Can I get something off my chest right away? I’m truly, madly in love with the Honda Navi; and have been since the moment I first laid eyes on it at the 2016 Auto Expo in Delhi, where HMSI took the bold step of launching a bike that falls into the category of neither a motorcycle, nor a scooter. To have one as a long term test bike was nothing short of a dream come true.
The Navi’s maiden voyage was an epic one; a ride from our office in Mumbai to my home in Pune. Fine, it’s really not that far – just over 150km, but given the Navi’s diminutive size and it’s even more diminutive fuel tank (it’s only about three and a half litres), the journey was akin to an adventure. But as fun as it was, I’m not likely to reattempt that anytime soon. It’s a bike that’s built for the city and that’s exactly where it put it to good use once I brought it down to Pune.
As a city bike, the Navi is a blast. It’s extremely confident when chucking it through traffic and I was hard pressed to believe that it shares almost its entire underpinnings with something as vanilla as the Honda Activa. I believe that has a lot to do with the way you sit on the bike. With legs on either side, like a motorcycle, and not on a floorboard like a scooter, you automatically have a lot more control on the way the Navi handles. I could just imagine the faces of those on faster bikes which I’d leave stranded on the congested Pune roads as I confidently weaved around other road users.
A large chunk of my use of the Navi happened when I would take it to a nearby café to unwind at the end of the day. As the haunt was just about three or four kilometres from my place, the Navi ended up being the perfect commute machine for this journey. Parked amongst all the fancy motorcycles like various KTMs, Triumphs and Harleys that the patrons would leave in the parking, the Navi would really stick out. And on most days, it would even attract more attention than bikes with over ten times its cubic capacity.
My biggest gripe with the Navi, apart from the small tank (which isn’t such a big issue in the city) is the stiff suspension. Yes, it helped in some hooning as the bike would happily jump speed breakers. However, over broken roads, it is quite the back breaker. As compared to a scooter, you do lose out on practicality such as underseat storage and the small floorboard under the tank is just that… small. On the plus side though, it’s sprightlier than the Activa on which it’s based and with a mileage of nearly 50kpl, more efficient as well. The bottom line is that as long as you treat it like a scooter, very few bikes are as much fun when traversing through the urban jungle.