First Ride: 2011 Honda PCX

Sporty four-stroke scooter targets youth.

2011 Honda PCX - First Ride

2011 Honda PCX - First Ride

From a head-on full frontal view, Honda’s new-for-2011 PCX scooter can be easily mistaken for a pint-sized sportbike. While that fun visual trick may make an approaching PCX rider look like an adult straddling a Shetland pony or, better yet, a street-legal NSR125, the PCX is in fact a roomy midsize scooter, packing solid performance and fresh styling. Big Red has targeted a younger audience with the $3399 PCX, pricing the 125cc liquid-cooled four-stroke $1100 below that of its own retro-styled SH150i.

As the first 2011 model-year rollout for American Honda, the all-new PCX made its splash with moto-scribes gathered at a recent intro staged in Manhattan Beach, California. I saddled up and rocked the PCX off its centerstand with little effort and found its novice-friendly 29.9-inch seat height allows firm footing at stops. A thumb of the starter button brings the engine to life with all the complexity of flicking on a light switch. Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI) with automatic enrichment makes for a smooth and quiet idle on cold startups and delivers ultra-fluid forward motion as power is applied through the Honda V-Matic automatic transmission. With no hand clutch or foot shifter for a rider to fuss with, the PCX’s twist-and-go operation is very intuitive even for a total newbie such as the wobbler riding Allie two-up on a scooter in a recent episode of “The Bachelorette” reality TV show; um, don’t ask!

For me, the PCX's handling proved very light, yet its stability was competent, aided by 14-inch wheels that are larger than what's typical for scooters in this one's class. Along a level stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway, I counted up to "15 potato" in my head while accelerating from a standstill to an indicated top speed of 56 mph. Slowing the 280-pound machine (with a full fuel load) is handled by a combined braking system that links the rear drum to a 220mm single front disc. The front brake allows independent operation, while squeezing the hand lever for the rear also smoothly applies CBS action at the front.

I experienced the full benefit of the nimble PCX while squirting about on surface streets exploring the beach town. Resting on the sidestand while parked on a steep incline proved the worth of the parking brake, which is cleverly set via a pull knob. Another luxury feature is the two-way rocker toggle that pops open the locking seat and gas filler access door. The 25-liter underseat storage area can swallow a full-face helmet and jacket, and there’s also the added convenience of a glove box in the dash.

Fun, convenient, fuel-efficient transportation in an inspiring, sporty wrap is what the PCX package delivers. Its 1.6-gallon fuel capacity and claimed 110-mpg estimated fuel economy give Gen-X 176 good reasons to jump on the PC bandwagon with a green mode of transpo.

2011 Honda PCX 014

2011 Honda PCX 013

2011 Honda PCX 012

2011 Honda PCX 011

2011 Honda PCX 010

2011 Honda PCX 009

2011 Honda PCX 008

2011 Honda PCX 007

2011 Honda PCX 006

2011 Honda PCX 005

2011 Honda PCX 004

2011 Honda PCX 003

2011 Honda PCX 002

2011 Honda PCX 001