the Honda Ruckus’s Top Speed & How Can You Make it Faster?

Honda Ruckus's Top Speed

The Honda Ruckus is one of the most popular scooters for customized rides and fun around-town cruising. With its rugged, minimalist looks and great gas mileage, the Ruckus has earned a cult following across North America.

But many Ruckus owners end up wondering—just how fast does this funky little scooter go? What’s the Ruckus’s top speed in stock form and with modifications?

In short, the typical Honda Ruckus top speed is about 35-41 mph in stock form. With some simple mods like gearing, carburetor or CVT tweaks, you can often increase the Ruckus’s top speed to 45+ mph.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into all the Ruckus speed specs and performance data. You’ll learn about:

  • The Ruckus 49cc engine and transmission specs
  • How long it takes a Ruckus to accelerate to top speed
  • Factors that limit the Ruckus’s velocity
  • How to make your Ruckus faster with modifications
  • And plenty more! Let’s get rolling…

Overview of the Honda Ruckus 49cc Scooter

The Honda Ruckus first debuted in 2001 in Japan. Then in 2003 Honda brought the Ruckus stateside, where its rugged looks and peppy 49cc engine made it popular for customized urban rides.

overview of the honda ruckus 49cc scooter

The Ruckus features an exposed steel frame and plastics that resemble a motocross bike. That minimalist, sporty look appealed to people wanting to make the Ruckus their own. An entire aftermarket industry sprouted up around customizing the little scooter.

Technical specifications for the newest 2023 Honda Ruckus:

Engine49cc, 4-stroke single cylinder
TransmissionAutomatic V-Matic belt drive
Power4.3 HP @ 8,000 rpm
Torque3.35 lb-ft @ 7,000 rpm
Compression Ratio11.9:1
Valve TrainSOHC, 2-valve
Fuel Capacity1.3 gallons
Top Speed35-41 mph
Front Brakes95mm drum
Rear Brakes95mm drum
Front Suspension Travel1.9 inches
Rear Suspension Travel2.6 inches
Seat Height28.9 inches
Wheelbase49.8 inches
Curb Weight194 lbs
Front Tire120/90-10
Rear Tire130/90-10
Front Wheel10 inches
Rear Wheel10 inches
ColorsBlack, Beige
MPG114 mpg

With this latest model, Honda bumped the price up $100 over previous years. But the Honda Ruckus remains one of the most affordable and fuel-efficient rides out there.

Many Ruckus owners say it’s their perfect around-town commuter. Especially for zipping through congested urban streets.

“I chose my Ruckus to navigate NYC because it’s light enough to park anywhere and the automatic gearbox is effortless in traffic,” says Molly from Brooklyn.

So the Ruckus works great if you’ll mainly be doing lower-speed city riding. But just what speeds is the Ruckus capable of? Can you cruise at highway pace or take it on faster roads? Let’s dig into the Ruckus top speed next.

What is the Top Speed of the Honda Ruckus?

what is the top speed of the honda ruckus

In stock form with no modifications, the Honda Ruckus is geared to hit a top speed of around 35-41 miles per hour.

Honda claims a top velocity of 40 mph from the 49cc engine. After some tinkering, most owners report clocking top speeds of 40-45 mph on flat ground with no wind.

So clearly the Ruckus isn’t built for blazing speeds. The little 49cc single-cylinder, fuel injected engine is designed more for efficiency than power.

But the automatic V-matic transmission also plays a limiting factor. The gear ratios aren’t optimized for reaching higher speeds.

Many Ruckus riders install gearing modifications to bump up that top speed. More on that later!

Big Ruckus Top Speed Vs Standard Ruckus

Engine and Performance

The Honda Big Ruckus PS250 is equipped with a 250cc engine, which is larger than the standard Ruckus’s 49cc engine. This allows the Big Ruckus to achieve a higher top speed.

Top Speed

The top speed of the Honda Big Ruckus is approximately 70-75 mph, while the standard Ruckus has a top speed of around 35-41 mph.


The Honda Big Ruckus has a dry weight of approximately 350 lbs and a wet weight of 379 lbs.


Owners may modify both models with engine and gearing modifications to potentially reach speeds of 45+ mph.

Speed Comparisons By Ruckus Model Year

speed comparisons by ruckus model year

Honda has kept the Ruckus engine and transmission specs largely unchanged over the years. So top speed capability remains consistent across generations.

Here’s how top speed on a Honda Ruckus compares across different model year generations:

Model YearTop Speed (Stock)
2001-200535-41 mph
2006-201635-41 mph
2017-202335-41 mph

So expect to see similar velocitys in the 35-41 mph range for any year Ruckus. The newer fuel-injected models may reach 41 mph more consistently than older carbureted generations.

First, let’s look at the Ruckus’s acceleration and how long it takes to reach that factory-limited top pace.

How Long Does it Take the Ruckus to Reach Top Speed?

how long does it take the ruckus to reach top speed

With only 4.3 horsepower moving 324 pounds of scooter, the Ruckus won’t win any drag races.

It can feel pokey taking off from a stop. But once up and rolling, the peppy little engine runs through the gears smoothly.

Here are some acceleration times for the stock Ruckus:

  • 0 to 30 mph: About 14 seconds
  • 30 to top speed: Roughly 8 more seconds

So at full throttle, expect the Ruckus to take anywhere from 20-25 seconds to reach its max velocity. That time won’t turn heads on the freeway entrance ramp!

After installing some conventional mods, owners report shaving a few seconds off both those numbers. More radical engine builds can drastically improve acceleration.

But there are good reasons why Honda limited the Ruckus’s pace…

Factors Limiting the Ruckus’s Top Speed

The Honda Ruckus remains relatively slow for several intentional engineering reasons:

Weight and Aerodynamics

At about 324 pounds fully fueled, the Ruckus carries enough heft to impact acceleration and velocity. And it has the aerodynamic profile of a moving boulder! All that frontal area causes major drag at higher speeds.

Low Displacement Engine

The thrifty 49cc single-cylinder, liquid cooled engine isn’t built for speed. In stock form it delivers a modest 4.3 horsepower and 2.8 ft-lbs of torque.

while the engine runs smoothly, it just lacks the grunt for velocities over 40 mph.

Conservative Gear Ratios

Another major limiting factor is the Ruckus’s gearing. Honda optimized the automatic V-Matic transmission for around-town usability rather than speed.

So the Ruckus engine hits redline fairly quickly in the higher ratios. Installing lower gears can significantly boost top pace.

How Ruckus Speed Compares to Other 49cc Scooters

To put things in context, let’s see how the Ruckus’s top velocity stacks up against other 49cc scoots:

  • Honda Metropolitan: 30-35 mph
  • Vespa Sprint 50: 40-45 mph
  • Yamaha Zuma 50FX: 35+ mph
  • Piaggio Typhoon 50: 40 mph

The Ruckus’s factory speed limits are on par with scooters using similar engine and gearing setups. The Vespa and Piaggio models achieve higher velocities thanks to manual transmissions with closer gear spacing.

But the Ruckus was never aimed at peak performance. Its appeal lies more with custom looks and tunability.

Speaking of which…let’s look at bumping up that top speed next!

Ways to Increase Your Ruckus’s Top Speed

While the Ruckus will never be a freeway cruiser, there are ways to coax a bit more velocity out of the 49cc engine. Here are some popular methods Ruckus owners use to improve top speed:

Gearing Changes

One of the simplest ways to reach a higher top speed is changing the gear ratios. Many swap out the factory 14-tooth drive gear for a larger 15-16 tooth unit. This lower gearing allows hitting 40+ mph before the engine bogs.

You can also replace the variator and belt with higher-performance components optimized for speed. Installing a big bore cylinder kit (see below) makes taller gearing usable.

“I installed a lightweight 15-tooth gear which easily takes my Ruckus to 40 mph top speed without over-revving the engine too much,” says Sam from San Diego.

Big Bore Cylinder Kits

Big bore kits (usually 70cc or higher) involve replacing the stock cylinder and piston assembly with larger components. This greatly boosts midrange torque and power to pull taller gearing for that higher top speed.

Kits including a high-flow intake and exhaust allow revving the engine faster to take advantage of the extra displacement. With a built motor, some owners report seeing 60+ mph!

Carburetor Upgrades

Larger carburetors feed more fuel for making that extra power. To complement engine mods, putting in a bored-out 24mm or 26mm carb pairs well. Proper jetting helps optimize the fuel mixture.

CVT Tuning

The Ruckus automatic transmission uses a V-belt variator system to shift ratios. Upgrading to high-performance weights and ramp plates causes quicker gear changes. Reducing belt friction also helps reach higher road speeds.

Lightening the Ruckus

Since acceleration and top speed relate closely to power-to-weight ratios, reducing mass can provide a healthy bump. Owners lighten Ruckuses by removing racks, plastic body panels or switching to lightweight components.

Every pound shed means more velocity for that 49cc engine to achieve!

What’s the Maximum Safe Speed for a Honda Ruckus?

While some substantially modified Ruckuses reach velocitys over 60 mph, we don’t recommend riding anywhere close to those speeds regularly.

Once you pass 50 mph on the Ruckus, stability, braking and handling all become major concerns. Excess vibrations also strain the frame and components.

And legally in most states, a motorcycle license and registration is required for bikes capable of exceeding 30 mph.

So we suggest keeping your fun limited to more reasonable velocities under 45 mph, even with engine modifications. Focus on improving acceleration and 30-40 mph power instead for real-world usage. Ride safe!

Pros and Cons of the Honda Ruckus

Ruckus owners gush about its awesome styling, tunability and ruggedness. But they also point out a few downsides of owning one:


  • Super unique and customizable style
  • Strong aftermarket parts support
  • Great fuel mileage
  • Nimble around-town handling


  • Low top speed from factory
  • Underpowered for highway riding
  • No storage space
  • Uncomfortable on long rides

While it has its limitations, most Ruckus riders accept them in exchange for owning a scooter with so much attitude and indoor appeal!

Honda Ruckus owners highlighting positives & negatives based on their experiences

Positive Owner Quotes

“I can zip all around the city so easily on my Ruckus – it’s nimble, gets awesome gas mileage and just puts a smile on my face whenever I ride it.”

“While the Ruckus isn’t exactly fast, I have no problem keeping up with city traffic. And customizing it has been a blast – I get compliments on its looks everywhere I go!”

“I love that old-school mini-bike vibe of the Ruckus! It handles like a dream around town and tight spaces at lower speeds.”

Negative Owner Quotes

“I wish my Ruckus had a bit more power – getting up to 30 mph takes a while and hills can be a struggle.”

“The seating position on my Ruckus does get uncomfortable during longer rides. The hard seat and small frame take their toll.”

“Stock gearing limits the top speed too much. I had to spend money on a new variator and belt to get it over 35 mph reasonably.”

“While fun for zipping around town, taking my modded Ruckus over 40 mph starts to feel kinda sketchy handling-wise.”

Top Alternatives to Consider

The Ruckus certainly isn’t the fastest or most powerful scooter around. If you require more velocity or highway capabilities, consider these alternatives:

  • Honda PCX150: 150cc engine, 60+ mph top speeds
  • Yamaha Zuma 125: Manual 125cc motor, 50+ mph
  • Suzuki Burgman 200: Sporty 200cc automatic, 85 mph top speed!

Or stick with the Ruckus and modify it to your style and speed needs!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the 0-60 time on a Honda Ruckus?

Expect a 0-60 mph time of around 35-40 seconds on a completely stock Ruckus. Lower gearing and engine mods can reduce this to under 30 seconds.

What about the Ruckus NPS50 models (50cc)? Do they have higher top speeds?

No, the NPS50 used in certain restricted areas is mechanically identical to the regular 49cc Ruckus. It achieves virtually the same 30-35mph top velocity.

Is the Ruckus powerful enough to ride on the highway?

No, with a top speed of around 35mph stock, the Ruckus does not have enough power to safely ride on highways. It’s best suited for around-town use under 45mph.

What’s the top speed in first gear on a Ruckus?

The Ruckus automatic transmission doesn’t have distinct gears. But in its lowest ratio, it can reach approximately 20-25mph before shifting to the next gear.

What speed can I expect on hills or when carrying a passenger?

When going uphill or loaded down with a passenger’s weight, deduct 3-5mph from the Ruckus’s normal top speed. So expect around 30mph max under those conditions.

Will a big bore kit ruin the reliability of my Ruckus?

No, a properly installed big bore kit from a reputable brand along with supporting mods shouldn’t impact reliability. Just be sure to tune the engine properly.

How much does increasing the top speed reduce gas mileage?

Aggressive riding or faster paces can reduce gas economy by 5-10mpg in most cases. But conservative riding at higher speeds with gearing mods may only ding mileage 2-3mpg.

Conclusion: Understanding the Ruckus’s Top Speed Capabilities

While Honda designed the Ruckus for around-town riding, its top speed leaves some owners wanting more velocity. The peppy but low-displacement 49cc engine reaches about 30-35 mph in stock form.

With some simple bolt-on mods like gears, carburetors or CVT kits, you can often hit 40+ mph top speeds. More advanced engine blueprinting and big bore kits take things even quicker.

Just remember stability concerns start to arise over 50 mph with the small-framed Ruckus. Consider keeping velocities under 45 mph for safety, even with mods.

The Ruckus remains best suited for zipping around congested urban areas or casual cruising. Focus on making it faster from 0-40 mph rather than chasing ultra-high top speeds. Ride safe and have fun customizing your Ruckus!

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