I’ve got a thing for vintage design, and the Honda Super Cub-inspired CSC Monterey fully scratches that itch for me. But while vintage design often goes hand in hand with a jump in price, this retro electric scooter costs less than many electric bicycles and offers twice the performance.
I’ve only spent a week on the CSC Monterey so far, but I’m already in love.
It’s got some downsides and we’ll talk about those. But by and large the CSC Monterey packs in a huge amount fun and value with an incredibly reasonable $1,995 price.
While the scooter ships for free in the lower 48 states, to be fair there are a few dealer and documentation fees that bring the final price to around $2,395 by the time it arrives in a box at your driveway.
Even so, that’s a great deal for a fun-loving electric scooter that provides both utility and charm in a single package.
CSC Monterey video review
Make sure to watch my review video below to get a true sense of the CSC Monterey electric scooter in action. Then read on for my full review!
CSC Monterey tech specs
- Motor: 1.5 kW nominal, 2.4 kW peak rear hub motor
- Top speed: 32 mph (52 km/h)
- Range: 20-65 mi (32-104 km)
- Battery: 60V 26Ah (1,560 Wh)
- Typical recharge cost: $0.20
- Full charge time: 7 hours on Level 1 (110VAC wall plug)
- Curb weight: 181 lb (82 kg)
- Max load: 300 lb (136 kg)
- Brakes: Drum brakes
- Suspension: Inverted hydraulic fork, dual rear shocks
- Wheels: 17″
- Extras: Underseat locking storage and dual open glove compartments, rear pillion seat cushion can be removed to add trunk, analog speedometer and odometer, full DOT lighting including turn signals, DOT mirrors
What is the CSC Monterey, and what is it not?
First of all, we have to start by classifying this rather unique electric scooter.
The CSC Monterey isn’t an e-bike — it’s a street-legal motor vehicle.
But it’s also not a more complicated or intimidating motorcycle. It fits somewhere between the two, with DOT regulated components like a motor vehicle but the approachability of an e-bike. There’s no shifting, no ABS, no rider assistance or power maps, nothing complicated to learn or consider. It’s just an easy-to-ride electric scooter.
It’s also not a speedster, either, with a GPS-confirmed top speed of 32-ish mph (52 km/h). I can hit slightly higher speeds with a full battery, but not much higher.
So this is very much a scooter designed for urban or suburban cruising. I took it on local highways (not interstates) posted as high as 50 mph (80 km/h), but stayed in the right lane. And I was much more comfortable on 40 and 45 mph roads, of which there were plenty around. Yes, I was getting passed by faster traffic. But I was also given as much space as any other vehicle on the road because drivers saw me as a motorcycle in my lane, not as an e-bike rider taking up their space.
So while it isn’t fast, it has road presence. And its striking design is probably a safety feature in that drivers all around me were taking notice. In fact, pedestrians were too as necks craned left and right to watch me ride by all over town.
Vintage style meets modern e-scooter tech
The CSC Monterey obviously carries 20th-century design reminiscent of the classic Honda Super Cub, but hides 21st-century electric scooter design under the hood.
I happen to own a ’69 Honda Sport Cub, the motorcycle variant of the Cub line, and I can tell you that the CSC Monterey beautifully embodies the nostalgia. From the vintage style seat to the cast handlebar controls, it all screams 1960s charm. There’s even an analog speedometer needle and odometer wheels – old-school parts missing in the modern electric scooter industry since Unu sadly replaced their analog readouts with digital alternatives last year.
The four little LED lights that serve as a battery gauge are admittedly a bit frustrating, but I simultaneously enjoy their ambiguity as a throwback to the days of gauging range by “about a half tank left.”
On the modern side, the old-school spring forks of the classic Cub are replaced with today’s inverted hydraulic forks. Modern 12V LED bulbs replace the old incandescent 6V bulbs that risk my own Cub not starting if I left them on for more than a minute or two while parked.
A 60V removable battery sits where the old engine would have been, and the rear wheel gets a 2.4 kW hub motor. It may not do unsprung weight any favors, but who cares?! This is a cruiser with modern shocks, and its large 17-inch wheels give it a great ride anyway compared to all the other small-wheeled scooters out there.
Medium power, high comfort
There’s nothing overly powerful about the CSC Monterey. It doesn’t blast off when the light turns green like my CSC City Slicker electric motorcycle would, and it of course can’t even begin to compare to my experiences on larger e-motos like the Harley-Davidson LiveWire or Zero SR/F.
And while I’d ding other scooters on that, the CSC Monterey feels nicely proportioned. I accelerate at the rate of the cars around me, usually not any faster, and I can zip along at comfortable speeds that match the vehicle. Again, this isn’t the bike you want if you’re looking to raise hell. It’s the bike you want if you’re looking for a fun and enjoyable cruise.
Part of the why the low-ish top speed of 32 mph (52 km/h) doesn’t really bother me is because of how darn comfortable the CSC Monterey feels. Whether rolling along slowly through traffic or hitting speed bumps at nearly full speed, the large wheels and modern suspension combine to provide a deceptively smooth ride.
And I just love the way it looks while cruising, too. I’ve gotten more looks on the CSC Monterey than other e-motorcycles or e-scooters I’ve ridden, hands down. People stop walking and simply gawk. Kids give me the thumbs up while their parents stare, probably remembering a friend or neighbor from their childhood that had a similar-looking bike.
It’s just fun to ride and share the experience with people.
Can it fit in a modern world?
Fun is one thing, but what about utility? Can a scooter that is fun to look at still fulfill modern-day commuters’ needs?
Yes, I believe it can.
It’s not like the Monterey is packed with cargo space or anything, but you do get a small locking storage box under the seat and a pair of open-top glove compartments behind the front shield – one of which even sports a USB charging outlet. And the rear seat can be replaced with a cargo box, though I worry about finding one that doesn’t kill the vintage look.
Assuming you leave the rear seat intact, the pillion pegs offer a comfortable ride for a passenger, making this ~$2k bike a realistic two-person EV.
The battery is removable for charging in a modern world, though most people will probably just charge in their garage and never take the battery out. In a pinch, though, you could charge the 20 lb (9 kg) battery under your table at a coffee shop or any other location with a 110V wall outlet, further extending your range (which I found to be around 25-30 miles or 45-50 km in practice at full throttle, but could be stretched by riding slower in the city).
So the Monterey has limitations, for sure. But there are so many people that commute daily on roads of 40 mph or less, and travel distances of 20-30 miles or less, that I definitely think it has utility for modern American cities.
Of course the final question for many people will be, “Do I need a motorcycle license to ride it?”
The answer is, “It depends on your state, but probably, yes.” Many states have moped laws that go up to 30 mph (48 km/h) and don’t require motorcycle licenses. The CSC Monterey barely exceeds that limit, meaning some riders might be able to shoehorn it in and get away without a motorcycle license (I saw this all the time with 40 mph 50cc motorcycles and scooters when I lived in MA), but others will be just into the lower end of motorcycle license territory.
As it is, I always recommend getting a motorcycle license anyways, as I think it makes people better riders, even on electric bicycles. The short safety classes and weekend of parking lot instruction/examination are easy to complete and well worth the few hundred bucks.
And if it opens the door to riding fun, sexy, and energy-efficient vehicles like the CSC Monterey, then that makes the deal even sweeter!
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