How to Modify Honda Ruckus

Modifying the Honda Ruckus on a Budget [Upgrades & Tips]

If one says that they’re part of the Honda gang, then a scooter would be the last thing that comes to anyone’s mind, but not for avid fans of the Ruckus!

The Honda Ruckus is a popular blank canvas just waiting to be worked by one’s creative magic, but we also acknowledge how your wallet could feel if you just don’t “keep it stock”.

So whether you just want to introduce a harmony of different shades and lines or introduce just a bit more wind blowing through your hair going down the seaside, here are some ways to modify this quirky two-wheeler on a budget!

Can you upgrade a Honda Ruckus?

Can you upgrade a Honda Ruckus

If you have a Honda Ruckus and you’re not planning to leave it completely stock, then there are several different ways that you can go about upgrading or modifying it to your taste.

Depending on your goals and budget range, you may choose to install some “go-fast” parts to improve its performance rather than just bits and bobs from the aesthetics department, and vice versa.

Should you choose to make it go faster than its 35 to 40-mph speed limit, then you should look into the wide array of performance parts that either add power, improve its CVT, or reduce the weight of the bike itself.

As for the looks, it’s quite common to trick out these little scooters by swapping out their factory seats, tail lights, and tachometers with custom or aftermarket ones that suit your liking.

How can I make my Honda Ruckus faster?

While the Honda Ruckus is definitely not a sports bike by any stretch of the imagination, some may yearn for just a bit more fun and excitement out of its 49cc single-cylinder engine.

Hence, there are a bunch of things that you can do to make your Ruckus faster, some of them being simple maintenance stuff and others involving the installation of less wallet-friendly performance parts.

Use Correct Oil Grade and Maintain Proper Levels

Use Correct Oil Grade and Maintain Proper Levels

Oil is essential in just about any vehicle with a combustion engine, even in a Honda Ruckus. Thus, ensuring that you use oil that’s recommended for your Ruckus can allow it to perform optimally under all throttle positions.

According to Honda, the most recommended motor oil for the Ruckus is Pro Honda GN4 4-stroke oil. But in general, any 4-stroke motorcycle oil from any reputable brand would be compatible with the Honda Ruckus.

Aside from the type of oil itself, you should also make sure that you neither underfill nor overfill your Honda Ruckus with oil, as failure to maintain the correct oil level can affect the engine’s performance, especially the top speed.

Keep Air Filter Clean

Keep Air Filter Clean

Another thing that you could do to ensure that your Honda Ruckus can unleash its full potential is to keep the air filter clean.

Like any other engine, the Ruckus’ 49cc motor performs best when fed with a constant flow of clean air. From time to time, you should check the condition of the air filter to see if there is any debris that’s clogging it.

Cleaning or replacing the air filter will allow your engine to breathe better, thereby resulting in the correct mixture of air and fuel to be used during the combustion process. This will ultimately contribute to optimum engine performance.

Inflate Tires to Correct Pressure (20 to 25 PSI Recommended)

Inflate Tires to Correct Pressure (20 to 25 PSI Recommended)

A bike with a tiny engine such as the Honda Ruckus can already feel quite lethargic from the get-go, but it can feel even worse than that if your tires are not set to the correct pressure.

In general, tire pressure can affect a vehicle’s ability to put the power down and even handle properly, which is why it’s essential that you do not underinflate or overinflate your tires.

If you’re still running the stock tire size for your Ruckus, then Honda recommends a tire pressure of 20 to 25 psi for both the front and rear tires. However, this may be slightly adjusted depending on the rider’s weight.

Remove/Replace Unnecessary Parts (Weight Reduction)

Despite only weighing less than 200 lbs, the Honda Ruckus is just not powerful enough to have a good power-to-weight ratio for downright speed, which is where the practice of weight reduction comes in.

While you can always install the best performance parts available out there for the Ruckus, not everyone is willing to shell out hundreds of dollars to make a scooter go just a bit under freeway speeds.

This is why it can be more cost-effective to make it even lighter by either removing unnecessary parts from it or replacing heavy parts with their lightweight counterparts.

Install Performance Mods (More Expensive)

If you have a more sizeable budget at your disposal, then the most straightforward way to make your Honda Ruckus faster is to install different performance mods that are made for it.

This can include upgrades such as swapping the stock air box with an aftermarket pod filter and putting in a performance full exhaust system for lesser restriction.

The more expensive modifications available for the Honda Ruckus are a CDI (capacitor discharge ignition) box/chip and a custom setup for its CVT transmission.

In more “extreme” cases, you can even do an entire engine swap to replace the factory 49-cc engine with an even bigger one, such as a 125cc or 150cc motor.

However, do take note that you’ll also need to have your bike’s computer tuned to accommodate any major changes in the engine and transmission. Naturally, this would mean you’ll also need the help of a professional mechanic.

What kind of upgrades can you do to a Honda Ruckus?

Performance Upgrades/Mods

Remove Stock Air Box (Install Pod Filter)

Remove Stock Air Box (Install Pod Filter)

One simple and relatively inexpensive mod that you can do to start improving the performance of your Honda Ruckus is to remove the stock air box.

While taking out the air box alone doesn’t translate to a noticeable increase in performance, it will allow the engine to breathe better due to fewer restrictions and gives you a good foundation to start adding other things for performance.

In addition, removing the stock air box can also be a form of reducing a bit of weight from the scooter. 

You can also install a nice set of pod filters that are not only lighter and less restrictive, but would also still give you protection from foreign particles compared to simply deleting the air box.

Since you’re introducing a bit more airflow by removing or replacing the stock air box, you can also consider installing a performance carburetor to feed more fuel to the engine and get a more optimum combustion process.

Performance Variator

Performance Variator

If you ask around the Honda Ruckus community for performance tips, then one popular mod people would recommend is to install a performance variator.

A variator is a part of the transmission (CVT) typically used in scooters used to drive different components in the system by continuously changing the parameters depending on the situation.

By switching from the stock variator to a more performance-oriented one, you can get a bit more acceleration, top speed, or even both depending on the exact brand or model of variator you opt for your Ruckus.

One of the most popular examples made for the Honda Ruckus and other similar scooters is the Polini variator, which gives you the best of both worlds in terms of acceleration and top speed.

You can expect to spend about $70 to $100 for a Polini variator for the Honda Ruckus depending on the shop and specifications for that particular variator model.

CDI Box (Capacitor Discharge Ignition Box)

CDI Box (Capacitor Discharge Ignition Box)

Another common upgrade if you want to get a little bit more out of your Ruckus’s stock motor is to install a performance CDI box or computer chip.

Installing a performance CDI box (capacitor discharge ignition box) on your Honda Ruckus enables you to do several different things, namely raising the stock rev limiter higher, adjusting the ignition/spark timing, and generally tuning for more performance.

The performance CDI box will replace the factory/stock box installed on your bike’s ignition system, and it’ll allow you to tweak the system for a more aggressive ignition and combustion process that leans more toward power.

Combine this upgrade with the other mods included on this list, and you’ll have very noticeable improvements in both acceleration and top-speed performance.

However, you still need to keep in mind that since your engine will be giving out more performance than stock with this upgrade, you may sacrifice a bit of fuel economy and possibly even reliability in the long run.

Modifying the CVT Transmission

Modifying the CVT Transmission

Aside from the variator previously discussed, modifying the CVT transmission of the Honda Ruckus can also lead to performance gains when done right.

As its name suggests, a CVT (continuously variable transmission) uses a pulley system to create gear ratios that continuously change, resulting in a seamless delivery of power without needing to “shift” between any individual gears.

However, fine-tuning your CVT to make your Honda Ruckus faster means tuning it for better throttle response and quicker power delivery across the rev range.

To achieve this, the two main adjustment points of the CVT need to be tweaked, namely the pulleys and the variator that drives the system.

Aside from that, it’s also a good idea to clean your scooter’s CVT every now and then so that no debris or deposits are hindering its components from operating normally.

Aftermarket Exhaust System

Aftermarket Exhaust System

No performance build is ever complete without a good aftermarket exhaust system to make your ride breathe even better, and in making something like a Honda Ruckus faster, you need as much breathing room as you can get.

While installing an aftermarket exhaust is technically an aesthetic mod and a “sound” mod in one, choosing the right one for your scooter will result in a more efficient and less restricted flow of exhaust gases.

You can opt for something like a titanium exhaust system, which not only looks and sounds good, but is also more lightweight compared to the original stock exhaust. 

There are tons of popular exhaust brands that have inventories for the Honda Ruckus, such as Akrapovic, Pro Circuit, Leo Vince, Yoshimura, Two Brothers, and more.

At this point, it’s all just about personal preference for how it looks and sounds, just as long as you pick one in the size that helps you achieve the most optimum performance for your Ruckus.

Comfort and Aesthetic Mods/Upgrades

Custom/Aftermarket Seat

Custom/Aftermarket Seat

There are a couple of modifications that you can do to improve the look of your Honda Ruckus without breaking the bank, and one of them is swapping the stock seat for an aftermarket or custom-made one.

Not only does installing a new seat set your Honda Ruckus apart from others, but it can even improve the comfort and ergonomics of your seating position, especially for bigger or taller riders.

If you decide to have one completely custom and tailor-made for you, be sure to work with a reputable upholstery shop that can show you different samples that are all of high quality.

Aftermarket Tachometer

Aftermarket Tachometer

If you’re looking for a Honda Ruckus upgrade that enhances your scooter’s overall aesthetic while also maintaining some utility in your riding experience, then consider buying yourself an aftermarket tachometer.

The tachometer (tach) is a measuring device or screen that goes directly on top of your handlebars and primarily displays your engine speed in revolutions per minute (RPM).

Depending on your exact Honda Ruckus model, you may opt for either a digital tachometer or an analog tachometer. If you’re going for the latter, then it’ll most likely include a speedometer reading on it already.

Aftermarket Tail Light

Aftermarket Tail Light

While on the topic of “aesthetic” upgrades for the Honda Ruckus or just about any vehicle, we can’t forget about changing the tail light to a more cool-looking aftermarket one.

There are a lot of Honda Ruckus tail light options to choose from depending on your taste, ranging from classic or vintage rectangular designs to more modern LED strips that project a sharper look.

Whichever design you go for, it’s important to make sure that it can still be clearly visible (but not too bright) to other road users under all weather conditions.

What should you consider before modding or upgrading your Honda Ruckus?

Safety of Rider and Other Motorists

Safety of Rider and Other Motorists

One of the most important things to consider when installing any kind of modification to your Honda Ruckus is your safety as well as that of other motorists.

Safety takes top priority when riding on anything with only two wheels, especially if you made any changes to the original frame, engine, and transmission that can potentially affect how it handles.

After installing any upgrades, it’s always recommended to go have a test ride or two in a wide and open area without any traffic around just to see if there are any issues that need addressing.

Local Vehicle Laws/Regulations

You should consider the local vehicle laws and regulations in your area before attempting to modify your Honda Ruckus extensively.

Depending on where you live, certain modifications such as replacing the stock exhaust with a louder one may be illegal. In other instances, even changing the color of the lights could also get you pulled over.

Purpose and Goal of Mods/Upgrades

It’s always important to have a clear set purpose or goal in mind from the very beginning before installing any upgrades on your Honda Ruckus.

For one, inadequate planning may have you shell out hundreds of dollars for you to realize that you either don’t like how one part looks or performs on the bike, or you’ve just found out that it’s illegal in your area. 

This means that if you plan on going all out with a performance build, then you shouldn’t be surprised if you get worse gas mileage or reliability out of your Ruckus.

Part Quality and Brand Reputation

Community Recommendations

Choosing high-quality parts from reputable brands is key to upgrading your Honda Ruckus right, and it’ll also save you from buying parts that either underperform or break easily.

This is especially the case when we’re talking about engine and transmission components. Let’s just say that if you value having an actual running bike, then don’t skimp out on such parts just to save a few bucks.

Mechanic’s Expertise

If you prefer to have your Honda Ruckus upgrades installed by a shop or mechanic, then it’s also important to consider their own personal expertise in working with all kinds of custom scooters.

You would want to find a shop with a good reputation in terms of quality of work, efficiency, and pricing, especially if you’ll be having a whole package of parts fitted.

Personal Budget

A big factor that’s going to affect the kind of upgrades you can install on your Honda Ruckus is your own budget.

Obviously, having a smaller budget will lead to fewer parts on your “wishlist” that you can actually afford, which is why it’s crucial to consider how much are you willing to spend on your Ruckus beforehand.

Community Recommendations

One of the best ways to prepare yourself for upgrading your Honda Ruckus is by joining communities and engaging in forums that are dedicated to anything about the bike.

Not only will you be getting firsthand recommendations from other Ruckus owners themselves, but it can also give you a source of inspiration for however you want to go about modifying yours.

Maintenance After Upgrades

Before installing different upgrades on your Honda Ruckus, you should consider how such upgrades can affect its maintenance in the long run.

Fitting certain performance parts, like a new variator or a CDI box, can change the maintenance intervals necessary to keep the bike in good condition since the engine will be making slightly more power.

Part Compatibility

A component becomes useless, let alone, an actual upgrade if it can’t even fit on your particular Honda Ruckus model and year, which is why you should consider the compatibility of parts before spending on them.

Resale Value

It’s a given that certain upgrades and mods installed on your Honda Ruckus can affect how much it costs when you eventually decide to sell it.

More often than not, the resale value of the bike dips down and the market becomes smaller the more heavily you modify it, as not everybody is looking for a completely tricked-out sample made according to your own taste.

It’s also worth mentioning that documenting all of the upgrades installed and the shops that worked on them is a good source of reference for both you and a potential buyer. 

Potential Voiding of Warranty

Another important consideration before upgrading your Honda Ruckus is that modifying or replacing some parts can potentially void your warranty, if it still has one.

To prevent this, be sure to first check the “Warranty Coverage and Service” section in your Honda Ruckus owner’s manual on what upgrades to avoid. Alternatively, you can also consult your dealership for more warranty info.

How do you increase the power of a Honda Ruckus?

There are several different performance parts that can increase the power of a Honda Ruckus, such as a pod filter, a performance variator, a performance CDI box/chip, a modified CVT, and an aftermarket exhaust system.

How fast is the Honda Ruckus?

The Honda Ruckus has a top speed of about 35 to 40mph (56 to 64 kmh), though you may be able to go as fast as 43 mph (69 kmh) or more on a downhill slope.

How much power does a Honda Ruckus have?

The Honda Ruckus makes 4.3 hp at 8,000 RPM and 3.35 lb-ft torque at 7,000 RPM with its 49cc four-stroke single-cylinder motor.

Can you make a Honda Ruckus go faster?

A Honda Ruckus can go a bit faster by using the correct oil, maintaining proper oil levels, cleaning the air filter, inflating the tires to the recommended pressure, and taking out any unnecessary parts to reduce weight.

However, if you have the budget, then you should also consider installing performance parts such as a pod filter, a performance variator, a performance CDI box, a CVT tweaked for performance, and an aftermarket exhaust system.