The Honda PCX has been a dependable workhorse of a 125cc scooter since its launch in 2010. Get to 2021, and Honda has made changes, not just to meet Euro 5 emissions but to improve upon the PCX and make it even better.
From revised styling, new look full LED lighting, increased storage and that now Euro 5 compliant liquid-cooled engine, it’s fair to say Honda has been busy for this year’s version. But does the PCX still have what it takes to remain a popular scooter for the masses?
Fresh and new for Euro 5 emission standards the PCX houses the Honda eSP+ liquid-cooled, SOHC, 4-valve, 4-stroke engine which produces 12.3hp and 11.8nm of torque.
As numbers go the PCX remains a good mid-range option from Honda. There are faster out there but the PCX kicks out enough power that it should achieve in excess of 60mph pretty easily, and acceleration should be everything you need in your typical city or town.
Being one of Honda’s new eSP+ engines it is designed to be nice and economical too, and Honda reckon you’ll be achieving around 240 miles on an entire 8.1l fuel tank, so you really shouldn’t be visiting the petrol station too often with typical use.
When it comes to looks, for me, the Honda PCX is a good combination of sporty and modern yet still smart and sensible – and I think that is what helps give it mass appeal. It is a scooter that most people will like or be happy with for their daily commute.
The bodywork has been altered for 2021, with a subtle change of lines to help keep it contemporary and sharp with Illumination provided by the striking full LED lighting. One of the first comments from Jake (our BikeMatters videographer) was how much he liked how the sharp lines of the front fairing matched in with the large V-shape front lights with integrated indicators. Not only does it look great for a commuter scooter, but it helps give a big bike look to the front end too.
To the back and the ‘X’ styled rear lights look pretty damn cool as well as being nice and visible.
The handlebars for me are slightly an odd choice. The PCX looks rather nice in its red and black colourway and sporty design but then the handlebars used are chrome, giving a somewhat classic and retro-like appearance to an otherwise ultra-modern-looking scooter. I can see why Honda have used this and I am sure many will disagree with me, but personally, a matching black finish would have really finished the look. The chrome just seems a little misplaced on this style of scooter.
There is plenty of choice when it comes to colours as the 2021 PCX is available in four colourway options which include ‘Pearl Jasmine White’, ‘Candy Luster Red’, ‘Galaxy Black Metallic’ and ‘Gray Metallic’.
The front wheel is 14” and the back wheel is 13”, both are a nice modern-looking black alloy which suits the red and black nature of the PCX really nicely. Planted on those rims are then Michelin City Grip tyres.
The seat comes in at 764mm, and though it isn’t the slimmest of seats, I at 5’ 6” in height was able to get both feet down on the ground all OK and had no problems riding or manually handling the PCX.
Underneath that modern and sleek bodywork, you’ll find further improvements for 2021. The PCX now has a new tubular steel frame, and aluminium swingarm too!
Instrument panel and tech
There is no denying that the PCX’s LCD panel with black background and white text is impressive.
The screen is large, well designed and clear to see. All the vital information is nicely positioned and spaced out. The speedometer in miles per hour is large and dominant towards the centre, with clock, fuel gauge, odometer, and average consumption all clearly displayed too with the option of navigating further options.
To both sides of the display is the typical dash warning lights which are very well thought out, even the green indicators to the left and right are very nicely styled and helps to give a very impressive and classy dash. It’s then topped off nicely with the blue PCX logo just underneath.
Attached to the retro-like chrome handlebars is the switchgear. All pretty standard stuff here, the plastics feel good quality and everything works without issue. The indicator switch for me is slightly lower than I was expecting, and I managed to inadvertently beep the horn a few times early on into the test.
One addition, to the right of the switchgear, is the ‘A’ and ‘A off’ button which is the switch for enabling or disabling the idle stop (Honda’s Start Stop) technology.
Technology doesn’t stop there, the PCX has smart key technology, and I am pleased to say worked without fault the entire time. The PCX also as standard has Honda Selectable Torque Control, which is basically Honda’s traction control which again, like the idle stop tech, can be toggled on or off.
The storage space on the PCX has been improved by 2.4 litres to now be over 30 litres in total storage. Positioned carefully we were able to fit a full-face helmet (my HJC F70) without any issue, though as helmets differ always check yours for compatibility. The under-seat storage can also house a few small items behind of the helmet as well.
To the rear, left side of the leg shield the PCX has a nice glove box with a drop-down door, simply push in at the top of the door and it will release down to give again decent enough storage space for items such as keys, wallet, phone, gloves, etc. At the back of this compartment is a USB-C charging port as well, ideal for charging up your phone on the go.
If the standard PCX storage isn’t enough for you, then of course you have the option of having a top box too. Honda even offers a 35 litre Smart top box that works with the same smart key as your PCX!
Braking on the 2021 PCX is provided by a 220mm front disc accompanied with ABS and to the rear is a 130mm drum brake. Slightly disappointing to see a drum brake, but I dare say this a compromise to enable it to start at such a competitive price point.
On the road, the brakes perform well, but you can’t help but feel that a slightly larger front disc and definitely a rear disc could really make for a highly impressive system.
31mm telescopic forks provide the suspension at the front, with longer (than the previous model) twin shocks at the rear attached to that new aluminium swingarm.
In all four-colourway options, the PCX starts from £3,169 which, when compared to other mid to premium 125cc models and considering that this is a Honda, is good value for money.
On the road
The PCX weighs in at 130kg, and instantly from the start of the road ride, the front especially feels very light. I would in fact say it feels lighter than a 130kg machine with how light that front end feels.
This makes it nimble and easy to navigate through those busy urban roads, but just be wary of that light front end on those longer jaunts along faster more exposed roads.
The seat and positioning of the PCX feel great. Nice comfortable and with good dimensions you feel easily noticed when on the road. Feet can either be flat on the floor or in the slightly raised position on the back of the leg shield – whichever you prefer.
The LCD display looks fantastic! I love the fact they have gone with a black background and white text, and with how the data is shown and the very well-spaced-out information, for me, really makes for a very pleasant instrument panel. Further nice touches including the styling and implementation of the dash lights also help to give it a premium and well-thought-out feel.
Yes, I may have accidentally beeped the odd bystander by not being used to the slightly lower indicator switch (clearly user error), but apart from that, the switchgear feels all good to the touch, and the idle stop technology works as simply as you would expect it to, with minimal lag on the throttle response.
The engine is spritely, that’s for sure, and will keep up with most traffic up to 50mph. Oh so typical of this type of 125cc scooter it will just be slow progressing further from 60mph. But I have to say it reached a top speed of 65mph on one test and 68mph on another, so that is a decent top speed for a machine normally reserved for the slower speeds of the urban jungle.
Let’s not forget that is also while providing great fuel economy. A neighbour of mine has a 2019 PCX which he has had since new and continues to average over 140mpg which is an incredible feat. Packing just over 8 litres of fuel tank capacity is a nice move from Honda, a few of the PCX’s rivals have around 7 litres capacity, so not only is the PCX up there for fuel economy but, with a larger tank, you should really be doing plenty of journeys between refilling at the petrol pump.
Braking is one aspect that although works fine, could be improved upon to offer even better braking performance. A slightly bigger front disk and swapping out that 130mm drum at the rear for a disc (maybe even dual-channel ABS) would give incredible braking. As I say the braking itself is more than adequate but given how good the PCX is, braking is one slight weakness in its armour.
Suspension is typical of most scooters in this category. With telescopic forks at the front and twin-shocks to the rear (increased for 2021), it is what most would expect on a 125cc scooter at this price point, matched in with the lightweight nature and set up of the PCX and it is a fun scooter, which can be a sensible commuting option for a city professional or the perfect companion for a youngster on their journey to college.
The ride is good, the spritely engine has enough poke that you can enjoy it on all but the fastest roads such as dual carriageways. From sleek filtering of congested town streets to smoothly enjoying the countryside twisties, the PCX is generally a very well-set up scooter.
The Honda PCX continues to be a great all-round scooter. Though for me, the braking could be improved upon but there is simply no denying for the price of £3,169 the PCX remains an excellent option.
It is fun, easy to ride, stylish, economical, has decent proportions, great LCD display and tech, good storage and all while being available at a very affordable price – the 2021 Honda PCX 125 will continue to be a top seller, I am sure.