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Cheap thrills - Honda Activa

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WHY AN ACTIVA?

You might own a Vincent Black Shadow or a Ducati 1198 Panigale, but when it comes to battling urban traffic on a daily basis, there’s nothing quite like a twist-and-go scooter. Think of it, there’s no clutch lever to pull in, no gears to go through and you absolutely cannot stall one of these, unless you tried very hard.

The Activa, right from its launch in 2000, is a well received product that now boasts of being the market leader in its segment. The Activa is as reliable as a hammer and the fact that they don’t come up often in the second hand market means that their owners believe so too.

Comfortable and practical, this Honda can make daily city commuting a breeze. Underseat storage is good enough to contain a single open-faced helmet and the leg room on the floorboard has ample space to hold a couple of grocery bags. What’s more is that the scooter will run come rain or shine and unlike most things these days, it’s built to last.

WHICH VERSION SHOULD I GO FOR?

Well, the Activa, remained largely unchanged since its launch and was powered by a 102cc motor. In 2009, the Activa was on the receiving end of revised aesthetics and a new 109cc motor. Although the older motor was quite frugal, Honda claimed that the new engine, despite boasting of a larger displacement and minute increase in performance, returns a better fuel efficiency.

So the more apt question in this case is, how much is your budget. Obviously, the newer ones with the 109cc motor will be more expensive than the older 102cc models, so you need to decide how much you want to spend, really.

HOW MUCH SHOULD I PAY FOR ONE?

Not many Activas come up for sale in the second hand market. If you find one going cheap, there’s plenty to be suspicious about. These Hondas depreciate very slowly, so expect to pay between Rs 25,000 and Rs 30,000 for one, depending on the condition. With the newer 109cc ones, well, it’s a seller’s market and you’re better off buying one new straight out of the showroom.

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR?

The best part about the Activa for many is the fact that it has a metal body. However, metal does corrode so watch out for the dreaded rust especially around the edges or where two panels meet. The scoot should accelerate with gusto from standstill, else, it could mean a burnt clutch or worse still, a tired engine. The scooter should go in a straight line without pulling towards any direction. If it doesn’t, walk away – you're better off travelling by bus for a few weeks more than buying a lemon. Watch out for twitchy handling and bad damping over potholes. Although not too expensive to fix, what starts out as an ordinary suspension overhaul could grow into worn bearings, torn bushings and the like, adding up into a sizable amount. And last but not the least, check the paperwork.