During the fifth round of the Petronas Malaysian Cub Prix series in Teluk Intan, we were invited by Boon Siew Honda to take the recently launched 2016 Honda RS150R kapchai for a quick test ride. The RS150R is a new market for Honda in Malaysia, being its first product in the 150 cc category locally.
Priced at RM8,213.94 for the standard, and RM8,374.94 for the advanced, the RS150R comes with a liquid-cooled 149.7 cc, four-valve DOHC engine that produces 15.6 hp at 9,000 rpm and 13.5 Nm torque at 6,500 rpm. A six-speed gearbox with wet clutch gets the drive to the back wheel via a chain, and fuelling is taken care of by Honda’s PGM-FI, which makes the RS150R Euro 3 compliant.
The short test ride was divided into two sessions: a 30 minute test on public roads, and a three-lap sprint on the makeshift CubPrix track. While the time spent riding the RS150R was short, it was enough to give us an impression of what the bike would be like to live with, pending an in-depth review later on.
Getting on the RS150R showed the usual kapchai design cues, step-through frame, small fairing in front, and low seat-height of 764 mm. Grabbing hold of the handlebars revealed them to be set at a comfortable angle for us, although a fellow moto-journalist said he felt they were a little high for him.
Taking the RS150R out on the road revealed that the power was a little lacking in the acceleration stakes. Despite having six gears to row through, sprinting the RS150R from traffic light to traffic light could as best be described as leisurely – albeit faster than the typical 125 or 110 cc stock kapchai, though not by much.
We did put this down to the rider being a little bit on the “too much pizza” side, and assumed that performance would be much better with a lightweight whippet-sized jockey behind the bars. Ultimate performance from the RS150R was felt to be adequate, with a top speed of about 125 km/h on the crowded roads of Teluk Intan.
Hazarding a guess, we think the limit of the RS150R would be about 135 km/h or so, making it somewhat adequate for highway use. Considering that the machine has six-speeds and a manual clutch, keeping it in the meat of the powerband would be easy, compared to the semi-automatic clutch found in most bikes in the kapchai category.
Zipping around town – moto-journalists are easily bored – we put the handling of the RS150R to test with a series of 90-degree corners that book-end the town’s one-way streets. Which is where the RS150R surprised us, somewhat.
Handling was found to actually be quite capable, especially for a motorcycle at this price-point. Doing the kamikaze thing into left- or right-handers showed the RS150 would hold the line, and no “bouncy-bouncy” came from the “boingy-boingy” bits.
Of course, with an 87 kg rider on board, we were probably about two-thirds of the way up the RS150R’s load capacity, but the way the RS150R carved the sharp corners made us grin inside the helmet. During the closed track session, which was laid out on a very basic pattern with only a few corners and long straights, it was hard to gauge the RS150R’s handling on the limit.
There was one diabolical hair-pin, with very close quarters, and sandbags at the apex to catch out the unwary rider. At this point, the RS150R was easy to chuck into the corner, and bring it upright again.
At the chicane, the flip-flop from right-to-left was made without thought, the bike making the transition without complaint, and not bending under the weight of the rider. Pushed a little hard on the straights, the RS150R maintained its composure, the gearbox taking the punishment of redline gear changes without protest.
Right up to the point where we needed to start braking for the corners. Both on the street and the temporary circuit set up for the Malaysian Cub Prix, the front brake lacked any sort of feel, or bite, on the 296 mm disc.
Even a hard squeeze on the brake lever did little. The back brake did, however, compensate for this, having enough bite on the 190 mm diameter disc to lock the rear wheel at will.
That the suspension didn’t wince at this sort of treatment is testament to good component selection by Honda. The front forks, while being a flexy when pushed hard, did absorb the bumps on the road well.
The single shock absorber at the rear end also performed well, only failing to absorb sharp road imperfections. To be fair, most bikes, even at the higher end, fail to do this well, save plush touring rigs.
Up on the instruments, a single dial holds the tachometer, which goes up to a 10,000 rpm redline. The engine cuts out at precisely 11,500 rpm – please don’t ask how we know this.
A trapezoidal LCD readout on the right displays speed, fuel, gear position and the odometer, with a thumb switch cycling through the odometer and tripmeter readouts. During start-up, the displays proudly display the fact that the RS150R has six gears, something we found quite amusing.
Bringing the 2016 Honda RS150R bang up-to-date is LED lighting for the headlights and tail, with separate position lights on the left and right of the front cowl. Fuel for the bike is carried in a 4.5-litre tank, and we didn’t have the RS150R long enough to do any sort of consumption testing.
With a weight of 122 kg, the RS150R was easy to handle, and didn’t show its weight, a little over 10 kg above the class average. We did find the seat a little hard, even during the short test ride. A long ride will reveal its true colours, perhaps needing a little bedding in over time.
The 2016 Honda RS150R comes in two variants – the standard at RM8,213.94 in Matte Blue or Matte Black, and the advanced at RM8,374.94 in Metallic Red and Repsol Racing colours (pictured here), with availability in Boon Siew Honda dealers beginning this month. The closest rival to the Honda RS150R is the 2016 Yamaha Y15ZR at RM8,210.76. We will have a more detailed look at both “supercubs” soon.