Article and photographs by Steven Bochenek.

Recently Honda hosted a car event wherein members of the media were invited to learn to operate a manual transmission. Learning to drive stick can be an emasculating experience – at least if you’re a guy – so it was smart of Honda to also include an experience, as part of the whole event, with automatic easy-to-ride scooters.

Well easy-ish. In high school when we asked the priest who taught us math how hard any upcoming test would be, he’d always reply: “Easy to pass, hard to a hundred.” That summarizes the Honda scooter experience: they’re easy to get started, but challenging to master outright.

Quick Spin: Honda PCX150 and Giorno Scooters car test drives honda Quick Spin: Honda PCX150 and Giorno Scooters car test drives honda
Honda PCX150 & Honda Giorno. Click image to enlarge

But more important, they’re impossible not to enjoy. There were three scooters on offer but we’re looking at two: the PCX150 and the Giorno. Both were a blast to ride

‘Safety first’ is the mantra at all driving and riding events – and we wish people would take that onto the road too. There were three of us in my group and Honda had as many instructors on hand to give us lessons for getting started, launching, and turning.

During the lesson session I was on the 2013 PCX150, which is an all-new model. In the past there was a PCX125. The numbers represent the cycles. So the PCX150’s displacement is just over 150cc and, yes, the 125’s was just under that.

Like a lot of car and bike manufacturers, Honda likes to mix it up when imbuing its product names with meaning. For instance, Giorno is Italian for today, appropriate given that smaller scooter’s groovy Euro-retro look.

And what does PCX mean? Nothing really. It’s just a name.

Quick Spin: Honda PCX150 and Giorno Scooters car test drives honda
Honda PCX150. Click image to enlarge

However the lack of deep meaning works because the PCX 150 doesn’t really look like your typical scooter. Low slung with modern styling, it doesn’t stand up at attention like the traditional and current retro scooters.

The combination of its pearl white body with the red (what Honda calls) ‘interior’ seat and floorboards, lends a customized look to stock issue.

In Ontario, a 149cc scooter is passenger- and highway-capable. In fact, you could take a passenger on the highway, though you may want to think twice if you’re in rush hour.

Anyway, the Honda team gave us the lesson, which included a series of simple exercises that we put all together at the end. First they simply pushed us as we sat passive on our perches. It felt ridiculous but was a good idea. This is not riding a bike, though we all defaulted to any lifelong (not necessarily good) habits right away.

Quick Spin: Honda PCX150 and Giorno Scooters car test drives honda
Honda PCX150. Click image to enlarge

Next we started the machines up, ‘Born to Be Wild’ playing very quietly in our heads. First, you ensure the kill switch is not in kill position, turn the ignition key to Start, depress the start button and presto (‘prestissimo’ if you’re on the Giorno) you have revs. Without hitting the throttle – it’ll idle for a long time without any intervention from your wrist – you gently roll it off the mount and go.

They gave us plenty of useful tips. Unlike a bicycle, you don’t want to favour the back brake on a scooter because the scooter simply doesn’t pitch you backside over teakettle for braking hard at the front. In fact, the back one also brakes the front wheel, though our instructors suggested using the front brake more, instead, to get a better feel of the bike and the momentum. Another tip was to ride without keeping your hands at the ready to grab the brakes. Instead grip the handles. It provides better control and consequently you’ll be less inclined to brake.




About StevenBochenek

Despite being a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada and a member of its house band, the Troubadours, Steven is a veteran marketing writer who came to writing about cars almost by, umm, accident.