Honda Charges Forward with Electric Micromobility
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Honda Charges Forward with Electric Micromobility

Honda electric mountain bike

Honda has finally jumped into electric micromobility. They are renowned for their gas-powered vehicles. They make cars, motorcycles, lawnmowers, generators, and even jet airplanes. Of their entire repertoire of vehicular transport, the closest Honda has been to electric is a couple of hybrid car models. Until now.

They are stepping into electric with a couple of interesting takes. An electric scooter that is the size of a large briefcase that you can actually purchase, and an electric mountain bike that’s currently only a concept.

Motocompacto Electric Scooter

The Motocompacto electric scooter is the reimagined Motocompo, a foldable ICE scooter from the 80s designed to be foldable and able to fit in a trunk. It folds up into itself, making itself 3.7×21.1×29.2” folded. Even as scooters go, this is unobtrusive when stored. Unfolded, it has a comfortable seat, nice handlebar with a rear brake and a throttle, two folding footpegs and the most adorable teeny kickstand you’ve ever seen.

I rode one at the L.A. Auto Show, and it’s an interesting experience. You have to give it a good push to get it started, but the thumb throttle is very responsive. It was easy to get going really fast, quite dangerous when cornering on the polished concrete floor. Because the Motocompacto is front-wheel drive, on that surface it was prone to washing out and dropping you on the floor if you applied any throttle at all through the corners. I somewhat enjoyed seeing all the wipeouts, I escaped fully upright on my test ride.

Image showcasing Honda Motocompacto test rides at 2023 LA Auto Show
Honda Motocompacto test rides at the LA Auto Show

In the real world, on a normal sidewalk or street (e.g. bike lane), there would be plenty of grip. I used to race bikes on convention center floors during the winter, there is very little grip. So for normal commuters, it’s a non-issue.

It maxes out at 15 mph, and has a range of 12 miles. Acceleration is good, 0-15 mph in 7 seconds. It can carry a rider who weighs up to 265 lbs, and fully charges in 3.5 hours. The battery is swappable, but you’d have to buy an extra battery. I cannot imagine someone wanting to ride more than 12 miles on what is ostensibly an electric briefcase. There’s room to store the charger inside the folded bike, so you can always carry it with you in case you want to charge it. It weighs in at 41.3 lbs.

You can buy one now for $995.

E-MTB Concept

Honda just showed off their electric mountain bike concept at the Japan Mobility Show. Honda wasn’t constrained by traditional frame designs, so they seem to have looked outside the box on this one. It’s a full-suspension mountain bike with a single-pivot rear suspension, a plastic-covered aluminum monocoque frame that reminds me a bit of the original Iacocca eBike. They’re definitely using designs from their motorcycle side. The swingarm is forged aluminum, way different from the tubing used in most mountain bikes. 

They chose a Brose motor. Their motors are some of the quietest in the industry, using a carbon belt instead of meshed gears. You’ve never heard of Brose, you say? There’s a reason for that. German company Brose manufactures motors for the automotive industry, just like Bosch. And just like Bosch, they’ve made e-bike motor systems for many years. The difference is that Bosch advertises and has great branding on their motors and batteries, while Brose rarely even has their name on their motors. Specialized started using them almost a decade ago in the Turbo Levo and other bikes. 

It has a SRAM Eagle AXS drivetrain, Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, DT Swiss XM 1700 wheels, and Maxxis Minion tires. At least they went with industry standards for components, albeit the higher end.

It’s still merely a concept bike, they haven’t tipped their hand as to whether there will be a production version of this bike. It’s good to see Honda start electrifying. Other major car brands, like Porsche, Hummer and Jeep expanded into e-bikes. Even Toyota jumped in with one this year. The Honda concept is interesting, but the radical design may not go well with more traditional mountain bikers.

Now, I’m waiting to see if Tesla decides to make an e-bike.



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