By introducing the Honda Elite 110 scooter in the starlet- and paparazzi-heavy Brentwood area of Los Angeles, the "nicest people" people gave journalists a sense of what their latest little scooter is really good for: cruising quickly around a traffic-mad city with breezy ease and a playful attitude.
For the past year I've reluctantly been four-wheel-bound courtesy of a shattered wrist and broken shoulder (bicycle and rollerblade accidents, thanks for asking), thus the chance to ride the Elite 110 couldn't have come at a better time. Sure, the doctor had warned against doing anything dangerous, but how dangerous could a Honda-sponsored Poker Run around the City of Angels really be? So camera in hand, I hopped on the lil' scoot and zipped off to Red Bull headquarters, the first stop on our list.
Every traffic light in L.A. is like the start of a Grand Prix: Once the red light goes out, everybody's throttle is pinned. Even so the Elite held its own, peeling off the line easily while leaving cars in its wake. At the next light it came to a stop just as swiftly courtesy of its great brakes, something many scooters of this size/price point lack. The brakes are linked so that a squeeze on either lever actuates the opposing brake, hauling things down rapidly thanks to the single front disc and reasonably powerful rear drum.
The 110cc four-stroke single has enough juice to easily top 45 mph. Even commuting up and over some of L.A.'s steepest and most heavily traveled roads, I was never at a loss for power, thanks in part to the PGM-FI fuel injection. But while Honda claims the Elite can achieve 100 mpg, I never saw anything higher than 80 riding around town.
Quick pick-up and solid stopping power make the Elite an excellent urban companion. Clever
Perfect for the urban landscape, the Elite has a 9-gallon storage compartment that gave me plenty of room for my helmet plus my oversized purse, shopping bags, etc. There is also a handy little glove box right in front of your knees that keeps small items within easy reach-like the three 6s I collected during the poker run. The two helmet hooks under the seat and the bag hook above the glove box also work great for hanging grocery bags.
Zooming all over L.A. at the press intro, I fell in love with the Elite. It's a bouncy ride with a great motor, excellent stopping ability and great maneuverability. Heading back to the hotel where we started, I had to admit that the Honda isn't as stylish as the hipster-trendy Vespas that litter the city. But at $2999, it's a much better deal.
When I got back to the hotel, another 6 was waiting for me, making me the poker run winner with four of a kind! And Honda surely has another winner on its hands with the Elite 110.