Honda Helix defends its title against the Yamaha Morphous

Fri, Sep 30, 2005

Reviews, Scooter Reviews

(Bill Kasson poses with the latest weapon in Yamaha’s scooter arsenal)

Presenting Helix versus Morphous. FIGHT!

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.


I wanted to give you some views you don’t see on the internet very often… Just so you can get the feeling that you were actually there.



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.

steve
thescooterscoop.com

, ,

27 Responses to “Honda Helix defends its title against the Yamaha Morphous”

  1. scootertrasher Says:

    I think your review is great. I’ve bee dying to see more detailed images of the Morphous and I finlayy found them. I’ve been curious what the inside of the trunk looked like and I almost felt that Yamaha kept this under wraps because they haven’t published any images (from what I’ve seen) of the storage areas of the bike. I have a Reflex Sport and was considering the Helix prior to buying the Reflex but with only $200 more I got a scooter that everyone stops to look at and the wind on my chest is only bothersome in very high winds, not just normal highway driving but that’s just me and my own opinion. Keep up the great work and thanks for the informative review. Finally someone posted something on this awesome looking machine. I think my next one will be a Majesty though.

    Reply

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Thanks for that dude! I just heard about this new Yammy and couldn’t find a whole lot of info on it anywhere. I think I’m gonna see if any shops here in KS have them in stock. TREV

    Reply

  3. Nate Says:

    First class write-up and comparison of the two scoots. Well done! I still think the Morphous looks like a odd PhotoShop job from its really stretched out shape. I might be more of a Majesty type rider when I move up.

    Reply

  4. Steve Guzman Says:

    Thanks Nate. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I can agree (especially after reading the HondaHelixDiscussion), that some people are not going to dig the look of the Morph. I haven’t read a whole lot at the CN250 yahoo group and how they feel, but just like you, many have made the Calvin “Ewww Gross” face (from Calvin & Hobbs, but I couldn’t find a picture) at it.

    You know, in Japan, kids would spend big bucks to make their scooter look like the Morph. So, over there, they’re getting a great deal. A custom looking scoot with all stock parts.

    I like it, but then again, I’m a fan of the Japanese scooter oddities.

    Beauty is INDEED in the eye of the beholder, eh?

    Reply

  5. Sean Turner Says:

    I have a Majesty and thought the Morphous was just to satisfy some weird Japanese trend for the younger market … but next to the Helix, I can see some of the origin. That being said, how in the world can Honda charge more for a 20 year old scooter than a brand new one from Yamaha? Defies logic. Anyway, I am glad to found your site … great info!

    Reply

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Okay, first of all, I don’t have a scooter yet. I’m doing the research for a planned purchase next year after a move and some other things settle down in my life.

    But after looking at the available large scooters out there, I can’t help wonder what the heck Honda is thinking with the Helix. Nostalgia aside (and I use that term loosely in a Star Wars sort of way) , it’s an old design. Lots has been learned since then. And you can get other “nostalgic” scooters that have modern technology under the skin.

    I can’t image spending $5,099 MSRP on one, especially when a B400 is only about $600 more.

    If Suzuki ever introduces the 250 Burger in the US, I can’t help but think Honda will get their clock cleaned here.

    Reply

  7. Steve Guzman Says:

    I can agree that honda’s scooter line could use a tune-up. I love my Helix, make no mistake, but many people have made that price/power comparison and a new Helix can’t really stand up to it. I think if Honda could revamp the Helix for it’s 21st anniversary and stick 400cc’s under the seat… then touch up the design for the new millenium… It could make a come back… EVEN if you tack $1000 on to the current price tag.

    Honda’s are rock solid little monsters with a good resale value. That accounts for much of the sticker shock people get when looking at them.

    Reply

  8. Wombatwheeler Says:

    I agree, the Helix is old but not old enough to be “retro” and a bit overpriced. But the one that really gets me is the Big Ruckus: you can have a Reflex, or a Reflex minus the bodywork and shield, for the same price!! Huh?

    Reply

  9. Anonymous Says:

    http://majestyusa.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=118
    To the guy who thought the morphous looks like a photoshop job, I agree.
    But I like it. Great review.

    Reply

  10. MJ!fRENCHI;) Says:

    HEY!GREAT TEST INFO!GOT ONE QUESTION!WHY DO YOU SUPPPOSE YAMAHA DIDNT MAKE WINDSHIEND A LITTLE TALLER AND MORE FUNCTIONAL?YAMAHA IS USELY RIGHT ON WITH COMPITION!GREAT MOTOR AND PLANNING USUALLY!VERRY ADVANCED USUALLY!MAYBE THEY DID THIS TO KEEP MORE MODERN AND STREAM LINE ECT!WHAT DO YOU THINK?GREAT ARTICLE KEEP UP GREAT WORK!TAKE CARE!FRENCHI;)IAM LOOKING AT BIGGER SCOOTERS FOR HIGHWAY USE!WHAT ONES WOULD YOU RECOMEND?150CC AND BIGGER!THANKS!

    Reply

  11. Steve Guzman Says:

    I think you’re exactly right. Yamaha was going for pure style with their choice of windshield. If you’re riding the highways, this isn’t too bad if you have a full face helmet. If not, you don’t have anything to hide behind. Frankly, I think it would get a bit tiresome for me. If you want a 150cc+ scooter, I would have to ask you a bunch more questions.

    What is the highest speed limit of the roads you will travel? How much storage capicity do you require? What is your height? How important is style? Do you want a classic or something modern? Is there a brand you are more fond of? How many hours at a time will you be riding?

    Answer these and we can help you narrow something down. There are LOTS of choices at 150cc+. For scooters you could go all the way up to 650cc if you needed to.

    Reply

  12. Anonymous Says:

    Cee baileys makes a larger screen for the morphous, they come in different shades to almost black tint. This effectively cures the morphous’ syle over function windshield.
    I sat on several scooters and found the morphous the most comfortable. I have had years of crotch rockets, standards and now large cruisers. The cruiser is…different. But it is a huge pain to clean, literally hours if you get caught in the rain. I want to use the scooter for commuting, hopefully get the wife interested in riding too. Personally, I will have a ton of fun on it. They supposedly do about 80-85mph and get 65mpg.
    I will be suffering from el-cheesy grin syndrome inside my helmet.

    Reply

  13. Anonymous Says:

    Cee bailey makes a bigger winshield for the Morf.

    Reply

  14. Gene Says:

    Bought my 2006 Morphous a bit over 2 weeks ago. I used to own a couple of Vulcan 500s over the years past and this scooter gives me all that I want. So far I have gotten 67.2 and 66.5 mpg. My Morphous does move off the line quite nicely..funny to see big truck/suv driver’s looks as I pull AWAY from them at the light. Been chafeing (sp) at the bit due to the break-in period…under 4K rpm for the first 600 miles. I have been able to drive my baby every single day to work here in San Antonio, Texas…and finding parking in congested overpriced lots…(grin)…more reasons to move to a scooter. I work at UTHSCSA and I would have to pay $6 per month for a parking space over 1 mile away from the building that I work in if I had a car. Now it costs me $4 per month and I park right outside the building. The tech who test drove my scooter prior to turning the keys over to me came back with an ear to ear grin and said..and I quote “just like riding a roller coaster..” This scooter is very nimble footed. Love to stretch my legs out in front/cruiser position and lean back just slightly (ab crunch time..which I need). Like you said..with a full face helmet…it isnt that bad at higher speeds at all. Worst thing so far is that one of the concrete bridge overpasses has a washboard effect and I feel my fillings rattling around.

    Reply

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Fabulous review – just what I was looking for. Being a total novice, what are the top 3 reasons to choose scooter over motorcycle – safety, not wanting to fight a monster weight and engine – enlighten me. I’m thinking it’s a great way to learn to ride a motorized bike and then graduate up. I’m 56 and in excellent shape, but am a little worried about the risk.

    Reply

  16. SpoonKiller Says:

    Great review Steve! I caught it when it first came out and I’m now getting serious about getting one of these so it’s a great re-read :)

    Reply

  17. Anonymous Says:

    I’ve owned a 2006 Morpous for a year now and I love it. I ride it on my 15 mile daily commute to work and I have no problem keeping up with highway traffic. To me, the Morphous is a cross between a scooter and a sportbike. I use a full face helmet so the low windshield is not an issue for me.

    It’s also quite an attention getter. If you’re a shy person then perhaps a Morphous is not for you. I’ve had many people approach me and ask about it.

    The only bad thing about the Morphous is the body panels are extremely expensive to replace after a drop. Get insurance! I’m glad I did.

    Reply

  18. Steve Says:

    Looks like we have a couple of happy customers. Thanks to Gene and Anon for the feedback!

    So Spoonkiller… did you decide to take the plunge?

    Reply

  19. Anonymous Says:

    Suz here. I have a Morphous 2006 and love it. Sweet ride. I was never a motorcycle rider before the scooter and learned on a 125cc Vino. I have my license and just love the feel of the Morphous. Also, I went for the 28″ windscreen upgrade.

    Happy scootering.

    Reply

  20. Anonymous Says:

    The Morphous is a fantastic bike. A scooter yeah but it rides like a bike with auto-transmission. My 2006 bike has over 14,000 miles. I have added Bike Master rear view mirrors, the Cee Bailey extended windshield (smoke), flashing headlight modulator (SDC), rear light up license plate frame with LED hardware lights (SDC). The ride is excellent at all speeds. High speed (before governing) is 82 MPH. 65 MPG average provides a lot of savings. Take the MSF Safety course in your area. Enjoy!

    Reply

  21. Steve Says:

    You have any photos of the morph with extended, smoke windscreen?

    Reply

  22. Alan Kaufmann Says:

    I have available a new, tall, clear, replacement windscreen for the Morphous. I bought it because I thought I was going to get a Morphous, but decided to keep my Silverwing instead. I bought it from http://www.bikescreen.com/. I will sell for $100 plus shipping, which is half price. Contact me at Alan4ever@speakeasy.net

    Reply

  23. Anonymous Says:

    Howdy,

    Thanks for the review. The Morphous is an attractive bike.

    Larry

    Reply

  24. Anonymous Says:

    Thanks for the comparo. I own two Helixs and recenlty purchased a Morphous with less than 200 miles on it.
    I have to say that, for me The Morphous is head and shoulders above the Helix. It feels much more stable. It handles and steers so much better and just feels like a modern vehicle. I feel much safer on it, especially when riding the highways. It tracks like it's on rails.

    The helix is still a great scooter but it is lacking compared to a modern machine.

    Reply

  25. Larry C. Says:

    Howdy,

    Does anyone know the rider weight limit on the Morphous? If it’s anything like most 250s, I’m guessing around 350 lbs, tops. Anyone know for sure?

    Reply

  26. Dusty Says:

    I own one and it’s awesome! I have the exact year and color pictured above (might be the same one since they are so rare idk.) I wear a full face, but you can lock it to the bike. I’ve gotten it up to 76mph, but it would have climbed if i wanted it to. People stop me and talk to me about it all the time.

    Fantastic bike, I dig it.

    Reply

Leave a Reply