2013 Honda PCX150: City Slicker

Text: Michelle Baird • Photography: Alfonse Palaima

Scooters are great for urban rides, so I borrowed Honda’s 2013 PCX150 for a day. Starting at California’s Huntington Beach Honda, I take the long way to the Lyon Air Museum near John Wayne Airport, stop for lunch at Memphis Soul Café in Costa Mesa, and then take the freeway back.

The 2013 PCX has an updated, more powerful 153cc engine, which is now freeway capable. The single-cylinder, four-stroke engine in the new PCX is not just a bored-out iteration of the 2011 125cc version. It was totally reworked to run cooler and more efficiently. However, the additional 28cc on the PCX didn’t change its exceptional fuel efficiency much–it gets about 102 mpg (the 2011 model squeezed out around 110 mpg), so it will run for about 160 miles on its 1.6-gallon tank.

At 286 pounds, the new scooter is six pounds heavier, and the rear suspension has more travel (3.1 inches compared to 2.9). The seat is more cushioned. The PCX has distinctive Honda-sporty looks and appears similar to the CBR 250 R from the front. Nimble is an understatement, and it zooms around corners easily with its motorcycle-style bars. Stopping is handled by Honda’s Combined Braking System (CBS), which unites the front 220mm disc and the rear drum brakes. The right lever does front braking like normal. The left lever activates both front and rear but not precisely at the same time. A spring mechanism delays the activation of the front, minimizing the risk of front-tire lock up.

While most full-face helmets can fit inside the 25-liter under-seat storage, my modular helmet doesn’t, so at the Lyon Air Museum I use the hook-and-loop helmet lock. After taking in the impressive collection of rare machines, including old Indian motorcycles, DC-3 and B-17 aircraft, and some of Steve McQueen’s bikes, I head over to Memphis Soul Café for gumbo and Zuni frybread. I stow the leftovers in the storage compartment.

The PCX150 has roomy floorboards, even for taller riders. A centerstand and a parking brake means it can be left on hills or in the tightest of spots. A locking front compartment is handy for expensive gadgets, and if you take the key fob and twist over the ignition, a cover appears over the keyhole to discourage would-be thieves.

On the freeway back, the scoot did not disappoint. Many scooters have wheels that look like they came off a Tonka toy, but the PCX has 14-inchers that add to its freeway confidence. It has excellent stability even at 70 mph, although it takes a bit of patience to get to that speed if you are used to bigger bikes.

The PCX150 meets current California Air Resources Board (CARB) and EPA standards, and a 35-liter top box is coming soon, which will surely accommodate a modular helmet. Despite all the upgrades the PCX received, the MSRP only increased by $ 50 (now $ 3,449). This scooter is available in Candy Red and Metallic Black. True, it can’t go as fast as a “real” motorcycle, but what’s the hurry anyway? The journey is the best part.