I got a Honda Plus Card when I bought the AT, meaning that on top of an extended warranty and a 20% discount on accessories, I also have free use of a replacement motorbike each time I took mine to the garage.
When I took the AT for her first service, predictably, the replacement “motorbike” was a scooter. At least it was a 300cc one, so I could still ride to work without much trouble.
Even though I have no love for such contraptions, the scooter in question was not one to snigger at. The Honda Scoopy SH, both the 125 and the 300cc version, is one of the all-time best sellers in Barcelona, ranking high in the sales lists year after year and swarming the streets of the city in the thousands. As a consequence, it also holds the more dubious honour of being the most stolen vehicle, but that is a different story. With such credentials, I must admit that I was curious to see what was all about.
Finished in matte dark grey, the SH300 looks understated but undeniably classy, and sports a gadget that I found very practical: keyless start. As long as you have the keys on you, you simple walk to the scooter, press a knob located where the key hole normally is and when it lights up in blue, turn it to unlock and then start the bike. There is a position before that to unlock the button next to it to lift the seat.
Fit and finish is up to the standards one would expect from a brand like Honda, and other nice touches include a full LED headlight that proved to be surprisingly effective at night.
The only let downs were the lack of illumination under the seat, the absence of a 12V or USB socket and the usual gripe with lack of space for my helmet.
The engine is very smooth and there is no lack of acceleration to get away from the rest of traffic at the lights, it feels more nimble and eager to gain speed in the city than the other 300cc scooter I have tried, the Kawasaki J300. On the motorway, however, the Kawa maintained speed with more ease. The suspension is rather comfortable, but short travel means it still crashes over the bigger potholes and irregularities and a good turning radius and very low centre of gravity make it a doodle to move both in traffic and when stopped.
On the whole, I was surprised at how competent this scooter is. It is does what it says on the tin effectively, with absolutely no fuss and using very little fuel in the process (I averaged 78mpg on my usual commute). Being a Honda, I can assume that maintenance is low and reliability excellent, so I can hardly think of a better tool for getting round in the city.
I would not use a scooter to get anywhere that required riding at more than 80 km/h. Wind protection is poor and the sitting-on-the-toilet riding position gets very tiring fast with wind hitting the chest hard. The handlebars are too close to the body for my liking and the general position feels too cramped after 20 minutes on it. That said, if I had the money and I did not have to ride outside Barcelona I might consider one. The problem is that they are expensive to replace each time they get stolen…