Tanshanomi's Snap Judgments

Honda Spree

Tue, May 18th, 2010

1984–87 Honda NQ50 Spree
Designed by Honda as their ultimate price leader, everything about the Spree was compromised to get the cost down as low as possible. Horribly slow, even for a moped. Due to its single speed, fixed-ratio belt transmission (not a typical scooter CVT), it couldn't handle grades and headwinds either.
Cheap, tiny, skinny tires.
Flimsy, undersized suspension pieces.
Easy-flex single tube frame.
Curb weight under 100 lbs.
Result? The Spree could be surprisingly scary even at the very modest speeds it was able to attain.
While somewhat charming in its minimalism, the Spree's super-economy price point led to the use of cheaply molded plastic bodywork and a diminutive scale that made ordinary components such as the lights, controls and reflectors look eerily out of scale. It ended up looking like Hervé Villechaize in Walmart swimtrunks.
The upside to the Spree's low power output was that the driveline and chassis were not highly stressed, so they didn't break. They would easily wear out, but since most Sprees saw only short, occasional use, they were usually smashed up by young teens or forgotten under piles of old rags and yard tools long before durability became an issue.
If you were a 14-year-old in the mid '80s, with no license and only a few hundred dollars to spend, the Honda Spree was the most practical option you had for getting around town. Once you turned 16 and had access to any other mode of transportation, the comparative usefulness of your Spree plummeted.
If someone walked up to me and offered me a Spree for free, it might entertain me for couple of afternoons, just as a lark. I wouldn't put any more effort or funds beyond that into a Spree.
A fascinating exercise in minimalism, the Spree is noteworthy for having less of everything (cost, mass, performance, appeal) than nearly anything else on two wheels.