What's 'super' about this moped?
We'll admit, a 150cc underbone moped – or kapchai as many have termed it as – does not look nor sound 'super' at all, but hear us out.
Besides a thumpy twin-cam (DOHC) liquid-cooled 150cc (149.2cc, actually) single-cylinder fuel-injected heart, key traits of the typical 'supercub' include a proper manual transmission with a clutch lever present, disc brakes front and aft, LED lighting, digital dash display, and the all-important big bike-like monoshock rear suspension setup.
Unlike Honda's regular commuter mopeds like the EX5 and Wave Alpha 125 for instance, the RS150R's 'supercub' naming is perhaps justified through these traits alone. In short, the RS150R isn't you average start-and-go moped indeed.
So, does this mean it has 'super' performance too?
As far as mopeds go, the RS150R is in fact a lot peppier and much more capable in terms of performance than regular ones. The other bonus of this 'over-engineering' is how adept it feels on both highways and through twisty B-roads over its lesser commuter cousins – more on this later.
Nevertheless, you'll still find swarms of RS150Rs and its aforementioned Yamaha rival prowling the concrete jungle daily, mostly in the hands of young up-start 20-somethings who want that extra bit of performance, style and fun over the typical food delivery-favourite workhorse.
In our test unit's case, the fact it wears a racy tricolour scheme inspired by the manic CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP adds a lot of street cred too. Boding well with this are the gold-finished alloy wheels and blacked-out faux carbon accents brimmed exclusively with this colourway option.
With its single-cylinder heart thumping out just about 15.4bhp and 13.6Nm, the Honda RS150R won't smash any speed records, but those figures are enough to get it's claimed 120kg laden bulk up to speeds and outrun plenty of small compact hatchbacks and sedans (i.e. the Bezza) with ease.
Though the typical 250cc starter sport or naked will do the same, the RS150R is far cheaper and much easier to own and run. Also, unlike said quarter-litres, the lightweight RS150R isn't tiring to ride daily despite having far less to offer. One other convenience with kapchais as such is how easy it is to park anywhere in the city with.
Is it fun to ride though?
The short answer: YES. Surprisingly too if we might add. Unlike regular kapchais, the RS150R is eager to carve corners through places like Ulu Yam and the Karak Highway towards Genting Highlands on weekends as any bigger-sized and purpose-built machine would.
This is where the rear monoshock, disc brakes, and combination of wider profile tyres shod on its 17-inch cast alloy wheels, shine their brightest. Couple all that with the aforementioned lightweight figure and it's now understandable why so many avid owners go on weekend jaunts through such places, riding as far as the standard 4.5-litre tank will allow.
Speaking of distance, the RS150R's employment of 6-speed transmission – one extra cog over usual kapchais and, crucially, one more over its Y15ZR arch rival as well – greatly helps too. In fact, the ratios are rather well thought out, with its final drive tuned perfectly for highway cruises.
Want a bit more? Then fret not as this bike is relatively easy to tweak as well. Fuelling this further is the abundantly rich and accessible aftermarket performance and accessories market. But be warned, this is a warranty-voiding rabbit hole that's hard to get out of...
Are there any quirks?
Yes, but few and far apart. We'll put aside the typical kapchai quirks like the absent high speed wind protection, small fuel tank's limited range, as well as the seat saddle's lack of comfort and support for long riding stints.
The biggest annoyance with this updated-for-2020 version is its new digital dash display. Despite employing a richer and fully digital unit now, Honda did skimp on brimming a simple trip computer function. Furthermore, it's also rather tiny compared to the rivalling Yamaha's gargantuan readout.
Whilst here, what's also discerning is the absent of things like a side-stand kill-switch and perhaps ABS – things now common amongst premium 150cc scooters. Fortunately, ABS in this space of bikes may be a norm sooner than we think, but we'll still need to wait for that to happen.
Beyond these though, there's indeed little to loathe with the package that supercubs like the Honda RS150R offers.
Should I buy one?
Plainly, the RS150R is no bargain in the kapchai segment with its RM8,199 base price tag sans on-road costs (registration, insurance, etc). With everything factored in, dealers will typically charge upwards of RM10,000 for you to ride one out of their showrooms.
Keen on kick-starting a part-time food delivery gig? The RS150R's lesser commuter cousins will suffice if we're honest.
But if you're yearning to kick-start your journey as a motorcyclist for both fun and perhaps adopt an alternative cost-cutting measure for your daily ride to work once the on-going Movement Control/Restriction Order (MCO/MRO) lifts, then this Honda is not a bad starting point for that.
Pictures: John Tan
PRICE: RM8,199 (base price)
Quick and agile for a moped, and surprisingly fun to thrash about
New digital dash display is tiny and lacks a trip computer
Note: This test ride was conducted in late February. Please do your part in curbing the outbreak of Covid-19 by staying at home and practising social distancing as per MCO guidelines.