Test Ride: Honda Ruckus

0
129

Words: Rob Harris   Photos: Various

Regular readers will know that last year we had a long-term 50cc Ruckus (aka Baby-Ruckus), which we just loved. I’m still not sure why, but I suspect it was mainly due to its bizarre, naked styling, and big-googly eyes (I like me scooters like I like me gurls). Oh, and the fact that the Ruckus is about as messed up as we are.

Well, now there’s a ‘Big Ruckus’, and so by rights we should love it even more, no? Well, for starters it’s not just an expanded version of the Baby Ruckus. Styling is similar in as much as it has a bright yellow naked frame, but it’s also considerably chunkier and (in my opinion) has lost some of the cuteness appeal in favour of ugly. Yeah, so maybe that’s even more CMG, but in looks and style at least, the Big Ruckus is more second-cousin than big brother.

NUTS AND BOLTS

Hydraulic forks stop suddenly at lower triple clamp.

The motor’s a 249cc, liquid-cooled, four-stroke single with SOHC and fuel supplied by an old-fashioned CV carb with an auto-enrichening system (no choke). As with most modern scooters, transmission is the Constantly Variable Type (CVT) with the same three-stage operation as on the Silverwing (with power or economy gearing as required).

The whole thing is wrapped up in that exposed yellow steel frame and sprung with hydraulic forks at the front and a single shock at the rear. The front gets a single disc brake, although the rear is fitted with a drum. Interestingly, Honda has opted to fit their linked braking system, but in this format the right-hand lever only operates the front brake while the left does them both.

Wheels sizes and fuel capacity are all 12 (inches or litres – but we’ll let you decide which way round they go). The googly eyes up front contain a pair of rather impressive 55/60-Watt lights. Claimed dry weight is 164.7 Kg and the seat height is a middle-of-the-road 721 mm.

Fold-up rear seat reveals large cargo area.

There’s also a rather ingenious seating system where not only can the passenger portion be raised to act as a back support for the rider (which also uncovers a large cargo area beneath) but the whole shebang can be slid fore and aft (by up to 90mm) to accommodate lankier riders as well. Needless to say, I was rather pleased, and sadly entertained by this engineering marvel.

THE RIDE OF THE RUCKUS

When preparing to board the B-Ruckus, the first thing you have to do is fiddle with that rear seat adjustment. Well, maybe adjustment is the wrong word, because the rear will only slot into place either fully-down or fully-up (which is actually about 75 degrees). There is the fore and aft adjustment as well (by a lever under the seat), which – much like a car’s seat – went to the fully back position and stayed there. Fine, now I’m ready to ride.

The riding position is the classic cruiser pose of feet forward (onto floorboards), arms straight ahead and torso slightly back. That’s why the rear seat/backrest does the 75-degree angle – it’s your support (and much welcomed it is too).

I’m happy to note, that I pretty much fit into this one – albeit barely, as the bars would just graze my knees from lock to lock. But, being of the tubular type (the bars, not my knees) I don’t see anything that would prevent them from being swiveled around a tadge (that’s Yorkshire for “tad” BTW) to suit different riders, or even fitting a different type altogether – it’s not like there’s any fairing up there to bash against, and a set of ape-hangers would be too cool.

Okay, maybe not. Even so, riding with knees splayed out helped to avoid any bar contact, as well as allowing for the occasional quick realignment of my Generals. [That one’s specially for Purlgirl].

A metric tonne!

While this position adds to the overall funkiness quotient (although there is some danger of looking like a tit), it does have the unfortunate knack of locking you in. Comfortable at first, I could feel a growing pressure on the top o’ my arse, which was hard to relieve (the pressure, not my arse) as it’s not easy to raise up on your legs since they’re pointing forwards, After my two hour ride, though, Monsieur Arse was still within acceptable soreness limits.

Whacking the throttle fully open will see the 250cc motor accelerate quite promptly up to around the 50 km/h mark, and then with somewhat less urgency to the tonne (that’s 100km/h BTW), after which it’s down to crawling for anything more. How much more, I wasn’t willing to wait to find out.

Although the B-Ruckus is competent for a 250, there’s something about its funkiness that feels that it should be geared for more umph. Maybe this is a good candidate for the Burgman-style “power” button? It’s not that the smooth – but lazy – motor isn’t good enough, it would just be more interesting if it came with a more peppy option.

Handling-wise, the steering is very quick. And so it should be, as most of the B-Ruckus’s life will likely be spent in town, where it will nimbly weave between the traffic chaos and burst through any openings. On the highway it’s a tad sensitive to any body shifts or knee/bar grazings, but you soon adjust and learn to diminish your inputs accordingly.

Although there’s no wind protection, you’re never really going that fast, and the cool salty Key breeze was a rather pleasant sensation to experience. Granted, a cold Canadian wind might not be so welcome, but with no shield also comes little noise.

The suspension seemed to cope fine, but then the roads were pretty smooth and, unlike the S-Wing, I didn’t get the chance to take it down a bumpy sand-track, so I don’t know how it copes with the rougher stuff. As for the brakes, the front hydraulic disc is very strong, although the rear drum proved hard to lock up for monster slides.

Yeah, yeah, I know, but it’s a Ruckus! It’s all about hooliganism, isn’t it? It probably had more to do with the linked braking system (rear also works the front) than lack of power, and you do end up with strong and safe braking, which is maybe better … for the wusses! Err, I mean, thoughtful and safety-conscious rider.

RUCKERIFFIC?

During the first evening’s presentation, Honda outlined the type of person that they see as a potential buyer for the Big Ruckus. And it was quite specific, from Urban deliveries (that’s Pizza), to the back of motor-homes, to the entry/commuter/female rider or just as a cottage runabout.

I know which bike I’d prefer at the Keys.

And why not? It’s nippy, capable, has a big storage area at the back (big enough for a two-four of beer apparently) and most importantly, it has beaucoup de funk.

I think where Honda may run into problems is at the asking price. For $6,999.00 it’s almost three times the price of the Baby Ruckus and in the 250 world it’s about $2,000 up on all the cruisers. Same goes for the only other 250 scooter – Daelim’s Wing Road. For the same price you could even get Kawasaki’s sporty ZZR250 or a whole host of bigger midrange bikes – the KLR650 included.

But the Big Ruckus has what the others do not, and that is uniqueness.

Will that sell? We’ll just have to wait and see. Pizza and a two-four anyone?


SPECIFICATIONS

Bike

Honda Ruckus

MSL

$6,999.00

Displacement

249 cc

Engine type

sohc single-cylinder, liquid-cooled

Carburetion

30 mm CV carb

Final drive

Automatic CVT

Tires, front

110/90-12

Tires, rear

130/70-12

Brakes, front

Single 240 mm discs with 3 piston calipers

Brakes, rear

160 mm drum

Seat height

721 mm (28.4″)

Wheelbase

1448 mm (57.0″)

Dry weight

164.7 Kg (claimed)

Colours

Yellow, yellow or yellow

Join the conversation!