Like it or not, physical distancing is here to stay for an unforeseeable period of time. For this reason, the government itself has advised that the best way to move around during the pandemic is via bicycle or motorcycle.
In both urban and far-flung areas, many people have discovered the practicality and convenience of riding a scooter over a traditional motorcycle with a manual gearbox. This is why motorcycle companies are putting out new scooters with improved designs, better engine technologies, more convenient features, and more dependable safety packages in a bid to rise to the top of the sales chart.
One of the newest kids on the block is the Honda Air Blade 150. Publicly launched in January this year and made available in dealerships sometime in March, the Air Blade is the latest sensation in the scooter community, especially after it got a marketing boost with two of the country’s showbiz heartthrobs—Coco Martin and Yassi Pressman—as official endorsers.
Fortunately, we got hold of an Air Blade demo unit from Honda Philippines even during the quarantine. While strictly observing the health protocols, we rode this cute little offering to determine if its performance, comfort, and styling can outshine its endorsers, who nearly stole the show during the launch. Come and take a ride with us.
In Matte Galaxy Black Metallic, the Air Blade will appeal to any age group, unlike in the other two colors—Candy Caribbean Blue Sea and Candy Rosy Red—that seem to be common among its competitors. Honda hit a sweet spot in terms of styling when it placed gold-laced body cladding just a little over the floorboard as if it’s highlighting the inner core of this scooter. This unique styling pitch is exclusive to the Air Blade.
The front end instantly reminds you of the ADV 150’s fascia, particularly the edgy twin LED headlights that extend upward to form a futuristic V-shape lighting effect. Discreetly embedded in the extended lighting fixtures are the turn signals. When the headlights are on, they’re like the eyes of a stealthy predator that’s ready to attack its prey.
These days, everyone could experience severe stress and fatigue even at the start of the day, worrying what could happen in the future. I found that the Air Blade, as a daily commuter, tends to help reverse this situation every time I swung a leg over the well-cushioned saddle and fired up the sweet-sounding 150cc engine.
I stand 5’6” with a 29-inch inseam, and the Air Blade’s 30.4-inch seat height allowed my feet to rest flat on the ground and gave me a high level of confidence particularly in standstill traffic. The long seat also offers ample space for the passenger, who benefits from neutrally positioned, full-size rear footpegs. This should make the pillion-riding experience comfortable even with the government-required backriding shield in place.
Fitted with a power outlet and a tiny LED lamp, the under-seat compartment provides 27 liters of space to accommodate any type of helmet and other personal belongings.
Thanks to the Air Blade’s convenience features and low center of gravity, I was able to travel comfortably to various destinations. Riding it is so therapeutic—upon arriving home, I felt as fresh and positive as when I started the day.
This 112kg scooter shares the same 149cc liquid-cooled, four-stroke single-cylinder engine as the ADV and the PCX, which tip the scales at 133kg and 131kg, respectively. Imagine the advantage of the Air Blade in terms of power-to-weight ratio compared with its two more expensive siblings.
The first time I twisted the throttle fully, I already felt the Air Blade’s aggressive acceleration. If I’m not hot on the throttle, the Air Blade averages 46km/L of fuel. This figure improved further whenever I activated the idling stop system.
Ride and handling
Here’s where the Air Blade lives up to its name. Thanks to its aerodynamic styling, it possesses impressive stability as it cuts through crosswinds on stretches of the highway. That said, the tiny windscreen doesn’t provide wind protection at all to the rider, leaving him no option but to slightly lean forward to reach the top speed.
You get here the same telescopic fork as the ADV and the PCX. The twin shock absorbers, however, are not the piggyback-type like those on the Air Blade’s adventure-style sibling. Chunky 14-inch tires mounted on six-spoke wheels amplify the scooter’s youthful, athletic stance while stopping power is provided by the ABS-equipped disc brakes in front and drum brakes in the rear. The kickstand goes out smoothly with an effortless kick of the heel. And thanks to the scooter’s small size, parking it is a straightforward task.
Despite being the tiniest of Honda’s 149cc scooters, the Air Blade gets almost the same suite of features as its pricier stablemates. These features include a highly visible digital meter panel, a park brake lock, a smart key with an answer-back system, and an anti-theft alarm.
Indeed, big things can also come from small packages. With the Honda Air Blade’s sizeable list of convenience features and safety equipment, generous under-seat compartment, enjoyable road handling, and extra-powerful engine, this little scooter will steal your heart as quickly as it can accelerate from a standstill. But it’s got a little downside, too: an SRP of P109,000, which I find a bit pricey for a compact scooter.
SPECS: 2020 Honda Air Blade 150
Engine: 149cc SOHC single-cylinder
Power: 12.9hp @ 8,500rpm
Torque: 13.3Nm @ 5,000rpm
Seat height: 30.4 inches