2013 Honda PCX150 Review: Barely (Highway) Legal

What a Difference 28cc Makes

2013 Honda PCX150 Scooter Review
The 2013 Honda PCX150 scooter. Photo © Basem Wasef

Manufacturer's Site

The late, great 2011 Honda PCX125 was a freshly styled scooter with cues borrowed from its big brother touring bike, the Honda VFR 1200F. But one of the few complaints I mentioned in my original review of the bike was that its 125cc engine didn't qualify it for highway use in most states, making it an "almost legal" freeway cruiser.

How did Honda address that issue, and at what price?

To find out, read on.

The Goods: More than Just a Slightly Bigger Engine

Instead of simply punching the old PCX125's engine to a freeway legal displacement, Honda set out to improve the mill so it could optimize efficiency while boasting a larger size.

Foreign market PCX150s boast a so-called Idle Stop feature, which automatically shuts the engine off when the bike is at a standstill. The U.S. version, on the other hand, relies on other improvements like a newly developed belt design, a centrally positioned radiator, and reduced frictional losses. Although the 153cc engine is 22 percent bigger than the 125cc model it replaces, it claims an estimated fuel economy of 102 mpg-- a negligible compromise to the PCX125's figure of 110 mpg.

Other improvements to the PCX150 include a revised seat cushion and seat back rest for greater comfort compared to the old perch, and a new 35 liter top case for more storage possibilities.

Elsewhere, the PCX150 offers typical scooter features like fourteen inch wheels at either end, a 220mm front disk brake linked to a rear drum, both a sidestand and a centerstand, and 25 liter underseat storage along with a small 1.5 liter glovebox up front.

Best of all, the PCX150's price comes in at $3,449, only $50 more than the 125cc model it replaces.

On the Road: Improved Ergonomics and Freeway Speeds, Yet Still Very Scooterish

Straddle the PCX150, and you'll notice a slightly less taxing seating posture than the PCX125-- as I mentioned in my review of the outgoing bike, the 125's seat left me "... wondering how easy it would be to remove the bolt-in divider that divies up the two-seat saddle." The new bike's saddle also offers thicker cushioning, which appropriately enough makes freeway rides tolerable for longer periods of time, though at the end of the day it's still a scooter, not a touring bike.

Around town, the PCX150 zips around nimbly and easily, especially since its 286 pound curb weight is only 6 pounds more than its predecessor. Motorcycle fans might prefer the big bike handling of SH150i model, which is graced with 16-inch wheels but doesn't look nearly as cool as the PCX. Accelerating to freeway speeds requires a bit of bravado on the PCX150, especially in areas where traffic flows faster than the recommended limit; I hit just above an indicated 70 mph on the PCX, which can be an eye-opening speed on a scooter with smallish 14-inch wheels. I found a quick highway blast to be perfectly appropriate for the PCX150; it got me where I needed to go, despite the heightened sense of focus required due to faster moving traffic and the sometimes twitchy responsiveness of those small wheels.

Other scooter benefits include an underseat storage compartment big enough for a helmet, and a lightweight footprint that makes it easily to maneuver onto sidewalks and narrow uphill spots for parking.

Bottom Line, Who Should Buy the 2013 Honda PCX150 Scooter?

While the PCX150's trivial price gain of $50 and notable addition of freeway legality make it a no-brainer for scooter buyers, I felt that-- at least on the high-speed highways where I live-- I wouldn't want to make a habit of riding this scooter on the freeway. Sure, if traffic consistently stuck to the speed limit, it wouldn't be such a big deal to top out this scooter at its vmax of (an indicated) 70 mph every once in a while. But if a long freeway commute were part of my daily ritual, I'd probably be tempted to forgo the 102 mpg fuel economy claims and opt for a bike with a bigger engine; though the PCX150 is a strong value and a thoughtfully put-together bike, its highway capability should also come with the caveat that this attractive little 'scoot is barely freeway legal.

Nonetheless, Honda's new 'scoot succeeds at offering a slightly punchier, incrementally comfier, and ultimately satisfying scooter experience; with its triple-digit fuel economy and ability to hit the highway when necessary, the PCX150 ticks a whole lot of boxes for just a few bucks, making it an excellent solution for most urban transportation needs.

Who Should Buy the 2013 Honda PCX150 Scooter?

Avid scooter fans who need freeway legality but don't mind dodging faster moving traffic.

2013 Honda PCX150 Specifications


  • Price: $3,499
  • Engine: Liquid-cooled, four-stroke 153cc single-cylinder
  • Transmission: CVT (continuously variable transmission)
  • Front Suspension: 31mm hydraulic fork, 3.5 inches of travel
  • Rear Suspension: Unit swingarm with dual shocks, 3.1 inches of travel
  • Brakes: Combined, with 220mm front disk, 3 piston caliper, and rear drum
  • Curb Weight: 286 pounds
  • Fuel Capacity: 1.6 gallon
  • Estimated Fuel Economy: 102 mpg
  • Seat Height: 29.9 inches

Manufacturer's Site