Home » The Honda Motocompacto Is A Foldable Electric Scooter For Under $1,000 You Can Actually Buy

The Honda Motocompacto Is A Foldable Electric Scooter For Under $1,000 You Can Actually Buy

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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:

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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:

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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.

03 Honda Motocompacto Large

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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:

06 Honda Motocompacto Large

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.

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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?

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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:

05 Honda Motocompacto Large

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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.

11 Honda Motocompacto Large

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:

 

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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.

01 Honda Motocompacto Large

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.

04 Honda Motocompacto Large

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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!

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Robot Turds
Robot Turds
10 months ago

Sorry- it looks dumb

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
10 months ago

As a college student this actually appeals to me a lot. I have to commute to college since I don’t live on campus, it’s impractical to carry a bicycle with a car, but I’d still like some way to zip around the large campus without having to walk a long way or wait for a noisy rattley uncomfortable bus. Even at less than a grand, the Motocompacto’s price is a bit high, but I could still afford it and put it in my trunk.

Prior to this I was thinking about designing my own little e-moped to fit in the trunk (still might, I’m a mechanical engineering major so I actively want to do things like this lol), but now whatever I come up with will now have to compare with the price, performance, and form factor of a Motocompacto. It’s an interesting benchmark for sure!

While I definitely like the idea of the Motocompacto and think it’s very compelling, however, I do think some things could be done better. The overly minimalistic white body is a bit aesthetically bland compared to the original bike, which you could look at as a compromise for the sake of being able to pack other things around it in the trunk, but placing the foot pegs so close to a huge white surface concerns me. That’s gonna get dirty REAL fast when your shoes inevitably touch it a lot. While I often have a bone to pick with minimalism, I will admit this is one product for which minimalism makes practical sense, but it could really use a tougher black plastic section to protect the lower half from getting super dirty. If I got one, perhaps I could mask off the top and spray some plasti-dip or bedliner onto the lower half of the body sides… just anything cleanable that won’t show dirt as much.

Mortalcombatant
Mortalcombatant
10 months ago

So its a e-scooter with extra steps and 3x the price?

Old Busted Hotness
Old Busted Hotness
10 months ago

That’s about the same size as a compact spare tire. I dig it.

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
10 months ago

“Under a grand, 40 pounds, 15 mph, 12 miles of range, and folds into something the size of a smallish suitcase?”

Change that to “about $1500, 25 pounds, (let’s say) 12-15mph, as much range as you can give it, and folds into a package small enough to fit in the overhead bin of an airliner” and it reminds me why I love my Brompton so much.

Last edited 10 months ago by Theotherotter
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
10 months ago

Why did they go with a modernised design? People who might be interested in an electric Motocompo would probably be much happier with an electric-powered visual facsimile of the original, which even exists already, albeit as an expensive copy by an Indonesian manufacturer. I’m sure Honda could make their Motocompo much cheaper than the Katalis Spacebar (awesome name btw), If they can get this one in the market at a sub $1K retail price.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
10 months ago

While I’d rather have an electric version of the original as well, the decision to modernize it actually makes a lot of practical sense in this case. As much as I don’t like aesthetic minimalism, making this thing as flat and skinny as possible makes for an extremely practical package if you are transporting it in your car. Being a flat rectangle means you can stack other things on top of and around it a lot more easily and it doesn’t take up as much space as the original. You can carry it in your car without it being very intrusive, it won’t majorly impact your cargo capacity by it being there.

This is less a modern version of the Motocompo than a spiritual successor, it’s paying tribute to the original concept rather than the original design, and I think they’ve done a fantastic job with it as it is in fact an improvement from a functional standpoint. This can and will appeal to people who have never heard of the original, and that’s the point. It’s just useful.

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
10 months ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

That is a good point, this modernised design does put the emphasis on practicality and you’re 100% right that this is a spiritual successor, not a modern version. I can’t get past the design itself though. I know it’s meant to fold into kind of a brifcase, but it looks too much like your’re riding the brifcase itself.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
10 months ago

I dunno, I think that’s half the fun. What’s wrong with riding a briefcase? It’s like when you’re a kid and anything is a motorcycle if you pretend hard enough, except this one actually is!

Toobs-N-Stuff
Toobs-N-Stuff
10 months ago

I love this very much, but honestly equally capable electric scooters that take up even less space can be had for as little as $300 and far more capable models (much faster, much longer range) that still take up less space are out there for under $1000.

When I was in Barcelona a year and a half ago, they had taken over as a primary means of commuting for a lot of people. they were everywhere.

Andreas8088
Andreas8088
10 months ago

I would will totally buy one of these, fully thinking I’ll actually use it on a regular basis, and then it will sit around in my car’s trunk, or my van, and only get brought out when friends want to play with it.

Sign me up! (Seriously, I put my name into the website to get notified…)

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
10 months ago
Reply to  Andreas8088

Dooo iiit!!
-and don’t forget to write us a review when you get it

Sbzr
Sbzr
10 months ago

just looking at the frame it’s clear it’s a glorified standing scooter with a seat, the original motocompo at least had wheel that were practical to ride outside the pristine sidewalks of Japan

I feel like something closer to the Motocompo + Gachaco battery swap would’ve been a good commuter beyond this novelty collectors toy for Honda fans

Jac Camara
Jac Camara
10 months ago

Jason! If you want to know about the world of electric scooters I’d be happy to talk to you. The design on this is novel, and it’s very lightweight for the size, I think it has a small battery.

The e-twow (electric two wheels, it’s a terrible name) Booster GT can do over 20mph, and has a manufacturer range of 31 miles. Realistically, and I know because I’ve done it, it can do 15 miles at full tilt (about 22mph) with 250lbs of rider and gear on mostly flat city roads. And it weighs less than 30lbs. And folds way smaller than this

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
10 months ago

Cool. Is a chainsaw required for battery change out?

Here4thecars
Here4thecars
10 months ago

My perfect use case for this cute gadget: campground runabout! It’ll stow easily and compactly in your RV/Trailer/what have you, and 15 mph with 12 miles of range is perfect for this environment.

Ronald Pottol
Ronald Pottol
10 months ago
Reply to  Here4thecars

That was my thought, packs smaller than most folding bikes.

Marc Johnston
Marc Johnston
10 months ago
Reply to  Ronald Pottol

I have a Hover-1 Highlander Pro that I carry in my RV. It can do about 15 miles range, with a top speed of 20mph, and can carry 285lbs. Got it on sale last year @ Best Buy for $200. Best money I have spent!

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
10 months ago

Weenie man on to weenie mobile…
Weenie man away!

Ricki
Ricki
10 months ago

I appreciate this reference.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
10 months ago
Reply to  Ricki

“Putting the men’s room in the tower, what was I thinking?”

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
10 months ago

This would be great for visiting conventions and trade shows, where getting to and around large convention centres is always a pain with crappy shuttles and long cab lines.

The challenge would be being able to check this for your flight as mentioned. That and even at less than $1K, would you be willing to have Air Canada lose it on your first trip.

Peter Andruskiewicz
Peter Andruskiewicz
10 months ago

Electrons do have mass, but that’s besides the point since the same number of electrons discharged from the negative side of the battery are returned to the positive terminal (well, close enough to the same number to not matter anyway), so the total # of electrons doesn’t change, just their respective energy levels and the atom/molecule that they’re in orbit around.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
10 months ago

So the real problem is your centre of gravity shifting as you drive.

The Matts
The Matts
10 months ago

Came for the energy balance jokes. Going home happy.

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
10 months ago

It’s like hipsters at the beginning of a rave versus the end. You have more or less the same number in each case. But they are at a lower energy state the morning after.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
10 months ago

The price is right for a fun commuter/toy like this. I don’t have any use for it in my small city in the Northeast though – you need real tires to handle the road/sidewalk surfaces around here. I don’t even buy strollers without a decent amount of sidewall.

Yeah scooters and bikes and e-bikes make more sense, but I can see this being a decent option for some people with specific commute situations. In Albany, a lot of people that work downtown have to park pretty far from their office, especially downtown (some people even shuttle in from distant parking lots). I could see this being useful if your commute involves driving, but that final mile needs to typically be done on foot.

Scorp Mcgorp
Scorp Mcgorp
10 months ago

needs a 20-30 mile range. that would give commuting folks an option to drive to the outskirts of the city, ride in and back out, even in colder weather where range suffers. at 12 miles, this is only for novelty use or the shortest of errand runs

Frackle
Frackle
10 months ago
Reply to  Scorp Mcgorp

I think this, like the original motocompo, is for the “last mile” transportation issue in cities that have robust transportation hubs. Obviously that changes the value proposition (you can get a folding alibaba mini ebike for a couple hundred), and it would be a terrible primary vehicle, but I don’t think anyone is planning on using it for that.

Scorp Mcgorp
Scorp Mcgorp
10 months ago
Reply to  Frackle

well that’s just it. aside from the compact size, an E-bike is a better option, even for a mile or two. much cheaper for sure. you can absolutely buy an e-bike that’s similarly compact for less. i saw just such a bike for $500 at Target the other day.

Alexander Moore
Alexander Moore
10 months ago
Reply to  Scorp Mcgorp

I doubt this is anywhere near cross shopped with e-bikes. In terms of ‘last-mile’ transportation like Frackle mentioned it needs to be something that can be easily picked up and loaded into the trunk of a taxi or a train or bus’s luggage compartment in cases where bike racks are unavailable. Now obviously there are cheaper foldable e-scooters, but probably none that are as polished or ‘high-end’, for whatever that’s worth.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
10 months ago
Reply to  Scorp Mcgorp

At 15 mph I’m not commuting 20 miles on this thing

Scorp Mcgorp
Scorp Mcgorp
10 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

I’m talking 10-15 miles each way. lots and lots of e-bike users do exactly that. this is more compact for sure, but it would be nice to have that extra range

GhosnInABox
GhosnInABox
10 months ago

So no license, insurance or registration needed?

Frackle
Frackle
10 months ago

I assume this is more a promotional item than anything. But, I need it. Which means it will sell out immediately and be five grand on ebay.

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