The PCX is powered by a liquid-cooled 125cc single-cylinder engine, landing in Honda’s line-up between the China-built Elite 110 and the Italian-built SH150i. The PCX is the first import coming from Honda’s newly constructed Thailand plant.
Being a ‘world’ model – which means the unit’s emission and efficiency standards and specs conform to many markets at once – some of the special cool euro-styled stuff we often lose for USA-bound versions are included, such as a centerstand (as well as a sidestand) to serve varying opinions on the parking matter. Otherwise, there’s the global emission standards met via electronic fuel injection and a three-way catalytic converter.
Small yet feature-packed, the PCX sports the ‘twist-n-go’ Honda V-Matic drive system (belt-converter automatic transmission), sparing the rider of any shifting or clutching needs. The undersquare engine and two-valve cylinder head provide decent levels of torque for quick getaways.
|Honda's Middleweight Scooter Lineup|
|Model||2010 Elite 110||2011 PCX 125||2010 SH150i|
|Wheel Size(s) (Fr/R)||12/10||14||16|
|Saddle height (inches)||29.1||29.9||30.9|
|Curb Weight (pounds)||254||280||302|
|MPG (Honda Claims)||100+||110|
As you can see from the accompanying table, the new 125 falls mid-pack on specs and cost across the board. The PCX is slightly larger in wheelbase (51.4 inches compared to the Elite 110’s 50.2 inches) and saddle height (29.9 inches to 29.1, respectively), the PCX is sure to be a hit with their target market – youth and new riders.
The PCX has longer suspension travel compared to the 110, so the new model should offer a more forgiving ride, if even a little. The PCX's Unit rear swingarm is suspended by a single shock with 2.9 inches of travel while the 31mm hydraulic front fork has 3.5-inches; neither is adjustable.
Also helping smooth the PCX’s path are its larger 14-inch wheels (which, by the way, look really light with their thin-spoke design –Ed.). An IRC 90/90-14 leads the way, followed by a 10mm-wider rear. The PCX has a fully fueled curb weight of 280 pounds.
Light and economical, the PCX is sure to be a hit with the targeted college youth crowd. And the fuel-injected single-overhead-cam engine will make the miles come even easier, topping out at about 50 miles per hour.
So far this year, a custom-painted PCX has been on display to graduating classes at Disneyland’s grad days and getting attention. Further attracting the salary-challenged buyers in their natural environment, the PCX will be touring the country this summer along with the Honda Civic Tour, a concert series now in its ninth year and headlining with Tennessee-born rock band Paramore. Watch for television commercials and concert promos.
Keeping safety a top priority for those newly addicted to riding “in the wind,” the new PCX will carry the same Combined Braking System (CBS) found on both the Elite and the SH. Linking front to rear, applying a little front-disc braking before rear-drum application for better control in potential adverse conditions and emergency situations. As is with traditional motorcycles, the right hand lever applies the front brake. The left-hand lever applies pressure to both the three-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 more refined system than found on the SH150i and Elite for better-balanced stopping power.
Safety is important, but what’s more important to an image-conscious youth market is the styling. Honda doesn’t disappoint, offering a newer approach to looking cool and attracting even some seasoned sportbike eyes. It’s less Euro (a la Vespa) upright and more Japanese maxi-scooter, but at 5/8ths scale.
The PCX is more bodywork-intensive than the SH, with a straddling centerline housing the fuel tank (versus a true step-through design) and a VFR-ish headlight housing and contour. It’s a looker from more than one angle and better suited for shorter riders. A two-level saddle, divided by a removable butt bumper, kept me at comfort’s edge after a 30-mile ride, bordering between a tight cockpit and roomy scoot.
Going the distance is often the most important of all factors when shopping for a scooter, and the PCX is sure to stretch the dollar for the cash-strapped buyer with a claimed 110-mpg fuel economy claim. Combine that with a 1.6-gallon tank, and there’s more than 170 miles of two-wheel fun to be had for less than five bucks. And the MSRP is comparably low as well, at just $3,399, keeping the payments nearly as low as your monthly fuel bills.
As a departure from the sorely missed underseat storage on the larger and more costly SH150i, the PCX has a 2.5-liter storage area big enough for to store a full-face helmet (as can the Elite) or a course-load of school books thanks to the center-mounted fuel tank, plus another 1.5-liters of storage on the knee guard as a non-locking glove box. There’s also a helmet hook under the saddle for more security options.
Honda offers more cargo options via a 2.3-liter top box for $120.95. Bringing a friend along for the ride is also possible and supported with the switchblade-type folding pegs we¹d seen on the Elite 110.
Also seen on the Elite is the magneto-secure ignition keyhole. As a theft deterrent, Honda has integrated a sliding keyhole cover that requires the operator’s key fob to open passage to the keyhole. Each bike is individually coded to unlock only the one unit.
In the end, Honda’s scooter portfolio is expanded nicely with the new PCX, offering sportier styling than the traditionally flavored Elite and SH150i. The PCX retails for just $400 more than the Elite 110, and it’s a whopping $1,100 cheaper than the SHi.
Picking which model suits your wallet and character is the hard part.
The 2011 PCX is scheduled to arrive at dealers in August in your choice of an ST1300-like red or a cop-bike-like white.