My 80 km commute is fun, but I wouldn’t do it on a scooter. Scooters are hard on my tail-bone, tricky under hard braking, slower than most motorcycles and not as fuel-efficient either. And fixing a puncture on a scooter is more painful than a 300 kph highside on a Fireblade can be (Yeah, right – Srini ). But now, Honda claims it has a scooter line-up that has a solution for all my worries. And I’ve bitten the bait.
So, what’s new about this ‘Candy Lucid Red’ Activa you see here? Cosmetically, nothing. The Activa was last refreshed back in 2009, and despite being conservatively styled, it looks contemporary and pleasing. To spot the difference, you will have to walk over to the left-hand side engine cowl, pasted on which is a sticker bearing the letters ‘HET’'.Honda Eco Technology is what it stands for and by means of this, Honda has made the Activa (as well as the Dio and Aviator) more efficient, overall.
Because the Activa’s 109cc, 8 bhp engine was already well-engineered, Honda only had to call for a few tweaks for it to be able to deliver more miles to the litre. To elaborate, the first step towards aiding efficiency is to improve combustion, and to help achieve this, the Activa now employs a nickel spark plug while the inlet port has been optimised, too. Next in line is the all-important need to reduce friction. This, too, has been addressed by the means of a suitably designed offset crank, a low tension piston ring and overall weight reduction of a few crucial components that I cannot pronounce or understand. The pulley converter ratio, too, has been optimised so as to increase fuel-efficiency while still retaining the existing power output.
In the real world, given that it has a full-metal body (the only other scooter that can boast of this is the TVS Wego), it is marginally slower than its rivals, but it’s not slow by any measure. Refinement is superb as ever and there is absolutely no lag or dip in performance all the way to its indicated 90 kph top speed. While I haven’t had the chance to put the Activa through a comprehensive fuel-efficiency test, it would be safe to assume it won’t actually deliver 60 kpl as Honda claims it will (at a steady 50 kph). ‘Forty-forty five’ would be my guess and count on me to let you know the exact numbers in the long-term report that you will see in the next issue of BSM.
My other worries have been answered in the form of a set of tubeless tyres (MRF Zappers, although, I did see TVS tyres on one of the press-fleet Activas), standard on all three scooters, the virtues of which are indispensable for everyday riding. Lastly, Honda’s rather effective CBS (combined braking system), which actuates the front brake to an extent (apart from fully utilising the rear brake, of course) when the rear brake lever is depressed, is also standard across Honda’s scooter range. The only thing that is going to be a bit of a bummer, pun intended, is the soft-ish seat, which, at the end of an 80 km commute, will hurt the tail-bone unfailingly. Small price to pay, however, for a scooter that’s so well rounded. At Rs 51,220 (ex-showroom, Mumbai) the Activa HET isn’t exactly inexpensive, but if you want a scooter that will probably outlast the solar system without so much as batting an eyelid, this is your best bet.