The scooter with the pop-up headlamp: remembering the Honda Spacy

Honda Spacy 125 1980s moped

I’m so glad that I bumped into one of these motorcycles the other day, without doing so I’d have had no idea that they were ever built. I’m talking about Honda’s Spacy 125, a bike with a design that is so painfully ‘80s that it even has a pop-up headlamp.

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Notice the footbrake and diddy three-spoke wheels (image: wheelsage.org)

The Spacy range of scooters was first introduced in 1984 by Honda, though anyone reading in the US may well recognise this as the Honda Elite thanks to regional name variations. Back then, the first examples of Honda’s Spacy were all 125s, while smaller and larger-capacity  versions were to arrive just a one year later.

Innovative from the off, the Spacy 125 (CH125) was powered by a four-stroke liquid-cooled engine, meaning it was considerably cleaner than the two strokes most manufacturers were still producing. Though it’s the smaller details that really made these bikes special: take the switchable vents, which could be opened or closed to draw warm air away from the bike’s front-mounted radiator and directly onto a rider’s feet.

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‘So bad it’s good’ styling (image: wheelsage.org)

Then there was the pop-up headlamp, which simply has to be seen to be believed (watch this video). As far as I’m aware, the Spacy is the only bike to have ever done this.

If you were impressed by the headlamp then the chances are you’d also appreciate the digital dash which was available on ‘Deluxe’ models. This displayed the bike’s water temperature, fuel gauge and speedometer in beautifully blocky liquid crystal form between each of the handlebar grips.

Another standout feature was the Vespa-esque brake pedal, which apparently took some getting used to.

Above all else though, just look at this thing. The Spacy was designed around tiny 10in wheels, which only ever exaggerated the bike’s enormous front and rear overhangs. Like some twisted hybrid of a fairground dodgem car and a Sinclair C5, the Spacy firmly places itself in the ‘so bad it’s good’ corner.

It’s obvious that a bike like this will never be made again, and I hope the ones that are left out there will be preserved. Below is the bike that inspired this post.