First ride: Honda NSS300 Forza review

Honey, I've blown up the kid!

Posted: 8 May 2013
by Sachin Rao
Flowing bodywork looks bang up to date
Refined power delivery and a well-balanced ride
Comprehensive instruments and plenty of storage

THE Honda PCX125 is the UK's best selling small scooter, with good reason. It's a smooth, nippy, agile little scoot; its swoopy looks are very up to the minute, and it's cheap to buy and run (90+ mpg). On the downside it's small and riding two-up is cramped, there's storage for only one helmet and say a pair of trainers, and it maxes out at 62mph, which is frustrating on the occasional A-road. It's a great little runabout - but you wish you had a bit more space and a bit more oomph. If I sound very confident about that, well, I do own one...

And along comes the NSS300 Forza offering just that. While the Forza imitates the looks and shape of the PCX - it looks like Honda's boffins put the PCX in an enlarger and set it to 'Double' - it has substantially more power and speed, and more generous storage and generous seating. It plugs a gap in Honda's line-up: that of a stylish mid-sized scooter, slotting in neatly between the rather dumpy-looking SH300i and the bigger, slicker Silver Wing 400 and  600 (though only the latter is sold in the UK). But what impact do these gains in size and power have on the crucial factors of fuel economy, agility, and purchase price?

The Forza is powered by the 279cc, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected single-cylinder engine from the SH300i, though quoted power is down 2bhp to 24 bhp. The engine sits in a frame which Honda says is built to flex in certain areas while otherwise being extremely rigid. Around this is wrapped flowing bodywork with big and aggressive twin headlights that make the bike look best from a front-three-quarters angle. Side-on the flank and shoulder look a tad wide, but overall the look is one of aerodynamic modernity. 

Tucked into all this bodywork are a variety of cubbyholes and underseat storage. Button-operated flaps allow access to the two-helmet underseat storage area and the fuel cap which is located on the central part of the inside of the fairing, while there's a deep (nearly the length of my forearm!) storage compartment to the left, and a smaller one to the right.

The Forza's instrumentation is comprehensive and very analog, with the racy looking speedo and tach set next to fuel and temperature gauges, and a small central digital display for trip distance, fuel consumption and the time. There's a 12V power socket too, for your heated jackets, satnavs and whatnot.

This is not a compact scooter, but doesn't feel vast like, say, a Burgman 650. When you swing a leg over it and settle into the 716mm-high seat, it feels low and deep, bending your legs into a motorcycle-like angle (though that may just be me; the floorboards allow you your choice of leg angle, from rearset to kicked out) and a 'sit-in' riding position. If you're a scooter-sceptic or biker who has only ever sat 'on' scooters (like Vespas) and not felt 'at one' with the bike, take a spin on the Forza. 

The seat is wide and plush, with the backstop on the rider's seat perfectly positioned to give your bum a great warm hug (who doesn't like that eh?) and also to allow your rucksack to take a rest. While I did not have the opportunity to carry a passenger, pillions seem to have been well catered for with a wide seat and footrests and integrated grab rail. 

Pop in the key (with Honda's H.I.S.S. security system, the engine is immobilised unless the key's embedded chip matches), and with the engine fired up and emitting a nondescript sound, it's time to head off. In that typically Honda way, the power delivery is refined, soft, under control - the Forza doesn't have the sporty, urgent feel of, say, a Yamaha X-Max 250 (which actually makes 4 bhp less). 

The 194kg Forza gets up to 60 mph in about 11 seconds and pushes on to a top of 90 mph - more than enough for the open road for most commuter needs - at which point the engine is doing 8,000-odd rpm but remains perfectly refined and doesn't feel ragged or out of breath at all. However there were times, especially uphill, when I felt it could have done with a few more horses. 

Honda believes that the 300 class is the perfect balance between urban agility and highway power. With a 1,546-mm wheelbase (one mil over the X-Max 250), you can sift through town centres pretty rapidly, though I'll wait until I get a stint on it in Central London to see just how it slices and dices.

Where the Forza really comes into its own is freer-flowing traffic and more open roads. The test route was full of lovely flowing corners with sparse traffic, and with the seamless CVT transmission allowing you to switch off half your brain, it's great fun to just twist-go-brake-lean-go. It feels light and well balanced, and is no trouble at all to flick through the bends. 

At 60-70mph, it dealt with occasional patches of bumps and ripples of this stretch of Spanish motorway with  poise, the suspension not sending the bumps straight up the spine. But the bike did feel skittish at sustained vmax, perhaps not entirely unexpected given its 14-inch front and 13-inch rear wheel, and a scooter's profile being naturally more susceptible to crosswinds. 

The Forza sports Honda's combined braking system (CBS), where the left lever activates both front and rear brakes, while the right lever only works the front. Some people don't like it, but I've always found this system useful - I use the right lever purely to slow down or scrub off speed on more open or twisty roads, while in town or when riding two-up, I only use the rear brake so the bike sits down flat rather than dives forward under braking. Add in ABS, and the Forza's stopping power is adequate for all daily needs as well as the occasional burst of over-enthusiasm. 

Honda's claim for fuel economy is 30.8 km/litre, or 87.4 mpg. At the 70-mile mark of our test loop, which included a bit of town riding, a couple of good stretches of motorway and W.O.T., and lots of twisties and sweepers, my Forza took on exactly 4 litres, which works out to a very creditable 79.8 mpg. The 11.6-litre tank makes for a 200-mile-plus range.

The Forza is certainly an accomplished scooter, but is it a good buy? Honda UK hasn't confirmed pricing yet, but the ballpark figure mentioned was £5,000. This is, again, a neat fit between the £4,750 SH300i and the £6,650 Silver Wing 600 - and about double the PCX's £2,600 sticker. 

If you're an ex-motorcyclist, or moving up from a small motorcycle to a large scooter because you need the convenience yet want an involved ride, you may want to test-ride a Yamaha X-Max 250, which costs ten per cent less, or the X-Max 400 for a few hundred quid more. Whereas for moped or small-scooter riders moving up the capacity ladder, and car drivers or public transport users seeking a commuter bike, this friendly, refined, good-looking Honda is well worth a look. 

Model tested: Honda NSS300 Forza

Price as tested: TBC - approximately £5,000

Colours: Silver, Black, White



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honda forza, forza scooter, forza maxiscooter, honda nss300, honda nss300 forza, honda forza mpg, honda forza top speed
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I'm a little bit confused by Honda's choice of wheel size for this scooter. They make a huge song and dance over the SH300i having 16" wheels, front and back, then they produce this larger, more "comfortable" version and give it smaller wheels. They also give it less horsepower, for a heavier bike.
What were they thinking?
The only advantage this would give me over my SH300i is the extra room for my feet. With size 10 boots on, I have about 5mm of free space to move my feet, whereas this machine seems to offer much more space.

Posted: 09/05/2013 at 11:53

I run a sh300i great scoot.The forza looks like parts of other honda scooters.The styling as stated is pcx,the dashboard is silverwing ,the engine detuned sh 300i.Would be a interesting comparison in acceleration.The forza probably a bit more comfortable, i agree with mud doctor the sh could do with a bit more legroom.

Posted: 10/05/2013 at 15:39

I WOULD TAKE THE FORZA 300CC OVER THE 400CC BURGMAN EVERYTIME.LIGHTER MORE ECONNOMICAL £1400 less .

Posted: 31/05/2013 at 15:22

The forza was supposed too be in dealers end of may.Been in two honda dealers no sign of the elusive forza.I enquired in both honda dealerships and both replied cannot get one until at least august,whats going on Honda?

Posted: 03/06/2013 at 20:09

I'm on a debate between this and the piaggio x10. Waiting for it to be in the local honda to see it in person though once honda finally deliver it

Posted: 09/08/2013 at 15:36

I went into my local Honda dealer this Saturday (31st August 2013) and saw the Forza. It's lovely and comfortable and does look like an inflated PCX BUT with a much comfier seat and far bigger under-seat storage, unsurprisingly. It is quite a bit wider than the PCX and nice and low on the ground and the engine sounds the same as the PCX - goodness, that sounds a girlie thing to say but I'm sure you all know what I mean! I cannot decide between the Forza and PCX (only required for commuting a short distance every day, 2 x 8.5 miles) - the ONLY things that put me off the PCX are a) the seat hump (though I know this can be removed and the seat re-uphostered) and b) the short service intervals (every 2500 miles) - though I gather this is the norm for 125 scooters as their oil doesn't last long and degrades quickly (or perhaps that's just Honda 'speak' for "we want to get as much money out of you as we can"..... I'd be interested to hear more views on these two beasts!!

Posted: 02/09/2013 at 10:09

Kitty 63 test rode the honda forza yesterday ,i was very disappointed.I run a sh300i allthough butt ugly quicker and more manoverable than the forza and lighter 160kg opposed too 190kgs.The forza skittish in crosswinds ,those small wheels mean your spine takes a jarring over potholes.But the real problem is performance crack the sh open and it propels down the road nicely ,the forza crack it open and you wait you wait .Admittedly the engine was a bit tight with only 66 miles on the clock but i expected more performance.For your commutte i think the pcx would be a better bet half the price more econimical 65mph.Or if you want more performance the sh300i will be a good bet if you can put up with its looks .There maybe some good offers on the sh/s as my local honda branch told me there no longer importing the sh 300,hope this helps go steady woodworker.

Posted: 12/09/2013 at 19:23

Hi kitty 63 , just a thought have you looked at the reviews for the pcx on here ?

Posted: 18/09/2013 at 08:55

Hi woodworker - thanks for your message and sorry for delay in acknowledging it! I have just put down a deposit for the Forza and she gets delivered on Tuesday! I'm not too worried about riding at break-neck speed to be honest but wanted something with more oomph than the PCX. A friend has the PCX and I sat on it and know now I've made the right decision! Whilst the PCX looks very 'funky' and is very economical, I couldn't get over (pardon the pun!) small overall size of it (I'm not shrinking violet!) or that bloomin hump. So, I WILL be happy - I HAVE to be!!! Ride safe everyone x

Posted: 08/11/2013 at 14:29

Hi kitty ,sorry for the delay in answering [ditto ha]. I hope your very pleased with your new steed .I just had a few reservations after owning its predessor ,and I did inform my local Honda dealer of those reservations.I guess in the end we all make our own choice ,you go careful .

Posted: 27/11/2013 at 19:45

Hi woodworker, thanks for your replies. I've now had my new beast for about 3 weeks and love it to ride and manoeuvre BUT, and it's an annoying BIG 'BUT', the left fairing box is locked shut and I cannot open it as the switch is broken already! This wouldn't be so annoying if I wasn't now thinking that perhaps the same will happen with the other switch that unlocks the seat and, more importantly the fuel!! It's quite ironic that they say in the handbook that you shouldn't store any valuables in the fairing box or under the seat - I wonder why????!!! The nice chaps at my local Honda dealer are going to look at it when I take it in for the first service but they tell me they're going to have to strip the bike down which means I'll be without it for a few days - VERY ANNOYING but at least covered under warranty - at least, it should be - I've treated my bike very gently and very well!!! Ride safe everyone

Posted: 06/12/2013 at 13:48

Hi kitty 63 ,sorry too hear your having a few teething problems with the forza .Would be great if you could post a worts and all review on here when 6 months old .Helps others when there deciding on what bike too purchase.Go steady .

Posted: 01/01/2014 at 19:34

Kitty 63 ,saw a review by another owner saying she too had a problem with the left glovebox her nickname was toria .Turned out the cable had not been attached properly by the factory. Also heard reports of the black plastic that protects between the rear wheel and bottom of the seat has been coming adrift ,come on Honda not good enough.

Posted: 25/01/2014 at 14:17

While on the subject of the forza ,it already needs upgrades and only been out what 6 months .Needs upgraded rear suspension ,needs 28 ponies,locking gloveboxes,and maybe idle stop,start like the amazing pcx.

Posted: 29/01/2014 at 20:09

Worth a look? - the Kawasaki J300 £4095. I have one and love it.


Posted: 28/04/2014 at 08:12

I think you may be right larryblag ,can see the j300 taking sales from the competition.However scuff marks on the tunnel not good after 200 miles ,some sort of scuff resistant pads needed me thinks go steady .

Posted: 28/04/2014 at 11:29

Thanks woodworker - I scuffed mine first day. Not deeply but I might get some dark grey pretend carbon fibre sticky backed plastic (here's one I prepared earlier) type stuff. 


Posted: 29/04/2014 at 12:41

Sounds like a game plan larryblag.

Posted: 01/05/2014 at 16:27

Larryblag any chance of a update on how living with the j300 is going ?

Posted: 10/06/2014 at 19:48

Went and had a peep at the new j300 yesterday .I was amazed at the sheer physical size of it .No surprise you can get all your groceries in the seat .Will not fit through my front gate though , much to the wife's amusement .

Posted: 30/07/2014 at 10:57

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