110cc to 125cc Scooter Shootout
Halfway into 2012 and the fast emerging scooter segment has already witnessed four new entrants. But which one of them will manage to rattle the cages of the long-standing king of the hill, the Honda Activa?
Moves like Jagger!
Honestly, all of the scooters are not too far off from each other with regards to fuel efficiency and cautious use of the right wrist will ensure each one of them adhere to the allotted monthly fuel budget. When riding on our traffic-clogged streets, of greater important is that the scooter is easy to ride and comfortable for daily commuting. It doesn’t have to impress with speed but has to deliver in matters of convenience and functionality which is deep-rooted amongst the Indian commuter. And the Honda Activa’s has managed all of it and more in one smooth sweep instantly winning over the Indian hearts with its neutral handling and rock solid stability despite running the smallest wheelbase of 1238mm. The Activa might not be the smartest looking scooter of the lot, but it sure does bring a host of impressive features along with it like puncture-resistant Tuff-up tube on the rear tyre and the Honda-patented Combi-Brake System. Though we wish Honda gave it telescopic front forks to bring the scooter up to pace with modern day equipment.
But then even the Vespa employs traditional anti-dive single-sided trailing arm suspension that has been serving all Vespa scooters since 1945 till present day, and it still does an excellent job at damping the road undulations and providing smooth ride on our roads. The well-mannered Vespa is a breeze to ride and while it boasts the longest in-class wheelbase of 1290mm, thanks to the exceptional dynamics of the monocoque frame, the Vespa turns in with minimal effort while its minimal over-hangs complimented by peppy power delivery make it a breeze to ride through traffic. The chink in the Vespa’s armour is not really the price tag it sports but the service network, which Piaggio will need to expand rather quickly if it has to match the might of its existing rivals.
Similar is the case with the Mahindra Rodeo RZ, which in our opinion is a brilliant product in its revised form offering nimble handling, increased ground clearance and improved stability. But the Rodeo RZ will need strong service backup and some more improvement with regards to parts quality in order to be a top runner in the scooter space. But knowing Mahindra 2Wheelers and the significant improvement on the new scooter, it shouldn’t be a problem for the Indian bike-maker to get good after-sales service and better parts quality in place rather soon. Aping the Activa, the Hero Maestro does offer similar level of handling and stability but offers slightly better value than the Honda as it sports a semi-digital console, combi-brake system borrowed from the Activa again, snazzier styling as well as fancy colour options, all for a marginal premium. Not to forget, the vast spread Hero service network that is present in remotest of locations in the country only strengthens its case furthermore.
The Suzuki Swish 125 on the other hand has performance written all over it. The only other scooter besides the Rodeo RZ in the comparo to sport telescopic front forks, the Swish 125 is a different animal altogether. Targeted at young people with its funky styling and young appeal, the peppy engine is matched by an equally able and potent chassis and superb suspension setup. A bit stiff ride quality one may complain but that’s just you being old, for the Swish 125 manages to thrill even the most dispassionate rider. Quick to turn and sure-footed, the Swish does not wallow or lurch at any given time. I stand corrected then. If it’s a scooter made like the Suzuki Swish 125, it certainly is not going to be dull and boring.
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