Honda Activa 125 review, test ride
9th May 2014 5:28 am
Read on for our riding impression of the Activa 125, arguably the big H’s most important two-wheeler launch this year.
We’ve been eager to pen you this test ride of the Activa 125, ever since first breaking news of this all important new Honda back in July 2013. It’s impossible to exaggerate how significant the Activa 125 is for Honda, given its predecessor the 109cc Activa is already India’s largest selling two-wheeler, having beaten every other bike and scooter here, to become the largest selling scooter on the planet. There’s already over 10,000,000 of these simple, yet chic automatic scooters on Indian roads, the original Activa having revived the Indian scooter industry from the dead, since launched in 1999. It’s safe to say, the Activa has today become the very definition of a scooter for most of us Indians!
The Activa 125 is a bantamweight scooter at 110kg, yet includes a tough metal body often preferred in India. Styling is fresh on the new 125, yet easily recognizable as the Activa, with elegant, still conservative, scooter typical body lines. A single, halogen powered headlight is at hand, working brightly enough at night.
Instrumentation is handsomely amber backlit, a mix of analogue and digital set on a silvered pedestal, the speedometer reading up to 110kph. There’s a single trip meter and digital fuel-gauge, in addition to nifty looking indicator warning lamps on either side of the console. The Activa 125 comes with top drawer palm grips, nice levers, Activa standard mirrors and switches. Surprisingly and unfortunately, Honda has scrimped to omit a rear brake lock clamp on the top-end variant of the new 125, making parking the scooter on uneven surfaces an avoidable safety hazard. The floorboard is broad and flat, comfortable even for riders with large feet. Although front stowage is missed, the underseat lockable bay is generous enough to lock away a large full face helmet.
All the Activa 125’s controls come to hand nicely, making this an easy scooter to feel at home with quickly. The Activa 125 comes with premium feeling alloy pillion footrests, its flattish seat long enough to easily accommodate a pillion. The 125 looks too much like the old Activa when viewed from behind, showing-off a large, alloy grab bar and familiar looking tail lamp cluster. Overall quality is fine on the Activa 125, typical of Honda. This is a well built scooter that’s certain to prove reliable and hassle free in time. There’s a premium feel to this new Honda, immediately apparent from the moment you get astride and fire up the new motor.
This is Honda’s first 125cc scooter in India, although you can’t tell that from the engine note at idle, which sounds more or less identical to any of the smaller Activas. The 125 derives power from a Honda designed, four-stroke, 124.9cc, single-cylinder and air-cooled engine. Power is 0.6bhp up on the older 109cc scooter, now 8.6bhp delivered at 6500 revs, a healthy 1000rpm lower than the smaller Activa. Peak torque is improved to 1kgm at 5500rpm as well, and this carbureted powerhouse comes with its choke pull knob just below the handlebar. The Activa 125 breathes through a viscous type air-filter, while the transmission system is a scooter typical CVT system, enabling hassle free automatic ratio-selection. The Activa 125 is button-started, via a maintenance free (MF) battery, although a kick lever is provided in the event of an emergency. The Activa 125 engine includes roller supported rocker arm fingers that reduce friction within the head to promote better fuel-efficiency. As expected, the Activa 125 feels peppier than the older Activa. Power feeds in smoothly, with refined, soft and impeccable manners at all times. The Activa 125 feels strongest in its early to mid range, with light and quick throttle response making for effortless overtaking in high density Indian traffic conditions, the scooter responding willingly, with a zippy nature. The Activa 125 cruises comfortably at 80kph, a little pep still in reserve.
Ergonomics are spot on too; the Activa 125 seating its rider comfortably in a scooter typical upright riding position on a well padded, broad saddle, with handlebar well located, never fouling with a rider’s knees, not even when negotiating slower, sharp corners. The Activa 125 comes with up-market five-spoke alloy rims, a pair of telescopic forks (sorely missed on all earlier Activas) as front suspension and single rear shock absorber, with engine doubling up as the frame swinging arm at rear. Ride quality is plush and comfortable, still not bouncy. Our top of the line test Activa 125 included a 190mm front disc brake, and 130mm drum brake at rear. The brakes are a highlight on this new Honda 125, working with clearly superior feel to any other Indian scooter. There’s urgent and strong bite, Honda’s combined brakes (CBS) working flawlessly to prove a valuable riding aid, more so for novice riders. The Activa 125 comes with nice tyres, by MRF, a larger 12 inch front wheel aiding quick, light turn-in to corners, while there’s a more scooter typical 10 inch rim at rear.
We’re still to complete more thorough fuel efficiency tests on the Activa 125, but initial, quick feedback has us pleasantly surprised to see the scooter is capable of 40-45kpl, close to what was offered by the smaller capacity Activa scooters.
Yes, the Activa 125 is a worthy successor to the earlier models and our ride confirms the 125 hits a sweet spot. The Activa 125 feels a premium product from the moment you sit on it, every bit a smooth and refined Honda scooter, with significantly improved performance. We’re convinced the 125 will bolster and further the Activa success story, a clear segment leader straight from the word go.
Expect the 125 to cement the Activa’s world best-selling scooter position, rising to earn its very own loyal fan-following. Putting it very clearly, the Activa 125 steps in as the best scooter sold in India today.