The Mad Max Of Scooterdom

Do you want to ride a scooter for the ease of operation and the extraordinary fuel economy but don’t want to look like a sissy? While not all 50 cc scooters are sissified, a lot of them are. They come in pretty pastel colors and cute designs, something that just isn’t your style. How do I know? Because you’re reading this. Enter the Ruckus (NPS50 ) from Honda, known in other markets as the Zoomer. Bare bones — naked bike, anyone? — and gnarly, the Ruckus looks like it’s right out of Mad Max. No one is going to say, “Awww, isn’t that cute?” when you ride by on a Ruckus. Granted, you won’t be going very fast, so on-lookers will get a good, long look.

Continue reading for my review of the Honda Ruckus.

  • 2015 - 2018 Honda Ruckus
  • Year:
    2015- 2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    Liquid-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke
  • Displacement:
    49 cc
  • Price:
    2699
  • Price:

Design

2015 - 2018 Honda Ruckus
- image 668969
For storage, it has plenty of places to bungee what you want to carry or you can hit the aftermarket for panels to enclose the space under the seat.

The stripped down naked styling, fatty-fat tires and dual headlights make the Ruckus look like it’s ready for anything. Keep in mind, though, that this is a 49 cc engine. It won’t muscle up hills very fast and it won’t keep up with traffic unless you stick to residential streets so think long and hard about whether a 50 cc scooter fits your needs.

The instrument cluster is basic: an analog speedometer, odometer, and indicator lights for high beams, coolant temp and low fuel. No fuel gauge, but it has only a 1.3-gallon tank under the floorboards. The low-fuel light comes on with about a 0.3-gallon reserve.

Seat height is 29 inches and while seat height on a scooter doesn’t hold the same concern as the seat height on a motorcycle, 29 inches is low enough for just about everyone. What about you tall folks? Yeah, it looks small, but the Ruckus has room for your knees under the handlebars unlike some other 50 cc scooters. (::coughMetropolitancough::)

Storage, you ask? C’mon. Do you see any storage on this ride? It has plenty of places to bungee what you want to carry or you can hit the aftermarket for panels to enclose the space under the seat. To secure your helmet, there is a locking helmet holder under the seat so you don’t have to carry your helmet when you walk away from your Ruckus.

Chassis

2015 - 2018 Honda Ruckus
- image 668970
Ten-inch rims, yeah, but really fat tires that have a dual-surface design that incorporates deep grooves for soft surfaces and large street flats for pavement work.

A complete lack of body panels leaves little to the imagination and makes the Ruckus look like a de facto naked scooter. The absence of panels leaves Honda with little choice but to run a proper underframe rather than a uni-body, or monocoque assembly for structural rigidity. I prefer this method because not only are there no body panels to crunch up and have to replace, but you can also visually check the frame to get some idea as to whether you tweaked it or not in a little fenderbender. Not only that, but the underframe system allows for a full step-through, a feature many scooter riders prefer.

The frame itself is comprised of a cast-aluminum forward frame with a steel subframe in back to support the solo seat. That’s right folks, this is a one-butt bike unless the rider and passenger are both very small, and are very good friends. Tube-and-slider front forks support the front with around two inches of travel to soak up abuse from the road. The rear monoshock springs off the swing-mount motor assembly to support the Ruckus at the rear subframe, and it provides 2.6 inches of travel.

One very obvious design feature involves the tires, namely, they are quite fat. Though they run on 10-inch diameter rims front and rear, the tires come with 120/90 and 130/90 aspect ratios, respectively. Not only that, but the road rubbers come with a dual-surface design that incorporates deep grooves for soft surfaces and large street flats for pavement work.

Drum brakes on both ends tend to the braking action. While drums are probably sufficient for the 194-pound curb weight, personally, I’d like to see a disc and caliper on the front wheel, but . . . you know . . . 10-inch tire and all that.

Front Suspension: Twin-downtube fork; 1.9 inches travel
Rear Suspension: Single shock; 2.6 inches travel
Front Brake: Drum
Rear Brake: Drum
Front Tire: 120/90-10
Rear Tire: 130/90-10

Drivetrain

2015 - 2018 Honda Ruckus
- image 668967
Honda slapped a good ol' kickstart lever on the engine for a practical backup as well as some extra 'cool' factor.

Honda powered the Ruckus with a water-cooled, four-cycle thumper engine. The 49 cc, single-cylinder mill measures out a bit undersquare with a 37.8 mm bore and 44 mm stroke, and as usual with small-displacement engines it runs a moderately high compression ratio at 11.9 to 1. An 18 mm, constant velocity carburetor manages the induction with an automatic choke feature for cold starts.

Engine management duties fall to the Electronic Control Unit (ECU) that controls the timing of the capacitor-discharge ignition, choke, electric starter and fuel pump. In addition to the push-button starter, Honda slapped a good ol’ kickstart lever on the engine for a practical backup as well as some extra cool factor. Powertrain design forces the kickstarter over to the left side which might feel a little weird to those already accustomed to a right-side kicker, but I’m sure you’d get used to that quickly, if you ever bother using it, that is. I would, but sometimes I’m in the minority.

Honda’s V-Matic belt drive provides twint-n-go, shiftless propulsion, and it comes geared for 40-45 mph and 114 mpg.

Engine: Liquid-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke
Displacement: 49cc
Induction: 18mm CV carburetor with automatic choke
Ignition: CD
Bore and Stroke: 37.8mm x 44mm
Compression Ratio: 11.9:1
Transmission: Automatic V-Matic belt drive

Pricing

2015 - 2018 Honda Ruckus
- image 668971
MSRP should be the same as last year along with the same colorways.

MSRP on the 2017 Ruckus was $2,699, just $50 over the year before. As of this writing, I haven’t seen a price for 2018, but I expect it to be the same; and not surprisingly, the Ruckus comes in the same colors: black or red and white. I say “not surprisingly” because it is a basic, no-nonsense scooter so why tamper with the skin, yeah? Although I do like the orange available in other markets.

Honda covers your Ruckus with a transferable one-year, unlimited-mileage limited warranty and offers extended coverage through the Honda Protection Plan.

Warranty: Transferable one-year, unlimited-mileage limited warranty; extended coverage available with a Honda Protection Plan.
Colors: White/Red, Black
Price:
2016: $2,649
2017: $2,699
2018: TBA

Competitors

2016 - 2017 SSR Motorsports Rowdy 150
- image 669133
no article
- image 668973
The two are very similar, just different, so you just have to ask yourself just exactly how 'Mad Max' you want to be.

Considering looks alone for a head-to-head competitor, I’d have to go with the Rowdy from SSR Motorsports. It has that same post-apocalyptic style that would appeal to a buyer looking at the Ruckus. For a scooter, however, the difference between a 50 cc engine and a 150 cc engine is huge, so let’s stay in the 50 cc range. For that no-nonsense, bare-bones style, let’s go head-to-head with the PMZ50-19, the Mad Dog at the head of their Mad Dog series over at Ice Bear.

Both rides are rather spartan in their body cladding, and the exposed frame lend each of them a minimalist air. However, while the Ruckus presents a typical, scooter-like profile with its vestigial leg fairing and step-through deck for the rider’s feet, the Mad Dog strikes a different tone with rider footpegs outboard of the frame and a pipe luggage rack in the step-through. There’s a marked difference in seat height as well. At 28.9-inches tall, the Ruckus falls within the norm for the genre, but the Mad Dog drops the seat down to a mere 23.6 inches off the ground. That’s just a little lower than a stock Softail, lest you think it too low, but it’s definitely down there.

Engines are comparable at 49 cc, and 49.5 cc for the Ruckus and Mad Dog, respectively. Honda used liquid cooling while Ice Bear opted for a simpler, air-cooled lump, not surprising considering the unimpeded airflow through the completely naked pipe frame. Both factories opted for electric start with a kickstarter backup as well, and they both run automatic transmissions. Not really much to choose between the two, but they are just biddy little mills, after all.

No doubt, the tires on the Ruckus look rather chubby on their 10-inch rims, but the Mad Dog rolls on a 120/70-12 up front, with a surprisingly wide and flat, 205/30-12 in back. That’s almost big enough for a small car, so it has a large contact patch but I doubt the flat tread will help the Mad Dog in the corners very much. One thing I definitely like on the Mad Dog is the hydraulic front brakes versus the all-around drums on its counterpart.

In the end, the two are very similar, just different, so you just have to ask yourself just exactly how Mad Max you want to be.

He Said

My husband and fellow writer, TJ Hinton, says, “This is a tough-looking little scooter, with its naked panache and on-off tires, and looks like it could be a blast on a trail or sand beach. While it’s true that most scooters qualify as basic transportation at best, the solo seat and lack of cargo/grocery space makes the Ruckus very basic transportation indeed. OK so it isn’t a grocery getter, but still probably a lot of fun for point-A to point-B action.”

She Said

“I like this zombie-apocolypse style and the Ruckus has plenty of fans with rider clubs to attest to its popularity. With a 50 cc engine, you’re not going to carry a lot of cargo, but it’s awesome to zip around town and maybe to and from the campus.”

Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Liquid-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke
Displacement: 49cc
Induction: 18mm CV carburetor with automatic choke
Ignition: CD
Bore and Stroke: 37.8mm x 44mm
Compression Ratio: 11.9:1
Transmission: Automatic V-Matic belt drive
Chassis:
Front Suspension: Twin-downtube fork; 1.9 inches travel
Rear Suspension: Single shock; 2.6 inches travel
Front Brake: Drum
Rear Brake: Drum
Front Tire: 120/90-10
Rear Tire: 130/90-10
Dimensions & Capacities:
Wheelbase: 49.8 inches
Seat Height: 28.9 inches
Curb Weight: 194 pounds
Fuel Capacity: 1.3 gallons
Miles Per Gallon: 114 mpg
Details:
Model Id: NPS50
Warranty: Transferable one-year, unlimited-mileage limited warranty; extended coverage available with a Honda Protection Plan.
Available Colors: White/Red, Black
Price:
2016: $2,649
2017: $2,699
2018: TBA

References

2016 - 2017 SSR Motorsports Rowdy 150
- image 655493

See our review of the SSR Motorsports Rowdy.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: powersports.honda com, ssrmotorsports.com, honda.co.jp, icebearatv.com

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