Ruckus Scooter by Honda: The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

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Hailed as the “Mad Max” of scooters, there is nothing else on two wheels with the look and feel of the Honda Ruckus scooter. But style alone isn’t going to cut it. So, before you drop a few thousand dollars on a scooter, we want to arm you with all the information you need to make an informed decision.

Honda calls the Ruckus “a rugged minimalist scooter,” a description owed to the bike’s tubular steel and cast aluminum frame, wide tires, and stark design features. Initially released by Honda Japan in 2001 as the Zoomer, the Ruckus has become one of Honda Powersports’ best sellers in the US and Canada. Perhaps it’s the blank canvas that excites Ruckus enthusiasts as it offers endless customization options. But is that enough to convince you to buy it?

Honda Ruckus Overview

The Ruckus is a genuine “twist-n-go” scooter. Practically anyone can take off on it right away regardless of their past riding experience. While classified as a “50,” the Ruckus actually features a 49cc Honda four-stroke engine. There is plenty of power, though, and all at the push of a button to get you started. Shifting is no hassle either; a Honda V-Matic automatic transmission sees to that. Like most scooters in the 50cc class, the bike is perfect for the urban commute. Don’t expect it to keep up with highway traffic. Without modification, speed tops out at around 40 miles per hour.

Superb fuel economy

Year after year, the Honda Ruckus exceeds fuel economy expectations., a website that tracks and compares real-world fuel economy & MPG data, studied 15 year-models from 2003-2018 and found that the minimum fuel economy was 79.8 miles per gallon and the maximum was 91.6 miles per gallon.

Honda claims that the Ruckus scooter returns a whopping 114 miles per U.S. gallon. Their estimates, however, are based on EPA exhaust emission measurements intended for comparison purposes. Actual mileage varies depending on factors like overall riding style, how you maintain your scooter, weather, various road conditions, the tire pressure, passenger or cargo weight, and modifications.

Functional yet rugged design

The matte black (or white) cast aluminum and steel tube construction is where the Ruckus shines. The minimalist design appeals to both male and female riders. And with fewer plastic fairings than other scooters, the Ruckus is durable and easy to maintain. Even the lights, mirrors, and kickstand feature molded rubber connections for added flexibility in the event of an accident.

What Ruckus riders and experts say

Back in 2010, Motorcycle News gave the Ruckus (branded the Zoomer in Europe) a thorough review. The experts rated the Ruckus scooter 4 out of 5 stars overall. The reviewer was most impressed with the scooter’s perfect handling, and smooth ride, while they gave the lowest marks for the entry price and costly insurance.

  • Ride quality & brakes: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Engine: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Build and reliability: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Insurance running cost and value: 3 out of 5 stars
  • Equipment: 2 out of 5 stars

More recently, the users at ranked the 2018 Ruckus at #6 out of 59 in the scooter class. But perhaps the most impressive testimony was this editorial review (complete with photos) from a Ruckus rider in Bismark, ND. In her article “10 Things I Love About The Honda Ruckus Lifestyle,” the reviewer lists her favorite things about riding scooters — and her Ruckus in particular. The list includes the fun she has, “turning heads,” getting terrific gas mileage, and a smaller carbon footprint. She even likes the fact that the Ruckus has limited cargo space!

“Riding a scooter keeps me minimal. Since I have solely the space under my seat (where I usually keep a bag of sorts) and then whatever I can hold on my back, I’m very intentional about what I need in that moment or throughout that specific day.”

Ruckus Scooter Specifications

Now that we’ve discussed some of the highlights let’s take a deeper dive. (Note: some specifications vary according to the year-model).

  • Base Pricing: $2,500 to $2,700
  • Engine: 49cc Honda 4-stroke
  • Bore and Stroke: 37.8 mm x 44 mm
  • Compression ratio: 11.9:1
  • Horsepower: 4.3 HP at 8,000 revolutions per minute
  • Torque: 3.35 foot-pounds of torque power at 7,000 revolutions per minute
  • Transmission: Fully automatic V-belt drive
  • Top speed: 35 to 41 miles per hour
  • Carburetor: 18mm constant velocity with automatic choke
  • Fuel economy: 114 miles per gallon maximum
  • Fuel capacity: 1.3 gallons
  • Miles per tank: Approximately 148
  • Braking system: Drum (front and rear)
  • Tires: 120/90-10 (front) 130/90-10 (rear)
  • Enclosed storage: none (locking helmet holder under the seat)

2018 Honda Ruckus Scooter and Innovations

Honda is known for its innovative and forward-thinking design. Here are a few engineering features that set the Ruckus apart.


Because of the stark design with no external coverings, there is nothing to hide. The bike features a properly designed underframe rather than a unibody assembly. Mechanics appreciate the open configuration for its easy access. The underframe also allows for the full step-through feature that many riders prefer in a scooter.


A cast-aluminum forward frame helps keep things light, while the steel subframe adds support to the seat. The well-controlled ride of the Ruckus is something that comes stock. No mods needed. The bike’s twin-downtube fork provides 2.2 inches of plush travel. Added compliance comes from the rear suspension. The single-side cast aluminum swingarm with a single-shock allows for 2.6 inches of travel, ensuring a smooth and comfortable ride.

Instrument panel

The instrument cluster features an analog speedometer, standard odometer, indicator lights for turning and high beams. The display shows coolant temp but not the fuel level. It may take some getting used to, but the “low fuel” indicator light alerts when there are 0.3 gallons of gas left in the 1.3-gallon tank.

Electronic control unit (ECU)

In addition to the patented electric push-to-start technology, Honda’s ECU oversees ignition timing, regulates the alternator, the alternating current generator (ACG) starter, manages the electronic fuel pump and controls the automatic choke to maintain the fuel-sipping economy. This simple design is low maintenance, reduces the vehicle’s weight, and improves fuel economy.

Honda engine

The Ruckus scooter features Honda’s world-renowned liquid-cooled four-stroke, overhead camshaft, engine. This feisty single cylinder engine is lightweight but provides plenty of power for in-town riding.

Honda’s limited warranty

Honda’s warranty coverage is pretty standard for the market. It covers the vehicle for one year from purchase. Limited in scope but transferable, it includes an unlimited number of miles. Extended coverage is available via the Honda Protection Plan. It’s worth mentioning as we begin to talk about modifications that any non-dealer modifications may void the remaining limited factory warranty.

The Honda Brand and Ruckus Mod Culture

Though scooters are only a small part of their overall lineup, Honda is a brand that garners lots of loyalty. According to a recent Edmund’s Loyalty Report, this may be because Honda vehicles hold their resale value better than their competitors while excelling in the areas of fuel economy, style, and longevity. The Honda brand continually innovates their vehicles by combining dependable sound design and cutting-edge technology.

Honda vehicles are also well-loved by modification enthusiasts. The Ruckus is no exception. Online, you’ll find hundreds of websites dedicated to modifying this scooter. Common mods include minor adjustments to carburetor settings to add a little top-end speed all the way to complete redesigns. Perhaps it’s because of the low entry price that many owners have a little extra cash to spend overhauling their Ruckus scooter. Some tweaks, though, are specifically aimed at addressing a few of the scooter’s shortcomings like storage space, speed uphill, and seat height.

Pros and Cons of the 2018 Ruckus Scooter

While pricing and features are essential, you’ll want to also consider these pros and cons before making such a big purchase.

What we like about the Ruckus scooter:

  • Ruckus’ tough minimalistic style is fresh and unique
  • Low priced entry into the Honda brand
  • The robust culture surrounding the Ruckus makes it exciting to own
  • Excellent fuel economy
  • Decent power for under 50cc
  • Great for the urban commute

What we dislike about the Ruckus scooter:

  • Don’t expect to muscle up hills or keep up with highway traffic
  • Equipped with drum brakes
  • Still uses a carburetor
  • No enclosed storage

How Other Top Scooters Stack Up

With rising gas prices and environmental concerns, scooters are more popular than ever. Though there are dozens of models on the market, there is still room for manufacturers to differentiate in areas like design and price. New riders are often overwhelmed with the choices in the 50cc class. Let’s see how a few other bikes compare to the Ruckus scooter.

Genuine Roughhouse 50

The Roughhouse 50 is also known for its minimalist design. It also comes in matte black and red. While the Ruckus scooter has a vintage style, the Roughouse 50 is decidedly futuristic. This gas scooter is street legal, DOT approved and registerable as a vehicle in all 50 states. It features front hydraulic brakes which outperform the Ruckus’ disc brakes. The 2-stroke 50cc Genuine Roughhouse comes with a fully automatic transmission. Like the Ruckus, this machine is operated via twist & go throttle; the rider doesn’t need to worry about engaging the clutch or gear shift.

Roughhouse 50 Specs

  • Engine: two-stroke, air-cooled, 49.7cc
  • Mileage: 100MPG
  • Price: $1,900 -$2,000 range
  • Ranked #46 out of 59 for 2018 by users

Genuine offers a two-year bumper-to-bumper warranty, roadside assistance, and responsive customer service. There is ample under-seat storage, a hook for grocery items and space for an optional rack with locking top case. The most common complaints are that the Genuine scooter burns through a lot of spark plugs. There are also reports of weak battery performance.

Roketa MC-22Y-50

The minimalist vintage design of the MC-22Y-50 is comparable to that of the Honda. Like the Ruckus, the Roketa’s dual caged headlamps and a tubular frame feature prominently. There is more variety, however, when it comes to options. The Roketa comes in five color combinations.

MC-22Y-50 Specs

  • Engine: 50cc, air-cooled
  • Mileage: 70 MPG
  • Price: $1,500 to $3,200 range
  • Not ranked by users at

The vintage aesthetic is similar to the Ruckus. The scooter comes in multiple color options. With a lower entry price, you’ll have more cash to spend on options like leather upholstery. The bike’s speeds top out at 30 MPH. Billed as the “Honda Ruckus clone,” the similarities end with its design aesthetic. There are many complaints about inferior or shoddy construction and costly repairs.

Vespa Primavera 50

Vespa is a brand that all scooter riders know and love. The brand loyalty is similar to Honda. The Primavera 50 offers a twist & go experience, with top speeds near that of the Ruckus: 45 MPH. Gas mileage is competitive too; in the 100 to 110 MPG range. This scooter gives the Ruckus scooter some stiff competition except on price.

Primavera 50 Specs

  • Engine: 4-stroke, 50cc
  • Mileage: 100 to 110 MPG
  • Price: $3,500 to $3,700
  • Ranked #8 out of 56 for 2018 by users

Vespa Primavera Pros

The Primavera has a classic European scooter design. It comes in multiple colors, and trim options. The sleek scooter provides ample cargo storage.

Vespa Primavera Cons

The main drawback is the entry price as well as repair and maintenance costs. No matter which model you choose, you’ll pay a premium for the Vespa brand.

Ruckus Wrap-up

Nearly two decades into its production run, the Honda Ruckus remains one of the most popular step-through style scooters in the 50cc class. Ruckus scooter enthusiasts are a passionate bunch. They have learned to tweak practically every option to achieve unheard of performance. But by most accounts, it is the design of the Ruckus that turns heads and wins hearts. The bare-bones styling featuring a matte black (or white) metal tubing “cage” with no flashy fairings or trim. Many describe the Ruckus as looking like something out of the 1980s post-apocalyptic movie “Mad Max.” And that’s just fine with them. The Ruckus’ strong looking package is easy to maintain and lends itself to every conceivable modification.

Thanks to Honda’s award-winning engineering, the Ruckus scooter held up nicely when we compared it with other 50cc scooters. Despite the “ready for anything” aesthetic, the Ruckus is perfectly suited for urban and residential street riding. With a top speed of around 35 MPH, a 1.3-gallon fuel tank, and no enclosed storage don’t expect it to take you on long road trips or keep up with highway traffic. Other scooters in this class are faster, have more cargo storage, and lower prices. However, the Ruckus continues to be a popular choice for its style and the culture surrounding the Honda brand.

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