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Honda Motocompacto Foldable E-Scooter First Ride: Big Fun, Small Package

The Motocompacto is compact, customizable and, most importantly, a ton of fun.

Honda Motocompacto electric scooter
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Honda Motocompacto electric scooter

Honda revives its foldable "trunk bike" concept with the new Motocompacto.

Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Honda's Motocompacto is a foldable electric scooter designed to complement the automaker's upcoming Prologue and Acura ZDX electric vehicles (and its current stable of combustion cars). It's a "zero-emissions micro mobility solution" that slots into all of those awkward transportation gaps where cars just don't fit -- the last mile between the train station and the office, dense areas with limited parking and more. But most importantly, the Honda Motocompacto is a heck of a lot of fun, both to ride and to transform between its scooter and briefcase-sized modes.

Between 1981 and 1983, Honda sold the Motocompo "trunk bike" as a factory accessory that fit into the trunk of its hatchbacks, like the subcompact City or the Today kei car. The foldable scooter featured a two-stroke 49cc engine making 2.5 horsepower and has the distinction of being the smallest motor scooter Honda has ever built. The novelty of its design and rarity of the Motocompo outside of Japan has earned it a cult status over the years among enthusiasts. And while Honda has experimented with foldable concept scooters and bikes as concept vehicles, the Motocompacto is the Motocompo's first production-bound successor.

Watch this: Honda's Smallest EV Is Also Its Most Fun

The Motocompacto's front wheel is driven by a small 490-watt electric motor that converts power from a 6.8-Ah battery into around 11.8 pound-feet of torque. Its top speed is around 15 mph, with a maximum range of around 12 miles. Honda's e-scooter has two drive modes: Mode 1 requires a manual kick-off to get going before the motor comes online at around 1 mph, while Mode 2 takes off with the accelerator from a stop.

The Motocompacto can be plugged into a standard 110-volt wall outlet via its included AC adapter and recharged in around 3.5 hours. Along with the twist accelerator and brake lever, the Motocompacto's handlebar is also home to an LCD that displays battery status, speed and drive mode info. The e-scooter also has a headlight, a rear brake light and a bell.

1981 Honda Motocompo

The original Motocompo has achieved cult status due to its rarity and novelty.

Antuan Goodwin/CNET

The 15 mph top speed doesn't sound like much on paper, but it feels like a pretty good clip from my perch atop the goofy plastic box on wheels. Certainly, it's faster and more convenient than running 12 miles. There's no suspension, so the ride is a touch rough over uneven pavement, but the steering is nimble enough to make easy work of dodging the biggest cracks. 

Stopping power is provided by a single rear brake that feels strong enough for the Motocompacto's relatively low speed. This front-drive, rear-stop configuration is the reverse of what years of riding bicycles has taught me and it takes some getting used to. But if you've ever ridden an electric kick scooter, like those rented by Lime, the Motocompacto should feel familiar. For some riders it'll also feel more comfortable thanks to the seated riding position.  

Second to the fun ride, the Motocompacto's most appealing attribute is how quickly and compactly it folds down. The four- to -five-step process is surprisingly quick, once you know the order of operations, leaving you with a briefcase sized package (21.1x29.2x3.7 inches) complete with its own carrying handle. At around 40 pounds, the Motocompacto weighs less than half the 99-pound Motocompo it homages, but it's not exactly ultralight. I was able to easily heft it over my head, but I'd rather it carry me where possible rather than vice versa.

Honda Motocompacto near an open trunk
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Honda Motocompacto near an open trunk

The briefcase-sized Motocompacto is designed to be carried when folded or stowed in your car's trunk.

Antuan Goodwin/CNET

The plain white rectangle of the folded Motocompacto presents a nice blank canvas for customization and Honda envisions riders slapping stickers all over this thing, much like how we customize the lids of our laptops. And, of course, the automaker plans to offer an entire catalog of parts and accessories -- including matching helmets, backpacks, decals and more -- to further customize the e-scooter.

I could see myself tossing the Motocompacto into my trunk for a day's errands in the city without having to constantly hunt for spaces to park and repark my car. One could ride the foldable scooter to and from a train station or bus stop for a less sweaty commute. There's a steel shackle built into the Motocompacto, but it folds down quickly and compactly enough that you could just bring it into an office, restaurant, grocery store or bar, making it more secure than a larger bike.

Honda Motocompacto's bell
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Honda Motocompacto's bell

A small, but loud bell lets folks know you're approaching on the silent e-scooter.

Antuan Goodwin/CNET

My one complaint is that the compact, foldable nature leaves little room for cargo. The Motocompacto's transformation leaves a small, breadbox-sized space ahead of the saddle where you could stuff a jacket, but there's no accommodation for a bar basket or panniers. That means you'll need a backpack for larger loads. Just make sure you and your haul don't exceed the e-scooter's 253-pound weight limit.

Returning the Honda Motocompacto at the end of my afternoon demo, I knew I'd be ordering one for myself as soon as possible. The e-scooter will be available separately for order online or via Acura and Honda dealerships for $995 later this year, just in time to fold-and-stow under the tree for the holiday gift-giving season.

Antuan Goodwin Reviews Editor / Cars
Antuan Goodwin gained his automotive knowledge the old fashioned way, by turning wrenches in a driveway and picking up speeding tickets. From drivetrain tech and electrification to car audio installs and cabin tech, if it's on wheels, Antuan is knowledgeable.
Expertise Reviewing cars and car technology since 2008 focusing on electrification, driver assistance and infotainment Credentials
  • North American Car, Truck and SUV of the Year (NACTOY) Awards Juror
Antuan Goodwin
Antuan Goodwin gained his automotive knowledge the old fashioned way, by turning wrenches in a driveway and picking up speeding tickets. From drivetrain tech and electrification to car audio installs and cabin tech, if it's on wheels, Antuan is knowledgeable.

Article updated on November 1, 2023 at 6:00 AM PDT

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Antuan Goodwin Reviews Editor / Cars
Antuan Goodwin gained his automotive knowledge the old fashioned way, by turning wrenches in a driveway and picking up speeding tickets. From drivetrain tech and electrification to car audio installs and cabin tech, if it's on wheels, Antuan is knowledgeable.
Expertise Reviewing cars and car technology since 2008 focusing on electrification, driver assistance and infotainment Credentials
  • North American Car, Truck and SUV of the Year (NACTOY) Awards Juror
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