The Metropolitan to Us, The Giorno To The Rest Of The World

Honda revamped its classic-looking Metropolitan – known in other markets as the Giorno – for the 2016 model year. Early models enjoyed a bit of popularity starting back in 2002, but that took a hit with the changes made for the ’13 models up through the ’15s. The factory proves that it listens to customer feedback and acts on it with a fresh set of changes for the 2016 and 2017 models, tweaks that directly address the concerns coming from the customers. On the top of the list was a new, liquid-cooled engine that ramped up overall performance, as well as relocating the fuel tank for more storage under the seat. What we have now is a scooter that aims to regain the popularity it once enjoyed with a classic look and a revamped engine.

Continue reading for my review of the Honda Metropolitan/Giorno.

  • 2016 - 2018 Honda Metropolitan
  • Year:
    2016- 2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    single cylinder
  • Displacement:
    49 cc
  • Top Speed:
    42 mph
  • Price:

Design

2016 - 2018 Honda Metropolitan
- image 709914
Cute, classy and clean; these are the first things that come to mind when I look at the new Metropolitan.

Cute, classy and clean; these are the first things that come to mind when I look at the new Metropolitan. But to be fair, it has always had a real old-world charm about it, am I right? The flylines fall into the classic Italian sector, to be sure. A full fender carried high up under the front fairing rather than down on the fork sliders leads the way with soft curves to set the tone.

On top, we have the headlight housing that extends to cover and conceal the entire handlebar from grip to grip with the round speedometer and switch housings all contained within. The curvaceousness continues in the front fairing and leg guard area with an almost dome shape to split the wind and shunt it off to the sides. Although the curves do continue into the deck and rear side covers, they’re fairly one-dimensional and leave the rear end looking a little slab-sided.

One of the griping points with the previous generation was the lack of storage. Honda tackles that problem with a lockable, 22-liter storage box under the seat, and a handful of storage options on the inner leg protector in the form of a swing-out D-ring hardpoint, an open cubby hole and a latch-close glove box, plus the ’tween feet spot on the flat deck.

The bench-type seat rides at a mere 28.3-inches high, and the front end of the rider area tapers for reduced seat-to-thigh interference when it is time to put your feet down. A lack of rise to the pillion area leaves the solo rider free to ease on back if needed for extra legroom. The chrome grab rail finishes the passenger’s features above the radiused rear fender with its chrome taillight and turn signal housings and black, hangy-downy tag-holder/mudguard. Overall, a nice blend of curves and radii with enough flats to keep it from looking bulbous, and a good representation of a modern retro piece.

Chassis

2016 - 2018 Honda Metropolitan
- image 750613
Brakes weren't included in the update; both front and rear are drum brakes.

The Metropolitan uses a load-bearing frame under the body panels rather than the stressed-skin, monocoque style many manufacturers produce. I like this because I believe it is less expensive and easier to repair minor crash damage, and I know you won’t have to break out the cutting/welding gear to do it.

Right-way-up, telescopic forks float the front end on 2.7 inches of travel while a coil-over monoshock gives up 2.3 inches of travel. Definitely a compact ride, the 46.5-inch wheelbase and 179-pound curb weight keeps it close to the bottom of the scale.

Teeny-tiny 10-inch rims mount the 80/100 hoops front and rear, and unfortunately, not only did Honda stick with the typical drum brake in back, it doubled down on that antique technology with a drum up front as well. Curiously, Honda added a combined-brake feature that applies a bit of front brake when you actuate the rear brakes for a more-balanced braking effort. There’s no ABS, but the linked brakes will provide a little extra safety.

Front Suspension: 26mm telescopic fork; 2.72 in. travel
Rear Suspension: Single-shock; 2.36 in. travel
Front Brake: Single 95mm mechanical drum
Rear Brake: Single 110mm mechanical drum
Front Tire: 80/100-10
Rear Tire: 80/100-10
Rake (Caster Angle): 26º 30’
Trail: 76mm (3.0 in.)

Drivetrain

2016 - 2018 Honda Metropolitan
- image 709916
The new mill actually puts out a little less power, but top speed is up.

Another big change with this generation lies in the powerplant— namely that Honda dropped the old, air-cooled AF70E mill in favor of the liquid-cooled AF74E engine. The new plant keeps the fuel injection from the previous gen, and comes with a flywheel-driven fan and radiator incorporated into the engine.

Another complaint about the ’13 through ’15 models had to do with speed, or the lack thereof in this case. Honda addressed that, too. The new mill actually puts out a little less power at 4.4 horsepower — down 1/10th of a pony from the previous model — and 3 pound-feet of torque, but top speed is up around 42 mph where the old Metropolitan was only good for around 38 mph (depending on altitude, grade, tailwind conditions and how much you had for lunch that day). I realize that isn’t much of a difference, but when you’re limited to such a low speed, every mph counts. The 49 cc thumper runs on Honda’s PGM-FI and electronic ignition with a V-Matic transmission that provides twist-it and forget-it operation, and comes geared to provide a combined 117 mpg.

Engine: 49cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke
Bore and Stroke: 39.5 mm x 40.3mm
Compression Ratio: 12.0:1
Induction: 19mm FI
Ignition: full transistorized ignition
Valve Train: OHC two-valve
Final Drive: Belt driven
Starting: Electric and kick
Transmission: Automatic V-matic drive belt

Price

2016 - 2018 Honda Metropolitan
- image 750621
MSRP for 2018 should be close to last year, but comes in new colorways.

I haven’t seen MSRP for 2018 as of this writing. The revamped Metropolitan rolled in red, Pearl Blue or Pearl White for $2,449 last year. The factory thoughtfully gives buyers the opportunity to boost that price off the floor with accessory carriers and trunk mounting kits.

Warranty: One-year transferable limited warranty; extended coverage available with Honda Protection Plan
Color:
2016, 2017: Pearl White, Pearl Blue, Red
2018: Pearl Soft Beige, Denim Blue Metallic
Price:
2016: $2,399
2017: $2,449
2018: TBA

Competitor

2015 - 2018 Vespa Primavera
- image 728266
2016 - 2018 Honda Metropolitan
- image 709925
Aesthetics are subjective, but I gotta say I prefer the looks of the Metropolitan to those of the Primavera.

I tapped the Vespa Primavera 50 as rather samey-sameish, so let’s take a look at this truly classic ride that hails from Europe’s boot and see how well the Red Riders stack up to one of the biggest names in scooterdom: Vespa’s parent company, Piaggio.

Aesthetics are subjective, but I gotta say I prefer the looks of the Metropolitan to those of the Primavera. The gentle dome of the leg shield, the flat step-through and flatter side panels lends it a simple grace the Vespa lacks, but that’s just the looks.

Size-wise the Metropolitan is a little too far on the small side with its 46.5-inch wheelbase versus the 52.3-inch spread on the Primavera. That’s almost a six-inch difference folks, which I don’t have to tell you is huge on such a small machine. Predictably, seat height is also lower on the Metropolitan at only 28.3-inches high where the Vespa carries the rider’s butt a little higher at 30.7 inches off the ground, but is by no means too tall.

Rather than running a traditional, telescopic/hydraulic front fork, the Vespa instead uses a link-type front wheel mount with a coil-over shock on damping duty. It’s a little clunky looking, but it does allow for a one-side wheel mount that leaves the right side clean and plainly visible, and that’s kinda cool.

Both run four-stroke mills in the traditional swing-mount configuration with twist-and-go transmissions with little to choose between the two save the 40 mph top speed on the Vespa versus 42 mph on the Metropolitan.

A not-so-insignificant difference comes to light at checkout. Honda lets go of the Metropolitan for $2,449, but Vespa, ever the proud one, bumps that on up to $3,799. Both offer accessory luggage racks and trunk boxes, but Vespa takes it a step further with a windshield kit for a more comfortable commute.

He Said

My husband and fellow motorcycle writer, TJ Hinton, says, “Cute as a bug, but a bit on the small side. The compact nature of this ride may cramp some taller riders’ style a bit with a passenger on board, but riding solo will give you the option of sliding back a bit for more legroom. ’Course, I’m not sure where you’d ride one in the States without getting oneself run over from behind.”

She Said

"My husband, always the cynic when it comes to scooters, doesn’t see the bigger picture. As an around-campus ride or in an urban setting where parking can be a challenge, the Metropolitan would be affordable and economical transportation. It is quite small, though, even for a scooter and while I think I’d want a little more substantial ride, it’s perfect for some folks."

Specifications

ENGINE:
Engine Type: 49cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke
Bore and Stroke: 39.5 mm x 40.3mm
Compression Ratio: 12.0:1
Induction: 19mm FI
Ignition: full transistorized ignition
Valve Train: OHC two-valve
Final Drive: Belt driven
Starting: Electric and kick
Transmission: Automatic V-matic drive belt
CHASSIS:
Front: 26mm telescopic fork; 2.72 in. travel
Rear: Single-shock; 2.36 in. travel
Front: Single 95mm mechanical drum
Rear: Single 110mm mechanical drum
Front: 80/100-10
Rear: 80/100-10
Rake (Caster Angle): 26º 30’
Trail: 76mm (3.0 in.)
DIMENSIONS & CAPACITIES:
Ground Clearance: 4.1 in.
Seat Height: 28.3 in.
Wheelbase: 46.5 in.
Curb Weight: 179 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 1.2 gal.
Fuel Economy: 117 mpg
DETAILS:
Model ID: NCW50
Warranty: One-year transferable limited warranty; extended coverage available with Honda Protection Plan
Color:
2016, 2017: Pearl White, Pearl Blue, Red
2018: Pearl Soft Beige, Denim Blue Metallic
Price:
2016: $2,399
2017: $2,449
2018: TBA

References

2015 - 2018 Vespa Primavera
- image 728267

See our review of the Vespa Primavera.

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

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