a comfortable/short reach to an alternative riding position for the sportier riding crowd and those looking to move their legs around while riding. You’ll also find that they don’t get in the way of putting your own legs down at full stops when you carry a passenger – unlike the folding pegs found on some Vespa models.
Because this ain’t your Razor scooter, the SH sports a 33mm hydraulic front fork with 3.5 inches of travel and a pair of hydraulic shocks with 3.3 inches of bounce to hold up the rear. The shocks' preload can be adjusted to suit various loads.
Honda reports a crankshaft power rating of 11.6kw at 8500 rpm. In terms of numbers we Americans can understand, that’s 15.5 horsepower; more than the CRF230L puts out at the rear wheel!
Beneath the rider is enough storage space for a half-helmet plus a few other goodies, including the stock toolkit. You’ll also find the 1.8-gallon fuel tank under there. Fill-ups require the usual rider un-mounting and saddle release.
Between your hands, you’ll find a modern dash with a big, clean speedometer surrounded by coolant temp and fuel gauges as well as an LCD clock, odometer and one trip-meter.
Going away, you’ll be happy to see there’s an HECS3 oxygen-sensing catalytic converter stuffed into the system for the benefit of greener pastures.
Always prepared to make your ride your own, Honda will offers a 35-liter accessory top box [$268.95] to perch atop the composite/plastic rear rack without the aid of more hardware. The passenger’s comfort comes in the form of a backrest pad available separately for $45.95. The stock rack measures approx 8 x 10 inches… big enough for an American-standard cheapy alternative – the milk crate.
A taller accessory windscreen will also be available in the fall for $299.95. Based only on the photo above, it appears to be tall enough to block a torso-sized hole in the atmosphere in front of you – maybe at chin height. But don’t ask me, I’m guessing now! Details to come.
The 2010 Honda SH150i retails for $4,499 and is available in a CBR-cool dark red and an all black model, both with a little metal-flake for some sparkle.