A little bit of everything. That’s the way Honda wants you to think about its Forza scooter. For those not needing the heft and power of the Silver Wing, but still want to scoot about with a little more gusto than the PCX150, the $5,599 Forza is Honda’s answer. Equipped with a 279cc liquid-cooled Single and plenty of storage space, the Forza is the ideal commuter. For a select few, it could even serve as a person’s only motorized vehicle. Let’s dig deeper into what makes it tick.
The first thing you notice when hopping aboard the Forza is the need to lift your leg over the center tunnel. A true step-through scooter design this is not, however it’s low 28.2-inch seat height is accessible by almost anyone. You sit long and low in the Forza, almost in cruiser-like fashion. The footwells extend and swoop towards the front tire, giving the rider the option to sit upright or kick their legs up like a recliner.
There’s a tradeoff for this relaxed seating position however – the ubiquitous grocery bag hook doesn’t exist on the Forza. Instead, you get two cubby holes just below the bars, the left one is huge, lockable and also features a convenient 12-volt power outlet for charging a device. Meanwhile, the right one is just the right size for holding a wallet and a set of keys.
Pull the rear brake lever (that’s the left one, by the way), thumb the starter, and the fuel-injected Single comes right to life. She purrs quietly, with hardly a vibration noticeable from either the hands or the eyes. The Forza is built with typical Honda quality.
Once on the go, the Forza will dust most cars off the line. However, fast or powerful are not words used to accurately describe the Forza. At 422 lbs, ready-to-ride, she’s a heavy girl, and that 279cc Single works hard to keep it moving. The CVT does a good job keeping the engine in its sweet spot, but really, the throttle is to the stop more often than it’s not. Power is metered well, however, with a really direct feel between the throttle hand and the rear tire.
The Forza feels at home cruising around town. While its stance may appear wide, it doesn’t feel as such behind the bars. Filtering through traffic is easy, and the top edge of the small flyscreen doesn’t obstruct the view of the road ahead. The 35mm fork up front provides 3.7 inches of travel, while the twin shocks in the rear give 3.8 inches of motion. Damping is suited to the demands of a commuter, meaning it does an admirable job, say, riding over an uneven manhole cover. Sharp, high-frequency jolts, however, are not the suspension’s forte – it bottoms quickly and transfers the jolt to its rider.
Should your day’s tasks require a hop on the freeway, the Forza is capable, though you’ll need to plan your moves carefully, as the Honda isn’t eager to accelerate after about 40 mph. Just the other day, I found myself in a slightly uphill drag race on a freeway onramp, challenging a Toyota Corolla. Despite pulling the throttle cables as far as it would go, I came out the loser in that battle. That said, on flat ground the Forza will eventually muster up 80 mph, its engine spinning 1000 rpm shy of its 9000 rpm redline. At these speeds, the Forza is a slightly different animal.
At 80 mph, bumps and road irregularities can overwhelm the meager suspension, as it again bottoms quickly and jolts the rider. Here too, the 120/70-14 front, 140/70-13 rear tires are seemingly drawn like a magnet to joints and grooves in the road, following them unless given a firm tug at the bars. Strangely, the Forza is prone to getting pushed around in its lane when faced with a crosswind. Lastly, the Forza comes equipped with linked brakes, which apply a bit too much front pressure when only using the rear. Still, what impressed most was, despite the engine being stressed to such high rpm, I couldn’t feel a vibe from the bars or floorboard.
Also impressive is the fuel mileage. When commuting around Southern California on the Forza, an aggressive rider is constantly WFO. Despite this, I’ve returned a best mpg figure of 62.0 (and worst of 59.3 mpg) from the 3.0-gallon tank. That’s short of Honda’s claim of 68 mpg, but my 80-mile commute twice a week includes sustained inclines – ones I never noticed before on more powerful machines!
And we can’t end a scooter review without talking under-seat storage. The Honda’s is quite cavernous, able to hold two helmets, though only one can be a full face, and it mustn’t have oddly-shaped vents or spoilers. In between the lids, there’s further space for other odds and ends.
When all is said and done, the Honda Forza is a competent city runabout. With a favorable seating position, lots of storage, good gas mileage and typical Honda quality, the Forza is a contender for someone shopping in this market. Were it mine, I’d want a slightly taller screen and a little more power. Then again, with competition in the form of the Kymco Downtown 300i, SYM Citycom 300i, Piaggio BV350 and Vespa GTS 300, the marketplace is stacked. Hmm, shootout, anyone?