I don’t think there’s been an object met with more universal adulation than the Honda Motocompacto. Maybe earlier models of the iPhone? Either way, it doesn't happen often. The new Motocompacto is the '80s Motocompo, but electric. Its aesthetics make me want to pinch its cheeks and let it go play with its other scooter friends, and I’m not sure you can fit much more win into one foldable package. Not only is the Motocompacto an incredible scooter, I think it's going to be a cultural phenomenon.
When every other form of electric mobility looks like asphalt vomit and makes you look dorky when riding it, the Motocompacto has whimsy and a deeply unserious character. It’s a joyful, stylish object. It implores you not to look too hard at its range and top speed compared to similarly priced scooters with its adorable cyclops eye and gleefully flashing daytime running light.
|2024 Honda Motocompacto Specs
|Direct drive permanent magnet motor | 6.8 Ah lithium-ion battery
|0.66 horsepower, 490 watts
|0-15 mph in 7 seconds
|12 miles in 3.5 hours of charge
|A practical, easy, and fun last-mile solution that can be endlessly personalized. Just add a better seat.
What you see is what you get: A $995 electric Honda scooter that can go 12 miles on one charge, hit 15 mph in seven seconds, and fold into a 41-pound suitcase designed for your average trunk. It’s not so unusual that Honda is making it, seeing that its history started with a motorcycle, and it has done a similar thing once before with the Motocompo.
The ultimate inspiration for the Motocompacto was the Motocompo. The Motocompo became a cultural phenomenon because of its looks, the fact that it folded into a neat cube, and its relative rarity. In fact, it was never sold as a standalone product. You could only get a Motocompo if you also bought certain Honda cars and ticked the option box. It was severely limited by being a gas-powered motorcycle, meaning it was heavy at around 100 pounds, and Honda had to specially design cars to fit it. But it has endured as an icon of a rare moment when Honda was a sillier and less serious engineering company.
The Motocompacto is the true successor to the Motocompo. Honda has toyed with the idea over several decades, most recently with 2011’s Motor Compo, but has never put forth a true sequel until now. Thus, the Motocompacto is the ultimate version of what the Motocompo should have been: A truly lightweight folding motorcycle that got owners from their cars to their doorsteps.
Weighing only 41 pounds, the Motocompacto is lightweight enough for almost anyone to carry it. It folds into a neat little rectangle with a sturdy Honda-branded carrying strap and a few grab points, making it easy to maneuver and package in and out of trunks and hatchbacks. It’s smaller than most electric scooters and motorcycles when folded, meaning it can fit in more places. It measures just 29.2 inches long, 3.7 inches deep, and 21.1 inches high when folded up.
All said and done, a seasoned Motocompacto veteran can fold and unfold the bike in about 30 seconds in seven steps. When it’s unfolded, it has a deep storage area where the handlebars normally stow, which has enough space for a college textbook or a 12-pack depending on your college lifestyle. When I mentioned the 12-pack, a Honda representative smartly pointed out that the Motocompacto can also hold ice thanks to its built-in drain. It doesn’t get better than that, folks.
Like a true Honda, it is also front-wheel drive. There are no physical brakes for the front wheel, using just motor braking to slow the front wheel while using a drum brake for the rear. This arrangement allows for hectic front burnouts and extra-cool BMX-style brake slides, another genius innovation. However, it has no form of suspension and uses solid rubber tires.
This is something I figured out rather quickly when Honda allowed me to ride a Motocompacto at its pristine Torrance, California campus. A wild hog, indeed.
I sat on its slightly hard seat and thumbed at its baseball glove leather grips. Not only was I the pilot of a small electric motorcycle, I was now in control of my destiny and of the wrath I was about to exact upon the twittering birds and green fields of Honda’s American headquarters.
This is something I would say if I was a motorcycle journalist or something. No, I am a car journalist, but seriously, the Motocompacto inspired a deep joy in all people within a five-foot radius. It’s like it had a radiant happiness that made folks stop, point, and go awwwwwwwww.
From the moment I set off to tour the campus, I could not stop smiling. It was a delightful, charming machine that not only accepted its role as a companion, it assumed it with gusto. Yes, the lack of suspension and real tires made the ride quality pretty rough, and the hard seat made for a fairly numb ass in about 15 minutes of riding. But rather than feeling unfinished or bad, it just felt like a return to basics. A return to simple transportation.
The small tires and high center-of-gravity (thanks to the rider being more than triple the weight of the Motocompacto on average) make for a riding experience unlike anything else I’ve tried. Despite the low amount of caster on the front wheels, it’s plenty stable at its top speed of 15, and maneuvering is largely completed with the weight of your own body. Leaning in, and putting weight on the pegs is the key. The rear brakes have a long, progressive pull, making it supremely easy to avoid lockups, while the throttle is progressive and similarly easy.
Once this Motocompacto rebel sufficiently surveyed the Honda campus, I was let loose on a small cone course where chaos ensued. Within five minutes, I was dive-bombing the three corners on the course, knocking cones over and cackling.
So yes, the Motocompacto rides rough and could use a better seat. But it’s adorable and small. Plus, it'd be easy to fix the seat situation.
Value and Verdict
Here’s the deal: The Motocompacto isn’t a scooter. It’s a friend. And practically speaking, the Motocompacto is a little overpriced for the speed and range you get. Any number of $1,000 e-scooters and e-bikes will get you 40 miles and 20 mph. But the Motocompacto is two things that nobody else is:
- It's small and extremely portable
- It's very cool
Look, anyone riding an e-scooter looks like a dork. I don’t make the rules. It’s like showing up to the car meet in a Camry. But the Motocompacto is a niche object that signifies superior taste. It’s the sort of thing a fashionable person would use to grab a coffee in the morning. It’s disarming and cute and says nice things about its rider.
For its $995 price, it’s a job well done by Honda. It’s an unusual product from a serially usual company that screams funky and weird, goes far enough and fast enough on a charge, and packs into almost any car this side of a Miata. The bottom line is this: Who wants to join my Motocompacto gang?
Want to talk about adorable mini scooters from big automakers? Hit me at firstname.lastname@example.org