Category Archives: Motorcycles Suitable for Thailand

This category is all about motorcycles and motors scooters that are suitable for driving in such Southeast Asian countries as Thailand. Due extremely high duties on imported bikes that can nearly double the prices charged in Europe and the U.S. comments about bikes that are prohibitively expensive here, lack parts availability and that are suited chiefly for high speed interstates in Western countries are of no interest here.

Which is faster Yamaha Nmax Honda PCX by Jack Corbett

faster Yamaha Nmax Honda PCX
My Yamaha Nmax 155, Yamaha SR 400 and gf’s Honda PCX 150

Which is faster  Yamaha Nmax  Honda PCX?  I stop-watched the Yamaha Nmax 155 and the Honda PCX 150  bikes to find out.   Since no stop watched times existed, I just had to do it.  Funny thing was, I had already done a no hands on review of the Yamaha Nmax on youtube, but I had never gotten out of the motorcycle showroom at Watchara Marine as PlONe and I discussed and videoed Triumphs, Ktms, and various Yamaha street bikes to come up with what we felt would be the best all around motorbike for the kind of driving we do in Thailand.  We concluded that the Nmax was likely to be the best all rounder, but it would be a year later before I would actually get my hands on one.

A few months ago, my girl friend was driving a Yamaha Filano, which is not a bad little motorbike for what it is.  But Thailand’s got the world’s worse drivers.  And Pattaya has the worse Thai drivers of them all.  For safety’s sake, a car might seem to be the answer to survival in this jungle of homicidal drivers who give every indication of wanting to run down every vehicle and pedestrian in sight.  Unfortunately here in Pattaya, cars are cumbersome, slow in traffic, and difficult to find parking spaces for.  I wanted my girlfriend to have a better chance of survival so I offered her a choice of trading her Filano for a Honda PCX 150 or the Yamaha Nmax 155.   In my opinion these were absolutely the finest choices for an all around bike for everyday driving conditions in our city.  She chose a bright red Honda PCX 150 after refusing so much as a test drive of the new Yamaha Nmax 155.  A few weeks later after I narrowly averted having two morons knocking me off my beloved Yamaha 135 Elegance, I decided that I just had to trade my Elegance for a new Yamaha Nmax 155 for one single reason—having the best small motorbike stopping power I could buy for less than 100,000 baht.

Yamaha claims its Nmax 155 is faster than the Honda PCX 150, and just about everyone who’s ridden both bikes agree that the Yamaha’s anti lock brakes are far superior.  The Honda’s got a single disk brake in front and a drum in the rear like most motorbikes in the 125-150 class.  It has what it claims is a state of the art dual braking system, and although the system seems to work fairly well, there’s no question that the Nmax’s front and rear disk brakes coupled with anti lock braking on both wheels is decisively better, and not just to the Honda PCX’s but also to just about everything else within its price range.  But is the Yamaha NMax really faster than the Honda PCX, and if so, by how much?

Yamaha claims 14.8 horsepower out of its 155 c.c. engine.  Honda, as usual, is reluctant to divulge any horsepower figures.  But I’ve settled on a figure of 13.4 horsepower, which seems to be a good average for figures I’ve found from various internet sources.  My seat of the pants impressions from driving both bikes, is the Yamaha Nmax accelerates  faster.   Its engine also has a bit of a snarl to it, unlike the PCX engine which is noticeably quieter and seems smoother at very low speeds.

My initial speed runs were with my Yamaha Nmax several days ago.  I performed three acceleration runs from zero to fifty kph (0-30 miles an hour), then I did three zero to eighty acceleration runs.  I carefully stop watched each acceleration run and then I wrote each time with my stopwatch in a small notebook.   I then took the average time for each series of three acceleration runs and put it in the table below with the specifications and stop watched performance runs of similar small motorbikes that are well suited for Thailand.

Honda Click Yamaha Nouvo SX Yamaha Nouvo Elegance 135 Yamaha
Filano 115
Yamaha
N-Max 155
Honda
PCX 150
displacement c.c. 125 125 135 115 155 153
price 46800-52500 baht 57000 baht N.A. 46000 baht 80000 81000
Horsepower 11.7@8500 rprm 10.4 11.2 14.9 13.4
Torque 14/7500 Nm/RPM 10.47 Nm @ 6000 rpm 10.6N-Nm @ 6,500 rpm 14.4 Nm @
6000 rpm
14.0 Nm @ 5500rpm
Weight (Kg) 246 lbs 244 lbs 244 lbs 216 lbs 279 lbs 286 lbs
Tire Size Front +80/90/14 +70/90/16 +80/90/16 90/90/12 110/70/13 90/90/14
Tire Size rear +90/90/14 +80/90/16 +90/90/16 90/90/12 130/70/13 100/90/14
Fuel Economy test loop 59.8 km to the liter 53 km to the liter 53 km to the liter
Fuel Economy City N.A. 44.5 km/liter 41.9 km to the liter 43.16 km/liter
0-50 kph 6.3 seconds 7.51 seconds 5.58 seconds 6.75 4.57 4.21
0-80 kph 10.39 seconds 12.16 seconds 11.65 seconds N.A. 8.99 10.02
Handling (judging) Ok Very good Rock solid OK Rock Solid Very good
storage beneath seat good good good good good excellent
fuel tank capacity 5.5 liters 4.3 liters 4.8 liters 4.4 liters 6.6 liters 8.0 liters
Cooling water cooled water cooled water cooled Air cooled water cooled water cooled
Fuel System fuel injected fuel injected carburator fuel injected fuel injected fuel injected

When I compared the times I had gotten with my Yamaha Nmax to what I had achieved several years earlier with the Yamaha Filano, Honda Click 125i, Yamaha 135 Nouvo Elegance and Yamaha Nouvo 125 SX, I found as expected that the Yamaha Nmax 155 was far faster than all of the others.  Then again, it’s a 155 c.c. machine whereas the Yamaha Nouvo Elegance 135 had the largest engine displacement of the other bikes.

One thing I did notice with the Yamaha 155 Nmax is that its engine still had a lot of guts even going up the hills, when it easily topped over 100 kph in short order.  And on the way home with a tailwind, my Yamaha Nmax was still accelerating at 119 kph before it had even crested a long uphill.

Today I put my girlfriend’s Honda PCX 150 through the same tests.  Only this time I performed four 0-50 kph acceleration runs and four 0-80 kph runs in order to get my average times.  Surprisingly the Honda PCX 150 ran a bit faster from 0-50 kph even though it always seemed to me that my Nmax was noticeably quicker to 30 miles per hour.  But I think that these zero to fifty kph comparative times can be misleading.  When I click the stopwatch and twist the throttle of both bikes, there is a time period of a second or more when nothing happens.  So if the clutch of the Honda PCX gets the Honda in motion faster than the Nmax, there’s going to be an unfair advantage to the Honda.  A much more accurate test of the comparative acceleration at low speeds is to do a series of roll on times.  For example, I could get the bikes up to 10 kph, and stopwatch them from 10 kph to 50.

But the average acceleration to 80 kph for the Nmax was 7.99 seconds which is a second faster than what I was able to average with the Honda PCX 150 at 10.02 seconds.  Furthermore on the way home I only got the Honda PCX up to around 103 kph or so on the same stretch I had gotten 119 out of the Yamaha Nmax.  Had I kept on the throttle longer I’m sure it would have done better than this.  In an earlier road test I had wrung 112 kph out of a Honda 150 PCX rental while Peter claims to have run it up to 115.

Perhaps the tail wind might have made the difference or the difference in the steepness of the hills.  I’ll just take my Nmax to that same section of road to see how easily it gets up to 100 and beyond.  But I don’t think I will see much of a difference.  Here’s my thoughts on why the Yamaha Nmax superiority over the Honda PCX widens as speeds get increasingly higher.   Engine displacement is virtually the same with the PCX having 153 cc’s to the Nmax’s 155.  The weight advantage goes to the Nmax, but there’s only about a 7 pound advantage.  But the Nmax is producing about 10.5 percent more horsepower with the same size engine.   I can only reason that it’s because of that four valve head the Nmax has whereas the Honda PCX only has two valves.  The Nmax also has variable valve timing which further increases the  volume of air that’s getting into the combustion chamber once a certain high rate of rpms is reached.

Which is faster Yamaha Nmax Honda PCX?  There’s no doubt in my mind that the 4 valves and variable valve timing give the Nmax 155 a noticeable edge in both acceleration and top speed, and that the harder and longer one keeps the throttle open, the greater the advantage goes to the Yamaha.  Think racing cam and you get the general idea.  But my understanding of the variable valve timing is that this setup from Yamaha also reduces the volume of air that gets injected into the combustion chamber as rpm levels go down to more moderate levels.

But what about the rest of the riding experience?  There’s no question that the Nmax has the finest brakes on this side of the food chain.  ABS and both front and rear disc brakes?  Until now this was absolutely unheard of in any kind of motorcycle that is anywhere near this price point.  When the stakes are between life and death or spending the rest of one’s life in a wheel chair and remaining healthy, for me, there really is no choice.  The Yamaha Nmax wins hands down.  But the Honda PCX 150 does ride better with its larger diameter 14 inch tires and softer suspension.  For some this might mean the difference of having sore gonads and having no pain whatsoever.  At moderate speeds, say up to 40 miles an hour or so, the PCX just seems to float along, Limousin like.  The Yamaha Nmax is more like a sports car.  Its steering is much quicker and more direct.   For some reason although the PCX seems to cover the miles easier with less effort and concentration from the driver at speeds of 40 miles per hour or so, the Nmax seems more stable at speeds exceeding 100 kph.  This in spite of its small diameter 13 inch wheels.  And whereas the engine sound of the PCX is more serene, the Nmax sound is raspy.  It sounds like more performance.

The Honda PCX 150 has an 8 liter fuel tank.  THis means more range and fewer fill ups.    But the Yamaha Nmax still holds 6.6 liters of fuel which is .7 liters more than earlier models of the PCX 150 held and still .4 liters more than the Honda PCX 125 model.  The storage area under the seat is larger in the PCX, but the Nmax is still–not bad.  The PCX has an idle start feature, which for some, can be an advantage as it can save up to 5 % in fuel.  But as to which is the better bike, that’s a hard one to call.  Both are excellent, but I prefer the more sports car like quick handling of the Nmax, coupled with its far superior brakes and higher engine performance.

 

Best of the new crop of motorbikes for Thailand

With its larger diameter 16 inch tires, the Nouvo Elegance can survive floods better than bikes with smaller tires
With its larger diameter 16 inch tires, the Nouvo Elegance can survive floods better than bikes with smaller tires

This video compares eight excellent motorbikes to determine which motorcycle is the best all rounder for Pattaya Thailand driving conditions.  The bikes we chose from at Watchara Marine in the video were the Triumph Bonneville, the Yamaha Bolt, Yamaha R-3, Yamaha MT-3, Yamaha MT-7, the KTM Duke 200, Ktm 390, Yamaha N-Max 155, and Yamaha SR 400.

Nouvo Elegance carrying Laser printer
Besides dealing with the flood that nearly knocked my Elegance over, in the same week, I transported a universal power supply back to my condo, then the Laser printer in this picture. You can’t do this with a Honda PCX 150, the new Yamaha N-Max or any of the other motorcycles in this video due to the lack of bungee cord tie down hooks
So in the real world of Pattaya where the motorcycle gets used a lot more than the car, are these bikes really better than the 135 c.c. Yamaha Elegance? Watch the video and decide for yourself

Well. that could be the point, the point being which bike is the most practical of motorbikes for Thailand where we get to drive motorcycles everyday,  so there’s a lot of fun and satisfaction to be had from owning and driving a motorcycle that’s par excellence in the mind of the proud owner.  And this video’s covering quite a few bikes that we can buy today in Thailand, and that are just small enough to be capable of squeezing through Pattaya’s traffic.  A Honda Forza won’t and neither will a Taiwanese Sym 400 because they are simply too large and bulky for the city traffic on Pattaya’s crowded streets.  And no, a Triumph or Yamaha MT-07 won’t slice and dice between cars as well as a Honda Wave, but it’s a lot easier than you’d think, which is why we are putting Triumph in this review.  But we’ve deliberately left out the biggest bikes that are on sale at Watchara Marine due to the fact that they are just too big and too powerful for Thailand’s road conditions in this writer’s opinion.

I used to have a BMW R-65, a 650 c.c. horizontal twin with a modest 50 horsepower.  A few years later I got my dream bike, a BMW K-100 RS, a bike that had 90 horsepower, 1000 cc’s and four cylinders.  It was very fast.  It was also 100 pounds heavier than the 650, and it had much narrower handle bars which made it very suitable for driving down the interstate at over 100 miles an hour, but made it much more cumbersome in city traffic where the 408 pound 650 handled like a dream.  So having a 1000 c.c. bike here in Thailand where most of my driving is in the city is just too painful to contemplate.  But each to his own.

 

 

The elegant Yamaha Filano is a stylish way of getting around

Yamaha Filano next to Sym 400
Both bikes look right at home in the Five Star Centara Hotel parking lot but the Sym 400 has elephantine proportions compared to the compact 115 c.c. Yamaha Filano.

The elegant Yamaha Filano is a stlish way of getting around Pattaya so long as you stay in the slow lane and keep the distances short. Just don’t expect it to behave like a real motorcycle or keep up with its bigger brother the Yamaha Elegance.

Its got the same classy rounded lines of an Italian Vespa but it costs only half of what a new Vespa costs at slightly under 50,000 baht.  But whereas a Vespa still l has a direct drive from its transmission to its rear tire, the Yamaha Filano uses a belt, which doesn’t sound as technologically advanced even though the Vespa direct drive was engineered in 1946.  But that’s a good thing because that direct drive doesn’t leave a lot of space for the scooter’s rear tire which is limited to having a 10 inch diameter.

I have never driven a Vespa so I really can’t comment on its ride or handling.  But it seems plausible to suggest that a Vespa 150 with its 11 inch front tires and 10 inch diameter tires should be even less stable than the Yamaha Filano with its 12 inch tires.  I do know that the Filano with its smallish 12 inch wheels is way behind my Yamaha Elegance stability wise due to the Elegance’s much larger 16 inch diameter tires.  Driving the Filano is similar to the feeling one gets while piloting a speedboat in the waves.  The prowl of the speedboat sort of wanders around this way and that as its being jostled by the waves.  The small diameter 12 inch wheels of the Filano are also easily taken off course as the tires encounter imperfections in the road.  Smallish wheels and tires just simply go not impart the gyroscopic straight line stability that much larger diameter wheels provide.  The effect is magnified by the absence of upper bracing that keeps the bike’s frame from flexing.

syn 400 and Yamaha Filano
Weighing in at over 493 pounds the Sym 400 is massive compared to the Yamaha Filano. And although it’s a far superior choice to the Filano on the highway, it s massive proportions undoubtedly makes it a very bad choice for Pattaya driving conditions.

But so what if the Filano and similar bikes with small diameter wheels and tires doesn’t track like an arrow the way a real motorcycle or underbone does.  So long as one keeps speeds down to 20 to 30 miles an hour or less, one can expect a little bobbing and weaving or what I will now call the cork in the waves effect.

The Filano is a great little device for getting around in the city so long as one is not in a hurry.  There’s a lot of room under the Filano’s seat for carrying groceries and other things and there’s a hook between the driver’s legs above the floorboard for carrying bags of whatever.   The little scooter’s fuel injected engine starts up immediately, and  the bike seems very well put together.   The drive belt should last for at least 50,000 kilometers.   There’s  very little on this little bike to go wrong, so maintenance should be close to non-existent.  The turn indicators, horn and brakes have a nice feel to them and are well placed.  But if you are wanting to keep driving at anything faster than 30 miles an hour, you would be a lot better off getting yourself a real motorcycle or a good underbone like a Honda PCX, or Yamaha Nouvo SX 125.

Click here

Yamaha Filano Review

for the review of the elegant Yamaha Filano

The Finest motorbikes for Pattaya and similar Thailand cities

Yamaha Fino
As the picture says, this bike lacks chassis stability. And this goes for any bike with a floorboard. They used to call them motor scooters and as far as I am concerned they still should be to distinguish them from all true underbones which have an upper brace such scooters lack.

The finest motorbikes for Pattaya and similar Thailand cities aren’t the same motorcycles you’d want for America’s highways.  And you can forget about scooters with their floorboards even though Honda and Yamaha are trying to convince you that they are equal to a Honda, Wave, Yamaha Nouvo, or Honda PCX.

But what the hell, if you really want to buy a scooter go for it.  Just don’t expect it to be as stable, safe, or handle anything close to an underbone style of motorbike.  If you really prefer a Vespa with its pygmy tires  or such Vespa Japanese copycats as a Honda Scoopy, Yamaha Filano, or Yamaha Fino buy it.  After all it’s a free world, and if you prefer that old sixty year old technology who are we to stop you.  But before you buy into it, you should first familiarize yourself with what a true underbone is and its terrific contribution to motorcycle technology.

The popularity of motor scooters emerged from the ashes of World War II in the form of the Vespa which helped put Italy back on wheels.  Italy was devastated by the war.  And most Italians were too poor to own cars.   The solution to Italy’s postwar transportation problems  came from the fertile mind of Enrico Piaggio  when he masterminded the Vespa.  It was small, it was cheap to own and operate, and it had cool flowing lines that appealed to both men and women.  Moreover, the engine and transmission was entirely enclosed,  and there was no oily chain resulting in both driver and passenger being able to keep their clothing unsoiled.  Back in 1946 and the next few years, the Vespa had very small 8 inch diameter wheels that gave it the high speed stability of a roller skate.

When I was a boy growing up I thought they were cute.  But I never forgot my Dad’s telling me how unstable those roller skates were due to their small tires.  As a young man, my Dad had owned Harleys, and even though he considered all motor bikes to be dangerous he singled out motor scooters to be the absolute worse of the lot.

Honda 1958 Super Cub
If this 1958 Honda Super Cub looks like a Honda Wave or similar bike from Yamaha, Suzuki, or Kawasaki, it should. This bike’s large diameter tires and upper frame rigidity due to the bike’s strong bracing that is hidden by the upper cowling gave it far superior handling and stability to any Vespa with its floorboard and small wheels. During the 1960’s the Japanese Big Four was able to crush all such rivals with its far superior technology. But people don’t study History. That is why so many uninformed people actually go out and buy Vespas and Vespa Japanese look a likes.

In 1958 Honda introduced its Super Club which would transform the entire worldwide motorcycle industry during the 1960’s.  Until then, the motorcycle market in the United States was dominated by Harley Davidson, Triumph, BSA, and Norton.  It was a relatively small market that had a bad boy image as motor cycles then were associated with tattooed, motorcycle gang types.  In those days both the British marques and the Harleys dripped oil from their chains and other mechanical parts.  The Super Cub looked like a girl’s bicycle with a motor.  It was light weight, extremely reliable, it could get over 200 miles to the gallon.  It would be hard pressed to reach 50 miles an hour.  Honda then went through a 12 year advertising campaign while popularizing such slogans as “You meet the nicest people on a Honda.”

The design of the Super Cub was revolutionary.  It had a fully enclosed chain.  Its engine comprised the lower portion of the bike’s frame.  It had large 17 inch diameter tires that were made possible by Honda’s placement of its engine and transmission in a far forward position with the chain driving the rear wheel.  Such was not the case with a Vespa which coupled its back wheel directly to the engine’s transmission.  The direct drive of the Vespa did not allow for large diameter tires, which is why even today Vespa only have ten inch diameter wheels on most of its models.

The result of this revolutionary small motorcycle is that Honda, followed by Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki was able to completely dominate the motorcycle market of both the U.S. and the rest of the world.  Harley, Triumph, Norton, and BSA faced nearly complete extinction.  As for Vespa.  It never was even in the running with the Honda Super Cub or with its descendants from  the Japanese Big Four.

Suzuki FX 125
This Suzuki underbone has its covers removed thus exposing the upper steel bracing that gives such underbones such outstanding rigidity.

Take a good look at the picture above.  Whether its a Yamaha Nouvo, a Honda PCX, or even a Honda Wave, such bikes are simply more powerful improved incarnations of the Honda Super Cub.   In the picture the upper cowling has been removed.  There is virtually no major mechanical differences between the so called “Real motorcycles” and such underbones other than a “real motorcycle” having its gas tank placed directly between the driver’s legs whereas a typical  underbone has its fuel tank placed under the bike’s seat.

An underbone’s large diameter tires coupled with this type of upper bracing gives this type of motorbike far superior handling and stability to a Vespa or Japanese Vespa look alike.  Although it is true that many modern day scooters with floorboards are now able to offer larger diameter tires than a Vespa due to their utilizing belts and chains instead of a Vespa type direct drive system, all motorbikes that have floorboards lack this upper bracing.  What this means is that there is no way that such a scooter can even remotely handle with a true underbone or begin to offer the same kind of stability.

So here’s the bottom line.  All scooters, from the Vespa to a Yamaha Fino, Filano or a Honda Scoopy or Honda Click are just plain inferior to all of these underbones.  Most of them have a single weak rear shock, they usually have smaller tires, and they just plain lack all that upper bracing, and for good reason.  It costs money to put that bracing into a bike or a second rear shock, and in a world where money is number one this means a greater profit per motorbike as long as motorcycle manufacturers can convince enough dumb people to buy such inferior products.

Click here to read Jack Corbett’s Best Motorbikes for Thailand’s Cities

Yamaha Nouvo Elegance vs Yamaha Nouvo SX

Honda PCX 125 PCX 150 showdown

The Honda 150 PCX
The PCX 150 I rented came with a 5.9 liter fuel tanks which was slightly downsized from the 125 PCX of this review. The latest PCX’s come with a significantly larger 8 liter fuel tank. If you are driving on a lot of rural roads in Thailand this PCX 150 is an excellent choice but if one’s driving is mostly confined to city driving that are typical of cities such as Pattaya, the Yamaha Nouvo Elegance is slightly better. Either bike or for that matter the new fuel injected Yamaha Nouvo SX are superb choices that will totally outclass lesser machines such as the Honda Click, Scoopy, or Yamaha Mio, Fino or Filanos

This Honda PCX 125 PCX vs 150 showdown pits a Honda 125 PCX against its replacement, the PCX 150 for fuel economy, top speed and other performance differences.  A very good friend of mine, a Norwegian, who owns a condo several floors above mine,  already owned a PCX which he had been driving for a couple of years oftentimes drove from Pattaya to Rayong to visit one of his Norwegian pals so it didn’t take much to convince him to help me perform a comparative roadtest between his Honda 125 PCX and the new 150 c.c. model that had recently replaced it.  Bottom line for Peter was, would the new model outperform his 125 enough to convince him to upgrade.

Theoretically, the PCX 150 should have a higher top end and accelerate faster than its 125 c.c. predecessor at the expense of poorer fuel economy.  But Peter, who had helped me do the 135 Yamaha Nouvo Elegance/125 Yamaha Nouvo SX comparative road test, and I had discovered that theory oftentimes departs from reality.

Peter’s 125 PCX could never do more than 105 kilometers per hour, a speed he was well satisfied with, but what the hell, if you can get a lot more top end and power out of a 150, why not get one?  You only live once and the price here in Thailand for Yamaha Nouvo’s and Honda PCX’s is really chickenfeed compared to what we had been paying for cars back in our home countries.  So I rented a PCX 150 from the German who had his shop up the street from me, and Peter and I took off for Rayong.

For doing motorcycle reviews Peter and I make a terrific team.  Up in Norway Peter makes his living working three months on and three months off on small ships north of the Arctic Circle.   He truly is a worthy descendant of those Vikings of more than 1000 years ago who explored unknown waters in their long ships so one can be sure that if Peter involves himself in a Motorcycle road test, that the road test will be performed with both precision and daring.

To kick off the Honda PCX 125 PCX 150 showdown we both agreed to fill up at the same gas station we oftentimes used for our previous road tests.  We also insisted on filling up at the same pump to make sure that both bikes were at the exact same lean angle.  After completing our 140 kilometer test loop we’d use the same gas station, and  the same pump to make sure that we had conducted our fuel economy comparisons to perfection.  When you really think about it, small motorbikes such as a Honda PCX or Yamaha Elegance have fuel tanks that hold less than 2 gallons of gasoline so even the slightest change in the lean angle while filling up or a failure to fill a bike’s tank to the brim can cause very significant errors while computing a bike’s fuel economy.

To keep our Honda PCX 125 PCX 150 showdown scrupulously fair Peter and I also made certain that we’d change drivers when we got exactly 50 % through our road test.  Actually, we never did include Rayong in our test loop.  For one thing as one approaches Rayong the traffic changes from highway driving to city driving.  So we had decided beforehand to do a you turn approximately ten miles before we’d be getting to Rayong.  Immediately after doing our you turns we stopped both bikes.  I had been driving the PCX 150 whereas Peter had been on his PCX 125.  This now put Peter on the 150 and me on the 125.  Since Peter outweighed me by more than 10 kilos, we had both agreed that it was only fair to swap drivers due to the performance disadvantage a heavier driver would cause to the bike he was driving.

I didn’t quite take the PCX 150 to its absolute top speed but I came pretty close before fear of all the insane Thai drivers around me convinced me to back off the throttle.  As for Peter?   I already said he was a worthy descendant of all those fearless Vikings in their long ships so yes, Peter did wring out the last mile per hour out of the 150.

By the end of our Honda PCX 125 PCX 150 showdown  we were both very impressed with the performance of the Honda 150 PCX.  But the bottom line is I’m still driving my six year old Yamaha Nouvo Elegance 135 while Peter’s still navigating his Honda PCX 125.

Click here

Yamaha Nouvo Elegance vs Yamaha Nouvo SX

to get this head to head showdown that pits the  Honda PCX 125 against the Honda PCX 150 that replaced it.

Yamaha Nouvo fuel injection controversy

My Yamaha Nouvo ELegance next to the 125 Nouvo SX I rented.
Is fuel injection really all that better than old fashioned carburetor technology. Well, don’t just take anyone’s word for ti. See for yourself when you read exactly what happens when you pit a 135 c.c engine with old school technology against Yamaha’s latest and great fuel injection equipped Nouvo SX. In the Jack Corbett motorbike reviews you will see real fuel economy results when one machine is matched against another along with actual stop watched times for acceleration runs of zero to fifty kph and zero to 80. You will oftentimes see such results in big motorbike reviews. The trouble is most of us who live in Thailand are buying much smaller motorcycles and it is here that most motorcycle reviews are lacking

This review of the Yamaha Nouvo SX vs the Nouvo Elegance settles the Yamaha Nouvo fuel injection controversy that started before Yamaha replaced its carbureted 135 c.c. Nouvo Elegance with its state of the art 125 c.c. fuel injected Nouvo SX.   “Why should Yamaha stick with an old fashioned carburetor for its top of the line small automatic motorbike when everyone else had fuel injection?” the unofficial members of the Honda universal fan club, claimed.   “Why that new space age PCX will get more than 128 miles to the gallon, and all those relics of the past, especially the Yamaha Elegance with its outmoded carburetor, won’t even come close.  Welcome to this new era of small motorbike exotica.  You will look so good and comfy sitting on your fat ass on board this new PCX wunder bike.”

There’s three fundamental truths here.  The first was that the Yamaha Nouvo 135 c.c. Elegance really did have a starting issue with their carburetors.  Leave an Elegance untouched in the parking lot for more than three days, and the bike does start to become a sluggish starter due to the gasoline sitting too long in the carburetor.  And if you don’t start an Elegance for a month while taking a vacation, you will be due for a good thirty seconds of cranking the electric start before you can get underway. However, unless you are a complete buffoon with the electric start, you will eventually get the bike started.  It will take another thirty seconds actually driving the bike before all the bad fuel gets worked out of the fuel system, but it is smooth sailing from then on.  And if the battery runs down before you get it started there’s a kick start that will get you going, battery or no battery.  The second fundamental truth is that 135 c.c. carbureted engine was so good that Yamaha kept it going for six years production.  As for the third fundamental truth,  most people today actually do have fat asses, so for them, perhaps a Honda PCX might be the best choice after all.   But forget about Honda, for the moment.  This is all about two Yamaha Nouvo’s, the old versus the new and about the Yamaha Nouvo fuel injection controversy when everyone and his brother seemed to be marching in lockstep in favor of fuel injection as not only the latest and greatest, but the only thing worth having when it comes to getting gasoline into a motorbike’s combustion chamber.

Dash of the 2008 Yamaha Nouvo Elegance
with its blue illuminated gauges the view of the driver is not all that bad when he’s driving the Nouvo Elegance.

Yamaha listened to all those cries from the wilderness of uninformed disapproval.  The result was the Yamaha Nouvo SX.   Now, the Yamaha Nouvo SX is a nifty little number.  It’s got a smooth starting fuel injected engine that offers quick and smooth power delivery from the moment you turn the key on.  It’s got a neat little array of red illuminated gauges that even tells you how many kilometers you are getting per liter.  It even tells you  your rate of fuel consumption from one second to the next as you apply or reduce throttle.  The Yamaha Nouvo SX costs only sixty thousand baht (less than $2000 U.S.) on the door after you’ve paid the transfer tax and mandatory insurance.  The Nouvo SX handles wonderfully and its power delivery is very smooth and ample for just about any driving condition you will be putting the bike through in the Pattaya Thailand area.  And if all that doesn’t win you over to this beautiful little transportation device, its very capable halogen headlight and tail light will illuminate the world for you.

It’s a wonderful little bike, but its engine is still only 125 c.c.s whereas that the Nouvo Elegance it replaced had a spirited 135 c.c. engine.  And when it comes to car and motorcycle engines bigger is usually better, but not when it comes to fuel economy.  So what’s really going on here?  Is the smaller 125 c.c. engine with state of the art fuel injection really better than the 135 engine of the Elegance?  The Yamaha Nouvo fuel injection controversy still rages on.  But not when you read the Jack Corbett Motorbike Reviews.  Here for the first time, you will get the real numbers that show just how good or bad the Yamaha Nouvo Elegance was for fuel economy.

Yamaha Nouvo Elegance vs Yamaha Nouvo SX

By all means click on the link above to get the main article on the Nouvo Elegance vs the Nouvo SX.  After finishing it you might also want to read this one–Is Yamaha’s Nouvo SX 125 as good as the Nouvo Elegance 135?  Here for the first time you will be able to see just how well the Nouvo Elegance 135 accelerates compared to both its 125 c.c. replacement and most of its main competition.

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Pattaya’s lightening quick Yamaha Elegance

My Yamaha Nouvo Elegance
My Nouvo Elegance is in the foreground, the new 125 c.c. Nouvo I rented to road test behind it. Two attributes combine to make the Elegance such an outstanding motorcycle., its strong for its class 135 c.c. engine and the overall design of its chassis that combine extremely quick turning with excellent (for its size and weight) straight line stability.

The  lightening quick Yamaha  Elegance  is absolutely the finest all around motorcycle for Thailand cities such as Pattaya, bar none.

These are outrageous claims verging on the hyperbole, especially when one considers that the Yamaha Nouvo Elegance’s engine is only 135 c.c’s, the bike cost less than $2000 brand new, and that the Elegance will only do 70 miles an hour on a good day.  But consider the following attributes.  Among the many general purpose motorbikes one can buy here in Pattaya, Thailand,  I can’t think of one that will out turn a Yamaha Nouvo Elegance.  Or for that matter the newer Yamaha Nouvo SX that’s replaced it.  Just take a close look at the picture above and notice how close the front part of the bike’s seat is to the Elegance’s front wheel or how long the motorbike looks to the point of nearly appearing ungainly.  This design is no accident, and I should know because I used to own a Yamaha Nouvo MX which I sold to a friend when I got the Elegance, but first I took a measuring tape to both motorcycles.  My new bike seat compared to the old one I was about to sell,  measured 2 inches closer to the center of the front wheel.  It was also 2 inches taller.

What this means is when one compares the 115 c.c. Nouvo MX to the significantly more powerful 135 c.c. Elegance  if the driver sits forward on the seat he’s practically on top of the Elegance’s front wheel.  He’s also sitting 2 inches higher in the seat, and this gives his butt much more leverage on the bike which provides it with superior handling to the old model.  The seat forward riding position also provides incredibly quick turning.  Considering that the 16 inch wheels of the Yamaha Nouvo’s are much larger than the 12 inch wheels of the Yamaha Filano I later got my girlfriend, one would expect my Elegance to  turn much more slowly. After all, compromises must be made and larger diameter wheels tend to promote much greater stability than smaller diameter wheels which offset this advantage by providing the proverbial ability to turn on a dime.  But this is not the case when it comes to either the Yamaha Elegance or the Nouvo SX that’s recently replaced it.  The long wheel base and relatively large diameter 16 inch wheels offer good straight line stability and a decent ride but the placement of the bike’s seat compared to the front wheel provides the same skateboard quick handling that is offered the small wheels  of Yamaha Filano or a Vespa.

This was absolute brilliance from Yamaha.  But when it comes to the Yamaha Elegance’s 135 c.c. engine, its power and efficiency enabled it to walk all over the Elegance’s predecessor, the Nouvo MX.   For one thing, the Elegance is water cooled  whereas the MX was air cooled.  In my opinion this enabled Yamaha to tune the Elegance’s larger engine to a higher specification than what air cooling might have allowed in the earlier model.  But whether this is true or not the 135 c.c. Elegance turns out 11.2 horsepower to the Nouvo MX’s 8.9 for a whopping 27 percent increase in power.   And it offered better fuel efficiency while doing it.

That engine Yamaha put in its Nouvo Elegance was one helluva engine, the kind that only comes along every few years.  When Yamaha came out with its 135 c.c. Elegance most of its competitors were only offering 110 c.c. or 125 c.c. engines thus giving the Elegance a decisive edge in power.  But here one must keep in mind that the Elegance delivered all that power courtesy of a carburetor which even then was considered pretty low tech, so when Honda introduced its excellent 125 c.c. PCX it was able to make the most of its “so called claims of superiority”.  But let me remind you again that my Yamaha Elegance would get significantly better fuel economy than the Yamaha MX I used to own even though it had 135 cc’s to the Nouvo MX’s 115 while developing 27 % more horsepower.  There must have been something very special about the Elegance’s fuel delivery system that could deliver such performance superiority.  One must also look at the fact that the Yamaha Elegance first came out in 2008 and it was still being sold in 2013 before Yamaha saw fit to replace the carburetor of the Elegance with the state of the art fuel injection of the Nouvo MX.  So whether Yamaha’s reliance on carburetors was old fashioned technology or not, the fact remains that the Yamaha 135 Nouvo Elegance was being sold for six years from 2008 through early 2014.  Meanwhile, during the same basic time frame Honda went from a 110 c.c. engine to a fuel injected 125 in both its Air Blade and Click models while supplanting the 125 c.c. engine of the PCX to a better performing 150 power plant.  It can certainly be said that the 135 c.c. Elegance is a tried and true design that didn’t need any modifications whatsoever.  Moreover, other than timely battery and tire chances, replacing of headlight bulbs, and oil changes there’s virtually no maintenance whatsoever to a Yamaha Elegance.  My old Nouvo Elegance that is now in the hands of my ex neighbor has 70,000 kilometers on it and he hasn’t even replaced the drive belt yet whereas another friend who bought one of the first Elegances to come out reports he hasn’t changed his belt either nor has he had anything of significance go wrong with it.

I can go on an on about the many fine attributes of the Yamaha Nouvo Elegance such as its offering kick starting whereas its main competition (the Honda PCX) does not or its facility for being able to easily carry all kinds of things such as grocery bags and even desktop computers, or the fact that it has two rear shocks whereas much of its “so called competition” offers just one (eg.  The Honda Click, Scoopy, etc).  You will find out a lot more about how well the Yamaha Nouvo Elegance stacks up against the competition as well as the fuel injected 125 c.c. Nouvo SX that’s recently replaced it elsewhere in my Jack Corbett motorbike reviews.  But let’s get back to my original hyperbolic claim that the Yamaha Elegance is lightening quick and that it is the best all around motorbike for Pattaya.

In a city such as Pattaya most of the driving is done at speeds of less than 50 kph (30 miles an hour).  The new Honda Click has an excellent 125 c.c. engine that provides it with terrific acceleration for its class.  Yet, up to 50 kph even the 125 Click is not quite up to the Yamaha Elegance’s figures.  And there is no way that any Honda Click is going to even remotely compare to a Yamaha Elegance when it comes to good handling.  And if one moves up to a Honda PCX 150 which offers excellent highway performance for this class of motorbikes, the increased width, weight and chassis dynamics put it at a disadvantage to the svelte Yamaha Elegance when it comes to slithering through tight city traffic.  Moreover, here, in the context of driving in city  conditions such as we have in Pattaya, Thailand what I mean by quick is how quickly one can get from point A to point B and arrive at my destination whether its getting to the next bar for a beer, going to a restaurant, or heading somewhere to do a little shopping.  My Honda Civic is much faster than either of my motorbikes, my Yamaha Nouvo Elegance or my Yamaha SR400 but parking my Civic here in Pattaya is problematical to say the least.  Furthermore Pattaya’s city traffic means that most of the time it’ s going to take me more than twice as long to get to practically anywhere.   Even if I had a really fast motorcycle such as a Kawasaki 650 Ninja or a 1000 c.c. BMW,  I will still be able to get from point A to point B faster on my Yamaha Nouvo Elegance due to its being so agile in traffic and narrowness that enables it to get through the smallest holes in traffic.  I will also be able to park the Elegance much faster and more easily than I can a much larger and more powerful motorcycle.

I’ve been trying for years now to find something that’s really better than my Yamaha Nouvo Elegance and considered such bikes as the old model Honda CBR 150,  the Honda CBR 250  and the Honda PCX.  I finally bought a Yamaha SR400 which  is an excellent motorbike to be driving in Thailand.  But I’m still not selling my 2008 Yamaha Nouvo Elegance which I still regard as the absolute finest all around motorbike for this part of the world.

The Yamaha Nouvo Elegance

2012 Yamaha Nouvo SX performance predictions

Instrument gauges for Yamaha Nouvo SX
The owners of the Yamaha Nouvo SX will have this sexy instrumentation to look at with its on board little computer that will give fuel economy performance figures. The new Nouvo SX 125 will offer advanced fuel injection for easy starting and excellent fuel economy. But it’s offering just 125 cc’s to the Yamaha Nouvo Elegance’s larger 135 engine. Will it measure up. Read on to find out.

By April 2012, the handwriting was on the wall.  In spite of the overall excellence of Yamaha’s 135 c.c. Nouvo Elegance, the Japanese company was planning to replace it with a new fuel injected 125 c.c. model.  That was in 2012.  Today, it’s May 1, 2015, and I’m still the proud owner of both a 2008 model 135 c.c. Yamaha Elegance and a 2014 Yamaha SR400.  Neither is for sale.  The Elegance has now been with me for six years, and it’s likely to remain so for a long time to come.  The reason is in the last six years I cannot think of a single motorbike  that’s as good for the kind of driving I do overall in and around Pattaya, Thailand which has been my home for the past ten years.  The 135 c.c. Yamaha Nouvo Elegance was and still is a wondrous little motorbike that simply cannot be beat for the everyday driving conditions one encounters here.  Nevertheless, I’m still the kind  of guy who’s always looking for something better, and so it was back in 2012 as I started to make 2012 Yamaha Nouvo SX performance predictions on what Yamaha’s upcoming latest and greatest could do.

Back in 2012 Yamaha’s flagship for 125 c.c. class motorbikes in Southeast Asia was the Yamaha Nouvo Elegance.  It had a spirited 135 c.c. engine that outperformed most of its 125 c.c. competition.  Trouble was it was getting a lot of complaints about poor fuel economy and starting problems.  Even worse, it was getting to be pretty long in the tooth, and was becoming more and more viewed as a relic of the past.  This was not good for Yamaha which here in Southeast Asia was starting to be perceived to be a company that was technologically grossly inferior to its main competitor, Honda, which had been getting the lion’s share of sales in this portion of the world.

Honda had just introduced its PCX 125 which it had started advertising as the most technologically advanced 125 step through that the world had ever seen.  It was hyped up to have a wondrous fuel injection system that would get the new Honda automatic more than 125 miles per gallon.   I then started reading in several motorcycle internet forums how completely superior Honda’s PCX was to all its competition, especially the Yamaha Nouvo Elegance with its antiquated carburetor.  Yamaha was a second class kind of company, many new owners of the Honda PCX were starting to claim.  It was starting to look like Yamaha had never heard of fuel injection.  Or if it had, its fuel injection systems were primitive compared to what Honda was now offering being of new metal alloys offering space age technology.

It must have been in 2012 that I started reading about Yamaha’s 125 c.c. and 250 X Max models that it had been offering elsewhere in the world since something like 2005.  I still recall reading how its 125 X Max offered 14 horsepower to my 135 c.c. Elegance’s 11.2.  And the X Max had always been fuel injected, even back in 2005 when it was getting rave reviews as a true wunder machine that was much more advanced than anything Honda was offering back then.

Truth is both Honda and Yamaha were already producing advanced twist and go 125 c.c. class motorbikes for various world markets that the rest of the world didn’t seem to know anything about at all.

Nevertheless, rumors started to get out here on the motorbike forums in Southeast Asia that Yamaha would soon replace its 135 c.c. Nouvo Elegance with something that would be far better.  And even I, who already owned a Nouvo 135 c.c. Elegance started to believe such rumors.    And that’s why in 2012 I started making my Yamaha Nouvo SX performance predictions.

Critics of the 135 c.c. Yamaha Nouvo Elegance did have a valid point about the bike’s carburetor and lack of fuel injection.  Starting is not the Yamaha Elegance’s strong point.  Gas starts to accumulate in the carburetor and even after two or three days an Elegance starts to get reluctant compared to a fuel injected bike that takes just one half of a second to fire right up.  And when I leave Thailand to make an overseas trip for three or four weeks, it takes something like thirty seconds of cranking to get its engine to come to life, which nearly drains the battery in the process and even then I have to baby the bike for the first minute of two once I get underway before the little motorbike gets rid of all that bad fuel in the carburetor.  But where the Elegance trumps any Honda PCX is it still offers kick start.  This means that even if the battery goes totally dead you will still be able to start it.

Yamaha’s new 125 c.c. Nouvo Elegance did turn out in my estimation to be a wonderful motorbike, especially for the kind of driving conditions one finds in Pattaya and in similar cities.  As for how well it compares to the carbureted 135 c.c. Elegance or the Honda PCX in either its 125 or later model 150 incarnations, you will just have to read some of the Jack Corbett motorbike reviews to find out.  But back to the Yamaha Nouvo SX performance predictions I was making in 2012.  I speculated “Above all, take all of this with a grain of salt.  I’m doing this for fun so I can later check back to see how close I got to the mark.  This is only a crap shoot. Nevertheless it should be interesting to see how accurately this crap shoot will measure up”.

So how accurate was I?  Click here for my Yamaha Nouvo SX performance predictions

Yamaha Nouvo SX performance prediictions

That was all pure speculation back then.  For two days I’d rent a Nouvo SX 125 which I’d pit against my 135 c.c. Nouvo Elegance to get an accurate measurement on how the two would stack up against each other for pure economy and stop watched times from zero to fifty  and zero to eighty kph.  I seriously doubt if you will find a serious head to head comparison between these two Yamaha Nouvo’s elsewhere.   And now for the real deal–the shootout of the Yamaha 135 c.c. Elegance against the Yamaha fuel injected 125 c.c. SX

You might also be interested in reading What will Yamaha’s fuel injected  Nouvo SX be like? for a few comparative specs on the Elegance, Nouvo SX and other models from Yamaha.

The Honda CBR 250 broken collarbone Review

Japanese Oka
Who else would sacrifice his body just to do a little motorbike review of a Honda 250 CBR? Jack broke his collar bone while test driving a Honda CBR 250 from Pattaya to Rayong.

Rain-snow-or just getting maimed? no sacrifice is too great for Jack Corbett when he reviews motorbikes such as this Honda CBR 250 broken collarbone review.

Jack in hospital with broken collarbone
If you absolutely must get injured driving your motorbike the Bangkok Pattaya Hospital is your number one choice

Thailand is the 2nd most deadly country in the world to drive in. Only Namidia in Africa where headhunters and cannibals still roam ranks ahead of Thailand.   In ten years living here full time, Jack has never ever seen a motorcyclist stopped by the police for running a read light, driving the wrong way against the flow of traffic, or for reckless driving.  And yet, it is impossible to drive in Pattaya for even ten minutes without encountering at least one Thai driver running a red light or driving against the flow of traffic.

Needless to say, doing these motorbike reviews is extremely dangerous.  But the lure of owning a larger motorbike than a PCX or Yamaha Nouvo lives on.  In spite of his accident and all that pain, Jack nearly bought a Honda CBR 250.  Three years later he bought the Yamaha 400 SR.

To read the full review of the Honda 250 CBR click HEREReview of Honda CBR 250

PCX Elegance tests expose fuel injection limitations

Honda PCX 125 and Nouvo Elegance
In 2011 these were the two flagships for Yamaha and Honda in the 125 c.c. underbone motorbike class. Later Honda would upgrade the 125 c.c. PCX to a more powerful 150 c.c. model whereas Yamaha would replace its 135 c.c. Nouvo Elegance with the less powerful 125 c.c. Nouvo SX.

Despite the rationality of one theory over another or a motorcycle manufacturers claims for the superiority of new technology features they are  introducing in new motorbike models over what’s being offered by their competitors there’s nothing like pitting two or more motorbikes against each other in actual hands on road tests  to  get the right answers.  The Jack Corbett PCX Elegance tests finally settled the controversy that Honda’s fuel injection offered far superior fuel economy to the carbureted Yamaha Elegance .  The test pitted a 125 c.c. Honda PCX motorbike that belonged to a Norwegian friend against my own Yamaha 135 c.c. Nouvo Elegance on a run between Pattaya and Rayong covering a round trip distance of 140 kilometers.   We filled up at the same gasoline station using the same pump and returned to the same pump after returning from Rayong to make certain that the angles both motorbikes were filling up at were exactly the same.

Keep in mind that we conducted this road test in 2011, and that since then the 125 c.c. Honda PCX has been replaced by the larger 150 c.c. model while the carbureted 135 c.c. Yamaha Nouvo Elegance has given way to the newer 125 Yamaha Nouvo SX offering fuel injection.   You will find more up to date road tests of the newer model PCX’s and Yamaha Nouvo’s on this web site .

Meanwhile, let us take you back to 2011 pitting the 125 c.c. Honda PCX versus the 125 c.c. Yamaha Nouvo EleganceJack Corbett Motorbike Reviews