Text – Mohit Soni; Pictures – Om Vaikul

Honda Activa 125 Test Ride Review
Honda Activa 125 – Click above for high resolution picture gallery

2014 Honda Activa 125 Review

Bike Tested: 2014 Honda Activa 125

Price OTR Mumbai:: Rs. 69,500/-

The Honda Activa 125 is one of the best all rounder scooters in the Indian market today.

The Honda Activa 125 is the most awaited scooter in the Indian market today. Sure, the 125cc segment already existed with the hoot to ride Suzuki Swish and Piaggio Vespa. However, for various reasons, neither scooters could lure many buyers towards them. One strong reason is the lack of dealerships from both these manufacturer while the Vespa costs as much as a performance motorcycle. Honda says they will survey every segment and see if there is demand for even higher than 125cc capacity. When they were surveying earlier (at the time only the 110cc Activa existed), they found out that demand was truly there for 125cc scooters. Therefore, Honda has got the 125cc engine and plonked it in its most successful model of them all, the Activa. The Japanese automaker chose the Activa name because it has become a sub-brand after Honda and has gained the trust of the nation despite the scooter having major shortcomings. Has Honda got it right this time with the Activa 125 and can the name now make the company truly proud of its sub-brand? We find out!

Motor Quest: The Honda Activa was launched in India in 2000, powered by a 102cc engine. Over time it got a 109cc motor which was revised last year with HET (Honda Eco Technology), with styling of the Activa being revised twice so far. Earlier this year, Honda finally announced the Activa 125.

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The Activa 125 has road presence but we think it looks workaholic rather than premium

Styling – When it comes to styling, the front, right, left and rear seems like an evolution of the 110cc variant but indirectly it resembles its step-brother, the Mastero, which by luck has also become a intensely successful model for Hero MotoCorp. Repeating success with the same design cues being borrowed from ex-partner? Is it possible? Why not! The large tail light, top visor finished in gloss black, side panels which are long and flat, front panel with huge chrome strips and endless creases pretty much says that the styling is very much inspired from the Hero Maestro. However, the Maestro does have character and it does look bold. When you compare the overall design, you end up feeling that the Activa 125 is not that classy and contemporary a design which we are used to seeing from Honda. All of this is mostly because of the uninspiring side panels and the grab rail projects the image of a workhorse to quite an extent. It is not a premium scooter for the masses as it used to be with the last generation of Honda designs.

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Thoughtfully done instrument cluster, amber coloured back-lit is very cleverly executed

Instrument Cluster and Switchgear – The instrument cluster also resembles the one found on the Hero Maestro with a small digital screen below which has a single trip meter, odometer and fuel gauge. The trip meter can be rested with the button provided over it. The speedometer is very well done with solitary indicators on each side and plastic around it feels good. The best part of the speedometer is that it has an amber colour back-lit which spices up things at night and looks super cool. We also find that once you start the scooter, you get a motorcycle type needle swipe, which is another awesome feature. The fonts also look fresh and are well laid out. Switch gear feels and looks good.

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Large under-seat storage can’t fit a large helmet but will do everything else

Practicality – The seats are comfortable and runs quite long and wide. The seat cushion is definitely on the softer side and on long journeys, we found ourselves adjusting on it from time to time. The seats are great but for shorter journeys. The grab rail is chunky to hold and is made of aluminium. You can even tie your luggage with a help of a rope if you wanted to. The riding position is upright and slightly raised handlebar (above normal) gives it good manoeuvrability. Ample 18-litre under-seat storage and wide footboard storage makes it the ideal scooter for people who buy a 2-wheeler for carrying load from one place to the other.

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The aluminium grab rails are chunky to hold, seat cushioning is on the softer side

There is a single pilot lamp in the Activa this time. One single unit lightens the entire headlight, neat trick by Honda, was last seen on the CB Trigger too. The headlight illumination and spread is good, but factory bulb setting focuses on the sky, make sure you get it done at service centre without panicking about it. There is small riddle while closing the seat. Usually the seat lock is at the end of the seat so you click there and the seat closes. However in the Activa 125, the seat lock is in between. How is it a problem? Most people have the habit to close the seat from the end which won’t happen if you do so on the Activa 125. Sit on it or click on the middle of the seat to close it in one click or else it can get frustrating.

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Torquey, peppy, smooth, the 125cc engine in the Activa is a peach, it never gives up

Performance – This Honda Activa is powered by a 125cc engine, belting out 8.6 BHP of power at 6500 RPM and 10.12 Nm of torque at 5500 RPM. All the numbers are quite low down in the rev range, which means its stroke has been maximised to take out maximum output, and the piston is travelling relatively less northward to produce more power. Honda has used an offset crank shaft this time to make throttle inputs even more direct with reduced friction. The inlet airport is smooth for jerk-free fuelling throughout the rev range. The cylinder is also offset which ends up creating less friction and consuming less oil. The piston has been lightened by a considerable margin to suit the needs of the typical ‘spiny’ sleeve, which Honda adopts many times for its engines.

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0-60 km/hr takes 8 seconds which makes the Activa 125 very quick in its segment

The transmission is a quieter unit when compared to old transmissions and the competition too. Transmission oil capacity is reduced by 25% to make sure there is minimum oil loss and longer life, all this resulting in more efficiency. Many components have been carefully selected to reduce friction. As you can see, Honda has taken all the efforts to reduce friction by a considerable margin. Why? More fuel efficiency makes the engine even more reliable. The engine is like any other Honda engine, which is smooth, refined and erupts very little NVH. Honda has concentrated on pulling power with at least 40% more torque than horsepower when compared to each other. The result is, no matter how much the weight is, the Activa 125 will pull effortlessly and will show to the customer that “cc” is responsible for the pulling power rather than torque which is a neglected fact by the aam junta when they read the specifications sheet.

Honda Activa 125 Road Test
Cornering clearance on the limit is ample, relentless fun offered by this powerful Activa

The 125cc engine definitely revs faster than the old 102cc and current 109cc motors, which is partly due to a lighter flywheel and an overall light kerb weight of 110 kgs. The mill is very peppy and slightly out of character for a Honda engine (in a good way). The scooter has an aim and shoot characteristic in traffic with the gap being filled much faster than before. Low-end and mid-end pulling power is excellent and you get a slight kick in the pants feel around 30 km/hr, if you are riding the scooter in a relaxed manner. After 30 km/hr, the engine only pulls strongly post 60 km/hr, so your cruising speed will automatically be in between 45 and 55 km/hr. 0 – 60 km/hr takes 8.01 seconds as per our VBOX run, which is pretty quick.

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Dynamically the Activa has improved by a huge margin, telescopic front forks finally

Riding Dynamics – Ride and handling is where the Honda Activa 125 excels, thanks to the use of alloy wheels and telescopic front suspension (FINALLY!). Disc brake is being made available on the Deluxe variant. Disc brake at the front is very good and has a motorcycle feel to it at the lever. Combi-Braking System (CBS) is a weapon in Honda’s arsenal, which is nothing short of a nuclear bomb. Brakes are very well done. Depress both brakes or the rear brake and both brakes come into action and stop the Activa way before time. Get drum brakes on both ends and you will stop right on time too. It is a good thing that CBS is standard on the base variant as well. Ride quality is miles ahead of the 110cc Activa. The ride, though on the stiffer side, still is very good. A compliant ride quality is nothing new, because all the other scooters in this segment are offering the same since their very inception itself.

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Top notch hardware on the Activa 125 inspires a lot of confidence in the twisties

Dynamics are excellent courtesy of the stiff suspension setup and well tuned chassis geometry. You can have a lot of fun with reassuring grip from the tyres and the confidence to push harder due to semi-sticky rubber. Tyres are good and they are tubeless as well. The rear tyre is fatter by 10 mm. The higher profile adds to stability and very good ride quality. The front wheel is now a 12-inch unit just like the Aviator, providing excellent feedback through the handlebar. Stability and high speed lane changes are now a piece of cake. Cornering clearance is just about enough while ground clearance is ample to clear any kind of speed breaker at any speed with any kind of load on the scooter.

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The Honda Activa 125 does everything smoothly, thereby guaranteeing peace of mind

Verdict – Why should you consider the Honda Activa 125? Well, yet again Honda has priced its commuter offering (like the CB Trigger) very well. Rs. 5000/- over the 110cc version for the Standard variant is a very good deal because you are getting a lot in terms of mechanical updates. You would buy this scooter if you are happy with your 6-7 year old Activa and service centre has not given you nightmares with huge bills. Honda says Activa 125 customers will be existing owners or a person who wants a second scooter in the family. The product is right and so is the value for money quotient, which for most buyers is more than enough to put a booking and wait for their scooters to come as soon as possible, in this case, it could be up to six months!

Honda’s attention to detail is spot on with the Activa 125. Every single aspect has been taken care of because the customer demanded so. The Activa 125 is a rare case of ‘ask more, get even more’. If you wanted more in a scooter, no looking anywhere, anymore, as this Honda is the jack of all trades.

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12-inch front wheel gets alloy and 190 mm disc brake on the Deluxe variant

What’s Cool

* Value for money
* Punchy and peppy engine
* Braking system

What’s Not So Cool

* Un-premium styling (subjective)

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The 125cc Honda Activa is here to show its backside to the competition

Honda Activa 125 Specifications

* Engine: 124.9cc, 2-valve, air-cooled
* Power: 8.6 HP @ 6500 RPM
* Torque: 10.12 Nm @ 5500 RPM
* Transmission: CVT
* 0 – 60 km/hr: 8.01 seconds
* Top Speed: 86 km/hr
* Fuel Consumption: 43-47 km/l
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Frame: Under-bone type
* Suspension: Telescopic forks (Front), Single shock (Rear)
* Tyres: 90/90/12 (Front), 90/100/10 (Rear)
* Brakes: 190 mm Disc (Front), Drum (Rear), CBS

Honda Activa 125 Dimensions

* Length x Width x Height: 1814 mm x 704 mm x 1151 mm
* Wheelbase: 1260 mm
* Ground Clearance: 155 mm
* Seat Height: 765 mm
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 6 litres
* Kerb weight: 110 kgs

Further Reading –

Honda Activa 125 Long Term Review
Suzuki Swish vs Honda Activa 125 vs Piaggio Vespa