We were poking through the archives, and this little gem re-caught our attention. The 2003 Honda Solo was part of Honda’s N Project. According to Honda, the series’s intent was “to deliver to its owners the pleasure of owning and riding a bike that serves as a fashion accessory in addition to providing convenient daily transportation.”
There’s no doubt about it, the 2003 Honda Solo was a looker. Its minimalist design gives the Solo the look of a high-end custom. Every single part of the Solo is visible, making it a joy to ponder. It is unabashedly retro, with plenty of styling cues from the 1950s.
With the Solo, you get a buckhorn-bend handlebar, a solo seat (naturally), a hardtail look, long tire-hugging fenders, narrow 18-inch wheels, drum brakes, a carbureted air-cooled motor, a prominent kickstarter, a peanutty tank, and lots of round—mirrors, turn indicators, and headlight.
Honda’s classic Super Cub 49cc powerplant powered the 2003 Solo, and it put out 3.5 horsepower at a buzzy 7500 rpm. The torque peaked at 2.8 ft-pounds at 6000 rpm, so twisting the throttle hard was part of the riding experience. There wasn’t much shifting to do, as it’s a three-speed.
The curb weight was just 170 pounds and, according to Honda, this Solo got a staggering 223 mpg at a steady 18.5 mph—we will take their word for it.
Intriguingly, the 2003 Honda Solo came with a wide variety of color options. A buyer could choose between six tank colors, six frame colors, two fender/nacelle colors, and two seat/grip colors. Plus, the engine cases and handlebars could be painted silver or chrome plated and buffed. All told, there were 285 optional colors, plus the three standard colors—Matt Flat Silver Metallic (shown), Monza Red, and Parrot Yellow. Pricing started at ¥199,000—about $1650 at the time, and about $2400 in current dollars.
The real reason for this story is that we’re hoping the right person at Honda will see the 2003 Honda Solo, and a light will go on in a product planner’s head. Drop the latest fuel-injected 125cc motor from Honda’s current MiniMoto line into this chassis, and there’s one more model ready to entice new and experienced riders. The Solo would go perfectly with the Monkey, Super Cub, Grom, and Trail 125 MiniMotos.
2003 Honda Solo Specs
- Type: 4-stroke single
- Displacement: 49cc
- Maximum power: 3.5 horsepower @ 7500 rpm
- Maximum torque: 2.8 ft-lbs @ 6000 rpm
- Compression ratio: 10.0:1
- Starting: Kick
- Transmission: 3-speed
- Frame: Backbone
- Front suspension: Non-adjustable fork
- Rear suspension: Non-adjustable cantilevered shock
- Front and rear tires: 70/100 x 18
- Front and rear brakes: Drum
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
- Wheelbase: 50.6 inches
- Seat height: 28.7 inches
- Fuel capacity: 1.1 gallons
- Estimated fuel consumption: 223 mpg
- Curb weight: 170 pounds
- Colors: Matt Flat Silver Metallic; Monza Red; Parrot Yellow
2003 Honda Solo Price: from ¥199,000