For Malaysia, the Supercub market category is interesting, falling in that space between kapchai and motorcycle. Case in point is the Yamaha Y16ZR (RM10,888) and the Honda RS-X (RM9,550), offerings from Malaysia’s top two bike distributors, Hong Leong Yamaha Motor and Boon Siew Honda.

Competition in the Supercub segment is fierce, with challengers to the crown including the recently launched Suzuki Raider R150 Fi (RM8,173), the Benelli RFS150i (RM7,488) and the Sym VF3i 185 (RM9,338). But head and shoulders above the rest in terms of market popularity is the Yamaha Y15ZR (RM8,168), followed by the Honda R150R (RM8,299), with places now usurped by the Y16ZR and RS-X.

As to what defines a supercub, well, that would be the gearbox. Typically kapchais use an automatic gearbox, usually a rotary type with centrifugal clutch that allows you to cycle through the gears in a sequential fashion.

Supercubs use proper motorcycle manual gearboxes and lever operated manual clutch, with a shift down to first gear, then going up through neutral before entering second and so on. So, with full-sized motorcycle tech, but styling typically underbone, the supercubs offer something neither motorcycles nor kapchais do.

If you need to ask, that something is speed and acceleration, which is what makes two-wheelers so much damn fun in the first place. Coupled with the light weight of an underbone motorcycle, but with a proper motorcycle engine and gearbox, supercubs are beloved of that very special category of the Malaysian motorcyclist, the mat rempit.

What we have with us for this review is the recently launched RS-X, and its market competition in this price category, the Yamaha Y16ZR. Read on to find out which supercub does what, and how well it does it.

You would think with two bikes in the same class, there is not a lot you can do to make a comparison, or to differentiate them for that matter. Styling naturally follows typical kapchai design, with the tank located under the seat, bodywork mimicking a full-fairing, a diminutive cowl more for style than anything else.

Similarly, the power plant layout is the same, a single-cylinder, liquid-cooled mill going through a six-speed gearbox. What makes things different between the two then?

Well, just about a year ago, when the Y16ZR was launched in Malaysia, reader Jascha, as well as some of the author’s friends, asked for a shootout between the two supercubs. Now, with this review, do not let it be said we don’t aim to please.

One thing everyone wants to know is, how much power do these kapchais put out? Of course, you can rely on the manufacturer’s claimed numbers as stated in the catalogue, but we decided to put them on the Tuneboss dyno.

Same day, same dyno. And the results, while not surprising, give a clear indication where the Y16ZR and RS-X delivers power. The Y16ZR makes 13.6 hp, while the RS-X gets 13.2 hp, against the manufacturer’s claimed 17.7 hp at 9,500 rpm and 14.4 Nm of torque at 8,000 rpm, and 15.8 hp at 9,000 rpm and 13.6 Nm of torque at 7,000 rpm for the RS-X.

This is a function of the engine capacity, the RS-X coming with 149 cc while the Y16ZR has 155 cc. The RS-X gets DOHC while the Y16ZR makes do with a single cam, which accounts for the difference in horsepower and torque numbers.

Before everyone gets up in arms about fake numbers, it is important to note the measurement method is different. The Y16ZR and RS-X in our hands went on a rear wheel dyno, while factory testing is usually done on a test rig and measures power output at the gearbox.

Thus, the difference can be attributed to driveline loss, but you now have a more accurate indication of what you’re getting at the rear wheel. What is more telling is where the power is made.

For the RS-X, the meat of the power curve lies in the mid-range, while the Y16ZR loads it more towards the top end. This is borne out while riding on the road, the RS-X pulling through the gears until fifth, when the top end runs out and sixth gear performs as an overdrive.

2022 Honda RS-X vs Yamaha Y16ZR Malaysian review

The Y16ZR, on the other hand, lags behind very slightly on the take off, then slowly inches ahead as it hits its stride, posting a strong top speed number. As for top speed, both supercubs get to above 125 km/h, but the RS-X needs a touch longer to get there than the Y16ZR.

In real terms there would be nothing to it save a straight enough stretch of highway and the rider willing to hold the throttle wide open. Both do have enough zip to handle city traffic as well as multi lane roads, and there are no issues keeping up with the normal flow of surface traffic.

Handling wise the RS-X is a touch more stable than the Y16ZR, which means the Y16ZR is more adept at being ridden rempit style, as it were. We would have expected it to be the other way round, with the RS-X having a 1,278 mm wheelbase as opposed to the Y16ZR’s 1,290 mm but the Y16ZR has a slightly steeper rake, thereby quickening the steering.

Seating wise, the Y16ZR has a seat height of 795 mm, identical to the RS-X, with the seat on the RS-X splaying the rider’s legs a little wider. Riding around, we found the RS-X did have the more comfortable seat that encouraged saddle time, while the Y16ZR’s thinly padded unit better suited to cut and thrust riding with fast changes of direction.

In terms of rider accommodation, the Y16ZR’s stepped seat is long, allowing the rider to place his or her weight well back and ducking down in the interests of aerodynamics. Doing the same on the RS-X puts your bum up against the slight seat hump and if you’re considerably taller than the author, this might be something to take into consideration.

Riding around at surface road speeds, both supercubs display vibration in the handlebars, the Y16ZR to a greater degree than the RS-X. Once things get up to highway speed, both exhibited lots of vibration in the bars, and some secondary vibration in the footpegs though seats on both were actually quite good at keeping the bad vibes at bay.

Zipping along, the Y16ZR is quite obviously quicker than the RS-X, helped by the variable valve actuation that kicks in at about 7,000 rpm. Shooting off the mark, the Y16ZR rider will have to tap the gear lever quickly to keep up with engine speed and if there’s a two-wheeler wanting a quickshifter installed, this one needs it.

The RS-X on the other does behave like a highway cruiser, though it is still quite capable in the handling department. In any case, we had no complaints with the handling of either supercub, fast corners with the throttle wicked wide open in top gear taken with confidence.

Riders wanting a little more in terms of precise handling can rest assured the local aftermarket will be taking care of needs in short order. In the braking department, the RS-X performs slightly better, giving more feedback at the lever and foot despite its 122 kg kerb weight, compared to the Y16ZR’s 119 kg.

Braking for the supercubs is done with single-hydraulic discs front and rear. Standard fitment for the RS-X is front-wheel ABS, while the Y16ZR does without.

Fuel capacity in the RS-X is listed at 4.5-litres, while the Y16ZR comes with a 5.4-litres. Fuel consumption was about the same between the two, returning about 2.4 litres per 100 km and mileage may vary due to your riding habits, etc.

Riding conveniences in the supercub category tends to indicate manfacturer preferences as to what they think the rider might want. The Y16ZR comes with a smart key, a USB charging socket in the front cowl and a kill switch as well as hazard lights.

The RS-X on the other hand omits all of that, preferring to spend the build budget on ABS. So, there you have it, you pay your money and make your choice because these supercubs are built to a price point and getting one that is fully loaded, so to speak, would drive the purchase price up higher in what is a very price sensitive market.

Otherwise, the pair are similarly equipped with an LCD digital display, the Y16ZR with a black-on-white display while the RS-X inverts it. LED lighting is used throughout, though the Y16ZR makes do with normal turn signals with the Y16ZR’s headlight deserving special mention for the way it lights up the road while the RS-X gives more of a spread beam pattern.

For styling, we confess to liking the Trico colour scheme on the RS-X, which gave it a family resemblance to the bigger CBR1000RR in Honda’s catalogue. The Y16ZR was finished in a matte silver grey, which put us in mind of something out of a sci-fi movie.

In terms of build quality, things were typically at Yamaha and Honda level, with tight fitting body panels, nothing loose or rattling anywhere. However, between the Y16ZR and the RS-X, we felt the RS-X was a slightly better put together package in terms of styling and design, the tail piece especially giving the RS-X a sense of length and bulk that the sportier Yamaha dispensed in pursuit of a sleek tail design.

So, which supercub is the one you need, as opposed to the one you want? If you’re the kind of rider who gets his or her kicks from speed and cut-and-thrust riding through traffic, get the Y16ZR, if you prefer something of a slightly fast cruising style of riding on the highway with sprints around the curves, the RS-X will serve.

2022 Yamaha Y16ZR2022 Honda RS-X