If you look around town and you’ll be amazed at how many new scooters have hit our roads in recent times. While the return of the iconic Vespa even with its hefty price tag has proved to be the ultimate showstopper in this partial scooter arena revolution that we have gradually begun to witness, new entrants from the Hero MotoCorp, Suzuki, Honda, Mahindra and more recently the Yamaha stables can most certainly not be overlooked.
That being said, the dynamics of the two-wheeler market have gradually branched out into needs now more specific to niche groups, sexes and the ever present fun factor, all of which are increasingly becoming very influential in boosting sales across the country, and thereby building stronger ties between the modern day scooter and the indispensable urban needs of the common man.
Price, looks, fuel efficiency, comfort and handling are still very much the most crucial ingredients for any of these city slickers looking to make a big impression amongst the masses, but if past lessons are anything to learn from ‘brands and badges’ do count for something even when some of the above mentioned factors are in baffling imbalance like in the case of the Vespa, which despite carrying a 60,000 plus MRP sticker is being picked up like warm woollens in a winter sale. That’s the power of a brand or plain and simple recall value right there and faith in a product that has evolved with the moving times on a global scale.
But, what then could one make of the new Ray from Yamaha? The Japanese bike maker, better known for its performance motorcycles and bike sport ties isn’t your seasoned moped maker, but has had its share of experience with scooters and lower displacement mopeds that are rampant across the south eastern isles.
Bringing the Ray to India has been a surefooted move, and has already sparked off massive interest among the female circles which it is primarily targeting. But gauging by the looks, handling and performance characteristics of this newest scooter on the block, one is honestly left ambivalent.
So in an effort to settle some scores and see which is the better amongst the new found foes, we took the new Yamaha Ray and the refreshed Honda Dio on a quick spin around town and beyond to see which of the two were really worth their money.
Where the similarity ends
It’s true, the Honda Dio and Yamaha Ray may in fact be the only two mass production scooters in the market today which have their large V-shaped headlights with integrated turn signals mounted into the front face of the body. But as pretty a face as it presents in the case of the Ray it’s where its similarity with the Dio begins and ends brusquely.
Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as the Ray unlike the Dio wasn’t build to be a nippy MotoScooter. Placed beside one another the underbone type frame of the Dio immediately starts to dominate with proportions that are visibly taller and wider when compared.
The Dio has always been a great looking scooter and in this newer form looks hotter than ever before with lines and curves that seem to have been modelled by skilful slashes of a Japanese samurai sword. There’s a sense of robustness to it and an aerdodynamic wedge like design that is and will continue turning heads on the road for a long time.
The Ray on the other hand is a slimmer and craftier design. There is a definitive purpose and clear focus on every aspect of the Ray’s architecture and in just over a month since it has gone on sale, customers realised just how extraordinary Yamaha’s first ever scooter for the Indian market has turned out to be. Yes, one would grit his teeth over how lanky the scooter looks or how drab its plastics appear to be, but then again in the right light and perhaps a dual-tone blue and grey combination like the one we got, you needn’t judge the book beyond its cover.
Moving beyond outer appearances, there are in fact certain features that could influence purchase decisions in favour of either party. Point in case being the under storage area which in the case of the Ray isn’t merely enough to fit even a half face helmet. The Honda Dio’s on the other hand was large enough to swallow one and some more making it a more convenient prospect in this regard.
There are however some neatly stacked cubby holes on the Ray’s dash just above the footrest area which can take in a bottle of water, some loose change and even your gloves which comes very handy when taking frequent halts over long distances. This is sorely missed on the new Dio, which incidentally can be made up for with an optional luggage box that is sold as an after market fitment by Honda dealers.
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