Honda, which put a whole generation of the nicest people onto two wheels with the legendary C50 Cub in the 1960s, has released the latest in its line of contemporary scooters - the crisply-styled PCX150 - in South Africa, at a price that will have the importers of Chinese disposables looking nervously over their shoulders.
Developed from the PCX125, for several years Europe's top selling scooter, it has an extensively revised engine designed for quieter, more efficient running.
The 153cc flat single has only one camshaft and two valves to keep the head as compact as possible and the bore is offset to reduce friction between the piston and cylinder wall.
The piston itself has been lightened by computer-aided analysis, and a shell-type needle bearing is used for the rocker arm shaft; reducing friction.
A more efficient radiator core allows the use of a smaller, lighter cooling fan, while frictional losses in the transmission have been reduced by about 20 percent thanks to specially designed bearings.
The inlet port is highly polished for smooth gas flow, and an auto decompression mechanism enables quick, quiet starting - which is more important than it sounds, because the PCX150 is the first scooter on the South African market with an idle-stop function.
If the bike idles for longer than three seconds, the engine shuts down, and restarts instantly as soon as you twist the throttle. The idle-stop function can be disabled, however, by a switch on the right handlebar, but with it Honda claims an impressive average fuel consumption of 2.2 litres per 100km - a figure we'll treat with caution until we've ridden one.
RELAXED STEERING GEOMETRY
Wheelbase is a longish - for a scooter - 1315mm and seat height is correspondingly low at 761mm, while its relaxed steering geometry and 14" wheels lend a measure of stability to a single-speeder that'll turn round, feet up, in a driveway only four metres wide.
In true Honda tradition, the brakes are very complicated, with the left handlebar lever operating the 130mm single leading shoe rear drum brake and the centre piston of the three-pot floating calliper on the 220mm front disc brake, while the outer two pistons are modulated by the right handlebar lever.
(Honda, BMW and Moto Guzzi, the leading proponents of linked motorcycle brakes, have all learned the hard way that the front brake must always be just that, a front brake only.)
Complete instrumentation - including a speedometer, a fuel is contained in a single, central gauge pod; the lockable storage compartment under the seat will swallow a full face helmet, and there's a smaller compartment for keys, sunglasses, etc, inside the legshield.
A rear carrier is standard issue, which can support a 26-litre topbox (available as an optional extra, along with a screen).
The Honda PCX comes in your choice of pearl white, metallic silver, metallic blue, red or black for R22 900; an extra R3090 will get the Highwayman version, with screen and top box fitted.
Engine: 153cc liquid-cooled four-strike single.
Bore x stroke: 58 x 57.9mm.
Compression ratio: 10.6:1.
Valvegear: SOHC with two overhead valves per cylinder.
Power: 10kW at 8500rpm.
Torque: 14Nm at 5250.
Induction: PGM-FI electronic fuel-injection with one 26mm throttle body.
Ignition: Fully transistorised electronic.
Clutch: Automatic centrifugal dry clutch.
Transmission: constantly variable belt drive.
Front Suspension: 31mm conventional cartridge forks.
Rear suspension: Dual hydraulic shock absorbers adjustable for preload.
Front brake: 220mm disc with three-piston 'combined' floating calliper.
Rear brake: 130mm single-leading shoe drum brake.
Front tyre: 90/90 - 14 tubeless.
Rear tyre: 100/90 - 14 tubeless.
Seat height: 761mm.
Kerb weight: 129kg.
Fuel tank: 5.9 litres.
Price: R22 900.