This has got to be the Mad Max of scooterdom

Bare bones — naked bike, anyone? — and gnarly, the Ruckus looks like it’s right out of Mad Max. Even though it does have a 50 cc engine, no one is going to say, “Awww, isn’t that cute?” when you ride by on a Honda Ruckus. Granted, you won’t get going very fast on a Ruckus, so on-lookers will get a good, long look.

  • 2015 - 2020 Honda Ruckus
  • Year:
    2015- 2020
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    single cylinder
  • Displacement:
    49 cc
  • Top Speed:
    40 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    2749
  • Price:

Honda Ruckus Design

2015 - 2020 Honda Ruckus
- image 770800
For storage, the Ruckus 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.

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 Honda Ruckus (NPS50 ), known in other markets as the Zoomer.

The Ruckus’ stripped down naked styling, fatty-fat tires and dual headlights make the Honda Ruckus look like it’s ready for anything. Keep in mind, though, that this is a 49 cc engine. The Ruckus does get good fuel economy, but 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 like the Ruckus fits your needs.

With the Ruckus, you get a basic instrument cluster: an analog speedometer, odometer, and indicator lights for high beams, coolant temp and low fuel. You don’t get a 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 for the Ruckus 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 Honda 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? The Ruckus doesn’t get storage space, but it does have 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, the Ruckus has a locking helmet holder under the seat so you don’t have to carry your helmet when you walk away from your Honda Ruckus.

Honda Ruckus Chassis

2015 - 2020 Honda Ruckus
- image 770799
Ten-inch rims, yeah, but really fat tires with t 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 Honda Ruckus look like a de facto naked scooter. The absence of panels on the Ruckus 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 on the Ruckus allows for a full step-through, a feature many scooter riders prefer.

The Ruckus’ frame 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 Honda 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 of the Ruckus 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

Honda Ruckus Drivetrain

2015 - 2020 Honda Ruckus
- image 770801
Honda slapped a good ol' kickstart lever on the engine for a practical backup as well as some extra 'cool' factor.

The Honda Ruckus with a liquid-cooled, four-cycle thumper engine. The fuel-efficient 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 air and fuel induction with an automatic choke feature for cold starts.

Engine management for this liquid-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke falls on 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 the Ruckus with twist-n-go, shiftless propulsion, so there’s no automatic transmission, and it comes geared for 40-45 mph and 114 mpg with a small fuel capacity of just 1.3 Gallons.

Engine: Liquid-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke engine
Automatic Transmission Gears: None
Displacement: 49 cc
Induction: 18 mm CV carburetor with automatic choke
Ignition: CD
Bore and Stroke: 37.8 mm x 44 mm
Compression Ratio: 11.9:1
Transmission: Automatic V-Matic belt drive

Honda Ruckus Pricing

2015 - 2020 Honda Ruckus
- image 770802
MSRP of the Ruckus should be the same as last year along with the same colorways.

MSRP on the 2020 Honda Ruckus is $2749. Not surprisingly, the Honda 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.

The Honda 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, 2018: $2,699
2019, 2020: $2,749

Honda Ruckus Competitors

2016 - 2018 SSR Motorsports Rowdy 150
- image 770806
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- 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.

SSR Motorsports Rowdy

2016 - 2018 SSR Motorsports Rowdy 150
- image 655493

It has that same post-apocalyptic style that would appeal to a buyer looking at the Honda 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 Honda 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 Honda 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 Honda Ruckus and Mad Dog, respectively. Honda goes with 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 Honda 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.

Read our full review of the SSR Motorsports Rowdy.

He Said

My husband and fellow writer, TJ Hinton, says, “The Ruckus 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 Honda 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 Honda 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.”

Honda Ruckus Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Liquid-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke
Automatic Transmission: None
Displacement: 49 cc
Induction: 18 mm CV carburetor with automatic choke
Ignition: CD
Bore and Stroke: 37.8 mm x 44 mm
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, 2018: $2,699
2019, 2020: $2,749

Further Reading

Honda

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How Many Miles Can You Put on a Honda Ruckus?

The Honda Ruckus is rated at 114 miles per gallon and has a 1.3-gallon fuel tank. So, with a full tank and maximum fuel economy, you could travel 148 miles on a single fill-up. However, once you’ve burned through a gallon of fuel, the low-fuel light will come on and you’ll have around 34 miles left before the engine shuts down. The best practice would be to stick at 120 miles between fill-ups.

Do You Need a License To Ride a Honda Ruckus?

License requirements to ride the Honda Ruckus varies by state. Some states have a 50cc and under rule that says you only need a basic driver’s license. Other states, classify even the smallest scooters as “motor-driven cycles” which means you might need a motorcycle endorsement. Some states offer a special restrictive license that allows riding a scooter but not a motorcycle. Most states will also require that you maintain insurance on the Ruckus to use it on the road. To find out the laws in your specific state, check out this breakdown of scooter state laws.

How Much is a 2015 Honda Ruckus Worth?

A brand-new 2020 Honda Ruckus carries an MSRP of $2,749, so you can expect a used, 2015 Ruckus to cost somewhere in the area of $1,000 - $1,800 depending on total usage, condition, and your location.

How Can I Make My Honda Ruckus Faster?

Considering how basic the Honda Ruckus is, weight reduction isn’t exactly an option, but there are a few things you can do to make your Ruckus faster. First, start with the basics. Give it a full tune-up. Make sure your tires are aired up properly, replace the sparkplug, make sure the belt isn’t worn. You should be able to hit 40 mph as a 180-pound rider, so if you can’t hit that, you definitely need to do some maintenance. Outside of that, there are aftermarket companies that offer some upgrades. Theruckshop.com, for instance, offers a Stage 1 and Stage 2 upgrade kit that varies in price between $169 and $626.

The company doesn’t give specifics in terms of what parts you get or how much power you gain, but you shouldn’t expect huge gains. The kit looks to include a new exhaust system, a new carburetor, a new high-flow air filter, and a larger fuel line. There also appears to be a new computer system that assumingly adjusts spark timing and fuel delivery.

Allyn Hinton
Writer and Associate Motorcycle Editor - allyn@topspeed.com
If it had moving parts, it had Allyn's interest from a very early age. At age 11 when bicycles were too simple to hold her interest any longer, her father found her taking apart the lawn mower. When he asked why she was doing it, she replied, “I need to see how it works.” That curiosity and mechanical drive served her well over the next 40 years as she pursued careers in both the automotive and motorcycle industries. Having shared her love of motorcycles with her now husband, biker TJ Hinton, Allyn brings that love and knowledge to TopSpeed as writer and associate motorcycle editor.  Read More
About the author

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

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