Honda's tagline for the SH150i is "Italy's best selling scooter is coming to America." We're not sure if it's the Honda brand that sells the most scooters in Italy, or if that claim refers to the SH150i specifically, but the intent is clear: Honda is gunning for Vespa.
Vespa is a prescient target not just due to sales numbers, but because
big-wheel scooters like this (the SH150i has 16" wheels) offer a
significantly different -- some would say better -- riding experience
than the smaller, 12" wheels of traditional Vespas. The scooter world
is rapidly dividing into two camps: those who prefer the traditional,
but unstable smaller wheels and the new wave or riders who are in it
for the economy and stability of cheaper big wheels, not the style.
But we digress. The SH150i weighs just 127kg, 279lbs (dry) while making
a sprightly 15bhp, which should give it a top speed around 55mph. New
riders will benefit from the combined brakes, while everyone will
appreciate the underseat storage and optional top box. The
liquid-cooled, fuel-injected engine should be good 75mpg or more and we
hope Honda heavily promotes the SH150i with that number, because it
certainly won't be able to do it with the price. The 2010 Honda SH150i
will cost $4,499 when it goes on sale next month. That's $500 more than
the Kawasaki Ninja 250 and $300 more than a Vespa S 150.