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Honda Ruckus Review: Specs, Cost, Pictures, and Videos

Brendan is a proud Honda Ruckus owner from Boulder, Colorado.

Everything you need to know about the Honda Ruckus.

Everything you need to know about the Honda Ruckus.

Why You Should Buy a Honda Ruckus

I moved out to Boulder, Colorado, with about five thousand dollars saved up. After a few months of looking for a job or truck with no success, my resources slowly wasted away to the point that buying a reasonable car was out of the question.

At that point, my buddy offered that I take a look at a 2009 Honda Ruckus that his friend was trying to sell. At first, I wasn't real excited about the idea, but once I took a look at it, I saw this was no ordinary moped... they're cool!

The Ruckus I bought had a few modifications, including a Yoshimura Exhaust, Seat Lowering Frame, NCY Footrest & Pegs, and a Side Kickstand, among a few others. I bought the used moped with 800 miles on it for $1800.

I couldn't be happier with my purchase for the following reasons. Without further ado, here is my review!

My Bike

My Bike

MSRP

A brand new 2019 Honda Ruckus has an MSRP of $2,749. If this is the amount you are looking to spend on a vehicle, it can be assumed that you're probably tight on cash. If you're tight on cash, the thousands of dollars worth of mechanical work you're going to end up having to pay on the jalopy you bought is only going to be that much more painful to bear. Save yourself the trouble, your money will go further with a Ruck.

MPG

The Ruck has a fuel capacity of 1.3 gallons and gets a simply insane 114 miles per gallon! The fuel light turns on after the first gallon is used, leaving 0.3 gallons, or about another 34 miles worth of gas. With everyday travel around a small city like Boulder, $20 bucks can cover a few months of fuel!

Point to take home: help the environment while you help your wallet.

2019 Honda Ruckus

2019 Honda Ruckus

Fun Driving Experience

All in all, the Ruckus is real fun to drive around town. Weighing in at 194 pounds with a full tank of gas, the Ruckus is easily maneuverable and is just awesome in the summer. I've had my days in the snow and rain, and as you can probably guess, they're not too fun, but it is doable. Just keep in mind that wind chill makes it feel about 10-15 degrees colder on the Ruckus, and that driving 40+ mph in snow/rain can feel like someone is throwing sand at your face, point blank. Invest in a cheap pair of goggles and maybe a face mask and gloves for when you do get caught in bad conditions.

Sharing the road with vehicles averaging in at 4,000 lbs, a helmet is never a bad idea either!

I'd like to recommend two products I've used and enjoy. These goggles are great because they're cheap, and you get a few different pairs that are optimal in certain conditions. Never bad to have around. Additionally, this helmet is also fairly cheap, as far as helmets go, and gives you some extra protection. You'll hope you never need it, but if you do end up needing it, you'll be glad you had it.

License to Drive

Like with insurance, license, registration, and license plate requirements for the Ruckus vary by state. But the great thing about the Ruckus for all states is that, because it is under 50 ccs, you only need a basic driver's license and not a motorcycle endorsement which can take time and money to attain. However, if you live in North Carolina, for example, you don't need a license at all and only have to be over 16! So depending on where you live, this makes the Ruckus a great transportation option for certain 'subsets' of the population (looking at you, licenseless DUI people).

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The Models

The Ruckus has a very simple four-stroke engine, and, all in all, there is only so much that can be changed on the model to keep the same price point. I mean, just look at the pictures (I left out a few of the midyear models, and the 2019 pic is above, but you get the point). They've all got almost the exact same engine, with color schemes often being the differentiating factor from model year to model year. So, if you're willing to pay a few hundred more dollars for a scooter with a particular color, then maybe the newer models are something you would be interested in. Otherwise, I would have to recommend getting an older, used one like my 2009 model.

Wait... insurance costs how much?

Wait... insurance costs how much?

Insurance

The insurance premium on my Ruckus came out to $8 a month or $96 for an ENTIRE YEAR! This is just incredible, no other way to put it, but it doesn't even stop there. Depending on what state you live in, you might not even be required to purchase insurance!

Many factors can influence this, but the average cost of car insurance is $1426 per year and can easily eclipse $2000. If you're reading this and are under 21 years old or are the parent of someone who is, take a look at the following and just let it marinate. The average 16-year-old driver will pay $6,777 per year, 17 ($6,225), 18 ($5,473), 19 ($4,163), and 20 ($3,816) according to this study (for full coverage).

So if you buy your 16-year-old a Ruckus instead of a car, you will save $26,454, on average, on car insurance payments by the time they turn 21 if your state does not require mopeds to be insured. If your state does, then that number is probably closer to $26,000, which is still A LOT of money! To top it off, the deductible for the Ruckus is going to be significantly cheaper than for a car or truck.

I paid the $96 for my Ruckus insurance without breaking a sweat and don't have to worry about this for another year. Worry-free mate!

Trunk Space

Trunk Space

Storage Capacity

You're not going to be moving couches with a Ruck anytime soon, but shopping ... sure! Don't estimate what you can do with it so far as everyday life goes. I took the above picture after one trip to the grocery store on my Ruck ... the gallon of milk goes under the seat, a lot of stuff in my backpack I bring, and I can rest a bag or two on the gas tank between my legs. (Also, I've moved more than this on my ruck, but this is the first time I thought to take a picture of it). What single college kid is going to need more than this from the grocery store?

I mention it below, but I just want to say it here also, that there are under-seat storage bags and panels that will let you transport a substantial amount more and keep it cleaner. If it's rainy, or even if its a beautiful summer day and you happen to drive through a puddle from one of those broken a#s sprinklers, you're going to be wiping some mud spray off your gallon of milk/grocery bags or whatever else you're trying to move around. It can get messy down there, and you can't leave anything on your Ruck without it being fair game for any passers-by. Get some storage bags/panels and lock it up.

As far as everyday life goes, there is nothing you can't do with the Ruck. Actually, I even had my friend on the back of the Ruckus when I made the above trip to the grocery store and had no problem making it home with her on the back along with the 40 or so pounds of groceries. So:

  • 190-pound guy
  • 130-pound girl
  • 40 pounds of groceries
  • no problem

Also, I've seen people posting questions asking if they are too big for a Ruckus. As a point of reference, my old roommate from the basketball team here at Colorado University, 6' 7'' and 230 pounds, had no problem with it.

Also, if you take a screwdriver, unscrew the screw in the image below...

Super duper secret compartment

Super duper secret compartment

BAM! Secret compartment! Maybe you won't be keeping your physics textbook here, but this is an ideal spot to store any insurance information, important papers, or maybe something like a swiss army knife that you might want to keep with you on the road.

Also, you can see here how the seat flips up for a little extra storage. Ok for a gallon of milk or a six-pack, but it's really ideal to get an under-seat bag or under-seat storage body panels down there to keep everything clean and organized, and just get more out of your ruckus. I've included links to two of these that I've used before. Both good. Just a matter of preference, really.

Buying Used, Durability, and Resale Value

A Ruckus is also very safe to buy used. Unlike cars, with their huge, complex engines, a Ruckus has a simple little four-stroke motor. If there is something wrong with the motor, it is going to be apparent, whereas sometimes, the complexity of car engines can mask underlying issues. Hondas are very reliable and will never break. See the video toward the end of the article with the guy doing stunts on the Ruckus, I have no idea why anyone would ever want to do this on a scooter, but it seems to be a testament to the durability of the Ruckus.

The 2019 Ruck starts at about $2749 new, but keep in mind that most dealers will charge a few hundred dollars beyond this in dealer fees and miscellaneous taxes. So, all in all, buying used isn't a bad route to go; it's what I did, and I haven't had the slightest problem.

Due to their durability/reliability, the resale value of the Ruckus is incredible. They really hold their value quite well and don't depreciate nearly as much as traditional automobiles.

Two years after purchasing mine, I put an ad on Craigslist for my Ruckus just to fish around, satisfy my curiosity, and see what I could get for it. After receiving 20 offers in the course of a week, half of which seemed desperate and not even trying to negotiate on my $2400 craigslist price, I was blown away. If I had sold the bike, the extra $400-$700 cash I would have made would have covered the $99 I paid for insurance, the $100 maximum I paid for gas on the year, and left me with a few hundred in my pocket after ALL expenses were covered. Not bad.

Don't be this guy... get a Ruckus and never worry about finding a space to park again.

Don't be this guy... get a Ruckus and never worry about finding a space to park again.

Parking

Forget creeping along from lane to lane as you slooowly build up road rage, looking for an empty spot, only to have a spot finally open up RIGHT as you pass it and some guy driving a smart car snags it from right under your nose. You can park your Ruck on sidewalks, in bike racks, or in normal parking spots if you so choose. Do NOT underestimate this aspect as you haven't actually taken a "quick trip to the store" until you bomb over to CVS on your Ruckus, pull right up and park next to the door, walk in, walk out, and jump back on your Ruckus and take off. I'm just saying, it's quick, I haven't tried it yet, but if you wanted to literally jump to your Ruckus from inside the store, you could probably pull it off.

My roommates have cars, but they can't afford to pay the $10 to park on campus every day, so it is a real hassle for them to get to school (waiting on busses, bumming rides, etc.). I don't pay money for a parking spot, waste time looking for one, or spend time walking from the parking garage to where I actually wanted to be in the first place.

  • Ruckus: 1
  • Car: 0
How much cheaper is a Ruckus, really?

How much cheaper is a Ruckus, really?

Total Cost: Honda Ruckus versus Car

To illustrate how cheap a Ruckus is in comparison to a car, I'm going to estimate the cost per mile to drive each. I'm planning on doing my own calculations on the cost per mile for a couple of different car brands/models, but for now, I am just going to use this website to estimate it. Just keep in mind that this is probably a gross overestimation, which includes ALL aspects of the cost related to travel. For example, it even includes a cost of cents per mile for accidents, with the assumption that sometime over the course of your driving career, you will get in an accident.

The simple little four-stroke on a Ruckus can run for an easy 30,000 miles, so I'm going to calculate the cost per mile to drive 30,000 miles in one year with this cost-of-driving site. Sure, the website probably overestimates a bit, but at the same time, calculating the mileage over the course of one year and not several somewhat offsets this overestimation, as only one year's worth of insurance is included in the calculation.

Breaking Down the Total Cost of Driving

At 30,065 miles driven, the cost-of-driving calculator estimates the cost of driving a car as $1.39 per mile.

To calculate the cost of driving a Ruckus, we assume the price of a brand-new Ruckus is $2149, determine the cost of the gas it would cost to drive 30,000 miles, and then tack on the $96 insurance premium. To determine the price of gas, we determine the number of gallons needed to drive 30,000 miles (30,000 miles /100 MPG) which comes out to 300 gallons. Then, based on the gas price of $3.95/gal used by the cost-of-driving calculator, we determine the cost of 300 gallons of gas ($3.95 times 300), to attain $1185. Finally, adding the three costs ($2149 for the Ruckus + $1185 for gas +$96 for insurance) yields a total cost of driving of $3430, which we divide by the number of miles ($3430/30,000 miles) to attain an ultimate cost of driving a Ruckus of $0.11, or 11 cents, per mile.

So every mile you drive in a car costs well over ten times what it would cost to drive in a Ruckus! Think about it.

With nominal payments on insurance and gas, and virtually no upkeep nor mechanical work required, it is safe to think of the Ruckus as a fixed cost. In other words, assuming the cost of insurance and gas can be ignored due to how insignificant they are, you make one payment for a Honda Ruckus, and it is yours. It does NOT cost $10 to run to the nearest CVS, you do NOT need an additional part-time job to pay $2000 a year of insurance, it will NOT need thousands of dollars worth of mechanical work, you will NOT need to borrow thousands of dollars of money to finance it, and you won't even need to drop the occasional $30 for an oil change as it is simple to do it yourself.

A Ruckus is a man's good friend, but a broke-a#s college student's best friend.

Honda Ruckus Theft Issues

A friend of mine had their Ruckus stolen from their apartment complex in Boulder. After calling the cops, they learned that:

  • this is extremely common
  • thieves will either transport it for sale out of state or break it down for parts and sell those
  • there is quite literally nothing that can be done

Weighing in at just under 200 lbs, the Ruckus can easily be put in the back of a truck with just two people. I think that just because it requires a key to get going, people think it's safe. It is not.

A plus to the Ruckus is that, being under 50cc, you don't even need a license plate. While convenient, it can make your Ruck difficult to identify or find if it goes missing. Treat it how you would a bicycle. Lock it up and protect your investment. My friend was kicking himself after having about $3,000 disappear, right from under his nose, overnight.

LOCK IT UP! Kryptonite used to have a warranty where they would pay you if their lock was broken. Double check to make sure this is still the case, but they make quality products.

Further, if you are unlucky like my friend, don't just sit on your hands. We eventually learned (years after the fact and too late to be of help for him) that he could have filed a Casualty and Theft Form 4648 with the IRS and received some tax deductions. You obviously want to try and deter theft of your Ruckus, but if it happens, you can at least mitigate some of the loss by filing Form 4648.

Customized Ruckuses

Over the top? Maybe. Worth the money? No, probably not. Just shows that you can get a little creative with how you customize your ruck.

Upgrade Suggestions

I have included some videos to give a couple of ideas of things you can do, but, to be honest, most of these guys go way over the top (and then some). You'll be more than set with just a few things.

Below I've got suggestions for exhaust, kickstand, footrest, and seat upgrades.

Beyond these few customizations, feel free to throw a couple of bucks into your scooter if you want, but don't go over the top with it. I've heard of people with modified Ruckuses hitting up to 75 mph, and even saw a video of a Ruck with hydraulics when I was searching around YouTube for the above video, but I don't really get this. At the end of the day, one of the real perks about the Honda Ruckus is its price, and if money isn't a problem and you're trying to go 80 mph, you might be better off with a Harley.

Customizations on My Honda Ruckus

On my bike, I had a post-market Yoshimura exhaust, a NCY kickstand, a lower seat frame, and an NCY footrest and pegs. This is how I bought the bike, but after doing some research and seeing what is out there, I think these are all reasonable from a cost/function standpoint, and the only thing I would have really wanted beyond this is under seat storage bag/panels. The Ruck is fine as is, but if you save up some money here and there, these are some additions that you can piecemeal together over time that will make your experience better.

NCY Chrome Desert Eagle Sidestand

Another upgrade that goes a long way, and is cheap, is a kickstand. The stock models come with this ridiculous-looking thing that sticks the Ruckus straight up in the air. This NCY sidestand looks cool and is easy to install. Once you get the kickstand going, it starts to look more like a bike and less like a ScOoTeR. Do it.

NCY Footrests, Pegs, and Seat Frame

In my experience, the stock footrest models can be awkward, uncomfortable, and tend to force you to sit with better posture than a Catholic school girl. Go ahead and throw on some foot pegs; it makes the ride a lot more comfortable, and doesn't make the moped look so dorky.

Speaking of posture, lowering the seat frame really helps you get the most out of the footrest and pegs, almost giving it a lower rider feel. Just more comfortable.

Honda Ruckus Coolant Cap Tip

Honda Ruckus Coolant Cap Tip

Bonus Coolant Cap Hack

If you do happen to lose the cap for your coolant, don't order a new one! I did this, and they charged me $10 at the store, and I had to wait four or five days for it. After getting the cap, I took the cap off a bottle of coolant I had, went to refill the bike and realized that the cap on the $4 bottle of coolant was the exact same $10 cap I had just waited a week for.

That's a Wrap

If you had told me I would someday be the proud owner of a scooter, I would have probably laughed in your face; as a former three-sport varsity athlete, I was "too cool" (I don't think that takes much, though). There are no two ways about it, mopeds have a bad rap for being dorky, and maybe for good reason too. But the Ruckus is just different. Last week I had a guy in a pickup pull up to me at a stoplight and ask what in the hell it was and if I had made it. He said it was cool and was blown away when I told him it was a moped, "So it's a moped, but it just doesn't look like one?" Pretty much.

Now, having owned the Ruckus for years now, I couldn't be happier with it. My friends are always asking to borrow it, it's fun, and with gas prices volatile and always on the rise, the idea of buying one makes that much more sense. You're not going to be taking it on the highway soon, but for urban areas or for just getting around town, they're perfect! Go test-ride one; you won't regret it.

Thanks for reading!

More About the Ruckus

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

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