photography by the author and Ken Lee
[This 2010 Honda Elite NHX110 Road Test was originally published in the October 2009 issue of Rider magazine]
The Elite NHX110 is one of two new scooters brought to you by Honda that bridges the wide displacement gap between its 49cc Metropolitan and Ruckus models and the 582cc Silver Wing. And how does zipping around town on a vehicle that gets more than 100 mpg sound to you? Zipping around town on the new scoot is just what we did for the 110 Honda’s introduction. Instead of the usual “follow-the-leader” sort of motorcycle ride, Honda set up a poker run. We were given nifty cloth maps of the Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica areas and let loose on the streets of L.A. to collect poker cards from four locales. “Take creative shots of you or the Elite around town,” we were told as digital cameras were passed around. For extra credit, we were to find the original American Honda headquarters (opened in 1959) and take a picture of the scooter in front of it.
The single-cylinder Elite started up instantly and had an idle that was barely perceptible (wow, was it running…?), and underway, it was smooth as silk. Despite its compact size and nonthreatening look, the Elite is capable of cruising down the boulevards at 50-plus mph. In California it does not meet the 150cc displacement minimum for riding legally on the freeway, so all our riding was done on surface streets. At least my riding was; one journalist somehow ended up on the freeway…. The cockpit is small, but the ergonomics are good for a small-displacement scooter and I had no problem fitting my 5-foot, 10-inch frame in; taller riders may have legroom issues. My arms were placed in close to my body, which is great for leverage and quick steering, which the Elite does superbly. The rider’s seat, which is just a tad over 29 inches, is thick and comfy, and the passenger’s seat is relatively wide.
The Elite’s relaxed nature made me feel relaxed as well. It took me an hour and a half to go just nine miles to pick up my first poker card at Honda of Hollywood, one of Honda’s first U.S. motorcycle dealers. I was stopping frequently to take pictures, and the Elite’s claimed 254-pound curb weight (ready to ride) made it a breeze to pop up on the centerstand (good thing, as it has no sidestand). I took that scoot in places I wouldn’t dream of taking a motorcycle—like parking it on a sidewalk, even briefly riding on the sidewalk when I was trying to pose it in front of some cool storefront or statue. (Hey, I could always blame Honda…this was my assignment.) And people were forgiving. They just looked at the Elite and smiled, some claiming it was “cute,” one guy even gushing over it saying he wanted to get one. I gave him the address of Honda of Hollywood and then told him to ask if a poker card came with the purchase, and if it was a better card than mine maybe he wouldn’t mind trading….
This 108cc liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, four-stroke is more than cute; it’s a practical and fun way to travel through urban traffic, cruise around a rural town or run errands. The little scooter was nimble and light, with a surprisingly peppy motor, and the combination is perfect for easily maneuvering in, out of and around traffic, and squeezing through it as well. Lane splitting in California is legal, and the light and narrow Elite is the easiest motorized vehicle I’ve ever navigated through traffic. The biggest advantage to the Elite, I found in Los Angeles traffic, is that I could shimmy between the stopped four-wheeled crowd at red lights, get to the front of the pack and peel away when the light turned green. OK, not so much “peel” as “hustle” away from red lights. I twisted the throttle and it out-accelerated every car (except for a red Ferrari with a driver who was apparently trying to race me) when I took off. Twist the throttle and the V-Matic belt system transfers power to the real wheel instantly.
The Elite’s suspension got a good workout since L.A.’s surface streets are largely full of potholes; cavernous mystery spots; and slick, resurfaced patches. Needless to say, the ride was bumpy. The 33mm hydraulic fork and single hydraulic shock soaked up the smooth surfaces just fine, and the small tires— a 90/90-12 front and 100/90-10 rear—are well suited for the 108cc scooter. But when the tires rolled over pavement irregularities, the scoot wandered off course a little. The stalk-mounted mirrors showed a good rear view, and the basic gauges were easy to read and provided the necessary information. Our test ride was just the one day so we couldn’t verify Honda’s 100-mpg claim on the 1.6-gallon tank, but based on the fuel gauge and miles I put on the Elite, that claim doesn’t seem too far off.
The Elite’s one-piece seat swings open to the front revealing spacious underseat storage capacity (Honda claims 35 liters). It’s convenient to just drop stuff in without having to unzip a bag or mess with bungee cords. I arrived at the intro wearing textile riding pants over my jeans and when temps soared, I started peeling off layers and storing them. In addition to the textile pants, a sweatshirt and eventually my backpack fit in nicely under the seat. To verify that it would hold a helmet, I pulled everything out and placed my full-face Arai on its side, fit in my textile pants and still had room to spare. The Elite also sports two underseat helmet locks which you can use to hang your helmets by the D-rings. Lock your jackets under the seat, and voilà, you can roam around burden-free of riding gear. And there is lots more storage potential with the optional 27-liter top box ($143.95). Honda also offers a windscreen for $189.95. If you still need more room, you can attach stuff to the included aluminum luggage rack. Wait, there’s more: lockable storage pockets in front. Our test unit included a toolkit with just a Phillips screwdriver; how’s that for simplicity? As someone who is rarely empty-handed, I like that this little scooter has lots of places to carry stuff.
The Elite’s brakes work very well to bring the scooter to a quick stop. With Honda’s Combined Braking System, when you pull in the Elite’s (and Honda’s other new scooter, the SH150i as well) right brake lever, the 190mm front disc brake with hydraulic dual-piston caliper is activated, and when you pull in the left brake lever (where a motorcycle’s clutch lever is usually located), the rear 130mm drum also activates the front disc. The Elite also has a trick theft deterrent: A metal plate slides over the key entry and to re-open it, you need to use the magnetized key fob. Each Elite is individually coded to unlock just the one unit.
I didn’t do too well with my poker hand but no matter; I did have a good time darting around Los Angeles on the Elite. I even found the original Honda building, which is now an acupuncture facility, and parked the scoot on the sidewalk in front to get the photo. I wonder what the people at the acupuncture facility were wondering as they must have witnessed a dozen riders doing the same thing….
We were mightily impressed with the Elite NHX110 as it is a fun, lightweight machine to get around town on. We liked its quick response, quiet and smooth engine, all that storage space and the way you can easily move through traffic. The reasonable $2,999 price gets you Honda reliability along with a one-year, unlimited-mileage warranty.
2010 Honda Elite NHX110 Specifications
Base Price: $2,999
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, single-cylinder four-stroke
Bore x Stroke: 50mm x 55mm
Final Drive: Honda V-Matic belt-converter
Wheelbase: 50.2 in.
Rake/Trail: 26.5 degrees/2.9 in.
Seat Height: 29.1 in.
Claimed Curb Weight: 254 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 1.6 gals.
Average mpg: Claimed 100
Colors: Red or black