The Indian motorcycle market has more than plenty to offer city riders, ranging from the 110cc segment to the 150cc segment. The bigger bore bikes give you more power, while the others are for those looking for higher fuel efficiency. Bridging this gap is the 125cc segment, as it promises more excitement than the 110cc segment, while still not really compromising on efficiency. It is in this segment that we’ve pitted the spanking new Yamaha Saluto head-to-head with the Honda Shine, a class-topping veteran.
Lay your eyes on the motorcycles, and the first impression the Yamaha makes is very good. Design cues are from the FZ. On the other hand, the Honda looks dated. The Saluto has a slimmer profile though – a typical commuter motorcycle. Yamaha has given it a light chassis, making this motorcycle the lightest in its class, and is always a big plus to have in your favour. The Honda Shine however, feels well put together.
Swing a leg over either, and comfortable seats welcome you. The seating position is comfortable on both too. You sit more upright on the Saluto, and the slightly higher handlebars give it a light, easy to manage and flick around feel. What is impressive on both the motorcycles is how good the palm grips feel. Switchgear on the Shine feels better than on the Saluto.
Thumb the starter, and a gruffer, more robust exhaust note makes itself apparent on the Saluto, while the Shine is quiet and refined with impeccable, typically Honda manners. At higher engine speeds, this is reversed — the Honda gets a little noisy, while the Yamaha stays silent. Pulling away from green lights is effortless for the segment both these motorcycles fit into. Performance wise, both motorcycles are at par, with a heel-toe shifting transmission working smoothly.
High-speed stability is better on the Shine, for above speeds of 75kph, the Saluto feels quite unsteady. In the city, both are equally nimble machines to pilot, and keep their riders happy as they filter though rush hour traffic.
We tested the Shine with a front disk brake, and the Saluto without, and the outcome is anyone’s guess. The Shine brakes with more progressive feel, yet gives ample stopping power, the Honda's Combi-brake system assists in keeping heart-stopping moments in check. The Saluto brakes however, were not something you would want to write home about.
As we got off these two 125cc motorcycles, we found the Honda still ‘Shines’ through, where the Yamaha Saluto left us wishing it was as well built as some of its elder siblings, the FZs in particular. In terms of pricing, the addition of a disc brake on the Shine does mean it commands a premium over the Saluto.
However, the Shine is still a better buy, this tried and tested Honda motorcycle feeling sturdier and more compliant on city roads than the just launched Yamaha Saluto.