Today I got word that Bill Kasson Yamaha had a brand new Morphous in their hot little hands. I’ve been keeping an eye on the sleek and sexy Morphous ever since it was presented (as the Maxam) in Japan back in April. It was a big too-do there in Japan with the repeal of the tandem rider ban, Yamaha decided they would help with the celebration by introducing the only scooter to ever go up against the Honda Helix in the long and low two-up maxi-scooter.
Speaking of Honda Helix… I own an ’86 myself. It hasn’t visibly changed since then… even the 2006 Helix looks just like the Helix of 20 years ago… WOW! Twenty years ago! That’ll make mine a classic in just a few months.
Honda introduced the Helix back in 1986 as the FIRST maxi-scooter. With the largest production scooter engine seen to date at 244cc, it doesn’t come near the 650cc monsters available today, but believe me when I say 244cc is plenty to get you across town. I’ve gotten mine up to 78 mph(with the wind behind me while riding on a slight downgrade), but I average about 68 mph on the highway, allowing a little room to pass.
Well, since these two babys are direct competitors, and I’m pretty familiar with the Helix, I thought I would review the Morph as it compares to the Helix. I know in the Helix groups have been a buzz with people rubbing their chin and thinking that it might be time to retire the old scoot that looks like a prop from 60′s Star Trek for the “new hotness”.
What do we start with? Well, how about I start with my over-all take on the Morph. The Morph is the Helix for a younger generation. No, not because of its aggressive styling or slightly higher bhp… ANYone would like that… but because old folks like myself aren’t going to want the trade offs that go along with that aggressive styling or higher bhp. Hang on to that thought.
If the Helix is a two wheeled barcalounger, the Morphous is a rolling Ab Scissor. It’s a bit harder to mount and dismout, and when you ride it you can feel the burn. REALLY, Thirty minutes on the freeway and you’re gonna feel it in your abs! Was it because of the finely tuned 249cc cranking out the HP? Perhaps, it could also be that the windshield is purely decorative, so your chest is catching the 55+mph wind blast.
Bill Kasson, from Bill Kasson Yamaha in Austin, was kind enough to let me give the Morph the once over and take her for a spin. For those people who don’t know Bill Kasson, he’s a fantastic guy. He’s been in the business for years and would never turn up his nose to someone asking for scooter info (like some mega-motorcycle dealers do). He was more than glad to give me a tour of his scooter selection and went on to say the Vino 125s are ZOOMING off the lot. He sold his first allocation within a couple of weeks and is expecting a second, larger shipment early ’06. He also said the Zumas are moving nicely. It may be because of the ban on 2-strokes as of 2006 (no more new 2-strokes, folks… but that’s another story). As far as the Morphous goes… Most dealers that could get them in were allocated ONE… ONE SINGLE SOLITARY Morph and we have one in Austin. She’s a beaut for sure. Got lots of heads turning during my test drive.
(Click on the images to see ‘em up close. One thing to notice is the height of the center panel you have to step over. It’s considerably higher on the Morph, but to its credit, it has no foot brake, so you can stretch out both legs when your seated… nice!)
The first thing I compared was storage space. It has a nice deep glove box (sorry, no photo), and room under the seat for a half helmet and… maybe… a… Mac Mini(?) The space is illuminated which is pretty common with modern maxi-scoots. Between those stylish brake lights is the trunk with space for your reflector vest, a scarf, some gloves… maybe a spare shirt and pair of pants. Click the images below to get a closeup. How does the Helix stack up? I’d say it might have slightly less total square inches of storage. Not detracting from the Helix’s cavernous trunk… It might hold FOUR Mac Minis, but I don’t have room anywhere for a half helmet.
Next I looked at the dash. Very clean and sleek. The display glare was a bit hard on the eyes sometimes, but I’m sure it looks real nice at night. I’m kinda fond of the retro stylings of the Helix display and I’m kinda partial to it’s large size and colors. I loved the Morph’s chromed bars. You’d pay big bucks to deck out your Helix with the similar aftermarket equipment that come as stock on the Morph. The locking gas cap was under that little door in the center (seen below), and it seems that locking gas caps are a necessity in today’s Road Warrior gas market.
My last comparison is on the seat. The Morph’s seat was comfy, but slightly more narrow than the Helix seat. I’m used to the Helix seat and I’d say it has a greater cushernomic (yes.. I made that up) value. Another thing… You can’t do the “Helix Layback”. If you put on your emergency brake, roll up your jacket to use as a pillow, you can actually stretch out on your back and catch some decent Z’s on the Helix. You didn’t know?! Try it! I don’t know of another 2-wheeled motorized vehicle that will let you do the Helix Layback with the same degree of “Z”-induction.
So here’s my take:
Mack Factor? Morphous wins. If I were a young whipper-snapper, I’d go for the Morph and pass on the station wagon stylings of the Helix. Check out a Morph in person and see if you doubt my claim.
BALLS? I think the Morph takes this one. With the added 5cc was a slight difference on take off, but acceleration felt more responsive on the Morph and at higher speeds it’s more aggressive. I didn’t get to really twist it, but I think it will do an easy 80 mph as long as your arms and abs can take it.
Cushernomics? No scooter can touch the pure cush-factor of the Helix. After riding the Morph, you may even think the Helix is TOO cushy! And that’s why I was saying the Morph is the Helix for the younger generation. The kids won’t mind the extra effort to get on and off the Morph, they will dig the wind in your chest feeling, they will enjoy the lower tuned rumble of the exhaust and tighter suspension. Not to say you and I wouldn’t like those things too; but, once you’ve gotten spoiled riding on cloud Helix, it’s hard to give it up.
Here’s the specs (thanks to: SantaBarbaraMotorsports.com)
See more pictures of the Maxam here.
What would Steve do? I’m keeping the Helix. Yes, I’ll continue to glance at the Morph… jealous of how sweet it looks… but for my purposes the Helix does fine. I won’t win any “Big Phat Playa” awards on her, but I can haul home dinner without getting a cramp in my abs and stretch out to take a nap break on those long rides. You should take a test drive and give us YOUR take. Oh yeah… the Morph is sometimes mis-spelled Morpheus, so I put it here to help in a search.