2014 Honda Forza Scooter TestHonda has returned to the mid-size scooter market with the 2014 Honda Forza, which is powered by a 279cc SOHC motor with fuel injection, four valves, and liquid cooling. With it Honda V-Matic belt-drive automatic transmission, the Forza gets a claimed 68 mpg, yet is freeway legal and capable.
Getting the right scooter depends on where you plan on riding it. A 50 is good for dense urban areas, a 150 for when you are out in the suburbs with some faster surface streets, and 600s for touring and extended freeway rides.A 300-class machine, such as the 2014 Honda Forza, gives you access to the freeway, yet the scooter is still agile enough for squeezing though urban traffic.Certainly, the Honda Forza prefers a freeway speed limit of 55 mph rather than 65 mph. It will go over 80 if you push it (and remain stable), but acceleration is minimal over 70, so keeping up with the flow of traffic can be a challenge.If the speed limit is 55, though, you still have some flexibility in speed, and twisting the throttle can move you out of trouble when hitting the linked disc brakes—Honda’s Combined Braking System (CBS)—will not.In tight traffic, the 2014 Honda Forza is certainly long with a 61-inch wheelbase. Still, with a 27-degree rake and a 14-inch front tire (13 in the back), the ability to change direction is there, making it possible to dart in and out of downtown traffic.The transmission has just the right amount of engine compression braking, and the brakes are fully intuitive. I started off using the front primarily, before learning to trust the CBS (and the optional ABS) and relying on the left brake lever.Working your way up to the front of the line, the Forza has more than enough power to leave cars behind when the light turns green–just be willing to wick the throttle wide open. The fuel injection is flawless, and acceleration is predictable and seamless.You can find yourself at 50 mph quickly, so be mindful of speed limits. Honda makes it easy with a digital speedometer front and center, augmented by a large analog read-out. There’s a tachometer, which is a waste of space, as you’re not shifting.It does reveal a 9k redline, however. Other large analog gauges are the fuel level (moves slow!) and coolant temperature (riding in 100-degree weather, it didn’t budge above proper operating temperature). There’s also a clock, check engine light (like a car!), and a reminder that it’s time for an oil change.Sitting at the controls, you actually feel like you’re on a mini Honda Gold Wing F6B. It has the same kind of fairing from the rider’s perspective and the short windscreen. Another family resemblance is to the Honda CTX700, from the seated position.Of course, the Forza feels much smaller than either of those distant cousins, and the seating position is quite compact. The floorboards are long, giving you a wide variety of foot positions. At 5’ 10”, I couldn’t quite get comfortable with the forward foot position. I either had to put them up very high to be flat-footed, or just put the balls of my feet up the inclined portion of the floorboards and my heels on the flat portion.Weighing in at over 400 pounds with less than four inches of wheel travel at each end, the suspension capabilities of the Forza are limited. For the sort of uneven roads you’ll find in, say, Beverly Hills, the suspension (twin-shock rear, fork front) is fairly adequate. It’s happy on uneven roads, as long as the edges aren’t too sharp.Rolling bumps are handled nicely.However, take the Forza to an area in South Los Angeles, such as Chesterfield Square, where deferred maintenance of the roads is common, and it protests. Square edge bumps hit the rider hard, though the Forza doesn’t completely lose its composure–it’s more of an annoyance than anything else. The smallish tires are part of the problem, of course, and they don’t roll as nicely through potholes.When riding through the canyons, it’s all about the quality of the roads. When smooth, the 2014 Honda Forza is a pleasure to ride and it negotiates corners nicely – the handling, suspension, brakes, and motor all work in concert. But, if it’s a nasty part of Mulholland Drive, then you start to get tossed around and have to slow down considerably.Practically speaking the Honda Forza gets the job done for cargo. The storage area can accept two full-face helmets, and it’s nice and long–great if you’re carrying rolled up artwork or architectural plans. In the fairing there are a couple of convenient cubby holes (one locked, one not), and there’s a power socket for keeping your phone charged up during the ride. Accessories include a tall windscreen and a 35-liter top box.A pleasant machine that is happiest on roads in good shape, the 2014 Honda Forza is a mid-size scooter with the capability of freeway use to go along with its friendliness in crowded urban and suburban locales.2014 Honda Forza Specs:
This week, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the all new Ducati Monster. Big changes have been made by Ducati–has the company ruined the considerable heritage of the iconic Monster–or are the changes worth it? In the second part of the show, we chat with Nick Ienatsch, Founder and Head Instructor at the Yamaha Champions Riding School. He says: “We aim to change your riding life by introducing you to Champions Habits: The techniques, approaches, skills, and the mindsets of the best riders in the world. These Champions Habits are the foundation of safety and consistency to whatever speed you ride, in any venue on any bike. Street riders, this is just as much for you as track riders. The best way to make safe riders is to make good riders.“ We hope you enjoy this episode!