Now I’d been extremely excited about the Honda Navi ever since I first laid eyes on it at Auto Expo 2016, and was naturally a little green with envy when Kartikeya and Sherman went for its first ride at Adlabs Imagica. So as soon as our long-term Navi arrived at our Mumbai office, plans to get my hands on the little tyke and ride it down to Pune began hatching. And while those plans were met with strange looks and guffaws, that’s exactly what I managed to do, albeit only until Lonavla after which Kartikeya (who had been stalking me all the way from Mumbai in a car) took over under the pretext of doing a fuel efficiency run. It certainly was an unexpectedly enjoyable ride until it lasted, but the bike ended up at Kartikeya’s place. However, I did manage to “liberate” the little Navi from his garage recently, and boy, what an experience has it been since then.
It really is surprising how I find myself gravitating towards the Navi every time I want to step out at night and catch up with friends either for dinner or a post-meal coffee. It’s certainly not the fastest way to get around town at that hour and I am fairly spoilt for choice between that, the long-term Yamaha R3 and my own KTM Duke 390. But nevertheless, it’s the Navi that is the most relaxed ride for late nights around Pune. Even when there’s a bit of traffic, it can just nip through it like nothing else and you’re never going fast enough to really scare yourself. Plus, I’m sure it’s just a ridiculously amusing sight for other road users to see a tiny Navi being ridden by a large, fully geared-up man (who weighs more than the bike itself), zipping around town between traffic. And it totally amuses me each time just how many egos get rubbed the wrong way when said sight passes self-proclaimed “cool dudes” on “proper motorcycles”. And the way the Navi likes to jump over speed breakers, with both wheels in the air is just too crazy. Honestly, 60kph has never been more fun.
Of course, there are some downsides to the bike. Firstly, I’ve rarely been able to fit any cargo of consequence in the storage space between the pegs. Secondly, it is quite stiffly sprung, so half my attention while riding is diverted to finding routes around the large number of potholes and bumps that litter Pune’s roads. And while initially I didn’t mind it much, over time, I’ve begun to find the handle lock on the side of the forks annoying to work. Many times, I’ve just not bothered to lock it after I’ve reached home, and found myself begrudgingly heading back downstairs after a few minutes to lock it up.
But all its minor niggles aside, the Navi does put a huge smile on my face every time I ride it. And I suspect, it’s not just its comically cute looks, but its peppy motor and agility through traffic that are the real reasons behind the smile. Urban runabouts don’t get better than this, at least in my head.