Before anything else, let me set things straight: This 2020 Honda ADV 150 we got to test is from Wheeltek. It’s one of four units allocated to each of the local Honda dealerships for display and demo purposes, and it arrived in the country in the first week of January 2020. My test period began 19 days before the units were loaned out to other members of the media, and before coming up with a review, I made sure to get the odometer reading up to at least 500km to get a comprehensive feel of the scooter.
Since its regional launch in July 2019, this mini-me of the iconic Honda X-ADV has intrigued many riders. It’s powered by a tamer 149.3cc SOHC liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine with the brand’s eSP (Enhanced Smart Power) technology. This is the same mill powering the more street-focused PCX 150.
Despite all the hype this ADV 150 has generated, however, there are still some doubts when it comes to its capability. Does it really deserve the ‘ADV’ title, or is it just using the adventure tag to draw attention?
The local motorcycle community has been anxiously waiting for the main shipment of ADV 150 units to arrive. If you’re reading this, you’re probably considering getting one, but for now, sit back, relax, and let us tell you how this small-engined scoot fared in Moto Sapiens’ comprehensive test.
Sometime during our test period, an X-ADV happened to park beside our ADV 150 unit. The bikes attracted a crowd, and we joined the throng of curious onlookers in a game of ‘spot the difference.’
There’s no doubt the ADV 150 has inherited the styling cues of its 750cc sibling: It sports the same striking front apron, the same signature ‘Winning Red’ paint option, and the same eye-catching graphics popularized by the high-end Africa Twin adventure machine. The stance of the two scooters are undoubtedly identical and look very suited to both on- and off-road riding. Understandably, though, the ADV 150 is scaled-down in terms of dimensions, specs, and features.
Sometimes, getting first dibs on a sought-after model like this has a downside: Whenever I stop at an intersection, there’s almost always a fellow rider asking me endless questions about this head-turner.
Sick and tired of city traffic, many motorcyclists now prefer scooters for daily riding. But while we might all agree that the ADV 150 is a scooter, it’s got unique ride and handling characteristics that separate it from the rest of its competitors.
This Honda is probably one of the tallest in its class in terms of seat height (795mm or 31.3 inches) and ground clearance (165mm), making its belly less susceptible to hitting high speed bumps. These factors alone give it a clear advantage when it comes to tackling road ruts in the metro.
If you insist on taking it off-road, however, be ready with a spare for the plastic panel in the underchassis, just in case the bike lands hard on its belly—it’s almost impossible to mount a crash guard underneath. Also, the set of dual-purpose tires mounted on alloy wheels will allow you to enjoy simple backroads, but not extreme trails and river crossings.
A note on the seat height: Astride a PCX 150, I’m able to plant my feet on the ground; with the ADV 150, I find myself tiptoeing to balance the scooter. The fork and the twin rear shocks with sub-tanks do provide longer suspension travel, giving me heavenly relief from the perilous asphalt mounds on C5. But in terms of ride comfort, the ADV 150 is apparently let down by one thing: Its wide, padded seat has a second cover that gets a bit loose and causes pain to the bum during long hours of riding.
By now, everyone knows that the ADV shares the same engine with the PCX. Having now tried both models, we are certain there’s almost no difference between the two scooters’ throttle response and acceleration.
Just like its sibling, the ADV 150 takes off in a smooth, seamless manner that makes it easy to ride even for beginners. You can expect the liquid-cooled engine to have a steady idling behavior even in the worst traffic conditions, and still deliver powerful performance on long, clear stretches. The stylish panels just above the step boards also shield the rider from engine heat at all times.
Now, we’re sure you’re wondering about fuel consumption, since most ADV buyers will be using the bike for the daily grind. During our extensive test, our unit averaged 49km/L in mixed conditions.
Ride and handling
I ride a scooter almost every day, so I had an easy time acquainting myself with the ADV 150 within the first few kilometers of riding it.
The high yet upright riding position gives a unique experience compared with the other scooters. My knees were left at a square angle as my feet rested on the step boards. Being comfortable at all times allowed me to stay relaxed and well-focused on the road. Also, Honda is known for its precision engineering, and this is reflected by the well-positioned throttle and brake levers and steering controls. All these require minimal effort to operate.
At high speeds, the adjustable windscreen is a big help in shielding the rider when the conditions get particularly windy. Please take note that the spoiler on top of the windscreen on our test unit doesn’t come as standard; the same goes for the smartphone mount.
While the true-blue adventure-bike image of the Honda ADV 150 has already faded by now, there are more exciting features that will give the rider a reason to smile in every journey: fully-digital instrument panel, Honda’s Smart Key system, front and rear disc brakes, and a console box with a charger port. Both the LED-equipped head- and taillight are also designed to project a meaner attitude versus the PCX’s lighting units. Not that extra attention is an extra feature, but this bike will definitely draw a lot of looks wherever it goes.
Let me say it again point-blank: The Honda ADV 150 is not a true-blooded adventure machine. Rather, it’s a scooter clad in adventure-bike clothing. No wonder Honda didn’t use the ‘X’ designation from the X-ADV’s name.
Why the long face? Don’t be disappointed—the ADV 150 isn’t just about stunning looks. It might not live up to the promise of being as capable off the road as it is on the tarmac, but the ADV 150 will not fail you in the crazy urban adventure that we face on a daily basis in the metro.
SPECS: 2020 HONDA ADV 150
Engine: 149.3cc SOHC single-cylinder
Maximum power: 14.34hp @ 8,500rpm
Maximum torque: 13.8Nm @ 6,500rpm
Final drive: V-belt
Seat height: 31.3 inches