Following our summer break in the South of France last year, we decided to look for a scooter or motorbike that could fit into our motorhome garage. We thought we could possibly explore a little further afield with motorised transport which would have been really useful on the Cote d’Azur.
We eventually settled on a Honda Vision with the 50cc engine option, there is a 110cc version but I really didn’t have the time or inclination to do the driving test. Apart from considering the weight, the main criteria was the height and width so it would fit through the garage door. The Honda fits, just, with the rear view mirrors removed. When travelling, the bike is tied down front and rear with ratchet straps and a handlebar support strap positioned on its centre stand with a ply board on the garage floor to dissipate the weight through the centre stands feet then a rubber mat so stop sliding. A Fiamma bike rack would be an easier solution but this raises the bike too high. A simple folding aluminium bike track for loading and unloading was purchased too.
The construction and finish of the Vision 50 is surprisingly good. With electric start, performance from the tiny engine is outstanding, aided by fuel injection, electronic ignition and a catalytic convertor. Brakes are excellent, the left hand lever operates the front hydraulic disc and drum back brakes together in what is described as “anti lock”, and the right hand lever operates the front brake only. (It is a little odd after some use to go back to a normal bike setup where the clutch lever is on the left). The petrol tank holds about 5 litres and at the time of writing we have covered 650 miles on £25 of fuel. Some of the scooters in this category are two-stroke but the general opinion is that the four stroke petrol options are quieter. The cast aluminium wheels are a little larger in diameter than some makes which aids stability and handling. The headlight is more than adequate for night riding.
Our first outing using the bike was to the Aldeburgh Food Festival at Snape Maltings. the nearest campsite we could book was Whitearch Touring and Caravan Park near Saxmundham about four miles away. Fortunately the weather was dry and sunny for late September making it an easy first outing. The food festival and a couple of other venues visited since, has highlighted the
closer proximity to the entrance of events for motorbike parking over cars. An unexpected bonus.
Performance wise, the Honda is a little underpowered for two people and the UK restriction of 30 mph for 50cc bikes means the automatic transmission slows the bike dramatically on inclines, one up, let alone with two people. On the flat, in light wind, the bike is adequate for use in holiday traffic around resorts etc but I avoid main roads if at all possible. To improve safety, read that to be, a similar speed to vehicles in urban speed limits, I have uprated the transmission to increase the available top speed. Early on in the purchase cycle, pardoning the pun, I noted
that several makes of 50cc restricted bikes could be derestricted by various means, removing exhaust restrictors or washers and bushes placed in the transmission train. There was little modifying information on the internet for the Vision 50 except for a YouTube video showing the removal of a bush on the crankshaft which restricted the transmission speed. Simple, but that was for a German spec bike where the speed is restricted further. The UK spec models do not actually have a restrictor fitted. I then found Malossi. A manufacturer of performance parts for bikes and go-karts. They manufacture a kit that replaces parts in the transmission which increases the top speed to around 40 mph. For around £70 the installed kit just changes the gearing ratios and clutch tension which has little effect on the engine or fuel consumption. The end result is a much more driveable bike in urban and holiday traffic.
Because the engine is so small and set low down in the frame, there is generous storage under the seat, large enough for a helmet and gloves. We have supplemented the storage with a Givi top box which is large enough to store another helmet and a small amount of beach stuff or shopping whilst the helmet being worn.
Although the bike has only covered 650 miles in just over a year, it has actually been used in Northern France, Loire Valley, Mediterranean and along the Atlantic coast of France. I did not intend to use the bike at home but I am using it more and more. Its excellent for popping into town for a quick shop, collecting parcels from the Post Office etc, and parking is free. I went to view the Cambridge to London stage of the Tour de France, accessing a great vantage point easily with the scooter.
Running costs are low, compared to a motorhome anyway. Road tax is currently £17 a year, and insurance with the Caravan Club Insurance for the first year was about £180 as a first time motorbike insurer and £127 for this year. I have not worked out the true fuel consumption but a quick calculation works out at about 140 mpg. Will have to check that further. The first annual service at the supplying dealer, John Banks Honda of Cambridge was £120 and carried out quickly whilst I worked in the motorhome in their car park. Servicing to schedule is essential to maintain the Honda two year European warranty but I will possibly skip the next one as the interim mileage has been minimal. John Banks have been an excellent supplying dealer, the purchase price was a little lower than list and included two Duchinni helmets and a security lock.
To sum up, we are delighted with the Honda. We do prefer fair weather outings on the bike so it stayed in the garage on a couple of trips over last winter but it has brought another level of freedom to our motorhoming adventures.
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