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1985 Honda Aero 50: The Oppositelock Review

The Aero 50 was the first "modern" 50cc scooter that made it to the United States from Honda. It was introduced in 1983 and went and went through a major redesign in 1985 before being discontinued in 1987. Mine is a 1985 model which according to the tile has had 4 owners since the last time it was registered in 2004. I picked it up as a project from the previous owner who left it unused in a basement for seven years. I still cannot figure out what was wrong with it, upon my receipt it had working electrics, good compression, and a functioning fuel system. The throttle cable was rusted solid so I did have to replace that, but the battery actually held a charge after a night on the trickle charger. I put in new gas, cleaned the carburetor, charged the battery and (much to my surprise and amazement) she started right up. There was quite a bit of black smoke at first as well as some leaking gaskets around the carbs, but that all seemed to right itself after about 15 minutes of fairly aggressive revving.

(full disclosure, Honda wanted me to drive the Aero 50 so badly that they built and shipped it to the United States in 1985 where it would experience about 8000 miles of full throttle "holy shit I cannot keep up with traffic" fun over the course of 20 years before breaking down and changing hands several times as a "project" finally ending up in my garage as a non-runner to the tune of $100)


So here is my review based on about 3 weeks of trouble free commuting and general riding around on the Aero

-Exterior 6/10

Well, it's a pretty standard scooter. It's got quite a bit of quirky vintage charm and seems to draw positive attention wherever it goes. Unlike most other 80's Japanese scoots, the Aero stayed away from jagged sharp lines (there are still a lot of cheezy 80's styling, but nowhere near as bad as the similar offering from Yamaha) and went with a more traditional rounded bodywork somewhat reminiscent of the 60's-70's Vespa scoots. In fact the only people that seem largely hostile toward the little Aero, are those in giant lifted pickup trucks. Opinions of other two wheel riders seem split about 50/50… until I let them ride it.

-Exterior part 2 (Interior) 8/10


I am giving the Aero quite a high mark here due largely to the comfort of the seat and the absolutely gigantic amount of storage space available. Between the glove compartment, locking side storage, and luggage rack I could daily drive this if I lived in a city.

-Acceleration 5/10 (average)

There is only one way to describe how the Aero accelerates from a standstill to about 20mph, "quickly". Aided by the powerband the 49cc two stroke I never have any trouble out accelerating most cars out of stop lights. In fact when I jokingly "street raced" a honda civic at a stop light (yes he was aware and participating), the Aero totally beat him across the intersection when the light turned green. After 20MPH when the scoot really starts to need all of it's 4HP, acceleration becomes somewhat less impressive and it slowly crawls up to it's 43mph top speed (level ground with a slight tailwind)


-Braking 6/10


(this is what stops you, for reference it is a 10" wheel)

It has brakes, tiny little drums. The best way I can describe the braking experience is "adequate". In the only panic stop situation I've yet been in, the brakes enabled me to lock up both tires, so better brakes would not add to overall braking effectiveness.


-Ride 8/10


The ride quality is quite comfortable which is exactly what you want from a scooter. It gives you the absolute minimum amount of road feel necessary to ride safely and not a bit more. The leading link front suspension setup is also pretty damn cool.

Handling 3/10


Well, I've grown accustomed to the razor sharp handling my my Honda CBR, so I might be a little biased here. The Honda Aero 50 feels nervous and twitchy to in corners. The softly sprung suspension compresses almost fully under hard cornering (the only kind of cornering you can do on a scooter in traffic) making it very easy to drag either the body or the center stand on the ground. That being said, when on empty sweeping suburban roads it's a blast to ride.

Gearbox 4/10

Lets just get this out of the way, it has a CVT and I like it… There, I said it. It's a perfect match for the engine and can be accredited with peppy acceleration up to 20 MPH. The only thing I can fault is that the top speed is artificially limited by the highest available gear ratio. Given how eagerly the engine pulls from a stop, I fully expect that with proper gearing it would be capable of 45-50 on a flat road.


Audio 3/10


Do you like the sound of hair dryers? How about Lawnmowers? That is pretty much the sound of the Aero when going around town. The only really good noise it makes is the angry 2 stroke popping and crackling when going off throttle.

Toys 4/10


It has a dash, the coolest thing on it is a fuel gauge and a low oil light. Other than that it is pretty much standard motorcycle/scooter toys. I guess the CVT kinda counts as launch control...

Value 10/10


(this is how much gas it takes to move the needle from empty to above full)

It was $100, insurance is $6 annually, and it gets more than 60 MPG with CONSTANT full throttle use. This is a 10 any way you look at it. If I actually lived within the limits of a major city, this would almost definitely be my main source of transportation.


Total: 57

Engine: 49cc single cylinder, two stroke

Power: 4 HP somewhere in the rev range, probably

Transmission: Belt drive CVT

0-60 Time: Still counting

Top speed: 45 so far

Drivetrain: Rear Wheel Drive FTW

Curb Weight: 130 LBS

Seating: 1 person, maybe two in a pinch

MPG: >60

MSRP: ~$619 when new in '85 ($100 as tested)

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