They showed us how to make motorcycles which could be filled shut and forgotten. They took the lead in the fledgling performance segment in India with products like the CBZ and the Karizma. Later, when they launched their fully owned subsidiary here, they created history by teaching Indian manufacturers a lesson in understanding the needs of their own market – they revived the dead scooter segment and became the biggest players overnight. You may point out that a part of that success story was attributed to Hero, and you won’t be wrong, but all of us here know where all that engineering brilliance was flowing in from.
So after having ruled the Indian market undisputedly for more than three decades in association with Hero, Honda have finally drawn out a knife to cut a piece of the big pie all for themselves. The 100cc segment is still largely ruled by the Splendors and the Passions of the world, and the Dream Yuga, (no matter how unintelligible that name may be for the rural Indian market) seems all set to obliterate the share percentages in the all-important entry level segment.
So is the Dream Yuga good enough to take the fight to the legendary Splendor, its own luminary ancestor? Let’s try and find out.
Design and aesthetics
There is a set template for how an entry level commuter should look like in India. Show all the 100cc bikes being sold in India quickly to a foreigner, and he won’t be able to tell one from another sans the badges. Honda have stuck to the template and played it safe on the visual aspect. The Dream Yuga draws from its Shine brethren on the aesthetic front. The tank in particular, looks uncannily familiar. A characteristic 100cc-bike bikini fairing, a no-frills front fender, simplistic head and tail lamp and all black lower metal – the dream Yuga doesn’t want to make any tall claims about style. In a sense it’s appreciable and reflects Honda’s deep understanding of this market – the less stuff hangs out, the less would fall off. Reliability, functionality, quality and cost are factors which reign supreme in this class and Honda seems to have put its laser sharp focus on these aspects.
The only hints of ostentation can be seen around the central panel, from where the rear panel bulges out and shoot for the tail lamp. The alloy wheels on the top end variant, the contoured seat and the sharp blinker lights are a few other things which break away from the simplistic mould of the rest of the bike. Simple, functional and instantly recognizable as a trusty 100cc commuter – that’s the Dream Yuga for you.
Engine and gearbox
If the 97.2cc sloper engine of the CD100 and the Splendor revolutionized the way we commuted in India, the 109 cc unit on the Dream Yuga is the next link in the evolutionary chain. Seen earlier on the CB twister in a different state of tune, the 8.5 bhp power plant of the Dream Yuga corroborates Honda’s position as a maker of smoothest engines ever. Dab the starter button and the engine comes to life with a big smile on its face. Smooth, revvy and typically Honda, the new, more erect power plant (as compared to the Splendor’s sloper) makes amply clear that’s it’s a superior unit when compared to its predecessor. Butter smooth and vibe-free this engine breaks new grounds as regards refinement in its category.
And it’s not just the smoothness that impresses. A peak output figure of 8.5bhp @ 7500 rpm may not sound like much on paper, but the engine feels peppier than most other entry-level commuters. The smoothness exhibited by the engine while accelerating hard is impressive to say the least. We touched a top speed of 85km/h on some stretches in the city, the bike managing to get there reasonably quickly – the engine not showing any signs of being unnerved even at the peak rpm.
The smooth engine has been mated to an equally slick four speed gearbox. With an all-up shift pattern, the gearbox is a delight to operate. Gearshifts are effortless, precise and feel like mouse-clicks as you change ratios – an absolute pleasure. We would have been happier had the shifts been arranged in a standard one up three down pattern, but we are more than sure that the arrangement won’t matter at all to the customers this bike is addressing.
The first two gears appeared to be on the shorter side to us, a ploy, probably to help riders accelerate from a standstill better even with heavy weight on. Third and fourth gears represent taller ratios, meant to maximize fuel efficiency. So while, you can stop and start off again in second gear, shifting to third at really slow speeds may create a bit of a trouble. The bike feels best at 50-60km/h in fourth gear, riding solo or with pillion. The engine is at its smoothest best and feels like an electric motor and not an IC engine. Upwards of 60 km/h there is a bit of sound but it’s still much smoother than anything else on sale in the country today.
Ride quality, suspension and handling
We found the suspension slightly on the stiffer side. On Monsoon hit (incessant rains didn’t allow us to shoot properly), broken down Mumbai roads we thought that a softer suspension, both front and rear setup may have taken better care of our posteriors. The ride quality, however, changes drastically with a pillion on. The suspension settles down and starts soaking in undulations much more efficiently. The long, contoured seat which looked really inviting before we hopped on didn’t turn out to be as comfortable as we would have fathomed. A bit more cushion would be welcome.
The relatively stiffer suspension, however, lends the dream Yuga with sure footedness and ability to traverse corners with more confidence than its closest arch rival, the Splendor. The bike feels light, is easy to flick around and is an absolute breeze in the city traffic. The puny looking 80/100 -18 tyres both up front and at the rear do a surprisingly good job of sticking on to the tar. Braking duties are borne by 130 mm dia drums both at the front and rear. Nothing much to complain about that either keeping in view the target audience, but it wouldn’t really be a bad idea to offer a disc equipped version for some extra price.
With the rains lashing Mumbai streets it was extremely difficult for us to put the machine through its paces aggressively. We had the bike with us only for a day, so didn’t get a chance to wait for another sunny day either. But even with the rains, water and slush the Dream Yuga did impress us with its tautness and predictable handling. Ride comfort could have been slightly better though.
Features and built quality
As mentioned earlier, the Dream Yuga focuses on simplicity, reliability, functionality and cost. It’s not difficult to imagine why only the most basic features make their way on this workhorse then. The twin pod instrument cluster comprises of a basic speedo-odo combo in one of the two units. There is no tripmeter. The second pod comprises of a fuel gauge and very basic blinker, neutral and high beam indicators. On the left handlebar, you have the headlight on/off switch, with a thumb operated high / low beam toggle button. A day flasher comes as a welcome inclusion. The switchgear looks basic, but operates well and has a hardwearing, built to last feel about it.
On the top of the line variant, the alloy wheels are shod with tubeless, tuff-up tyres which seal the air release in case of a puncture, allowing you to ride down to safety. The rear suspension is five-step adjustable – we found it slightly stiff at the softest-but-one setting. The bike comes equipped with a viscous air filter for longer life and low maintenance.
Features apart, the Dream Yuga comes across as an impeccably well built machine and seems to have been put together to last a lifetime. The plastic and paint quality is top notch. Panel gaps are surprisingly small for an entry level machine and the finish on the bike reeks Honda. If initial impressions could prophecy the longevity of a machine, the Dream Yuga would probably last an age.
Summing it up
No other bike maker in India has a better reputation for creating frugal, refined and reliable motorcycles which are built to last till the end of the world than Honda. Cheap to own, and more economical to run than Hero Honda (now Hero Motocorp) to maintain, thanks to cheaper spares – the Dream Yuga makes an extremely strong case for itself simply by virtue of the fact that it’s coming from the Honda stable.
At Rs 51,678 OT Mumbai (alloys / ES), the Dream Yuga is one of the cheapest entry level commuters from a reputed manufacturer. Here’s a comparative price analysis of various other motorcycles in the segment (all prices OTR)
• Dream Yuga (OTR 51,678/- Mumbai)
• Splendor Plus (OTR 52490/- Mumbai)
• Splendor NXG (OTR 54433/- Mumbai)
• Super Splendor (OTR 59,807/- Mumbai)
• Passion Pro Cast/Self (OTR 57,177/- Mumbai)
• Passion Pro Cast/Self/Disc (OTR 59,464/- Mumbai)
• Bajaj Discover 100 DTS-Si (OTR 51,434/- Mumbai)
• TVS Star City (OTR 48,310/- Mumbai)
The Dream Yuga turns out to be the cheapest, except of course the Star City which is not only substantially cheaper, but also comes with a terrific 5 year warranty. It’s a bigger looking bike too and has a reasonably good cred as regards built quality. However, brand TVS doesn’t quite carry as much standing as Honda, especially in the rural areas.
The dream Yuga may not be the most feature laden, or the most good looking among its peers, but it most definitely is the most refined, and the most well engineered machine around. The price too is absolutely justified whether you look at it from the purchase or ownership point of view. It seems to have been built to last, it’s frugal, and it’s got that Wing emblazoned on its tank – to us, it hits the nail right on the head.
Honda has priced the Yuga really well i.e. below the Splendor Plus and we’d say that anyone looking for a no-nonsense commuting motorcycle would find it a brilliant offering considering its price tag. The biggest USP of the machine is the engine that feels like it’ll just carry on into perpetuity without any hiccups.
Would it realise Honda’s ‘Power of Dreams’ in the mass commuting segment and topple the segment king- the Splendor? Only time will tell.