I rode the charming Honda Motocompacto scooter last week at Honda’s North American headquarters, and while riding impressions are embargoed, what isn’t embargoed are impressions of the pièce de résistance of this sequel to the legendary 1980s Motocompo: The elaborate folding operation.
Here’s how the $995 Motocompacto folds and unfolds, here’s how quickly Honda itself was able to unfold it from a rectangular suitcase into a functioning electric scooter, and here’s how heavy the scooter felt once all folded up.
Undoubtedly the strangest but also most charming media drive of all time, my experience last week at Honda’s North American HQ in Irvine, California involved me joining in group of journalists and scooting around the gorgeous campus as a Honda employee led the way. It was quite epic:
The ride ended in a little parking area, where Honda set up a motocross course. The little electric scooter felt [redacted], and when I really took it with some speed into the corners it was as [redacted] and [redacted] as I could possibly have imagined.
OK, I didn’t actually redact anything there, but riding impressions come on Wednesday. Today, we have to talk about how this little 40-ish pound scooter folds, because it’s worth of its own post.
First things first: A bit of a lay of the land. The Motocompacto is a front-wheel drive electric scooter that pumps out about two-thirds of a horsepower. The frame is made of aluminum, the body is made of ABS plastic, the tires are semi-solid rubber (i.e. not pneumatic), and the single brake is a rear cable-operated drum. The whole thing is IPX4 water resistant.
The main components that need to be folded/unfolded are:
- The seat
- The handlebar
- The rear wheel
That’s pretty much it, and while initially, I wasn’t particularly great at it, after I learned how to fold the Motocompacto, I was able to do it in less than a minute. Honda was able to unfold it in under 30 seconds! Anyway, let’s break it down, starting with the seat.
Right on the back of the scooter is a “push to release” button, which unlatches the seat post from the scooter’s body:
You can see above that there’s a latch on the seatpost itself. You pull up on the bottom section of that, and it releases tension on the top part of the latch, which drops down. Here’s a closer look at the latch, which feels quite sturdy.
With that latch pulled up and then down, there’s still one more sliding latch needed to get the seat all folded up:
That gets pulled down, allowing the actual seat to pivot on the seat post like so:
With the seating surface now parallel to the seat post, the whole thing can be tucked into the Motocompacto’s body, right between the ABS plastic side panels:
Once the seat is tucked away, it’s time to collapse the handlebar. Step one is to collapse the steering column by undoing a latch on the side and pulling a little chrome knob at the front, just under the carrying strap:
Once the column has been collapsed, it’s time to allow the handlebar to drop down into the body of the scooter, just on top of the seat we placed into that space earlier.
To do this, you pull up on a nice, red anodized aluminum button attached to a paddle, then you pull the paddle down. This releases the column and drops it into the body of the scooter. To get the handlebar to fit into that space, you have to turn the handlebar 90 degrees by releasing this latch at the center of the bars:
This allows you to rotate the handlebars until they’re vertical:
At that point, the whole column and handlbar assembly will tuck nicely into the scooter’s body, making a nice, satisfying “click.”
Note that, while the scooter is being folded or unfolded, the bike displays a lock on the screen to denote that the vehicle will not work until everything is latched up and safe. Per Honda, there are sensors checking the position of the handlebar (specifically noting whether it’s vertical or horizontal) and the rear wheel (which we’ll get to in a second).
From there, you’ve got to kick the rear wheel, which is unpowered and sits just behind the main body of the scooter:
On the right of the Motocompacto is a black paddle that has to be pulled out and rotated into an “unlock” position.
Once that’s done, you have to press a button just below the taillight, and then you just kick the rear wheel under the bike:
If your kickstand was down, you just push that up, and if the side foot-rests were out, you simply push those in. (It is worth noting that getting the footrest down when your foot-rests are tucked in is rather difficult, as there’s not much space between the two to fit your foot:
Anyway, with the seat stowed, the handlebar down, the rear wheel shoved in, and the foot-rests and kickstand up, you simply grab the handle on the front of the handlbar (which is now lying flat), and boom! You’ve got a little suitcase-scooter you can carry around.
At just over 40 pounds, the Motocompact is easy enough to carry. I was even able to curl it (well, basically; my hand interfered with the body, so I couldn’t quite do a full curl, but I would have had no trouble). [Editor’s Note: Showoff. – JT]
Overall, it took me about a minute to break down the Motocompacto, and Honda’s rep only needed 30 seconds to get it back up and ready-to-rock.
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Check out the videos in this post to see a breakdown and a build-up of Honda’s charming new electric scooter, a modern take on the charming Motocompo. And come back on Wednesday for my full impressions.