One of the most legendary Hondas ever built isn’t an incredibly popular family car, or a revolutionary economy car that didn’t need a catalytic converter, or the most popular motorcycle ever built, or even a mid-engined and highly usable supercar. It’s not even a car at all. It was an option for a car, something that could be folded up into a tidy little package and nestle in that hatch of a little city car. It was the Motocompo, Honda’s incredible folding motorcycle, and now, finally, Honda has reached back into the past and dragged this legendary concept into the future. Behold the Motocompacto, an electric motorcycle that folds up into a suitcase, goes 12 miles at 15 mph, weighs just over 40 pounds, and costs less than a grand. Hot damn.
In case you’re so sadly deprived that you’re unfamiliar with the original Motocompo, allow me to show and delight you with this thing’s very existence; first, an ad with the car the Motocompo was designed to fit in, the Honda City:
As you can see here, the Motocompo was a tiny motorbike where the seat and handlebars folded into the rectangular body, making an extremely compact little unit:
I even got to drive one once:
It was an amazing thing; a tiny bit of incredible mechanical origami that was actually quite a useful little thing for getting around places where a car couldn’t. But, we never really got them in America, and, at only 53,000 or so made, they’re pretty hard to find now.
Now, though, Honda has re-introduced the idea with the Motocompacto, and it seems to capture all of what made the original Motocompo so great.
As you can see, it’s like the original in that it’s basically a suitcase with wheels, handlebars, and a seat. Folded up, it seems even more compact than the original:
It actually weighs less than half of the original one, too: where the original two-stroke, 49cc Motocompo weighed about 99 pounds with fuel, the new electric Motocompacto weighs only 41.3 pounds, and that’s the same if its charged up or not, because electrons don’t seem to have mass.
This cutaway view shows some interior volume that can store the 110V wall-outlet charger, which can get the 6.8 Ah battery to full charge in 3.5 hours. The seat and handlebars must fold into that volume as well, and I wonder if you can use it for storage as you ride, too?
Also interesting to note in the cutaway is that the bike is FWD, which I suppose is why that rear wheel can be so easily pulled into the body of the bike. I think the motor may be in the hub of the front wheel? I’d love to see more detailed diagrams.
I’m very excited by this thing; a folding, ride-able suitcase thing is just a really appealing concept, and Honda seems to have done this one right. 15 mph is good, 12 miles is likely enough for most of the sort of trips you’d use this for, and it can hold up to 265 pounds! Here, watch a video:
It’s surprisingly thin! Look at it:
It’s got a little instrument cluster that shows speed and battery charge, along with indicators for if the lights are on or if it’s locked, and I’m not sure what the 1 and 2 mean, but they seem to be there.
It does have a headlight and forward reflector in a housing that also seems to hold the charge port, though I don’t think it has turn indicators. Maybe you can get one of those helmets that has indicators, I suppose. There’s a taillight too, of course, and you can see a lever to release or lock the rear wheel, along with some flip-out footpegs:
The design is great: incredibly rational and simple, with the amber leather (or maybe more likely leather-like) upholstery of the handlebar grips and seat cushion adding a nice bit of warmth and luxury feel.
At 40-ish pounds and folded dimensions of 29.2 inches in length, 21.1 in height, and an impossibly small 3.7 inches wide, it’s just a bit too big for an airline carry-on, but perhaps it can be checked as baggage? The battery might be too large in capacity to meet airline restrictions, though. It doesn’t seem to be removable, but perhaps more details about that are forthcoming.
I hope there would be a way to check this on a flight, because it would be such a great solution if you’re flying into, say, New York or Rome or Toyko or some similar large, dense city and need a way to get around. I bet some people have situations where this could be a way to do a daily commute! And if you don’t mind jail or the grave, you can take it on the highway, but if you do mind those, maybe don’t.
Honda says this will cost $995 when it comes to Honda and Acura dealers in November, or via Honda’s Motocompacto site, which is up, but seems to be having some occasional troubles.
[Mercedes’ Note: Think of this guy as a suitcase-sized eBike alternative, not a replacement for a real scooter or moped. It’s also probably fan service for the people who love the original Motocompo. People are willing to pay over $10,000 for one of those, but this? It costs less than a running crapbox! Honda cannot take my money fast enough.]
Under a grand, 40 pounds, 15 mph, 12 miles of range, and folds into something the size of a smallish suitcase? It’s incredible. I can’t wait to try one of these out. Hell, it would almost make sense to keep one in whatever old pile of crap I’m driving so I can drive it to get parts or help when I break down!