What seems to be squeaky and puny, however, is the engine. Although Honda has reworked the stroke of the older engine to increase the displacement to 110cc, it’s hardly a bomb to ride. The low range has been beefed up a little but as the rpm’s rise, the grunt seems to wane away. With a 0-60 kph burst in ten seconds and a top whack of 92 kph, the Activa won’t tickle that speed demon in you. Honda claims that they have worked on the intake and have decreased the frictional losses to bring up the fuel consumption by 15 per cent over the older Activa. However, we have been gunning the throttle of the Honda even in stop-and-go conditions and predictably, the mileage was a paltry 36 kpl.
Although the engine seems small hearted, the seat is a whole different deal altogether. The new seat is more comfortable, with an easier riding posture. Unlike its predecessor, the new Honda’s seating is kinder to your back and the 160 km that I have ridden it resulted in no aches at all. The under seat storage has been worked upon too and now, there’s plenty of space for a single full faced helmet (sorry, the pillion will have to lug hers around) and a few knick-knacks. The ride quality has improved and I suspect that it has a lot to do with the new seat. Unfortunately, Honda has retained the old trailing-link suspension which has not given way to superior telescopic forks like I hoped they would. Riding over bumps at a decent pace will faze you if you are not prepared, which is really quite disappointing.
If you were hoping that the new Activa gets an optional disc brake, well, sorry again. Instead, on the Deluxe version, the Activa gets a ‘Combi-brake’ stopper at the front. If you look closely at the front brake arm of the scooter with this system, you will notice the two cables that latch onto it. As with any other two-wheeler, using only the rear brake on a scooter will result in the poorest braking distance. Jabbing on the front brake alone improves things but then, there’s a risk of washing out the front end resulting in a big splat on the asphalt. The best braking distances can be achieved by using the front and rear brakes simultaneously. So, if you are accustomed to jamming onto the rear brake alone (we suggest you stop doing that and have a rethink on your braking technique before you break something), the lever is attached to both the front and rear brakes, providing better stopping power. Quite frankly, we haven’t had an opportunity to test the Combi-brake as our test Activa wasn’t fitted with one. To me however, a disc brake up front would be far better. Instrumentation is a tad livelier than the older Activa. The speedo is large and the fuel gauge is prominent enough to be read easily. The new shutter ignition keyhole is designed to keep the thieves from making off with your ride. Besides that, the shutter might also keep water and grime from getting inside the lock. Why Honda would omit a headlight dipper switch on the Activa evades me, though.
Summing it up, the Activa certainly deserves the ‘new’ prefix with nearly everything and the Honda is definitely a step in the right direction. Although it could do with a wilder engine and some zanier aesthetics, the Activa is a great buy for those who want a no-hassle scoot for a price of Rs 43,000, ex-showroom, Mumbai. But if you want a more fun scooter with more bang, the Suzuki Access still seems like the best buy. But then, the Access isn’t really a looker.
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