Back From A Trip To Fat Camp, More Compact And Maneuverable

The Forza family moves into its 18th year with the refurbished Forza 300 that brings revised dimensions and updated looks together for an overall sportier package. Pilot comfort gets a boost from the new, electrically-adjustable windshield, and safety got a buff as well with the addition of the Honda Selectable Torque Control. That’s right folks; this here is the first scooter to be blessed thusly by the factory, and that makes this ride very special indeed. Throw the 25-horsepower engine into the mix and it becomes apparent that the new Forza is both a worthy successor to the previous generation and a very definite threat to the rest of the mid-displacement scooter field.

Continue reading for my review of the Honda Forza.

  • 2018 Honda Forza
  • Year:
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    single cylinder
  • Displacement:
    279 cc
  • Top Speed:
    80 mph
  • Price:

2018 Honda Forza Design

2018 Honda Forza
- image 779042
The new Forza displays a sophistication that is rare in scooters, rarer still in the middling displacements.

The new Forza displays a sophistication that is rare in scooters, rarer still in the middling displacements. Recessed headlights come arranged like a shark’s grin at the entry of the front fairing, and I have to admit that the visage definitely reminds me of the Decepticon emblem, but in a good way.

A bold, shield-like plate perches on top like a crown with the adjustable windshield at the zenith that moves through a 5.5-inch range of motion via the control mounted on the left handlebar. This means you can dial-in the size of the protective pocket to suit your preferences/body style, and all at the touch of a button.

As busy as the front end looks, Honda actually did take steps to keep it from getting out of hand, namely with the integrated mirror/front turn signal feature that takes advantage of the lofty position of the mirrors for maximum height and visibility. Inside the fairing is a well-laid-out instrument panel that sports two round analog clocks for speed and rpm with a host of idiot lights to catch the crucial metrics and a multi-tiered digital display to cover everything else.

The handlebar fairing ties in nicely with the rest of the front end, and all the switches come set within easy reach of the thumb in well-thought-out housings. A tunnel largely blocks off the step-through, and while it does leave a notch through which you can swing a foot, you can go ahead and forget about the ’tween-feet storage space. The good news is; you’ll probably never need it.

A voluminous under-seat storage space can fit two full-face helmets, or carry a respectable amount of groceries or other meaningful cargo. Speaking of meaningful cargo; the passenger seat perches on the upper level of the upward-slanted subframe with flip-out footpegs and J.C. handles to help keep them aboard, plus the pillion offset creates a nice butt-bucket for the pilot.

Footboards combine with the fairing lowers to form a proper footwell complete with a “highway peg” position for those time you’d like to stretch your legs out a bit. Like the front end, the rear comes with angular good looks and recessed lighting that is just as clean going as it was coming.

2018 Honda Forza Chassis

2018 Honda Forza
- image 779030
The overall smaller design gives the Forza better handling and maneuverability.

Honda reworked the bones and gave the Forza an all-new underbone chassis that drops 26.45 pounds from the previous gen to keep the overall curb weight down to 401 pounds. The engineers also pulled in the steering head a half of a degree to 26.5-degrees for 3.5 inches of trail and a 59.4-inch wheelbase with improved handling and a smaller overall package as the payoff for all that drawing-board work. Also, the 7.8-foot turning radius makes the Forza handy and maneuverable in the parking lot, and comes in handy if you need to pull a U-turn.

Suspension components are all motorcycle-style with hydraulically-dampened, 33 mm telescopic forks up front and dual, coil-over shocks to support the rear and dampen the motion of the swing-mount drive unit. The rear shocks bear the only adjustability in the system with variable spring preload.

Hoop size was increased for 2018, with 14-inches out back with a 140/70 to go with the 15-inch wheel and 120/70 tire that leads the way. Honda left the drum brake in the history books where it belongs and threw on a 240 mm disc and hydraulic caliper instead, matched by the 256 mm disc up front and two-channel ABS that oversees both ends. The anti-lock protection, however, is just the first layer of protection.

Frame: Underbone type; steel
Caster Angle: 26.5°
Trail: 3.5 inches
Suspension, Front/ Rear: φ33 Telescopic/ Twin Shock
Brakes, Front/ Rear: φ256 mm, single disc/ φ240 mm, single disc
ABS System: 2 Channel
Wheels, Front/ Rear: 15-inch/ 14-inch
Tires, Front/ Rear: 120/70R15/ 140/70R14

2018 Honda Forza Drivetrain

2018 Honda Forza
- image 779041
The Honda Selectable Torque Control turns an otherwise unremarkable powerplant into something noteworthy and is pretty fancy tech at this price point.

A four-stroke, liquid-cooled thumper drives the Forza with 25 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 20 pounds o’ grunt at 5,750. Top speed increased up to 80 mph with faster acceleration times courtesy of the reduced weight, and fuel efficiency saw some improvement as well with 72.9 mpg, claimed, which makes it even more suitable as a [commuter-<art1799] than its predecessor.

It runs a four-valve, SOHC head and electronic fuel-injection system. Bore and stroke measure out at 72 mm and 68.5 mm, respectively, and compression clocks in at a moderate 10.5-to-1. That’s good news; it means the engine won’t be beating the Hell out of the bottom-end bearings, and that will help the plant have a long service life. Roller bearings in the top end and Babbit bearings in the bottom improve that life further yet. Power flows through a CVT, V-belt transmission for twist-and-go operation.

All of this is fairly mundane stuff, but the HSTC turns an otherwise unremarkable powerplant into something noteworthy. Nevermind the rarity of such tech at this price point, I think the real takeaway here is that it brings that extra safety net to some of the most vulnerable riders: the entry-level and those who would compete with traffic in a regular urban commute. The torque control combines with the ABS feature to make the Forza 300 as safe and stable as one can reasonably expect.

Engine: 4 stroke, 4 valve liquid cooled
Engine Displacement: 279 cc
Bore x Stroke: 72 mm x 68.5 mm
Compression Ratio: 10.5:1
Max. Power Output: 24.8 hp @ 7,000 rpm
Max. Torque: 20 lb-ft @ 5,750 rpm
Starter: Electric
Clutch Type: Automatic centrifugal clutch; dry type
Transmission: CVT

2018 Honda Forza Price

2018 Honda Forza
- image 779040
The 2016 Forza was $5.6K so figure a little more than that if/when it makes it to our market.

OK so, I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that the new Forza is really cool, but the bad news is that we probably won’t be seeing any on our side of the pond until the new-old stock is dealt with. Needless to say, U.S. pricing is TBD.

Color: Crescent Blue Metallic, Pearl Nightstar Black, Crescent Blue Metallic, Pearl Nightstar Black, Matt Cynos Grey Metallic, Matt Pearl Cool White
Price: TBD

2018 Honda Forza Competitors

2018 - 2020 Suzuki Burgman 400
- image 745225
2018 Honda Forza
- image 779044
Both will manage interstate speeds, but the Forza comes with traction control, for which Suzuki has no answer.

It’s hard to think of “business class” Japanese scooters without also thinking of Burgman from Suzuki as well, so let’s see how the MY18 Burgman 400 stacks up against the Red Rider’s Forza. Yeah, I know that’s a bit of a displacement differential, but I expect the Forza’s traction control should help it punch above its weight as far as value goes.

The last new Forza we had was back in 2016, and at that time it was going for $5,599. It’s safe to assume that the new Forza, whenever it makes it here, will be in the ballpark just a bit higher. Compare that to the $8,099 sticker on the ’18 Burgman 400 ABS and remember that this is meant for the entry-level market, in part. That price difference may make the difference.

Looks-wise, the Burgman is as classy as ever with mature design features that start at the aerodynamic front fairing and large vented windshield, and flow back to the nicely appointed saddle and clean rear end. Like the Forza, the Burgman comes with a generous under-seat storage area that’ll hold two full-size brainbuckets or a respectable amount of cargo. Passenger goodies are typical with grab rails and flip-out footpegs, but I gotta say the p-pad has a nice, butt-cupping shape to it compared to the Forza’s tapered bench.

Suspension and brakes are similar enough, and ABS is available across the board so neither gain anything here. The Burgman’s mill packs in the cubes with 399 cc and an output of 30.5 horsepower and 26.5 pound-feet of torque against 25/20 from the Forza, but the Honda will still manage interstate speeds and it comes with traction control. Suzuki has no answer for the TC, and sure, it’ll get up to speed a bit faster, but the Honda is safer.

He Said

“Wish I may, wish I might, right guys? Too bad Honda can’t shuffle all that old stock overseas somewhere it’ll be appreciated, then there would be room to bring in the new 2018s. Who know, maybe Honda will surprise us, but I’m a’feared that we are in for a wait.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “The 2018 Forza accommodates tall riders. I can’t say that very often on a scooter that has a pronounced pillion hump because the hump prevents tall riders from sliding back. On the Forza, there is enough leg room up front and knee clearance to accommodate those long legs. Of course, that’s not the problem I usually have, and the Forza is sized well for height-challenged folks like me, as well. The smaller dimensions and tight turning radius make it easy to maneuver in parking lots, and the higher top speed and better fuel economy make it suitable for a commuter, not only in the city, but also in a suburban environment.”

2018 Honda Forza Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: 4 stroke, 4 valve liquid cooled
Engine Displacement: 279 cc
Bore x Stroke: 72 mm x 68.5 mm
Compression Ratio: 10.5:1
Max. Power Output: 24.8 hp @ 7,000 rpm
Max. Torque: 20 lb-ft @ 5,750 rpm
Carburation: PGMFI
Starter: Electric
Battery Capacity: 12V8.6 AH
ACG Output: 340 W @ r/min
Clutch Type: Automatic centrifugal clutch; dry type
Transmission: CVT
Frame: Underbone type; steel
Caster Angle: 26.5°
Trail: 3.5 inches
Suspension, Front: φ33 Telescopic
Suspension, Rear: Twin Shock
Brakes, Front: φ256 mm, single disc
Brakes, Rear: φ240 mm, single disc
ABS System: 2 Channel
Wheel, Front: 15-inch
Wheel, Rear: 14-inch
Tire, Front: 120/70R15
Tire, Rear: 140/70R14
Dimension & Capacities:
L x W x H: 84.2 inches x 29.7 inches x 57.9 inches
Seat Height: 30.7 inches
Ground Clearance: 5.3 inches
Curb Weight: 401.2 pounds
Turning radius: 94.5 inches
Wheelbase: 59.4 inches
Oil Capacity: 1.8 quarts
Fuel Tank Capacity: 12.2 gallons
Fuel consumption: 73 mpg
Color: Crescent Blue Metallic, Pearl Nightstar Black, Crescent Blue Metallic, Pearl Nightstar Black, Matt Cynos Grey Metallic, Matt Pearl Cool White
Price: TBD


Suzuki Burgman 400

2018 - 2020 Suzuki Burgman 400
- image 745222

See our review of the Suzuki Burgman 400.

TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read More
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