Honda NSS 350 Forza
A friend here in Orkney bought an early low mileage Honda 300cc Forza a few years ago and has had quite a few enjoyable trips around the Island and further afield with it. On one of our trips together, I had a ride on it and was really impressed with the whole concept.
This is the 300 version belonging to Les on one of our many ride-outs - actually a shakedown run with my recently finished CB550 F1.
I had to be careful not to grab the clutch when coming to a halt on my test ride, that's the very good linked rear brake - these bikes are clutchless CVT machines! More accurately, there is a clutch but it's centrifugal and needs no input from the rider other than a handful of throttle. I'd never really considered owning one of these 'Maxi Scooters' before, even though quite a few friends have bought them in the past. I did have a quick shot on a Suzuki Bergman many years ago when we lived South and a good friend who had, like me had GoldWings for well over 20 years bought a Yamaha X Max more recently when his 'Wing was getting a bit more of a handful as he aged. I recently decided that I ought to move my own GoldWing on to someone who might use it more than I have recently.
Around this time (early 2023) my lovely C125 Super Cub was approaching 3 years old and I was contacted by the supplying dealer in Aberdeen to see if I wanted to trade it in for another new one. 'Not a chance - I love it' was my reply. 'But I might be interested in a new 350 Forza although the 1500 'Wing would have to go to make some space first!' The Super Cub really is a delightful machine and I've enjoyed many long and short adventures with it. The dealer requested a description and photos of my 'Wing to see if there might be a deal to be had and came back with a very fair price against a 2023 model 350 Forza, providing they could fulfil my request of a 'Pearl Siena Red' version - a new colour for 2023 for the Forza but the same as my CBF 600 SA8, which Les now owns. I personally hate this new trend in matt and satin colours - smacks of 'The Emperors New Clothes' to me.
Anyway, I got a new MOT on the 'Wing and delivered it to McAdie and Reeve, our excellent couriers and they took it down to Ecosse in Aberdeen - the weather not really being conducive to riding it down there in February and then having to get back to Orkney by whatever means available.
The Forza arrived in April and we happened to have a trip to Lancashire planned but unfortunately it was a bit late to organise everything so I asked them to put it on the Aberdeen to Kirkwall ferry as 'unaccompanied freight' for me to collect.
This is the first picture I have, being unloaded at Ecosse in Aberdeen from it's transport platform
Following the PDI they were to fit a 35 litre colour matched top box and supplied a pair of heated grips for me to fit later. Our good friend Les transported me to the Ferry depot on Hatston in his van with a trailer. I could have ridden it back home the 20 miles but the Ferry docks after 11 o'clock in the evening and it would probably be more sensible to have the first ride on a new unfamiliar machine in daylight!
The amount of storage space is quite amazing, especially in the cavernous space under the dual seat. OK, a fair bit less than the 'Wing I'm well used to but as Christine doesn't go on the bike any more, I'm sure there will be enough space for me for a decent trip away, especially with the top box on.
There is also a lockable cubby box on the left of the fairing which is deep enough for a flask or water container and has a USB C charging socket and moulded pocket for a phone in there. It seems to be typical of Honda - a well thought out machine and at my age will be powerful enough for anything I would want to do. It also has an electrically adjustable screen which should be great for me at 5'9" tall. Time will tell if it's the usual build quality and reliability we're so used to - we've had Hondas for over 40 years, cars and bikes.
I rang Les on the following Monday to see if he fancied a trip out on the Forzas - he was just as keen as usual, even after our midnight trip to collect it! I had a short ride around Boardhouse Loch and arrived at his house to pair up our intercoms before a very enjoyable ride through Dounby to fill up with fuel and on to Harray, Stenness then into Stromness via the Bay of Ireland loop. Taking the back road out of Stromness, up over Cauldhame and then out to Quoyloo, we stopped for a photo session and swapped bikes to compare. Les led us back to his place on my bike for a welcome cuppa and a 'flight de-briefing'.
I'm impressed with the smoothness of power delivery and the nimble handling but as with most offerings from Japanese manufacturers, the mirrors although rock steady, leave a lot to be desired and the electrically adjustable screen at the highest setting is still not tall enough for me - I'm only 5'9"! This will be remedied by fitting an MRA Xcreen adjustable spoiler unit. I realise that the UK is a tiny market compared with ROW where many customers are riding in T shirts and without bulky jackets and perhaps smaller in stature but how do they get these bikes through Construction and Use regs in UK with poor rear visibility?
The newer 350 is definitely taller and a bit more stable than the earlier 300 version, it feels quite 'planted'. Les's bike is one of the earliest and 10 years old, so things should have improved in the intervening years. It didn't take much getting used to really but I haven't explored all the gizmos on the handlebars yet! Although I opted for the 35 litre top box, rather than the much larger 'Smart' one at 3 times the price, it's still big enough for my Shoei Neotec 2 helmet with plenty of space around it. The reason for the smaller option was that I didn't want to put my trust in everything being electronically controlled, so with the very generous under-seat storage, I'm sure there is plenty of room for more adventures.
There is an important piece to add to this story and I found out that the company Ecosse Motorcycles went into administration on September 2023 with the loss of many jobs and all motorcycles, clothing, tools, fixtures and fittings were auctioned off by the Receivers. This auction included the Wing which I had part exchanged for the Forza. Had this happened after I had sent the Wing to them but before I received the Forza, I would be minus the Wing, this Forza and quite a bit out of pocket. It means that I will never do that kind of a deal again - I had no idea that the company was in such a parless state and feel very sorry for the excellent staff, they have lost far more than I ever could potentially have done!
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