Honda 50cc Scooters Are Worth A Closer Look
The variety of body styles ranging from "classic" looking scooters to basic transportation to superbike wannabe to commuter specials to Highway cruiser is astounding and unmatched by any other manufacturer. While most of the scooters use the same two stroke motor, there are exceptions. The Crea, Metropolitan, Zoomer and the Fusion 50 shown at the top of this page have four stroke motors. This is pretty well the future of Hondas 50cc scooters as this motor will continue to replace the two stroke throughout the 50cc range. Its not Hondas first 50cc scooter motor as there was a CH50 scooter produced back in the 80s.
For North America, Honda imports the new 50cc four stroke Metropolitan/Jazz, The stripped down Zoomer , the 80cc Elite the 250cc Reflex and the new 600cc Silverwing scooters. Canadians only get the 50cc Jazz and Zoomer for now although Honda keeps promising the 250cc and larger scooters. A little cross border shopping should get you any of the larger Honda scooters.
While the above list makes up the official imports, I received an e-mail from Hawaii showing a Dio ZX with 80 cc kit, big bore carb and expansion chamber. If you're ever in Hawaii check out their moped shops as they are probably the Honda scooter performance mecca of North America. 110 cc watercooled cylinder, front disc brake conversion and 28 mm carburetor availiable will take you motoring far faster than any 50 cc scooter has a right to go. They also may be able to locate/import the ZX model.
You want more power? That can be arranged. Go to Taffspeed Racing's web site and visit the tuning page to figure whether to double, triple or quadruple power and what you'll need. Terry at Taffspeed has been an incredible help in helping me sort out what parts I needed (Honda Elites aren't listed in any catalogues). The Taffspeed site also has a lot of information on the different types of 50cc automatics as well as practical information on how they work and what parts can be modified. I also have a site with the names of shops selling 50cc Performance parts.
Take a trip to Italy to see the catalogues and application charts of high performance "big bore" cylinder kits and exhausts . Interested in going all out? VT cycle in Hawaii has some exotic performance kits for those extremists who want maximum performance.
For a road test from a Canadian Perspective or simply a quick chuckle, you may want to read Canadian Motorcycle Guide'scomparison test between a Honda Dio and a Yamaha BWS. More performance goodies are listed for the Yamaha than the Honda which may also be a consideration in choosing a model of scooter.
The tricky part is getting any scooter past the local border with a minimum of hassle. Canadians can peruse the Transport Canada website if thinking of importing a scoot. Importing a scooter from the USA is easier~ check out this site. If you are a Canadian then you might also want to contact Atlas motorcycles in Vancouver, BC who import used Japanese bikes. If you are not from Canada, then you have a bit of searching to do as I can guarantee your country will probably have some legislation of its own to try and make life difficult for you. If I lived in the USA I'd try Cycle Import/Export as they have quite a few bikes shown that are domestic Japanese market only so they must bring containers in from Japan. They have what looks like Polini kits to hop up your Honda for more power too. If you wanted to import a new Honda, Europe is a possibility as well. With the increase in border security recently all shipments are being scrutinized closely so make sure you have the paperwork ready. I've heard tales of just parts being denied entry as they weren't stamped with a DOT approval stamp so you can imagine how depressing it would be to import a scooter only knowing that you had to pay to export it again as it wasn't allowed entry.
I picked up a 1990 Honda Elite LX 50cc in march of 1999 for $150. The scooter showed only 7000 km but also had a main bearing that had exploded and sent metal pieces to the combustion chamber. The piston and cylinder had been scored severely and needed replacing in any case so the cost of performance parts was offset by the fact I would have had to buy the same factory pieces . An interesting note is that Honda does not list oversize pistons for all their scooters and I would have had to replace the cylinder instead of just boring it out. My experience with rebuilding the Honda can be seen on the Elite page as well as a current 50cc project at this site.
In October 1999 I picked up a Honda Aero 80cc scooter which carries two and is capable of highway (slow lane) speeds. Chronicles of this other work in progress can be seen at the Aero page.
I've also put up a page concerning the older Honda Elite 125/150/250 scooters for those who prefer quiet 4 stroke motors although the site includes tips for those who like their scooters with a little more snarl.
Mark Harris contributes and publishes news editorial to http://www.the-scooters-report.com.
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