Launching a scooter as its first offering for Indian consumers, you wouldn’t call it a master stroke, but the global 2-wheeler giant Honda was confident and rightly so. No other scooter has matched the success story of the Activa, which was launched early in the millennium.
What the Splendor is to the commuter motorcycle segment, the Activa is to the scooters. Back in the day, there was hardly any competition, and the Activa simply flew out of showrooms. Its reliability and ease of use was, and still is, unmatched. The Activa allowed Honda to test the reception of their products on Indian soil before going solo (they already gained good experience tying up with Hero) and eventually going bonkers with a huge array scooters and motorcycles. One of the new scoots in the dizzyingly long list of products is the new Activa-i, made to take on the cheaper rivals in the market. Now, the scooter market is a highly competitive one, the exit of Bajaj has only strengthened other manufacturers’ positions here. In a move strengthen its foot hold, Honda has launched the more affordable Activa-i. Now, this is a good strategy by Honda to launch a cheaper Activa-i. How you ask? The Activa-i will cater to lower end of the scooter segment, while Honda will attempt convince customers with the extra budget to go for the Activa 125. So let's find out where Honda have compromised or improvised to be able to slash retail price by almost 4000 bucks over the regular model.
Design, Styling and Build Quality
Since inception, the Activa's styling wasn't meddled much with by Honda. A few touch ups here and there and handful of curves was all the last upgrade consisted of. It was instantly recognisable, so there was no question of the second glance. Fast forward to 2014, Honda sent the Activa for a weight loss program (it's one of the heavier scooters on the market!) and that has resulted in the styling taking quite a departure from the Activa Sr.
The biggest change on the Activa-i comes from the rear three quarters. The exposed rear wheel, drivetrain, tire hugger and exhaust are not something we Indians are used to seeing in scooters. The rear tail lamps have undergone major change. Gone are the boring vertically stacked lights, now replaced by sleeker, inclined, and sharp-edged, clear lens lamps.
While the front is largely similar, the new pilot lamp and indicators are now perched on the body. The unit looks good when lit. Say hello to plastic body work (which most users will rarely notice or care) that has greatly contributed in the aforementioned weight loss program. Needless to say, the Activa-i is a well put together scooter, typical of Honda.
Features and Ergonomics
It is surprising to note that apart from the revised styling, Honda hasn't provided any extra features over the current Activa. Makes us wonder what the 'i' in the Activa-i stands for! The trailing link suspension at the front (Honda should have gone for the telescopic unit), tuff up tubes, and the standard instrument cluster (minor redesign, but no extra features) are all carried over from existing Activa.
Ergonomics remain identical to the current version, and there's ample space for the pillion to perch comfortably too. The seat is a tad hard; in comparison, the Yamaha Ray and even Honda's Aviator have more plush seats. All the switches are easily accessible, though they felt a bit hard to operate. Fuel-filling still requires the seat to be opened up.
Powertrain and Performance
109cc and 8 bhp are familiar numbers, and it stays that way. The most significantly changed parameter is the weight, which reduces from 111 to 103 kg, and boy does it make a difference! The Activa-i surges forward with the twist of the wrist. From standstill, it frog-leaps to 20 kmph, followed by a small dip in pulling power till about 30. Beyond that, the motor pulls pretty effortlessly all the way to a speedo indicated 90 kmph. Refinement levels are top notch, and there's hardly any sign of stress at most speeds. The Activa-i can also cruise at around 65-70 kmph, for the occasional non-commute runs.
Ride, Dynamics and Braking
Bad part first, Honda haven't provided telescopic forks even in this version. Good news is, the current setup works very well, though we cannot excuse Honda for not giving us better. We have already seen the benefits of telescopic forks in Aviator and other scooters. Ride is smooth on good roads, but potholes and bad roads are better taken at low speeds. Though the Activa-i doesn't bounce around, it does get unsettled. The damping levels are very good in low speed and bumps are absorbed very well without discomforting the rider.
Zig-zagging through traffic is as easy as before. The Activa-i holds its line in corners, and the MRF tires don't give up very easily.
After using the disc brake – Combi-Braking System unit on the Aviator, the Activa-i’s drum brakes leave a lot to be desired. The front end did judder during hard braking, otherwise it felt solid. On its own, it does its job very well, stops in a straight line under hard braking and the likes, but we sorely miss the Disc unit.
Honda claims a real world mileage of 60 kmpl, which we feel is an optimistic figure. 45-50 kmpl is what we can expect in our traffic, considering our mixed riding conditions and varied riding styles.
The Activa-i is a no frills scooter, and will be accepted by millions of Indians, like the other Honda products. The utilitarian nature has been given a worthy tweak and is definitely one of the trendier scooters on the market now. The Activa's practicality and reliability are unmatched, and has just been made even better by Honda with the Activa-i. The whopping Rs 4000 price drop will ensure that Activa-i flies out of showrooms like the Activa did last decade.
Special thanks to Didar Honda, Chennai, who provided us the Honda Activa-i for the review
Disclaimer: This review is purely based on the test conducted by "ChooseMyBike.in". All views expressed in this review are that of ChooseMyBike.in's, and not of the manufacturer's.
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|Engine||Air-cooled, 4-stroke single cylinder|
|Power||8 Bhp @ 7500 rpm|
|Torque||8.74 Nm @ 5500 rpm|
|Chassis Type||Underbone type|
|Brakes||Front:130 mm dia Drum
Rear:130 mm dia Drum
|Suspension||Front:Bottom Link with Spring-loaded Hydraulic Damper
Rear:Unit Swing, Spring Loaded Hydraulic Damper
|Fuel Tank Capacity||5|