For a long time, the underbone was the favorite commuter bike of many Filipinos. Over the past few years though, that’s been changing, thanks to the arrival of automatics, and eventually, the 150cc maxi scooters.
Maxi scooters used to be large, touring scooters designed for longer rides. Many wouldn’t even consider them because of their large size, making it difficult to maneuver through traffic. Yet with the arrival of smaller 150cc versions, they’ve now become one of the most practical choices for commuting.
Not sure what a maxi scooter is? Unlike AT scooters, they don’t have a flat floorboard. However, they make up for it with more compartments and space for storing items. They also have longer wheelbases than AT scooters, making for greater stability at higher speeds, and a more comfortable ride for pillions. For wind protection, they also come with windshields.
Among the most popular locally is Yamaha’s Nmax 155. It was an instant hit when it was introduced, with customers put on waiting lists just to get one. Since then, Honda launched the PCX150 as an alternative, with rounder and more futuristic styling. The segment is expanding too, with the ADV150 adding some off-road ability to the mix. Though Yamaha’s not quite done with a new Nmax on the horizon.
There are many more offered by other brands, but for now, we’ll focus on these, being the best-selling, and possibly future best-selling in the segment.
Yamaha Nmax (ABS)
Being the current segment leader, the Nmax has set the bar pretty high. It leads the pack with the largest displacement, but only by 5cc. Some may argue this difference is very negligible as on paper, it amounts to similar power and torque figures to the others. It also comes with disc brakes both in front and behind, both governed by ABS. It’s also the lightest of the bunch by a few kilos.
Of course, it’s not without some downsides. The current Nmax has the smallest fuel tank of the group, resulting in the shortest range one can travel with it. Some owners have also complained of the stiff ride in the rear.
Honda PCX 150
*Blue color not available in the Philippines
Honda’s PCX 150 brings with it some very unique style. It comes with daytime running lamps, that make it very distinct when the lights are on, even from afar. It also offers some curvier body panels as opposed to the angular styling of its competitors. The PCX also has the shortest wheelbase of them all, giving it an edge in the handling department. This will come in handy when navigating tight motorcycle parking spaces.
Perhaps the main criticism of the PCX is its use of a drum brake for the rear. Nonetheless, it’s helped by a front disc brake with ABS.
One of the newest entries in the segment is the ADV150. Unlike the others, the ADV was designed for some mild off-road use. As such, it boasts of a 165mm ground clearance, compared to an average of 135mm for the others. Bear in mind that this also raises the seat height to 795mm, which may make it challenging for those short of stature.
Perhaps more interesting is the slightly different tuning of the engine compared to the PCX150. These two bike may share the same engine, but in the ADV150, it’s designed to produce slightly more torque at the cost of some horsepower. The ADV150 also offers shocks with subtanks, and a rear disc brake with ABS.
Alas, these additions make the ADV150 the most expensive, at PhP149,000, but still unique being the only dual sport offering.
2020 Yamaha Nmax (ABS)
*White color not available in the Philippines. Accessorized model shown. Windshield, top box, and top box rack are optional extras.
Finally, the one many have been waiting for is the upcoming 2020 Nmax. It seems Yamaha has been doing its homework as it’s fitted with many new features rider have been wanting. For one, it gets a new set of LED lights. There will also be added functionality like a high-beam flasher and hazard lamps.
Yamaha appears to have tweaked the engine as well. It now has Variable Valve Actuation. It makes more power than the last Nmax, but slightly less torque. It also comes with a larger fuel tank for better range. Yamaha has fitted new rear shocks with subtanks to possibly address the harsh ride in the rear. Finally, the wheelbase seems to be shorter by 10mm, which should make the newer model slightly more agile.
Of course, all these changes will come at a price, bringing the Nmax up to PhP134,500 for the ABS version.
Which will be king?
Of the four, the current Nmax is still the most affordable. It’s even more accessible for buyers that opt for the non-ABS version. However, it’s also the oldest of all of them. The ADV may be the most expensive, but its unique dual sport style may justify its price. Honda’s PCX dares to be different with its more curvaceous styling and agile handling. Still, many are waiting for the upcoming Nmax that comes with features we hope to see on more bikes in the future.