Now there’s no denying that one of the most exciting bikes, and one from the handful that were launched at Auto Expo 2016, was the Honda Navi. Its diminutive proportions, motorcycle-like stance and chunky design make it look adorable and even the most seasoned bikers amongst us have been waiting for a chance to get our hands on one of these. So when we were at the MMRT circuit in Chennai for the last round of the Honda One-Make Championship, we spotted an opportunity to have a closer look at it.
Swing a leg over, and you realise just how tiny the Navi is. Its stocky lines make it look larger than it actually is, and in real life, the low handlebar height and even lower seat height of just 765mm makes it feel somewhat like a pocket bike. While some six-footers might find it a little too small, for most, from the shortest to the slightly-above-average heighted, it makes for a fairly comfortable perch and it is really easy to get on or off.
Powering this little “monkey bike” are the exact same internals from the current Honda Activa, albeit in a slightly different state of tune. Peak horsepower has been reduced very slightly to 7.83bhp at 7,000rpm but the peak torque has increased to 0.91kgm at 5,500rpm. Interestingly, the Navi’s kerb weight is just 101kg, which means it will mostly have the same get-up-and-go as the Activa.
Since it also features the same variomatic transmission which is doing the rounds on Honda’s scooters these days, you get a rear brake lever in place of where you’d normally the clutch. In fact, this is one of the first things that really that really makes an impression. Because you have to swing your leg over the Navi the same way you do on a motorcycle, and you get a fuel tank between your legs (again like a motorcycle), you end up hunting for a clutch lever on the left of the handlebar and a gear shifter around the left footpeg. It’s a scooter that makes you believe you’re riding a small motorcycle.
Turn the key and crank the motor, and the Navi comes to life without any sense of drama. In fact, the noise you get is very similar to what you get from the Activa, since even the muffler seems to be borrowed. The 3.8-litre fuel tank should stretch the distance between refills fairly well. We expect the low weight and the torquey engine to be able to churn out a fuel efficiency figure around the 50kpl mark.
At 1,286mm, the wheelbase is longer than the Activa or the Dio's, and the fact that it’s running a 12-inch front wheel and fairly decent tyres, will make it very sure footed. Brakes too are likely to be adequate and scooter-like in their response and bite, and the Navi should be able to easily handle whatever duties you’d normally assign to a scooter.
The Navi felt refreshingly different when we first saw it at Auto Expo 2016, and after this first taste, or rather first nibble, it feels just as attractive. At Rs 39,500 (ex-showroom, Delhi), the Navi presents a value proposition for an urban runabout that’s sacrificing some practicality for a more invigorating air. It really is nothing like anything else we’ve seen so far and we can barely contain ourselves until we get to ride it. So keep watching this space for more on the Navi!