While they’re not exactly a common sight in the UK, mid-capacity scooters like the Honda Forza 300 and Yamaha XMAX 300 are big sellers on the continent.
These premium scoots are a practical solution to commuting, with more oomph than a 125 and far less dollars than the big TMAX style maxi-scooters which can cost upwards of £10,000.
The £5099 Forza 300 has been significantly updated for 2018 and we were able to put the new model through its paces in a week long test that included everything from day-to-day commuting, some A road fun and even a 200 mile motorway journey.
While the Forza, or NSS300 as it is also known, may not be a natural touring bike, the single cylinder, 279cc, motor’s near 25bhp has enough legs to more than keep up on dual carriageways and the motorway. Top speed is somewhere around 90mph and although acceleration gets a little bit flat after 60mph, the performance certainly exceeded my expectation.
It’s comfy too. The saddle is generously padded and the electrically operation screen, although possibly a little low for taller riders even at its highest setting, provided me with decent weather protection and, of course, being a scooter there’s plenty of bodywork to keep the inclement weather off the legs. With a range of over 200 miles before needing to refuel you could actually do London to Edinburgh with a single stop, and arrive feeling as fresh as a daisy.
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Of course, most who buy the Forza will be looking for a practical commuter, and the 300 ticks all the boxes. It’s cheap to run and I actually found Honda’s official fuel consumption figure of 73mpg to be a little pessimistic, as my own figures were closer to 80mpg – despite spending quite a bit of time at full throttle.
Honda has been smashing the 125cc scooter market in recent years, with its PCX125 usually at the top of the overall sales figures and the more premium Forza 125 not too far behind.
The latest Forza 300 now shares its chassis with the 125 and anyone who has ridden the older 300 will instantly feel that the new bike feels way sharper and more agile than its predecessor. Honda say the latest bike, weighing in at 182kg fuelled up, is 12kg lighter than the bike it replaces. It certainly feels it. Indeed, if I was to have a gripe about the Forza then it is that it feels a bit too light on the front end. You get used to it soon enough, but the steering can feel a little vague at low speeds, even when riding solo.
Being a ‘premium’ scooter, the Italian built Forza is packed with high end tech. The headline news is the addition of traction control (or Honda Selectable Torque Control in Honda speak) for the first time on a Honda scooter. While the traction control (which can be switched off) might seem excessive on a 25bhp scoot, it actually makes perfect sense on a bike that has been designed to be ridden in all kind of weather conditions, often by riders who are not experienced motorcyclists. With so little power on tap, it’s pretty rare to actually invoke the system, but being deliberately ham fisted on damp roads saw it kick in fairly unobtrusively.
Much like its main competition from Yamaha, the Forza has something of a car-like feel to its instrumentation, hardly surprising when many users will be city commuters who also own premium car brands. Two-wheeled Honda Civic springs to mind, and that’s a complement. There are a multitude of options on the dash, and you can select various fuel consumption readouts and odometers. You’ve also got an ambient temperature gauge and clock. Big shout out too for the magnificent mirrors, which are bombastically brilliant. It might seem a small thing, but they’re big and easy to adjust. Bravo!
Underseat storage is huge, with space for two full-faced helmets (or several bags of shopping), while there are four different top boxes available as options – with sizes ranging from 35 to 48 litres in capacity. Other options include a taller windscreen and heated grips. There’s also a locking glove box with enough space for a bottle of water and a mobile phone. There’s also a 12 volt power socket in there, which allows you to charge your device using a cigarette style adapter.
The ignition and locks are controlled by a keyless system, another car style touch that’s a bit of an unnecessary gimmick in my opinion. The knob to start the bike, engage the steering lock and operate the seat and fuel cap release becomes active when the fob is in proximity of the bike. It works, but I personally struggle to see the benefit of the system over an old fashioned mechanical key.
Based on our experience with the Forza, and having previously spent some time with the XMAX 300, it would be no surprise to see more and more of these 300s on the road in coming years. Their physical size means that they’re as agile as a 125 in most situations, but are almost on a par with the 400s when it comes to spec and performance. Sure, they need a full (A2) licence to ride, unlike 125s (which can be ridden on an A1 licence, or even L plates with a CBT) but the higher versatility makes them well worth consideration for riders doing decent miles, or for whom dual carriageways are a part of the daily routine.
In many ways there are no surprises with the Forza 300. It’s a Honda, which means that it’s well built, easy to ride, and there’s a dealership in pretty much every town in the country.
I found it hard to love the Forza 300 but I really, really liked it. It does what it says on the tin, but actually does have a few surprises up its sleeve. The Forza 300 will impress you with its peppy performance and ability to put a smile on your face, even if the chassis doesn’t quite feel as sharp as that of the Yamaha XMAX. Where its predecessor was a little dull, the 2018 model is lively and fun to ride. And even if ‘fun’ isn’t a quality you value too much in your commuter scooter, that added liveliness comes up trumps when you’re trying to navigate your way through the congested inner city jungle.
It’s no wonder you see so many of these in Paris and Milan. Maybe one day the British public will feel the same about these mid-range scoots.
We should do, because scooters like the Forza 300 can be a great way to reduce congestion and save money for many commuters.
Honda Forza 300 – technical specifications
|Type||Four-stroke, four-valve liquid-cooled|
|Bore and stroke||72mm x 68.5|
|Maximum power output||24.8bhp @ 7,000 rpm|
|Maximum torque||27.2 Nm @ 5,750 rpm|
|Oil capacity||1.7 litres|
|Fuel tank capacity||11.5 litres|
|Battery capacity||12V-8.6 AH|
|ACG output||340 W @ r/min|
|Clutch type||Automatic centrifugal clutch; dry type|
|Type||Underbone type; steel|
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||2140mm x 755mm x 1470mm|
|Front||33mm telescopic fork|
|Front Rim Size||15”|
|Rear Rim Size||14”|
|ABS system||Two channel|
|Front||256mm, single disc|
|Rear||240mm, single disc|