The Forza may not be a completely new name but the machine hasn’t been officially imported into the UK for a good few years, it’s back though and should be in your local Honda dealership now.
The scooter has been restyled, has a new frame and a new engine too. First introduced in 2000, the Forza came with typically sleek Japanese styling but it’s been revamped and now features the larger capacity engine from the very successful SH300i. The design brief was to create a scooter that gives the rider a feeling of being sat in, rather than on the scooter, with a natural riding position and to coin the Japanese brief they were told to build a ‘Dynamic, almighty commuter.’ So have Honda succeeded?
What makes a good commuter scooter? Weather protection has to be a big consideration and with some serious wind tunnel testing the profile of the scooter has been slimmed slightly, a great way to help you nip in and out of traffic, it’s also been designed to let the air pass in and around it very well to stop turbulence and help stability. Storage is another selling point and you can fit two full faced helmets beneath the seat (or store all kinds of stuff under there). You also get two storage bins up front, one of which is lockable and can be accessed by pressing a button near the handlebars, there’s another button to pop the fuel flap and open the seat. Both storage bins are quite deep and the left one also contains an accessory socket, accessing it loses an arm to near the elbow though. Security is another consideration and the Forza comes with HISS (Honda Ignition Security System), which is an electronic immobiliser. The handlebars themselves are quite bike like, rather than being enclosed like most scooters, which is a good thing if you want to bolt a sat nav or mobile holder to them. Seat height is another important aspect and at just 716mm high it must be a perfect fit for the Honda test pilot, I thought the seating position left me feeling a little cramped though, even in the feet forward position, so have a sit on one if you’re over six foot. It was comfortable though and the backrest is worth having. The average commuter is also looking for a decent tank range and Honda claim over 200 miles from the Forza, not bad from an 11.6litre tank.
Up close the new Forza has more than a hint of PCX about it, not surprising really seeing as the PCX has been a consistently good seller for Honda. The Forza looks very sleek and modern, it’s also finished as well as you’d expect from a Honda. The dash is all new and features a small central round digital screen with dual trips, fuel gauge, temp, and level indicators. There’s also a traditional analogue speedo and rev counter either side of it. Colour choice is limited to Seal Silver Metallic, Pearl Himalayas White and Asteroid Black. For my money white stands out the best, it’s a lovely deep pearlescent colour. Not so good trying to keep it clean though.
Riding the new model in Spain at the launch meant we had chance to experience a variety of road conditions, ranging from town riding through to open countryside and a flat out motorway blast. Personally I love the SH300i, it’s been a great seller for Honda and it surprised me the first time I ever rode it. It’s quick off the mark, has loads of grunt out of corners and feels very agile, so I was hoping the Forza would match it. Honda may have lifted the engine from the SH but they’ve also tweaked it slightly to produce it’s power higher up the range, rather than being built to win traffic light Grand Prix’s. The engine produces 25.7bhp (the SH makes 26.8) but has a bit more of a lazy feel to it and it takes a while to get into its stride. Get it moving though and that power catches up and will handle motorway speeds very easily. A Honda tech guy told us it had been built especially for the longer distance commuter who may well need to do some mile munching at decent cruising speeds. Handling wise you’re getting twin rear shocks (adjustable) and the scooter comes fitted with the excellent Dunlop ScootSmart tyres, the first time I’ve seen them as OE fitment since I covered their launch almost two years ago. The tyres certainly gripped well on the Spanish roads once they’d got a bit of heat into them. The scooter has C-ABS fitted; pull the right lever to operate the front brake independently, or the rear for combined braking. Try and cause the rear to lock and the ABS sorts things out without fuss, it’s a great system. In fact I’d say Honda produce the best bike ABS system, whether it’s on their sportsbikes, the Integra or this mid capacity Forza it works fantastically well. The lazy, laid back Forza riding position and steady acceleration is translated into how the scooter feels on the road. It’s a machine that is very agile and can be flicked from side to side but it’s certainly not sports orientated, which will no doubt suit most commuters.
Our test route gave us plenty of time to get to grips with the scooter and our 15 strong posse ripped the Spanish countryside up and spat it out. Our ride back to the hotel turned into an unofficial race along the motorway, ten miles of flat out, head tucked well behind the screen speed testing, Forzas to the front, rear and sides all trying to eek every last bit out of the machine. For your information the top speed was 94mph on the clock and the scooter felt stable and well planted. After a good thrashing the readout on the dash showed it was running at 22.5kml, or 63mpg, not bad for what was a fast blast. The Forza makes a welcome addition to the 300cc class; it’s modern, sleek and sits well between the existing PCX125 and the Silverwing.