The Honda Ruckus is a scooter beloved for being an affordable, simple way to get around — no more, no less. It comes with drum brakes, a humble 50 cc engine, and just under 5 horsepower. Now imagine putting a superbike engine on one with 36 times more horsepower. Insanity? Just a bit, yeah.
[Programming Note: Everyone please welcome Lewin Day, a great writer and an engineer! (It’s the dynamic duo of skills in the auto journalism world, if you ask me!). He’ll be writing stories every weekday along with the rest of the staffers, and you can bet I’ve already assigned him plenty of nerdery to get cracking on. Get excited! -DT].
Just to give you some context, we’re talking about shoving a massively powerful engine into…this:
The bonkers Ruckus is the work of Grind Hard Plumbing Co., a YouTube channel specializing in all kinds of weird and wonderful off-road beasts. When they’re not turning Power Wheels toys into micro-monster trucks, they’re putting big engines on scooters. In this case, the Honda Ruckus was blessed with a 1-liter engine from a 2008 Honda CBR1000 Fireblade. It’s good for 180 horsepower. That’s plenty for a hot hatchback or a lightweight coupe, let alone the handful of steel tubes that Honda turned into a scooter.
The Ruckus has the mighty donk placed roughly where its original engine would have gone. However, by virtue of its much greater size, the scooter’s frame had to be significantly lengthened, and the rear wheel placed farther back. That’s not a bad thing, though. The additional wheelbase adds a certain level of stability to the platform, which helps when you’re adding so much power. It also helps with weight distribution, which aids in keeping the front wheel on the ground under hard acceleration.
The engine was capable of pushing the 2008 Fireblade up to a top speed in the realm of 180 miles per hour. The re-engined Ruckus won’t go so fast, of course. That’s partly due to its aerodynamics, and partly due to its much smaller wheels which effectively change the gearing between the engine and the road.
As you might expect, this Frankenstein creation is an absolute handful. It readily spins up to stratospheric RPM, kicking up great rooster tails of dirt. In some ways, the scooter tires and the loose surface are a blessing. Driving the scooter on dirt prevents the tire gripping up and simply propelling the whole assembly through a rip in the space-time continuum. Between the smaller wheels and the frame, which is much lighter than a full-fat FireBlade, the Ruckus is likely to be an absolute slingshot on tarmac if the gang can get it to properly puts its power down.
For now, it’s an imperfect thing. Scary on dirt, yes, but in part, that’s because it’s unpredictable. The bike has a stumbling idle and somewhat of an on-off power delivery when feathering the throttle. Even better, the engine braking is strong enough that it almost locks up the rear wheel when decelerating. Some tweaks to the engine’s tune will likely go a long way to improving drivability. That, and checks to make sure the CBR1000’s complex fuel injection system is running properly, with all its various sensors in harmony.
The idea of a scooter with a ridiculous amount of power is, naturally, an exciting one. Really, though, we want to see this concept actually using that 180 horsepower for propulsive purposes, not just to throw dirt in the air. Here’s to seeing where the Grind Hard gang take this bonkers concept next. May the rear tire will be a smoky memory before long.