In the past, if you wanted to start riding a motorcycle, your choices were either a standard bike or an underbone with a semi-automatic rotary transmission. These days, many of the entry level motorcycles are automatic. There are still a few manual and semi-auto underbones around, but the AT scooters provide much more choice. With the rise in popularity of AT scooters, is there still a place for a new entry in the older, formerly more popular underbone segment?
Appeal of the sport underbone
Honda seems to think so. This is why they've recently introduced the Supra GTR 150. Honda calls it the “Speed Aggressor” and hopes to tap into the lucrative sport underbone crowd. While there are many automatics, sport underbones continue to retain their following. It's not surprising as what has kept this segment alive is the customization and modification scene. The sheer number of parts allow a rider to fine tune their bike into an artistic masterpiece or a street racing demon, making it an ideal base for building a show bike or race bike. Go into a bike show or track day and all the modified Suzuki Raider R150s and the Yamaha Sniper 150s should be evidence enough.
Does the Honda have what it takes to challenge them? Let's take a look.
A new platform
The Supra GTR 150 is Honda’s newest, most powerful sport underbone yet. It integrates the latest technology, uses a new liquid-cooled engine, while remaining lightweight and easy to ride.
How is this different from the RS150 R? The RS150 R is based on the XRM platform, something originally designed for both on-road and off-road use. The Supra GTR has been designed specifically for on-road performance. That’s made clear by its unique components and design.
Being a newer generation of motorcycle, you’ll notice the front bears some similarity with the new ADV150. The position lights are shaped just like the ADV’s headlights.
Though it has a more conventional headlight mounted on the handlebars, these are dual layer LED lights that emit a white light. There are more modern bright graphics throughout the bike. The plastic panels even have a carbon fiber weave look to them. It's finished off with an aluminum tipped muffler for a sporty look.
Like its more contemporary competitors the frame, made of twin tube steel, is higher and not exactly easy to step through. This is a good thing as it addresses rigidity concerns and allows the engine to be mounted lower for a lower center of gravity.
Keeping it aloft are telescopic forks with a 31 mm diameter and a monoshock in the rear. It's a big change from the RS 150 R and XRM 125's rear twin shock setup. Bringing it to a stop are disc brakes both in front and in the rear. Bringing the power to the ground are 17-wheels with tubeless tires.
Powering the Supra GTR is a new, liquid-cooled 150cc DOHC engine with 4 valves. It produces 16.3 Ps (16 Hp) of power at 9,000 rpm and 14.2 Nm of torque at 6,500 rpm. It comes with a push-button electric starter. However, if that fails, there’s still the manual kick start as a backup. It's paired with a 6-speed transmission which Honda claims lets the bike reach a top speed of 110 km/h.
What the engine is doing can be seen in the fully digital instrument cluster. It comes with a digital rev counter and built-in gear indicator.
You'll have to bring a bag along or install a top box though. Under the seat, you’ll won't find storage space. Just the 4.5-liter fuel tank. It should be more than enough as Honda says it can achieve fuel efficiency of as high as 42 km/liter. That equates to a range of as far as 189-km.
What we like
We've had the Supra GTR for a couple of weeks and had quite a lot of fun with it. Despite the lack of storage space, it was still a great bike to use around town. It was zippy, responsive, efficient, and still drew a lot of stares.
The engine is happy to rev and responds better the higher you shift. Unfortunately, you’ll have to rev it quite a bit to get some power. Most of the usable torque comes in at around 4,000 – 5,000 rpm. You won’t feel much pulling power below that.
Another thing we like is the shift pedal. If you’ve ever had a Honda underbone before, it will feel very familiar because of the rear shift pedal. It's still present in a lot of Honda TMX and underbone models and we're glad it's been kept on the Supra GTR too. It's not a rotary shifter but a bona-fide 1-down-5-up 6-speed MT.
This pedal lets you simply reach back and shift up with your heel. That makes for faster shifting, without having to "dukot" with your toe to shift up and possibly scuff your shoes.
The ride is actually nice and soft, if a bit bouncy. Then again, that's far better than most of the AT scooters that are usually too stiff in standard form. Still that hardly detracts from the grip its tires return, feeling very reassuring and eager to lean.
What we like most are the brakes which bite immediately but smoothly, especially in the rear. The bike comes to a stop sooner than you expect.
Honda may have a lot of fuel saving technologies, like eSP, its silent starter motor and stop/start but those features are thankfully absent here. It shows that Honda is serious about this being a sport bike and have removed anything (even a real time fuel eco readout) that may interfere with your enjoyment.
The Supra GTR 150 is offered in only two colors, both red and black, just with slight variations in livery.
Best of all, it's priced at PhP102,900, the same price as the entry-level Yamaha Sniper 150.
Honda may be late to the sport underbone party, but it has certainly come prepared. It's entry produces just a hair more power and also has one extra gear. Is that enough to steal the lead away from the other two? It's still too soon to tell. However, we already like what we see and particularly enjoyed riding it. It's going to be an interesting battle for sport underbone supremacy this year.