Honda’s Forza 750 maxi-scooter scores with its combination of scooter convenience and real bike fun, proving to be an excellent balance of both in Singapore
Photos: Lionel Kong & Derryn Wong
If you’ve ever wanted the excitement of a proper, big motorcycle coupled with the intensely practical nature of a scooter, the Honda Forza 750 might be the way forward.
Scooters are wonderful in Singapore, you can get anywhere double-quick, they’re efficient, and cheap to run, but if anything they’re practical to a fault and can be as exciting to ride as a vacuum cleaner.
We previously reviewed the Honda Forza 300, a Class 2A scooter which is now a popular choice in Singapore due to its user friendliness and extreme fuel efficiency, while injecting a little sportiness against the scooter blandness.
But its big brother, the Forza 750, is quite a different beast even if it shares the Forza name. This is truly one of the bikes that takes the scooter-motorcycle hybrid idea to the best place it’s been so far.
The Forza 750 is a new machine, but in essence it replaces the Honda Integra scooter, the NC750 D, part of Honda’s NC lineup, although it’s actually codenamed NSS750 and no longer categorised as an NC.
We’re not talking about the more famous car Integra, but the Integra 700/750, a bike with the same raison d’etre as this one, and didn’t sell in numbers so is rather rare here in Singapore as a consequence. Like the Integra, the Forza shares common architecture (frame, engine) as the more popular NC series of bikes, including the NC750X. Like the NC700S/750S, the Integra didn’t catch on.
For the NC700 S, it wasn’t an adventure-styled bike. For the Integra, it was its middling nature: With a boring appearance and performance, it wasn’t motorcycle-y enough for bikers. On the other hand, it also wasn’t convenient enough for scooterists, with little storage space under the seat.
In contrast, the Forza 750 sees Honda flexing its design muscle a little, so its image isn’t utterly bland but a nice blend of executive and sporty.
Regarding that first bit, it’s common for scooter riders in European metropolises to wear a suit and ride to work, and one wouldn’t look totally out of place in office wear on it, thanks to the Forza’s sharp lines.
The LED headlights with integrated indicators make for a streamlined appearance, while the high ‘bridge’ between the seat and front imply more sportiness and backbone than a regular scooter.
Honda’s impeccable build quality means all of the details and parts stand up to close inspection, and unlike the corporate world you can’t see any signs of cost-cutting.
As standard these days, the bike has a 5.0-inch TFT colour screen, controlled by the left handlebar pod. Visibility is excellent, it has an auto day/night mode, and you can choose between four display themes.
The flat, wide handlebars look sporty, and the handbrake is especially clever: Flip out the nicely-finished metal lever and it covers the starter switch. Speaking of which, the Forza has a very convenient keyless start feature too.
There’s also impressive running gear, which includes dual radial-mount brakes, big wheels/tyres (120/70 17-inch front and 160/60 16-inch rear) and 41mm upside down forks, and that spells for a bike that looks like it means more than business.
Firing up the Forza 750 brings a surprise: It sounds like a V-twin. While parallel twins are known to be as exciting as listening to Kenny G, the Forza’s engine has a 270-degree firing order. So like the current BMW F 800 and F 900 series bikes, it sounds much more rorty and exciting, and feels it too with a slight ‘lump’ instead of buzzy, vibration-less running.
V-twins are characterful and fun, but not so fun in town where they require clutch feathering and specific gear per speed, even Ducati’s more rideable Testastretta 11 still does.
The Forza packs Honda’s dual-clutch transmission, which goes some way to combining the best of automatic (convenience, smoothness) and manual (fun, efficiency) gearboxes. There are four ride modes – Standard, Sport, User, and Rain – which toggle the electronics/variables – throttle-by-wire, engine power, transmission, ABS, traction control, and engine braking – accordingly.
Hit the throttle and the clutch locks up immediately, delivering the bike’s full 58hp with immediacy a CVT scooter can’t match. 58hp doesn’t sound like much, but there’s plentiful, broad torque with a impressive 69Nm peak, and that means the Forza is fast when you want it to be.
Paired with the growling, V-twin-esque soundtrack, and it’s genuinely exciting to give it the gas. If you want to row gears yourself, it’s done by two triggers on the left pod, though the bottom one is a little hard to reach. In any case, leaving the bike’s modes to do it for you is just as good.
At the same time, the ‘real bike’ suspension and tyres make it ride like, well, a real motorcycle, not simply a scooter playing at being one. 120/70 R17 front, and 160/60 R16 rear aren’t a typical big bike setup, but all you need to do is sling the Forza into a fast corner and marvel at its stability. It’s a sporty handler too. The Forza isn’t small, but with much of the weight slung low, it handles a bit like a BMW GS, with a confidence-inspiring mix of stability and agility.
It isn’t razor-sharp, and the front end feel isn’t on par with something like a Ducati Monster or BMW F 900 R, but it is certainly able enough to keep up in the hands of a skilled rider. The radial-mounted Nissin brakes are excellent, and are powerful enough for one-finger stops.
When you’re done emulating Marquez, that’s when the Forza shows its true worth though. Left in Auto mode, it’s rock solid and never gives doubt. Even low speed crawl along is effortless, and though the Forza is a wide machine which limits lane-splitting in some cases, it delivers great confidence in tight situations – i.e. exactly what a good scooter should do.
It’s very efficient at the same time. Leaving the bike to handle the chores, we rode around 100km in varied conditions mostly in Standard mode, and the bike delivered 3.5L/100km, which translates to 377km on its 13.2-litre tank, and will make many riders happy when it comes to top-ups, or lack thereof.
Big wheels and good suspension deliver excellent ride quality, shrugging off bumps that would unsettle small scooters. Our only comfort complaint is that the wind protection could be better as the screen is not adjustable (unlike the Forza 300), but it keeps most of the weather off the rider. On that note, the Foza 750 isn’t a small bike, and it’s heavy at 230ish kilos. But luckily the low-slung weight means it’s not a sweat-into-your-eyes workout to park it each time.
We tested the Forza 750 with no top box and the underseat storage of 22-litres isn’t a match on a real maxi-scooter, but it’s good enough to fit a full-sized helmet (though not an adventure-styled lid) and a raincoat set, and it has a USB charge port too. Up front there’s a small glovebox is on the right.
The competition? Suzuki’s big Burgman 650 is exactly that, a scooter wrought large. We haven’t tested Yamaha’s T-Max, but it was one of the first to inject big bike sensibility into a scooter, though it has less storage and efficiency than the Forza.
There is one ‘but’ to the Forza: As a big scooter packed with style, features and tech, it ain’t cheap at S$35,000 with a COE on-the-road, edging close to the primo-European bikes that hover around the S$40k mark. Even in-brand, the very popular X-ADV750 is just S$800 more, as is the exciting CB1000R.
That’s partly due to COE prices of course, as without a cert it’s S$26,300, but some features we would have liked in the S$30+k range would be cornering ABS and an IMU-integrated safety pack.
Still, you’re getting a top-level package for the price, and the Forza is more than capable of seeing off any competitors with its blend of pluses. The pairing of Honda’s lovely-sounding twin – which has its roots as half of a Honda Jazz engine – with the DCT is the magic sauce here, giving both power and efficiency. It’s perfectly at home in the city, and its excellent range and agility would make it superb at sport touring too (when that’s allowed).
A scooter usually means small wheels, step-through frame, comfy but lazy suspension, and blah power, but with super efficiency. Amazingly, as a class-leading package, the Forza 750 manages to keep all of the good things about scootering while eliminating the bad.
|Engine||745cc, parallel twin|
|Power||58hp at 6750rpm|
|Torque||69Nm at 4750rpm|
|Agent||Boon Siew Honda|
|Verdict||It ain’t cheap, but the class leading Forza 750 manages to keep all of the good things about scootering while eliminating the bad.|
*OTR = On-The-Road, inclusive six-month Road Tax, COE, without insurance