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2014 Honda Forza Review

The not-so-little red scooter that could.

  •  2014 Honda Forza Review
  •  2014 Honda Forza Review
  •  2014 Honda Forza Review

Honda Forza (NSS300) 2014 at a glance

ENGINE: 279 cc SOHC liquid-cooled, four-valve single cylinder (25 hp, 19 lb/ft)
FUEL DELIVERY: PGM-FI with automatic enrichment
TRANSMISSION: Honda V-Matic continuously variable automatic transmission with belt drive final
SUSPENSION: Front 35 mm telescopic fork, 94 mm travel; rear twin shock, 96 mm travel
BRAKES: Front 256 mm disc with dual-piston caliper; rear 240 mm disc with single-piston caliper. Combined Braking System with ABS
TIRES: Front 120/70-14; rear 140/70-13
WHEELBASE: 1546 mm (60.9?)
SEAT HEIGHT: 716 mm (28.2?)
CURB WEIGHT: 194 kg (428 lb)
FUEL CAPACITY: 11.6 litres
FUEL ECONOMY: As tested 3.6L/100km
COLOURS: Silver Seal Metallic & Pure Red
PRICE: $5,899 as tested price, currently reduced $500 from $6,399 MSRP

Ah-ha!

I was detecting a note of interest, usually rare when riding a scooter.

And it was coming from all sides – from drivers, pedestrians and even, dare I suggest, from occasional passing motorcyclists.

The not-so-little red scooter was catching eyes and turning heads as I buzzed around town.

On one occasion, an e-bike rider did an apparent double take as he passed. He pulled over abruptly to park as I was saddling up.

Then he got off his bike, stood and watched intently as I pulled my helmet and jacket from under the seat, stowed my camera bag, and snapped and zipped into my gear before sliding onto the seat.

I thumbed the ignition and his eyes followed me as I pulled out into traffic and zoomed past at a clip he would never be able to copy on his e-bike.

Yeah, you could have cut the envy with a knife.

And I?m pretty sure that he made a mental note of the name on the scooter?s bright red flanks – Honda Forza – a 300 cc class maxi-scooter that blends enough varied ingredients to blur any clear-cut categories and performance distinctions.

Which makes this new-for-2014 machine, as Honda?s literature puts it, either a ?high function scooter or lightweight sport tourer, it’s hard to say for sure?.

On the one hand, you?ve got the classic scooter cues – step-through styling, a user-friendly low seat height and automatic drivetrain, handy underseat storage, nimble handling thanks to a low centre of gravity, and narrow design architecture that allows you to flit easily through urban squeezes and downtown traffic.

But, on the other hand, you also have a sophisticated fuel-injected engine with highway-capable power and actual two-up touring abilities, efficient combined ABS disc braking, full coverage fairing weather protection and a full suite of modern instrumentation and available accessories to bolster the Forza?s touring abilities.

More than one reviewer has labeled the Forza a ?Goldilocks scooter? because it?s not too big, not too small, but just right.

And with Euro-styled design flavour to fit the Forza name, it certainly has curb appeal.

On the initial walk-around, I couldn?t help but admire the rounded, twin-headlight front end that would fool more than one rider into thinking they were waving at a fellow sport biker.

The bulbous nose of the scooter flows into a profile with enough angularities to make things interesting, a sleek and streamlined attitude that looks fast even when it?s standing still. Finished with Honda?s usual impeccable attention to detail, I think the Forza looks best in red, a North American colour choice that is apparently the envy of blogging European customers.

As good as it looks, I was preoccupied with the Forza?s power and performance, especially since my first fifty kilometres home from Honda headquarters charts a course through Toronto?s busy 400-series highways. But the 279 cc single did not disappoint with enough snap off the line to surprise any four-wheel competition, even the occasional motorcycle.

So on ramping up to highway speed was do-able with even a little passing power left over. I tended to keep the speed up near 120 km/h because, as any herd member instinctively knows, it?s better to keep up with the pack rather than be picked off as a straggler.

At that speed, however, the engine is spinning at around 7,000 rpm plus, not far from the 9,000 rpm redline, while this midsize and still relatively lightweight scooter bobbles in the vortexes of buses and tractor-trailers. So, yeah, it?ll do highways if you need it to, but the Forza is more at home on urban streets and easy-paced 80 km/h country roads.

The Forza was slightly handicapped in its performance because I?m six-foot-three and, umm, about 220 lb, bigger than the average rider in this segment. Even so, the single-cylinder engine managed a 3.6L/100km fuel economy average under a variety of riding conditions.

The Forza even had enough chutzpah to inspire my wife Mary to come along for a two-up trip to the markets of Toronto. And, with the cargo space stuffed with groceries, and two passengers on board slogging through downtown traffic, the Forza seemed barely affected, still returning a respectable 3.8L/100km.

This is where a scooter shines with easy low speed handling, traffic-dodging nimbleness and park-anywhere adaptability.

An ignition key setting allows button-operation of the fuel flap, seat release and/or locking glovebox at the driver?s left knee. That compartment is deep enough to swallow a water bottle and also features a 12V outlet for device charging. A smaller non-locking compartment on the right side is handy for temporary pocket junk storage.

Two full-face helmets will fit under the seat if you read the owner?s manual and find out how to position them just so, and there?s another helmet lock to hang your hat outside the seat if the cargo area is full of other stuff.

The cockpit features a surprisingly traditional, four metre analog instrument layout with, from left, fuel gauge, speedo, tach and temperature gauges. A blue-lit circular readout in centre shows a clock, dual trip metres and fuel economy estimates. Seating is comfortable – narrow up front where it needs to be and wide enough for both rider and passenger.

The 2014 Honda Forza currently lists for $5,899, after a $500 price cut of the $6,399 MSRP.

Some comparable prices to consider include the smaller 2013 Honda PCX150 (sale-priced at $2,999) along with the larger 395 cc 2014 Yamaha Majesty ($7,499) and 400 cc 2014 Suzuki Burgman 400 ABS ($7,999).

Honda shoppers should also consider topping out the Forza?s abilities from a short accessory list with the taller windshield ($239.95) and a 35 litre top box ($299.95) with base kit ($179.95).

With maxi-scooter utility, middleweight engine power, nimble handling and a user-friendly riding characteristics, the 2014 Honda Forza offers a new and different way of getting around. And having fun while doing it.

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