Plenty Of Underseat Storage

Honda put together the Forza to bridge the gap between its small-displacement scoots, such as the PCX and Metropolitan, and the much larger Silver Wing. It brings a modern, 300-ish cc powerplant and sleek modern design together for the scooter-commuter folks looking for something other than the typical 60s vintage retro rides. The factory built in a number of safety- and comfort-related features meant to endear it to the more progressive sector of the scooter market, and it all comes together in a rather sporty-looking package that seems to borrow heavily from the sport/streetbike division. Production ceased in ’16, but it is still worth a mention in the 300 cc market.

Continue reading for my review of the Honda Forza.

  • 2015 - 2016 Honda Forza
  • Year:
    2015- 2016
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    Liquid-cooled single cylinder four-stroke
  • Displacement:
    279 cc
  • Price:
    5599
  • Price:

Design

2015 - 2016 Honda Forza
- image 713746

As far as looks go, this is almost an un-scooter. The front fairing sports a smooth entry with molded in headlights and turn signals in a shape not entirely unlike that used on the Gold Wing family. A short windscreen serves to steer the wind pressure off the rider’s chest and little else, but a taller shield is available as an accessory if you want to include your head in that protective bubble for a more relaxing commute. The fairing flows into the rest of the body panels to show a continuity of design, and I like to see that because it instills confidence in the rest of the machine and makes the scoot seem well planned out as a whole.

A pair of dry storage compartments in the inner fairing provides a place for your phone and other small possibles, and a 12-volt power outlet provides charging for same. It has very little in the way of a step-through as the tunnel takes up almost all of the available space, and that plays directly into the scootercycle look, but the 28.2-inch high saddle should be easy enough to mount. Honda gives us shorter riders a break with an extreme taper at the front of the seat that is meant to minimize bulk and provide a straight shot from hip to ground when it is time for parking lot footwork.

The seat itself is almost impossibly deep with significant rise in the back to contain the rider while lofting the passenger for over-the-shoulder visibility. Under the seat there’s room to store not one but two full-face brain buckets, or a whole passel of schoolbooks/groceries. The rear end is as sleek as the front with recessed taillights/ turn signals below the passenger grab bar with a mudguard/tag holder to finish it off.

Chassis

2015 - 2016 Honda Forza
- image 713748
The steering geometry and low center of gravity provides the maneuverability scooter customers expect and demand...

Honda uses an underframe to hold the thing together with a 27-degree rake and 3.5 inches of trail built into the steering head. Unlike some manufacturers — coughPiaggiocoughcough — Honda supports the front end on good, old-fashioned hydraulic forks with motorcycle-sized, 35 mm forks that provide 3.7 inches of travel along with the dual rear shocks that come with 3.9 inches of travel. In another move to conform more with motorcycle norms, the factory relegated the rear drum brake to the history books where it belongs, and went with all-around discs with a 256 mm up front and a 240 mm in back. A three-pot front caliper borrows pressure from the rear brake circuit to actuate the middle piston, thus providing a balanced braking action that Honda has dubbed its Combined-Brake system.

While the stock version leaves it at that, an optional model adds ABS into the mix for even more safety and confidence when you hit the binders. Larger than usual hoops round out the assembly with a 120/70-14 up front and a 140/70-13 in back, so you don’t have to worry about tripping over a seam in the road with a 10- or 12-inch front wheel. The steering geometry and low center of gravity provides the maneuverability scooter customers expect and demand, while avoiding the squirrely feeling you get from smaller scoots.

Drivetrain

2015 - 2016 Honda Forza Exterior
- image 576926

Like the rest of the ride, the mill is all modern with liquid cooling and fuel injection. Nearly square with a 72 mm bore and 68.6 mm stroke, it displaces a total of 279.2 cc with a spicy compression ratio of 10.5-to-1. A single overhead cam times the two intake and two exhaust valves for this little thumper for simple and reliable operation with easy valve adjustments — one of my favorite things about small Honda plants. At just under 25 horsepower, the mill is a little weak for the 420-plus pound wet weight, and you can forget about a lively roll on at speeds above 40 mph or so. Still, you can expect around 80 mph depending on grade, tailwinds and how much you had for lunch, and the 68 miles per gallon efficiency helps to keep your commutes cheap.

Pricing

2015 - 2016 Honda Forza
- image 713747

The base model Forza rolls in Pearl Red for $5,599, but if you want that ABS protection you’re looking at a $6,099 MSRP. Honda has you covered with a oneyearuUnlimited-mileage, limited warranty with extended coverage available with a Honda Protection Plan.

Competitors

2015 - 2016 Honda Forza
- image 677045
2016 SYM Citycom 300i
- image 680235

With so many mid-size scooters available on the market, I decided to take a look at a lesser-known manufacturer (at least in the U.S.) and went with the SYM Citycom 300i. Right off the bat you’ll notice the Citycom pushes much less air with a narrower shape, and while that does save energy, it does little to protect the rider beyond the benefits to be had from the tall scooped windshield.

Angular design features define the look with recessed lighting similar to that of the Forza, and although it has more of a step-through, the tunnel still manages to kill any hopes of between-feet storage.

At the front, the saddle bears a similar tapered construction for comfort and convenience, but the SYM runs a much slighter butt bucket with very little rise to the pillion perch — a feature I’m not sad to see since the Forza is almost comical-looking in this area, and I’m not so sure about the “almost” part of that statement.

Suspension is fairly consistent across the board with motorcycle-like components and none of the fancy, single-side, strut-and-shock BS that seems to try a little too hard to be different for no discernable reason. The mills are likewise similar enough in displacement, induction and cooling systems, but embarrassingly for Honda, SYM wrings even more power from its plant with a total of 27 ponies versus only 24.5 horsepower from the Red Riders. Yeah, it isn’t a big difference, but I would have expected the Honda to win out in this category. Oh, and it gets better mileage too with a claimed 84 mpg. Ouch. Unsurprisingly, the SYM also wins by a nose at the checkout with a $4,999 sticker versus the $5,599 tag on the Honda, but really, the extra protection and Honda’s brand more than makes up for that difference, and for me, the Forza beats out the Citycom handily.

He Said

My husband and fellow motorcycle writer, TJ Hinton, says, "I gotta say that I’m not surprised this model didn’t perform very well in the U.S. market. It’s a little too big for someone in need of really basic transportation, and too underpowered for someone with any kind of a highway commute. Hopefully it does better in the European and Asian markets, because it’s pretty much DOA in the American market. I blame geography and lack of a robust scootering culture.”

She Said

"This wasn’t carried forward in the U.S. market, but I believe it is still available overseas. Someone will correct me if I’m wrong, no doubt. All things considered, it’s fairly quiet, and I like the sweep-dial instrumentation, though other folks will prefer digital. The engine seems smooth enough with fairly good power and torque delivery. It is alleged to get up to 87 mph, but I’m not sure how comfortable I’d feel going that fast on it. I guess I’m feeling a little lukewarm about the Forza."

Specifications

Engine Type: 279.2cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke
Bore and Stroke: 72.0mm x 68.6mm
Compression Ratio: 10.5:1
Valve Train: SOHC; four-valve
Induction: PGM-FI with automatic enrichment
Ignition: Full transistorized
Transmission: Honda V-Matic belt-converter continuously variable automatic transmission
Suspension Front: 35mm telescopic fork; 3.7 inches travel, Rear: Twin shock; 3.9 inches travel
Brakes Front: Single 256mm disc with three-piston caliper with CBS, Rear: 240mm disc with single-piston caliper with CBS - Optional Combined ABS
Tires: Front: 120/70-14, Rear: 140/70-13
Wheelbase: 60.9 inches
Rake (Caster Angle): 27°
Trail: 89mm (3.5 inches)
Seat Height: 28.2 inches
Fuel Capacity: 3.0 gallons
Fuel Economy Estimate: 68 MPG
Model: NSS300 / NSS300A with Combined ABS
Warranty: One Year Unlimited-mileage limited warranty; extended coverage available with a Honda Protection Plan.
Colors: Pearl Red
Price: $5,599 (ABS: $6,099)

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Image Source: powersports.honda.com, alliancepowersports.com

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