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Honda SH300i - review and road test

Honda's CRF-derived motor powers this superscoot


I felt sad when I was riding the SH300i in Sicily. Not sad because the scooter is rubbish " far from it " this thing is an amazing piece of kit that's comfy, nippy, it handles and it would be perfect for anyone travelling through any of our larger inner cities. The reason I'm sad is that Honda UK are bringing in just 300 of these little creatures into the UK, while our Italian cousins are expected to consume " wait for it " 30,000 of the little blighters.

Yes, it really is true that we as a nation seem to shun scooters. Which is a shame, as there's so much to love about them and even more to embrace with something like the SH300i.

Firstly, the motor is a little stunner. In fact, it feels like a 400 or 500 rather than a 279.1cc four-stroke. Instant urge is a twist of the grip away from a standstill and this thing is also a hoot at speed (100mph top-end) and still has the urgency you need at the top-end of its rev-range. I was never left wanting while overtaking cars on twisty Sicilian roads. Thank the CRF four-stroke-derived motor for that.

Stopping was similarly brilliant. The SH is equipped with awesome Dual CBS and ABS stoppers and they match this machine perfectly and you could feel the ABS pulsing at the lever, working hard to save your arse on the wet roads we encountered. Handling is also mega. At low speed you're thanking the fact that this thing isn't barge-like, like a SilverWing or Foresight allowing you to drip and slip through traffic like shite through a Victorian sewer. Then, when the mood takes you, whazz the SH up to top speed and revel in the stability that only a 16-inch big-wheel scoot can provide. Honda " unlike their competitors in this class " have also kept a 'traditional' flat foot-board arrangement. The fact that handling hasn't suffered accordingly is thanks to Honda's new three-piece articulating linkage which adjoins the swingarm. Honda reckons it helps high-speed handling. I'd agree, but I would also say that it works wonders over the pot-holed and cobble-stoned little Sicilian town squares we traversed, too.

All is not sweetness and light, though. As it's a small, big-bore scoot, under-seat storage on such a compact scooter is marginal (open-face lid at best) although you can purchase the 35-litre top-box should you want the extra space. Honda countered my criticism saying the SH is more of a traditional scooter than an executive machine. Also, the footboards are a little snug if you're a size 11 or over and the looks being 'traditional SH' are not everyone's cup of tea.

But the SH on the whole, is. Did you know that since the first one saw light of day back in 1984, more than 350,000 of 'em have been sold? Impressive.

Maybe, just maybe, one day we'll see more of them on the UK's inner-city roads as they are a much better alternative to antiquated, under-funded and sometimes down-right dangerous public transport. So there.