2014 Honda Activa 125 Review: Vision over Visibility

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A motorcycle with all its gears, the clutch, the heat from its engine is sometimes an annoyance – especially on a hot, humid day with jammed roads. A scooter on the other hand is a big respite from harassment in such conditions, something like the 2014 Honda Activa 125. With no gears, no clutch and no heat radiating onto the calves, it makes life much simpler. The lack of juice in a regulation scooter, though, keeps some commuters away from the gearless machine. The canny blokes at Honda have noticed the void, and have come up with a bigger, spunkier version of their superhit Activa to offer those looking for a fusion of power and practicality a reliable option.

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Now don’t be mistaken, we are true fans of the motorcycle just like you and nothing beats the feeling of being on one, on a long open highway. However, in the unpleasant city traffic, not having to depress the clutch a million times or change gears a gazillion times is a more preferable way to commute for most. The theory holds particularly true especially when the scooter in focus boasts some extra thrust to stay abreast with the motorcycles. So lets talk some more about the grown up version of a scooter which  has changed the way million commute in India. The Activa brought the scooter segment back from the dead to become the largest selling two wheeler in India. We analyze whether the Activa 125 has the substance to replicate its forebear’s achievements.

Design, Instrumentation & Ergonomics:

The new Honda Activa 125 follows conventional design like the Activa 110, which will continue to sell along side the bigger version. The design is mature, featuring chrome on its nose which appears to us as a two-wheeler analogy of the Honda City. The integrated headlamp on the handlebar looks strikingly similar to Hero’s Maestro, and makes you wonder if the duo continue to be friends even after their broken marriage.

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The rear panel sits visibly lower in comparison to the Activa 110’s design, where it swept upwards. The tail lamp and rear indicators are now integrated in a single, big, smart looking unit, while the grab-rail is bigger and the fold-able footrests have an anodized finish. The instrumentation is part digital, featuring a trip meter, a fuel gauge and an odometer. The speedometer continues to be analogue and does the dance from 0 to 110 when the key is turned to ‘ignition’ mode.

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Surprisingly, we found the speedometer to be connected to the rear wheel. The headlight requires special mention as there is now a pilot lamp that sits below the 35w bulb and the main candle provides better throw and illumination.

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Next page for Comfort>>

Comfort:

The switches, levers and grips are carried over from the Activa 110, while the upright seating position is not very different from the smaller scoot either. The seat is wide for both the rider and the pillion, making it a comfortable place, even when you have to park your behind on it for a longer duration.

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The floorboard is large and can comfortably accommodate long legs. Six footers will not find their knees dangerously close to the switch-gear. I remember I could easily push the horn on the older Activa using my left knee, giving some rest to my left thumb.

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The under-seat storage will carry a decent sized helmet for a pillion you might come across on your way back home. That same space can accommodate her hand bag, or if it’s not your day, your medium sized backpack or that lunch box you didn’t open in favor of a pizza. The provision for a phone charger should’ve made things interesting, however, there are better alternatives these days to charge your phone and just because we see some empty space, our minds go into overdrive, thinking, what else could they have offered in there? My colleague who was accompanying me in the sweltering heat, wished for a refrigerator in there.

Next page for Engine, Performance and Fuel efficiency

Engine, Performance & fuel efficiency:

The 125 cc air-cooled engine now makes 8.6 bhp at 6500 rpm, which is 0.6 bhp more at a thousand lesser revs than the older 110cc motor. It produces 10.12 NM of torque at 5500 rpm, which makes the Activa 125 slightly quicker off the block in comparison to it’s lesser powered version.

The mid-range feels moderately stronger in comparison to the Activa 110 and even with a pillion, the engine doesn’t protest if you open the throttle abruptly. The speedo needle will show an indicated 90 kmph at full chat, where it sounds like a small turbine. Initial throttle response is good, making the Activa 125 feel zippy in city taffic. We even managed to surprise a few 100-125cc bikes at red lights.

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The CVT is smooth, except at start-up, when mild judder can be noticed on the handlebars, which disappears as the scooter sets in motion. In entirety, the Activa 125 has enough performance in it’s kitty for the city. The convenience it offers in stop-go traffic, coupled with it’s ability to maintain decent speeds on arterial roads, doesn’t make you feel shortchanged if you switch from a 100-125 cc motorcycle. Coming to the important aspect, in our mixed test during peak hours and at times when it was on full chat, the Activa 125 managed to return a combined figure of about 46 kmpl, which is impressive for a gearless scooter.

Analog cum digital Speedometer

Next page for Ride & Handling>>

Ride & Handling:

The Activa 125, like the Honda Aviator, has been armed with telescopic forks up front, which makes the scooter ride well on uneven surfaces. The bigger Activa offers a better ride as compared to the Activa 110.  The deluxe version of the Activa 125 rides on Alloy wheels which come glued with a 190mm disc brake up front, an important addition Honda has made to this scooter. Coupled with the front forks, the front disc gives an assuring feel when braking, in comparison to the drum brakes on the Activa 110, making it track straight even under hard braking.

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The Activa 125 wieghs 110 kgs and is a neutral handling machine like its predecessor. The MRF 90/90-12 tyres at the front and 90/100-10 at the rear are tubeless and provided good grip, as the monsoons rang door bells here in Mumbai.

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Summing it up>>

Summing it up:

What did we find missing? apart from our fantasizing colleague who wanted a refrigerator under the seat, surprisingly, there is no parking brake on the Activa 125, which makes you feel skeptical about parking it on a slope. The rear view mirrors do not cover the view behind too well. Also, the left brake lever on our test scooter had to be pressed real hard for ignition to work.

The Activa 125 from Honda is better than the Activa 110 in every aspect, except that it costs more.  Priced at around 70,000 Rs on-road Mumbai, for the deluxe version with alloy wheels and disc brakes and around 64,000 Rs for the standard version that comes without it, the scooter is priced only marginally more than your cell phone which fell from a tree while Newton was busy interviewing a man called Steve.

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The Honda Activa 125 will appeal to those with a vision to offload that unnecessary stress of riding a motorcycle with the clutch half pressed and the left foot constantly changing gears. People who’d rather arrive home comfortably, say hello to the lift-man, greet the wife with a smile, smile some more even if the kid hasn’t finished his homework and spend the energy saved in more constructive activities. These visionaries will then be seen on a motorcycle, just before dawn, on a Sunday morning, when the world doesn’t push them onto the pavement, when they have the sound of birds for company and the roads will be devoid of traffic stricken PYTs applying make-up in their pink colored cars.

Honda is offering these stress relieving machines in four colors, Midnight Blue Metallic (One we tested), Black, Pearl Sunbeam White and Sword Silver Metallic. Take your pick.

Next page for specifications & Image gallery>>

Activa tech specs

Activa 125 features a pilot lamp

The Activa 125 features a pilot lamp. Headlights provide good illumination in the dark.

Anodized footrests

Anodized foot-rests look smart.

Large rear tail-lamp looks neat

Large rear tail-lamp looks neat.

HET ensures good mileage

Honda Eco Technology ensures good mileage.

Spring loaded hydraulic type rear suspension

Spring loaded hydraulic type suspension at the rear.

A kick-starter has been provided

Honda has provided a kick-starter if the battery gives up.

The 190mm Nissin disc brake inspires confidence

A 190mm Nissin disc brake unit at the front

Clear-lens blinkers up front

Clear-lens blinkers flank the chrome-plated nose.

90/90- 12 MRF Rubber at the front.

90/90- 12 MRF Rubber at the front.

Activa? Maestro? Confused?

Honda Activa?Hero Maestro? Confused?

Switchgear from the Activa 110

Switchgear borrowed from the Activa 110.

Key-slot has a shutter lock.

Key-slot has a shutter lock.

Floorboard can accomodate the tallest of legs.

Floorboard can accommodate the tallest of legs.

No parking brake, why?

No parking brake! Makes you feel skeptical when parking on a slope.

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Relaxed riding position, acres of leg-room and a wide seat makes it a comfortable place to be.

Analog cum digital Speedometer

Analog cum digital speedometer, features a trip-meter which can be reset.

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Enough space below the seat for a medium sized helmet, any bigger and you will have to struggle clipping the seat back in it’s place.

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Rear-view mirrors could have been larger.