Pleasurable penitence: The Honda RS150


D4---Honda-RS-150-20160329For most of us, the Lent season is a time for atonement and sacrifice. Some will even abstain for the consumption of flesh, edible and otherwise. To the pious bunch, I recommend the Honda RS150 as the experience of riding it might serve as the next best thing. In fact, it may even be better.

At the heart of the RS150 is a rev-happy single cylinder DOHC liquid-cooled engine that achieves maximum output of 11.5 kilowatts (15 horsepower) at 9,000 revolutions per minute. Yet, you can still squeeze a little bit more power even past the 9,500 rpm redline until the limiter kicks in at 11,000 rpm. The maximum torque of 13.5 Newton-meters at 6,500 rpm propels the 111-kilogram pocket rocket to three-digit speeds with very little effort. However, the RS150 also offers very little in terms of wind protection when running at say, 120 kilometers per hour. Let’s be clear on one thing, this bike is a corner carver and not a long-distance cruiser. Actually, the RS150 also offers very little in terms of ergonomics with its slim, minimalist dimensions. It is a challenge to find a comfortable position on the narrow seat and it also doesn’t help that it slopes downward towards the front. This compels the rider to place some of his weight on the low clip-on grips, which adds strain on the wrists. You won’t feel much pain anyway since the significant amount of buzz on them will leave your hands numb after a couple of hours on the saddle. Yet, just a couple of minutes on it and you would never want to get off.

Impressive acceleration
Known in other parts of the world as the Sonic, the RS150 does accelerate like it wants to break the sound barrier. Open the throttle while in any of its six gears and it will surge forward to overtake slow moving vehicles. Shift down on lower gear and hear a mighty roar that will put bigger displacement bikes to shame. As expected from a Honda, the gearbox is precise and clutch pull is light, though engagement felt a bit grabby. Though classified as an under bone, the RS150 has a twin perimeter frame (as opposed to having a single pipe frame) for higher tensile strength and rigidity.

In the absence of a fuel tank between the legs, your thighs have nowhere to latch on to. Grab the front brake a little harder than needed and the 296-millimeters disc with Nissin caliper will send you flying over the handle bar. Yet, when used moderately with the 190-millimeter rear disc, you’d be sure to put the bike to a halt even when coming out of warp speed. The 70/90 (front) and 80/90 (rear) 17-inch tires look skinny, but they have excellent traction during emergency braking or when aggressively taking corners. Just try not to tip the bike too low. The RS150 is equipped with a bank angle sensor which cuts-off the engine when it detects a lean angle lower than 45 degrees. The intention is to immediately shut-off the engine in case of a spill. One of the benefits of Honda’s PGM-FI system is having an electronic nanny.

At a price tag of P93,900, you get a full digital instrument panel and an LED headlight as standard. It is by no means a cheap commuter and it offers little in terms of comfort and functionality. What you get, though, is near-orgasmic riding pleasure. So pleasurable, in fact, that it may leave you feeling a bit penitent.

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