The Honda Helix arrived in the United States in 1986 and operated until 2007; MO gave him the old one over 25 years ago. With its long wheelbase and massive 244cc performance, the Helix has achieved cult status in Japan and weenie status here in the land of the free. Hey, that was 1996! With a nose that looks like it served as a model for Matt Groening’s Simpsons characters, the Honda Helix still looks as quirky today as it did back then. You know you want one.
There is the story of three blind men who meet an elephant in the jungle. The first grabs its tail and says an elephant is like a rope. The second blind man smells the elephant’s trunk and says the beast is shaped like a serpent. Meanwhile, the third blind man touches the animal’s leg and claims that an elephant is like a tree. If there is anything humble motorcycle testers can learn from this story, it is that a motorcycle should not be judged by our first impressions.
So it was from this “blind” point of view that I approached my new test bike, the outrageous Honda Helix.
A quick visual inspection will tell you that this bike is a scooter because of its open floor area, automatic transmission, and rear wheel mounted motor. It must therefore be a scooter. But wait, this machine has a longer wheelbase than a Harley chest of drawers, a roomy trunk, and a huge seating area for two. It must be a motorcycle.
So what is a propeller? Is the biggest scooter in the world, a little cousin of Honda’s own Pacific Coast. Or does it challenge classification in any conventional category? To find out, I decided to put the bike through my standard testing procedure to find out exactly where its strengths and weaknesses lie.
But before my two-wheel torture test begins, let’s take a look at the basics: Honda’s Helix is powered by a simple 244cc four-stroke and uses a V-Matic transmission to avoid the need for nasty things like a lever. gears and a clutch lever. Starting is effortless – just press the rear brake and push the start button, an automatic choke takes care of the rest.
The instruments are electronic and include a speedometer that reads in metric or imperial, a clock, and temperature, oil and fuel level gauges. Another gauge reminds Helix owners that it’s almost time to change the oil. Everything is laid out in an informative and non-threatening way so as not to intimidate the cycling novice. Really, if the Helix were more user-friendly, it would hop on your leg.
“The lightness and unstable nature of the Helix allow it to weave its way through the concrete jungle while leaving the cage pilots trailing behind in the wake of its flatulent exhaust note.”
Day one called for (don’t laugh) top speed tests. Full blast, the Honda makes its way to a respectable 70 mph with a full tank of gas and a light lunch in me. This is a significant number because it means Helix owners can brave highways without fear of being hit by high-speed motorists. Still, an extra five mph or more would be nice for those impromptu top speed races with Winnebagos.
The second day of the Helix test sheet predicted background noise in the canyons. Not a suitable place for this machine? Maybe not, but no bike, be it a scooter, tourer or sportbike passes my torture test without canyon carving. Here the Helix was a great performance as its light weight and small tires made for extremely fast corners and a fun afternoon around the corners. Ground clearance was good as it took a decent effort to scrape the sidestand. Don’t expect to squeeze in on sports bikes, as the Helix’s soft suspension limits the fun to, uh, upper speeds.
The third day and we travel the highways in search of tour pleasure. With its trunk filled with a camera bag, a rain suit and a few extra clothes, the Helix is ready to go. Sadly, hitting the accelerator and battling hills and headwinds gets frustrating after a while.
The large windshield’s wind protection is substantial, although at highway speeds, the vertical shield likely creates enough drag to lose five miles per hour. After miles of doing your best to emulate Scotty (she’ll take more Cap’n!), You tire of traveling on the freeway. Just as well, as the Helix’s small reservoir limits its range to around 100 miles (160 km) of top speed.
Day four and we are in the element of the Helix – LA traffic. Maybe our beloved City of Angels didn’t invent bottling, but they damn well perfected it. It is here, splitting the tracks and crossing urban traffic jams, that the Helix shines. Acceleration, even at two, is enough to leave other motorists behind, and the stopping power of the manually operated front brake and the floor-mounted pedal is sufficient.
“60 miles per gallon is just an added bonus.”
The Helix’s lightness and unstable nature allow it to weave its way through the concrete jungle while leaving the cage pilots behind in the wake of its flatulent exhaust note. The fact that it is capable of delivering 60 miles per gallon is just an added bonus. Plus, its trunk is big enough for a few errands or whatever else you need. Additional storage is available in the glove compartment, although it only offers enough room for a pack of Marlboros and a fake tattoo sticker.
So what is a propeller? For $ 4,399, it’s a practical commuter bike, racing bike, and even a short-distance tourer. Honda’s simple, low-maintenance method of transportation is an outrageous statement that makes no apologies for being ‘only’ a scooter.
Manufacturer: Honda Model: 1997 CN250 Helix Price: $ 4,399 (1996) Engine: single liquid-cooled four-stroke Bore x stroke: na Displacement: 244 cm3 Carburetion: 30 mm HP with automatic choke Transmission: automatic V-Matic Wheelbase: 63.8 in. Seat height: 26.2 in. Fuel capacity: 3.2 gal. Claimed Dry Weight: 349.4 lbs.