Honda has been busy populating its line-up for the Indian market, and while it still has some newer products up its sleeve, it’s the mass-market offerings that have been flowing in fast and thick. With monsoon in full swing and Mumbai city roads packed like sardines in a can,we had the perfect challenge for the Livo.
The Honda Livo is no plain Jane. Give it a glance, and you'll notice how the design breaks away from the image of typical commuter motorcycles. It has an angular and well-designed headlamp with faux scoops on either side, and a muscular side profile.The fuel tank is well-designed too, and has additional flanks on the side to add to the muscular looks. Graphics on the motorcycle have been kept to a bare minimum, though. The overall edginess in the design seems to follow a similar theme as the CB Twister, but has been toned down to widen its appeal.
Astride the motorcycle, you see the easy-to-read instrument cluster, with analogue readouts displaying only essential information to the rider. Surrounds for the speedometer and fuel gauge are angular, and are in line with the overall design theme that Honda has used for the motorcycle. The handlebar's black, with the risers painted a shimmery black. At the rear, the pillion grabrails are black and angular too. The overall theme of the motorcycle is black, with the engine given an all-black treatment, black inserts, alloys and even a black exhaust pipe.
Starting the motor requires just a quick dab on the starter button. The engine sings to life and almost immediately settles into a quiet idle. Rev the engine and it gets a little noisy, but never intrusive, and will not add much to the existing decibels around you in traffic. It's quite peppy, despite being a 110cc unit. It makes 8.25bhp at 7,500rpm and 0.88kgm of torque at 5,500rpm.The torque is delivered quite well in the lower rev range, making sure that you can filter through rush-hour traffic with ease.
Pulling away from redlights is easy too. A Honda-typical buttery smooth gearbox responds instantly to your left toe and heel, and one can feel an affirmative click as they move through the 'box. A four-up configuration replaces the one-down-three-up setup on the CB Twister, making the Honda Livo more commuter-oriented, but make sure you do not get stuck in neutral while trying to shift from first to second in tricky traffic transactions.
The biggest advantage is the slim profile and a wider steering angle. Getting the motorcycle through tight spots was a breeze. A deliberate 90-minute ride through the worst traffic that Mumbai can present, combined with bountiful potholes, left us impressed with the suspension at low speeds, and our sentiment didn’t change at high speeds either. On city roads, barely any rough patches filter through, and speed bumps are taken care of with ease. We rode the motorcycle with a pillion too, and we found it very comfortable.
Even the brakes, with a front 240mm disc and rear 130mm drum set-up, worked really well – with a good bite, and the front brake had ample feedback and a progressive feel.
At Rs. 57,000 (ex-showroom, Mumbai), the Honda Livo is not cheap, but it left us impressed as a motorcycle aimed at the rush-hour commuter. When compared to the Hero Passion XPRO, it is more agile, feels better suited to take on obstacles on city streets, and is more stable at higher speeds. And it also looks the best among the competition. That, combined with the plush suspension and agility, makeit a great buy for those who want a balance of form and function.