Back in the 1980s, Honda Powersports was really pressing its scooters on the US market, and somehow these smaller two-wheelers were actually selling. Perhaps it was because of the musical star power behind their ads, with Grace Jones, Lou Reed, and DEVO starring in the campaign, among others. Or, perhaps it was because these were quality scooters with cool period features like the Elite 150's pop-up headlamp. To be fair to Honda, that feature continues to inspire me to buy one to this day.
Pop-up headlamps were primarily used to give vehicles a sleek and wedgy appearance, and the Elite 150 is no exception. With a large sloping front aero fairing, Honda could put one big pop up sealed beam headlight front and center while still making a scooter that looks like the era in which it was born. It might be the most 1980s scooter ever built.
In the US market, however, due to scooter regulations of the time, that pop-up headlight was always popped up when the engine was running. Part of the fun of pop-up headlights is the ability to flip a switch for ‘headlights go up, headlights go down’ action. Sure, it’s possible to rewire the motor to engage with a switch, but it’s not quite the same as having it from the factory.
You can still find a nice Elite 150 these days, but it’ll take some looking. Many of these are now owned by enthusiasts of the style, and they’re not letting their bikes go. Scour Craigslist in larger cities and you may find one. I found this gorgeous silver-blue example in San Francisco for $1200, which is right about the middle of the price range for a bike like this. It’s a little worse for wear, but it’s still pretty rad.
The Elite 80 is considerably easier to find, but that bike moved the headlight up to the handlebar fairing and it does not pop-up, which is disappointingly not as cool. It still has a lot of that same 1980s style, however.