I'd be lying if I said working for RoadRUNNER wasn't a great gig. Riding motorcycles for a living is a terrific way to make a buck. But the traveling and great events are only part of the equation. I'm still expected to meet deadlines and show up at the office. And though the routine there isn't at all exceptional, nonetheless I feel fortunate because, like many others who ride their bikes back and forth from the office, I actually enjoy my commute.
Driving to and from work, to put it bluntly, stinks. Rush-hour traffic is a necessary yet stressful part of the daily routine. And with the cellphone and other gadgets in every pocket, your business duties are apt to start before you even leave the driveway. Sure, the commute is necessary, but there's no reason it has to be a necessary evil, especially when you can merrily riff through the rush-hour blues on a scooter like Honda's Reflex. Moreover, using one of these fuel-stingy scoots emphasizes your economic acuity and environmental sensitivity while furnishing the perfect excuse to, at least briefly, stick the company cellphone where the sun don't shine, under the seat.
Keeping up with the Joneses, and everyone else, is a serious concern in traffic. The Reflex is powered by a 249cc, liquid-cooled, SOHC, four-valve motor that makes quite respectable power for its size, and it easily nudges past the speed limit, even in those 65 mph zones. Granted, this scooter won't be running down 'vettes and Hummers in the fast lane, but that's alright with me - I can just relax and let them distract the troopers. Around town, it's a different story. The agile nature and zippy power of the Reflex will have you jumping away at lights and weaving pleasurably through the slowest of urban crawls. And while your confined coworkers' rolling cages are spewing tons of noxious CO2 into the atmosphere, your Reflex is keeping you on the Earth-friendly list by meeting current CARB (California Air Resources Board) and EPA emission standards, all while delivering 55 mpg or better.
Morning start-ups are choke-free affairs managed by a fully transistorized ignition and an auto-enriching system. Just hit the starter and off you go. And you needn't worry about the Reflex getting hot under the collar in the stop-and-go slog: a fan-cooled radiator ensures a cool, constant, running temperature.
Shifting gears can be a wonderful thing, but not when in the clutches of heavy traffic. To that I say: Welcome to Scooterland, Home of the Shiftless Traveler! Working through traffic is as easy as twisting the throttle. Honda's V-matic belt drive employs a nifty three-stage operation that effectively matches the engine's strong low and midrange performance to a wide variety of operating conditions. For easy cruising and around-town duties, stage one puts out smooth, quiet power delivery. When it comes time to pick up the pace a bit, stage two yields a moderate power increase for brisk acceleration. And for those hostile takeover bids, stage three lays down full power and top speed. Fun, functional, and fully automated, this little 250cc has the goods to take care of business.
In a fast-paced world, it's not always about speed. Finesse is a factor that can also pay dividends, and taming the rough and tumble of city streets is right up the Reflex's alley. With a pair of preload adjustable shocks packing 4.7 inches of travel holding up the rear and a sturdy 33mm fork sporting 3.9 inches of travel up front, this is a scooter that can soften the edges of even the roughest commute. The ride is plush yet firm and the handling predictable and responsive thanks to a rigid steel frame.
When brake time rolls around, this scooter again excels, with a single, 240mm disc and three-piston caliper up front and a 220mm, single-piston setup on the rear. But there's much more to these brakes than a strong squeeze. The Reflex comes equipped with CBS (Combined Braking System). When the front brake lever is applied, the two outer pistons in the front caliper get their pinch on. Grab the left-side rear lever and the back piston squeezes along with the front's center piston via an inline delay valve that helps prevent lock up. Should even more stopping stability be desired, an optional ABS is available. Our Reflex tester was so equipped, and the electric-motor-driven modulator worked flawlessly. Even full-out clampdowns on loose surfaces didn't upset the apple cart. This ABS is all business and well worth the extra investment.
Even though the Reflex has rock-solid credentials in the road-worthiness department, like all propositions, an enticing benefits package certainly helps seal the deal. This scoot shows up with a wind-tunnel-developed windscreen and full coverage bodywork that slips smoothly and quietly through the air. Protection from the elements and road debris keeps the work duds nice and clean, and the long floorboards, angled upward in the front, offer a comfortable perch for short and tall riders. The gauges, including an analog speedo and tach, are easy to read and a powerful headlight imparts an impressive beam, good for enhanced daytime visibility and nighttime use.
If your ride to work is a lengthy affair, the wide, deep, padded seat with adjustable backrest makes the ride most agreeable. The lockable seat has a 33-liter storage compartment beneath, more than large enough for a briefcase or a backpack. There's a smaller, lockable storage compartment in the front dash as well.
Word around the water cooler has it that all work and no play can make the Reflex a dull boy. We all need our vacation time and this Honda has no problems leaving the professional world behind for more flexible pursuits. The comfort, handling, and suspension, so capable on the mean streets of the city, can provide some nice downtime too. Foldable passenger pegs and a comfortable pillion present the right amenities for whisking that special someone to the movies, and don't forget about those tranquil country roads. A nice picnic will fit easily beneath the seat. How's that for multitasking?
Whether ridden for business, pleasure, or both, the Honda Reflex is a wise choice. Practically speaking, its ability to zip past gas stations will have you commuting in the black. And purely from the fun perspective, it's hard to argue against choosing an easy-to-ride machine that delivers as many grins per gallon as miles.
You have enough stress at the office. But if you're going to and from it on a scooter, the time is yours. So toss that phone under the seat and join the ranks of those who actually enjoy their trips to work. Just let it ring. Whatever it is they're calling about, it can wait until you're riding the seat at your desk.
Honda NSS250 Reflex
+ ease of operation, fuel economy, ABS option
- 250cc not powerful enough for serious touring, neighbors and coworkers always demanding the keys
Distributor American Honda, Motor Company, Inc.
MSRP $ 5,499 ('06), $ 5,549 ('07)
Engine SOHC, four-stroke, single
Bore x Stroke 72.7x60mm
Fuel System 30mm CV withauto-enricher
Transmission automatic V-Matic belt
Front Suspension 33mm hydraulic fork, 3.9in travel
Rear Suspension dual shock, preloadadjustable, 4.7in travel
Rake/Trail 27°/3.7in (94mm)
Front Brake single 240mm disc,3 piston caliper
Rear Brake single 220mm disc,single piston caliper
Front Tire 110/90 13
Rear Tire 130/70 12
Dry Weight 375lbs (171kg)
Wheelbase 60.8in (1544mm)
Seat Height 28.3in (718mm)
Fuel Capacity 3.2gal (12liters)
Fuel Consumption 57 mpg
Colors Candy Blue