Honda develops a more fuel-efficient scooter
To be produced in Italy, the new models feature a new internal combustion engine architecture which offers quite remarkable fuel economy
Rapid economic development around the world in recent years has seen the bicycle increase its lead as the most prolific form of transport, with the motorcycle quickly catching the automobile for second place. Interestingly, only one country (China) has so far seen the wisdom of the electric two-wheeler, with more than 25 million electric two-wheelers produced in 2011.
Honda still dominates motorcycle sales in the remainder of the globe, and appears to be concentrating on continuing to develop the internal combustion engine as the primary motive force for its scooters and commuter machinery.
Today the Japanese giant has announced new SH125i and SH150i scooter models to go on sale in Europe later this year. To be produced in Italy, the new models feature a new internal combustion engine architecture dubbed eSP (enhanced Smart Power), which uses a stop-start micro hybrid system and a range of low friction technologies to offer quite remarkable fuel economy: 47.4km/litre for the 125cc and 43.8km/litre for 150cc (based on the Worldwide harmonized Motorcycle emission Test Cycle).
If you need that translated into a more familiar measure, the new SH125i's 47.4 km/liter equates to an imperial 133.9 miles per gallon or 111.5 miles per gallon in the United States, while the SH150i's 43.8 km/liter is 123.7 mpg (UK) or 103.0 mpg (US).
Details of the new SH-series scooters are thin at this stage, but they will be lighter than previous models with a new frame, a flat floor, 16-inch wheels, and ABS (anti-lock braking makes a huge difference for inexperienced riders on wet roads).
One other significant first is that the under seat storage area on the new SH models has been increased to accept a full-face helmet - a major drawback with most scooters currently in the marketplace is that the underseat storage area has been designed to accept only open-face helmets.
Though the internal combustion engine of the Honda SH models will never be as cheap to run as an electric scooter, the rest of the world is yet to vote with its wallet for two-wheeled electric power and Honda is likely to continue to develop the internal combustion engine for the massive Asian scooter market for the forseeable future.
In particular, Honda is now finally beginning to get some traction in the Indian market where its former partner, Hero, sells more than five million scooters a year.
About the Author
Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks.
All articles by Mike Hanlon
These two comments look like good reasons not to ride motorcycles.
I wonder how the cost compares with electric bikes.
Make a trike like it, and I'll buy one. I'm done with two wheelers. Seriously, one bout with gravel can ruin your life - or end it.
That is what protective clothing is for, but most people forgo the safety in favour of comfort and then they complain when they need dozens of skin grafts to fix the damage after a good fall. I'm one of the guilty ones thankfully I haven't lost any skin but broken bones are uncomfortable too.
Two wheels are generally more dangerous than four, so one should take precautions like wearing protective clothing, and of course a helmet. The body is quite fragile compared to iron... (Or gravel..)
Our neighbours son recently found himself in the middle of a small wheat field when he had been looking the wrong way for a moment. Luckily there were only a few bruises, but his mother said he sat quietly in the sofa for several hours, contemplating what had gone wrong..
The article states this a "new" technology, but it seems to be the same used in the Honda PCX 125 which has been on the market at least a couple of years now. The PCX also boost a low-friction engine, and a consumption at the same low level. Honda states the PCX should be able to use just 0.2 L pr 10 km. It even has a start/stop system.
Honda already have (or had, if its not still in production) a small motorbike called the C90 which was capable of nearly as good fuel economy as these new scooters- and that has been (or was) in production for decades, and was the transport of choice in South East Asia, where it was not uncommon to see an entire family riding one, or otherwise weighed down with pig carcasses on the way to market. Incredibly tough, capable and reliable machines if never remotely stylish.
Safety notwithstanding, we need vehicles we can stop at the store and pick up stuff with, carry more than 1 person, and use when it's pouring down rain or snowing. Every time I pencil out the costs, it just doesn't make (economic) sense to buy a motorcycle/scooter/moped. Besides, I don't want to have to suit up like I'm going to the moon just to go to work.
Old J Hawthorne
I will second Happi in looking for a trike, preferably a "tadpole" (2-wheels in front) design. There should be ample demand for a stable platformed urban transport; many of us just need steady transport.
There is some advantage because 3-wheeler drivers are exempt from requiring a motorcycle driver's licence, making the transition easier for those opting out of their ever more-expensive cars.
Never as cheap as electric?!
Show me your maths on that statement.
Considering the higher initial costs of electric v gasoline/petrol ICE: someone did a study a couple years ago, and as I recall, the break-even point was at about 8 years- at which point you've got a well-worn 8-year old ICE scooter to trade in, vs an electric that probably needs a fresh battery pack.
I'm not seeing the savings even yet, because with the increase of fuel this year has come an increase in electric utility rates.
I used to get 145mpg from my 89cc Honda C90 (Australian spec') as regularly as clockwork. This was commuting 16.5 miles each way to work going across the city. Being a little more gentle on the throttle gave me 150mpg. For some reason when I converted to 12V the economy dropped to 135mpg. It dropped further touring the UK with six full panniers. A replacement engine (UK spec' - the 89cc sump plug fell out) got 110mpg over a 300 mile hilly loop two-up with full luggage.
My point is that twenty five years later the same fuel economy (yes, bigger engine but is it increased functionality?) is being touted as an advance. Diesel hybrids offer serious extra economy (eCycle via Gizmag - I think - some time back, for instance).
I agree with Bergamot69 and Gerry. Despite all the so-called advances and 'friction-saving' technologies, we don't seem to have progressed very far from the old C90 and C110 Hondas...
Nice to see Honda making a scooter that doesn't look like a barcalounger. Short, quick - that's the trick.
My Aprilia 250 Sportcity gets 75mpg around town and 100mpg runing 55-65mph on the open road AND goes like stink..........
I've been riding EV MC's in the US for 15 yrs now and laughing all the way to the bank ;^P
As for economics my Harley Service-car size EV trike costs about $3/wk for in order of costs, tag, battery, tires, electricity. It gets 600mpg equivalent cost wise and 300-1000mpge energy wise depending on energy source with solar/wind as most eff.
It's just a MC front/frame with an electric transaxle from one of the many electripeople hualers like small E truck , NEV's, etc. If you only need 45 mph then golf cart transaxles can easily be hotrodded with double voltage and VW Rabbit, trailer rims bolt right up.
I like these as economical, extremely robust and eff, long lived, my transaxle is 45 yrs old and no work needed. I made a wood/epoxy frame for mine because I like it but welding a MC frame to a golfcart seat front gives you 3 seats or cargo area. Use 6 12v true deep cycle lead batteries, no more than $100 each, and you have reliable almost free fuel vehicle even when oil gets unavailable by someone's war, etc or just too expensive.
I use mine to hit Lowes for lumber/ply by towing my trailer ot towing my 14' sailboat really freaks people out. And it tows things easily with E drive and why every train is electric now, including diesel ones.
In 5 yrs gasoline/etc will be $10/gal as it goes up 2x's, down 1x again and again.
I too had a C-90 trail monotube Honda but never measured the fuel because the amount was so small and gas was $.26/gal then!
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