“Hey look, it’s a grown man on a 50cc scooter!” Laugh all you want, but this grown man is getting 117mpg, parking anywhere he wants, carrying his laptop under the seat and cutting through traffic, all for $1,999. If transportation is your only goal, and you’re moving through a dense urban environment, you seriously can’t do better than the new Honda Metropolitan 50.
Photos: Alfonse Palaima
New vs Old
Over the previous Metro, this new model adds fuel-injection, combined brakes, cleans up the looks and drops the price by $50 while upping fuel economy by 3mpg. Small changes, but it’s a more refined machine in a market segment where rough-around-the-edges is more common.
Fuel-injection is really the big change. That’s responsible for the slight uptick in fuel economy, but owners will notice it more in the instantaneous engine warm up and incredibly smooth power delivery. Smoothness seems like an obvious trait for any 50cc four-stroke, but this new Metro takes it to a new level. Twisting the throttle is more akin to spreading butter than it is controlling a rate of tiny explosions.
Combined brakes are nice too. They’re drum front and rear and the mechanical front doesn’t have much power, but using the left hand’s rear lever brings you to a sharp, predictable, controllable stop by applying a little front too. Just watch the brake slides.
Is a 50 really viable on US roads?
Advantage: At just 179lbs (wet) you can literally pick the Metro up and carry it around quite easily. You can imagine how confidence inspiring this incredibly low weight would be to a beginner.
Disadvantage: Acceleration away from a stoplight is as slow as a Zero DS, but unlike the electric, the Metro runs out of steam at a governed 35mph (thank the variety of international frameworks the massively popular scooter needs to exist within). Being unable to beat cars away from the lights and being limited to a speed slower than than of literally all other traffic on any street at any time will prove massively intimidating to beginners.
It's incredibly easy to negotiate very low speed obstacles on such a light bike.
I’ve actually warned non-riding friends off 50s (specifically the Ruckus) for that reason. A 125 or 150 will keep up with most fast cars in a drag race and can even hop on the freeway for short sprints. To get there within the Honda range though, you’d need to pony up an additional $1,500 though.
To answer the question: yes, a 50 is viable if you’re traveling within a limited geographic area and can avoid routes where cars regularly travel at 50mph+. Or if you’re an experience, confident rider that doesn’t mind operating a tiny, slow scooter around scary drivers.
Using it as a neighborhood vehicle, for local commutes or similar, it’s literally a perfect vehicle. 117mpg means your gas bill will be essentially nothing and dropping $1,999 on a new vehicle (or paying for it monthly for the price of a decent lunch), means it’s easy to keep one of these around for just those kind of journeys. It’d work great as a supplement to a car for when hunting for a parking spot could double journey times.
Will it make you look ridiculous?
Well, judging by these photos, maybe a little ridiculous. Still, I’d take a friendly laugh over a turned up nose any day. And a turned up nose is exactly what I got parking at the cafe this morning on very loud black on black on black Tuono V4. It’s fun and relaxing to subvert the whole biker stereotype thing.
How’s it ride?
Ergonomics are just uncramped enough that I was able to comfortable sit on it without the bars fouling my knees. I’m 6’ 2” and have a 34” inseam.
Suspension travel is extremely limited and the tiny 10-inch wheels are easily thrown of course by the smallest of obstacles, but stability is rock solid at top speed. The end result makes cutting through obstacles intuitively easy and cruising at WOT completely relaxing.
Will it wheelie?
If you put both feet down and push backwards with them as you open the throttle, it totally will. For about two feet.
Why not just get a Ruckus?
Yeah, the Ruckus has better styling, but it’s $500 more and uses the older, 114mpg, carb’d motor. The Metropolitan’s enclosed underseat storage space might be more immediately practical depending on your needs too.
Did you get bored riding it?
Not really. No it’s no exotic Italian literbike, but just cruising along, totally worry free has as much merit in an urban situation as flying along, worried about cars, cops and precise grip levels. Scooters are just a different experience. One that still gets you outside, out of traffic and into your very own world.
117mpg, $1,999, it’s a Honda.