2010 Honda Elite 110

Text: Ken Freund • Photography: Ken Freund, Honda

Times are tough and money's tight. You need to get to work or school and run errands. Choice A is to spend three grand on a beat-up, gas-guzzling car that's long out of warranty, and will probably break down at the worst possible moment in rush-hour traffic. Choice B is to buy a brand new gas-sippin' scooter that comes with a warranty, and you can park anywhere. For the sensible Choice B group, please continue reading.

Honda's new Elite 110 was introduced to the press in Los Angeles (Shakey Town), a city known for bad traffic and earthquakes. Power comes from a 108cc liquid-cooled, four-stroke, OHC two-valve engine, with Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI) and an 11:1 compression ratio. Push the starter button, and the Elite's little engine snaps to life with a whisper-quiet idle, and offers excellent throttle response throughout the rev range. Honda's automatic V-Matic belt-drive system provides stepless acceleration, plus twist-and-go ease. Top speed is about 50 mph, and the Elite gets up there rather quickly, keeping up with cars. However, its under-149cc displacement makes it illegal on major California highways - check local laws.

Chassis

The tubular steel chassis has a 33mm hydraulic fork with 3.1 inches of stroke, and rear suspension incorporating a single shock with 2.8 inches of movement. A single 190mm front disc brake, with a two-piston caliper, links to the rear drum with Honda's combined braking system (CBS). The right lever only activates the front brake, but applying the left brake lever engages both the rear and the front brake via the CBS. We found the brakes rather easy to modulate and difficult to lock up - a good thing, especially for the novice riders the Elite is likely to attract. The parking brake lever is on the left handlebar end, making it easy to reach. There's no sidestand, but with only 254 pounds curb weight, the centerstand is a cinch to use.
Standard fitment Chinese Chengshin tires get the job done, but they're not very confidence-inspiring. Steering is super light and the Elite turns in to a corner so easily, it's almost eerie. Scooters have a lot of rear unsprung weight and the small wheels and limited suspension really transmit harsh bumps to the rider. Still, it holds the road rather well in most conditions.

Features and Ergonomics

Dash layout is basic, with a coolant-temperature gauge on the left, a speedometer (sans trip meter) in the middle, and fuel gauge on the right, plus a few essential indicator lamps. Our test bike had the optional ($ 190) windscreen, which feels flimsy but pushes the wind aside effectively.

We found the seat comfy and sufficient for two-up riding. While legroom felt restricted for my 6'1" frame, the overall riding position and controls allowed me to ride in relative comfort.

There's a small lockable front compartment plus 35 liters of underseat storage, enough to hold a full-face helmet with room to spare. The aluminum rear carrier with built-in passenger handgrips is stylish, yet functional. The test scooter was also equipped with an accessory topcase, which mounts to add 27 liters of useful storage for $ 144.

Parting Thoughts

The $ 2,999 Elite 110's closest competitor is the Yamaha Vino 125 at $ 2899, but that is air cooled, carbureted and has a smaller tank. Fit and finish looked quite good on the Elite, which is built in Honda's Wuyang, China plant.

With current styling, comfortable accommodations, and two-up capacity, the sleek and economical Elite 110 provides affordable around-town transport for quick errands, trips to the store, school, or work. It's thrifty on gas, easy to ride, and most of all, fun.