May 30, 2006

Yamaha Gladiator versus Honda Shine

This is actually an interesting, complicated post to write. I've put more than 400 km on each bike so far, and I am a bit torn between the two. I am as surprised as you are, because I was expecting to vote for the Gladiator, and I might, but it isn't a straightforward decision.

The Shine has the better engine overall. The Shine's engine feels more refined, no, more engineered, more fresh and due to its early torque peak, more gutsy than the Yamaha. The Shine vibrates more than Yamaha, and it's a noticeable difference. Purely because, the Yamaha does not vibrate AT ALL. Yes, no matter what the revs, the Yamaha is more or less silent and vibe free. It is an achievement, but as you will see, not without its pitfalls.

But, the Yamaha has the classier gearbox. The Shine's four-speed box shifts all up, which is a bloody irritant. If Honda were to pay me a dollar (why bother with a Rupee in conjecture, eh?) for everytime I've found myself in neutral when I should have been in first, I'd be buying Bill Gates hi-tech house... about now. The shift quality is good, but the pattern sucks. The lever was scuffing my boots as well, so I had it hacked right off. Also, my bike seems to make a 'zero' shift now and then. The lever moves, but gets no work done. No false neutral... you're just still in the same gear. The one-down, four-up Yamaha box is just butter smooth, always sure, ever positive. Perfect.

I' m going to focus on the 'feel' of the performance, rather than the stopwatch okay? The Shine feels quicker to about 50 kph, and then the engine begins to hunt for something, anything that would give it more speed. Revving it is useless, and the quickest progress lies in shifting early and not bothering beyond, say, 65 kph. Top speed is, of course, in the 95-100 kph region, but as I said, not worth exploring. The Gladiator's power is not concentrated anywhere and so, while it feels slow, especially if you've come off the Shine, it isn't. There is always power to be had by twisting the throttle and riding it becomes pleasant because of it. However, the utterly spooky refinement makes the bike feel much slower than it is, so you're almost always going faster than you think/intend.

Both of my bikes are disc models, and between the two, there isn't much to choose. The Shine is sprung harder, but has more travel in the brake lever, while the Gladiator dives more, but the brake is sharp and alert. It's a personal choice. My choice? Gladiator, I think it feels more er... up to the task.

Ride quality
A colleague rode pillion with me to his house yesterday and the Shine felt perfect. The road was smoothed out, potholes disappeared, serenity reigned. But that was not the case when I took the same route today. Today, the road is bumpy, jittery and bordering on the harsh. Why? Because like with the Unicorn, Honda is fixated on the fact that most Indian wifes are fat. And that they follow their hubbies around all over the place, always sitting pillion. Always sideways. You know this isn't the case. But the ride quality suffers when you're alone. Travelling light on the Shine is not the smartest thing you could do.

On the other hand, Yamaha have (finally) sorted the ultra soft suspension of the Fazer, and made it hard enough to feel good, without letting the road become too intrusive. The result is a well-sprung bike that feels firm, absorbs most of the worst and still does not interfere with road feedback. This is how it's done. Even two up, the Gladiator more or less retains its stance, does not become front heavy or too firm/spongy.

The Shine's handling, expectedly, is as you would expect it to be. It goes around corner. Period. That means no drama, no excitement, total compliance, you cannot complain. But that isn't how it should be, right?

On the other hand, the Gladiator is quite possibly the best handler in the country. With most of the Fazer's chassis carried over intact, its eye-openingly good. It's friendly enough for novices but you can seriously play with it. As a colleague put it, 'this is the bike to get your knee down on. I'm sure of it. No matter how much tomfoolery I do with it in a corner, it won't bite.' And that's exactly how it is. I'd wager that falling off a Gladiator would require some serious stupidity. Or diesel in the corner (and that's not hard to come by...)

The Fazer was the most comfortable bike in the country, so the Gladiator should be an automatic. But it isn't. The seat is good for short trips, but can prove too soft for two hours or more in the saddle. It does allow you to move around without a hitch, though. The Shine, on the other hand, is very comfortable even over longer spans, but the pillion perch sucks.

Shine all the way. Super bright light. Gladiator is waaaay better than the insipid Fazer headlamp (a Yamaha chap actually told be two into 25W equals one 50W head lamp ).

Switches and meters
Okay, Gladiator and Shine are even. Super switches on the Shine offset the missing engine kill switch, and the engine kill on the Gladiator makes up for the flimsy, spongy feeling ex-YBX switch gear. Meters contain nearly the same info on both, so no winners here.

Fuel economy
I have not measured it, but I think the Gladiator has greater fuel economy. It also retains this property across a wider range of conditions and riding styles. The Shine responds very well to low-rev running, but raise the stakes and the numbers tumble.

Don't even mention it to the Shine. It'll blush. Gladiator all the way.

Where? The Shine has no style. The Gladiator actually looks quite presentable when you see it in real life. But still, the Gladiator could have been even better looking...

After sales service/spares
Honda service used to be quite good when their sales volumes were lower. Now, they're busy... Yamaha's network has been going downhill for a while now...

If you're a regular at this blog, love motorcycles and need to choose between the two, you'd do well to test ride a Yamaha Gladiator and decide your next course of action. If you couldn't care less about motorcycles and just need a transport solution, take a bus. Or buy the Shine, whichever you prefer. Prices are almost even, though the Gladiator is cheaper by a notch.

Other posts about
All the 125s: Table
Hero Honda Glamour FI: Release
Yamaha Gladiator: Images Launch Expo photos Expo text Compared to the Shine
Suzuki Heat: Expo text Expo photos Zeus Ride Report
Honda Shine: Mumbai launch TVC criticism Launch Compared to the Gladiator
TVS Victor Edge/GLX: Launch


Anonymous said...

I am confused between buying one of these two bikes as my first bike. I have driven friends bikes for small stretches about 10 times. I do know to drive a car and a scooter and so the fact is that I am not new to drving. However when I went to take a test drive of Shine I found the bike easy to handle because of its smaller size and the overall engine tuned like a normal 100 cc which I would have driven more of. The Gladiator was a good ride too but its gear box was something that I could not handle because of being used to all up or down patterns mostly in the bikes that I have driven. Basically I had to hunt for the neutral and this is not something good for the traffic in Indian metros now. My heart wants Gladitor and my brain vouches for Shine . Please tell me which would be a better bike for a beginner.

The BATFAN said...

You have praised the Ride Quality of the Gladiator and regarded Shine as not so good for riding single.

However you have then mentioned that the Shine is a comfortable bike even for longer drives compared to the Gladiator. However this totally contradicts your point about ride quality and more over you have stated that the Shine is good upto 65-70 KMPH but the engine feels stressed after that. This would really make long drives on the Shine a monotonous affair until a person enjoys going consistently at 70 KMPH on empty stretches of highway.

So which would be your pick in the two for a long drive ...

The BATFAN said...

Please do tell which bike is more comfortable as I have to buy one of these at the earliest.

rearset said...

The Gladiator, hands down. The Yamaha is amongst the most (if not the most) comfortable motorcycles in India today.

The BATFAN said...

This really makes me feel more confident about my choice of Gladiator.

Thanks a lot.

The BATFAN said...

I have just one more thing to ask ...

What exactly do you mean by referring to a "pillion perch" as you state.

"The Shine, on the other hand, is very comfortable even over longer spans, but the pillion perch sucks."

rearset said...

That's the seat space for the pillion rider. As in the second person on your bike. The chap/chappie who sits behind

The BATFAN said...


hmmm. The point here is especially to be noted as if a "chap/chappie" implies a "guy/gal" then I better buy a Gladiator. Dont care much about the "chap/guy" but definitely dont want the "chappie/gal" to be turned down to the point of no return.

The BATFAN said...

Oh and as far as I have enquired its the Shine that is chepaer by a notch and not the Gladiator.

And the Shine does returns better fuel efficiency figures by quite more than a mile but that's for the city driving. Though, I am sure revving it at anything above 75 KM/H the bike would lose out those numbers. Anyway, It's another matter to make the bike reach 75 KM/H as you mentioned.

The BATFAN said...

All said and done then. Just returned after buying my first bike. And as for which one ... Come On ...

The Gladiator always wins ...

Anonymous said...

honda shine gives mileage about 60-65 on city driving conditions and even on bad roads.
yamaha gladiator gives only around 50+ no way near 60.
Honda Shine beats Yamaha gladiator hands down.

The BATFAN said...

I have no comments aboutthe mileage yet because I have not seriously measured it. Who does it with a new bike. All I can tell you is that I gave the baby a tank full(13.3 l) of Speed and there was a little in reserve before that from the dealer. Well I have travelled 600 kms hence and my tank is still more than 2/5 full. I dont want to say how much more it will go because I am pleased with the way she has done and knowing that I am new to driving, I have no complaints. I am sure with service and better riding by me things will only get better. I am really happy and Gladiator has made me Discover the joys of motorcycling, outshined all other so called Shinys, and is surely no God like a great mythological figure as Zeus, but it does live up to its name. Oh and hell who can say about a Yamaha not being Glamour-ous. It sure does behave and fight well in traffic. Thanks for your excellent review to guide me rearset.

The BATFAN said...

Gladiator gives a healthy on road mileage of more than 60 KMPL on road in Chennai city driving conditions on Bharat Petroleum Speed.

Anonymous said...

i am having a problem for buying one of these two bikes. i know Yamaha Gladiator has been given as the best 125cc bike but my dad is telling that to buy Shine. One relative of mine also has bought Shine and tells me to buy it i'm just confused with this. The Gladiator looks awesome and performes awesome but how can i tell my dad to buy Gladiator.

rearset said...

Dude that sucks.

The Shine isn't half as good. But how you're going to convince your dad is another thing altogether. How about you write to the magazines and get a more established expert opinion. I've little doubt that they'll concur.

niji said...

Sorry to say most of u have not tried both bikes atleast for 30 kms,but i have done. Gladiator is just has normal pickup ,it goes and starts to vibrate at 55-65 kmph sure, brakes are well but suspension is very bad like libero,surely its not for a couple. considering honda shine 1st and 2nd gears were well placed and they give amazing pickup, Height of the bike is very high , but handbars placed low so it looks like driving a bi-cycle, headlights and mileage are perfect, notably the price is what matters for shine. But except HeroHonda and Bajaj service in the country all the other bikes lack better service centres ( like Honda,LML,tvs ) is the main point. finally its not buying that matters but the mainatainence is
from my view, if u always drive alone go for Yamaha else for all purpose use go for shine

ஸ்ரீநிவாஸ் said...

nice blog, congratulation. post some more details.

Nishant said...

I took test ride of shine and gladiator and found this review very close to my experience..
I got my Gladiator 1st of this month, satisfied with handling, comfort and looks, isn't it the best looking bike in 125cc segment...and you don't feel any shame parking next to any 150cc seg bike, as the styling is although mediocre as compared to that displayed in Auto-expo but still better than other average looking rats running here and there.
I own a Pulsar from 2004, and riding it after having hands on gladiator, i wish they would have given a shorter handle on gladiator. I also miss the sound of engine which is now absent in all bikes.
waiting for 150cc Yamaha, who knows Yamaha may launch it in April-May'08.....
I am also sad about low response for Yamaha..but as quoted by one dealer in Jaipur.."Yamaha is different and those who own Yamaha are also different"

sumit said...

hi guys, read all the blogs gladi vs shine. (2006-2007)
this is may 2008.
i am allmost finalised purchasing my 2nd bike (first one i am selling off)
i am confused like anonymous.. heart says gladi type ss.. brain says shine.
please help. yes one thing. 90% of my riding is pillion
occassional long distance (ie., 60 kms)but basically city traffic driving.)
urgent reply requested.. u can mail me also at
Thanks guys.
Sumit Das

Anonymous said...

I own gladiator type ss, really it is a good bike. after extensive search for a 125cc/150cc bikes. i have gone to Gladiator. because of mileage i have not gone for 150cc(ofcourse fuel prices are going high day by day). i am getting decent 63 - 60kmpl mileage (speed are mostly 40 to 60). Yamaha is giving 8 free servicings for gladiator.
Sure i will recommend gladiator for those who want performance and economy (decent mileage).

Anonymous said...

what is fuel reserve capacity of gladiator.

Anonymous said...

i have read all the posts regarding shine vs. gladiator.....
guys....initially i had planned to go for shine...after reading the posts..i'm a bit confused....every where it's been told that it vibrates a lot after 55kmph....also lots of complaints about the services of honda.....kindly let me know the performance of honda shine...and what about tvs flame when compared to honda shine.....

PLEASE...MAKE IT FASTER ..HELP ME OUT.... my mail id is

Anurag said...

you can also have a look at Honda CBFstunner, though priced a notch higher has tubeless tyres. shine is now out of the competition.

jagadish said...

how would cbf stunner rate when compared with other 125 cc bikes.

Ramakrishnan said...

Hi all,

Gladiator is good bike compared to honda shine. It has 10.8 BHP which is the highest for any 125cc bike. It is the best bike in the 125cc segment.

But be careful while giving the bike for service. Some times service men will change the spare parts. It happened for one of my friend. Due to the shortage of availability of yamaha spare parts they do like this.

This is the main reason for the worst sevice in yamaha. The bikes in yamaha will be in market for aroung 5years except RX100, CRUX etc. so they dont manufacture the spare parts. When the customer asks for a spare they replace it from the other bike that has come for service.

Mostly they change the carburator(which cannot be indentified easily). Changing the carburator will affect the mileage of the bike.

And also many things like engine bore, fork, battery etc.

You can also read such incidents in the below url.

Kaji said...

HI i'm kaji from Nepal
i'm really confused between these 2 bikes. My dad wants me to buy shine & i wanna go for glady. I come to know that shine vibrates in speeds exceeding 55 kmph, is it true, does glady has any drawbacks apart from milege??? Which would be suitable for me to ride confidently since i'm only 5'1 tall. Please help me out asap, waiting some decent suggestion.

Anonymous said...

hi Kaji, M rijan from Patan, nepal. my dad owns Shine and i got Gladiator. trust me, Gladiator's way way better than shine. gladiator's pick up is also very good. another point is it's gear system. it's a lot better, safer too. u must ride gladiator to kno how good it is.

sharath said...

gladiator is much more stylish and sexy when compared to honda shine...the sucking machine....

Anonymous said...

praveen jeyachandran

i am mad to buy gladiator..all the above comments are incorrect

moto 9 said...

two products are very attractive for the comparison with a similar model, successful for you

Anonymous said...

My Gladiator gives 60 km/ltr in city regularly.