Mar 3, 2008

Honda Aviator: Ridden

Honda Aviator ScooterTo be honest, I didn't quite know what to make of the Honda Aviator. It was supposed to protect Honda's massive lead in the scooter segment, but with the Activa now looking its age (although still going quite nicely, thank you) and the Dio never really having taken off, you would think Honda would need something spectacularly good right?

Actually no, they would just something that would put the upstart Flyte and the dowdy-perky Access into their places. Is the Aviator that machine?

What is the Aviator, let us start from there. The Aviator is Honda's fourth scooter offering, and their third twist-go format product. Like the two that went before it, it is very much an Activa platform product, which means engine and chassis have come from the venerable, wildly successful scooter. There are minor changes. The engine was tweaked in the sense that the air cleaner and associated plumbing is slightly different. It evidently does not change peak power or torque, but gently boosts the low-end torque just the slightest little bit. Since the Aviator now sports a telescopic front fork and in the top model, a 12-inch alloy front wheel with a disc brake, there are minor changes in the headstock area, aimed at accommodating the stanchions.

Add in the body panels, and well, Bob's your uncle. The big change, styling, actually does have a purpose. Honda says the Activa is perfect compromise. It sits bang in the middle between male tastes and female and bisects traditional values and youthful looks as well. The Dio, is more male, more youthful. The Aviator, in that perspective is an all-male product, aimed at mature (30-ish) males who would like an upmarket looking scooter in their garage. In addition, we were told at the Auto Expo, to a Honda Civic. What, you think I'm making this up?

The telescopic forks and the brakes are actually a subject matter of mucho laughter on my part. You see, years ago, I had the privilege of attending the local launch (Mumbai) of the Activa where a certain Japanese gentleman dismissively told me that Honda knew better. That tele-forks and disc brakes on a 7 bhp scooter were overkill. On the same scale as using a Sidewinder or HellFire instead of the horn. That Honda would NEVER add either to anything this puny, by policy anything under 100 kph top speed did not merit either. On an Activa? Pah-san.

Well, it come full circle, innit? Mr Unnamed San? Yes, this 7 bhp Honda scooter, sports both. For a premium price tag, but it does have them.

Anyway, rant over and let us return to the Aviator. I'm not put off or impressed by the looks. I think the rear-end looks a bit hotch-potch, especially the flat part that sits right next to the curvy lights and panels. And I think the front looks, um, okay.

On the move, though, this is an impressive scooter. The tele-forks, praise the lord, make a huge, big, massive difference. Here, then, is a scooter that easily has the best ride quality on offer on any two-wheeler sporting sub-13-inch wheels. It does not thud through bumps like the Activa and is better than even the Flyte and Access, both of which also sport tele-forks. Braking, of course, is superb with the discs, although, as usual, I would have liked more bite. Then again, I always want more bite. In feel, the disc brake feels like an immensly powerful drum brake, which I suspect, is exactly what it's supposed to feel like.

The engine, of course, is butter smooth, almost transparent in use. The Aviator, despite giving away 1 bhp or more to the newly introduced competition, does not feel slow. I rode the Access right before I got on the Aviator and while the Suzuki is definitely the faster scoot of the two, the Aviator does not feel sluggish. In traffic, there would not be much in it.

As a male scooter, the Aviator does seat you taller and I quite like the new ergonomics.

Um, what else? Oh yeah, Honda said bigger underseat storage, but I forgot to look. They claim a full face helmet will now sit under the seat in comfort. Well, I haven't still tried that, but I'm not buying.

Honda Aviator ScooterFinally, the base version of the Aviator (12-inch steel wheels with a drum brake) is Rs 47,200, which is Rs 5,900 more than the Activa in Mumbai. The full-options gets alloys and disc and costs a hefty Rs 4,000 more. As you can tell, that is a heck of a lot of money. The top-model, the one that does actually have useful extras, is almost as expensive as a top-line 125cc commuter.

And yet, like the 150cc-rivalling Blaze, I think the Aviator should do rather well in the market. I think the scooter market now has people who are, in fact, looking for a slightly larger, newer product with more features, and consequently (justifiably, even) have a larger price tag. Which, if you come to think of it, almost describes the Aviator. Almost? Yes, if it did actually sport a 9 bhp 125cc four-stroke engine, instead of 7 bhp 102cc job, I think it would have been perfect.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

couldnt they at least put some decent looking mirrors...
hate these cheap type mirrors

santosh said...

so only the front wheel is 12"?
and the rear wheel is 10"?

isnt that weird?

i think honda has lost the plot

sagar said...

aviator rocks!!! am d proud owner of one.. i feel its d best gearless in india now..... amazing bike.. thank u honda..

Honda Scooter said...

This is amazing blog that one of my friend purchased a Honda Scooter and you know it is the best scooter I have ever seen. So, light weight and it is supposed to protect Honda's massive lead in the scooter segment. I like Honda Aviator because it is fourth scooter offering. It is unique in its style.

xs400 said...

Great blog! Wish I had found it sooner.

Here are a few comments on the Aviator: (I am 'that age' like you say, where a scooter suits me better)

1. The Aviator handles far better on Bangalore's potholed roads than the Activa.

2.Brakes (disc) are good, though I do think they are there just so Honda can charge a hefty extra

3.Headlights (halogen?) are much better, and seem to light up the area in front in a more useful manner

4. The Suzuki Access (based on my short test ride) gave me an impression that it was more like the Kinetic Honda and nowhere close to the Aviator

5. Transmission seems better, this may be because I am used to riding an older Activa

6. Fuel efficiency - 43.5 kmpl (may change when the engine completes the run-in period)

7. Seat is a little higher - need to keep that in mind, if your significant other will be riding it

8. Acceleration is adequate, but wish it was better, but pretty happy with it knowing that my mileage is great

Overall a much better ride than the Activa. Honda is probably preparing to replace the engine with a 125cc - just a guess.

Abhishek Thakur said...

Well I agree with the mirror bit..!

But still I can call myself a proud owner of an Aviator. The balance is amazing and the looks are tall and muscular, surely a head turner.

The decision to stick with a 102cc engine is a wise one given the gas prices these days. May be the next upgrade will feature the 125cc, as has been pointed out by xs400 earlier. But in any case, in city conditions (of bangalore at least) its pick up is probably enough. I overtook a bullet yesterday- and wondered what's the point of all those horse powers on our crowded roads ;-)

And I love the name, Aviator!

Anonymous said...

Im aproud owner of honda aviator Its great

Biplab said...

WELL I HAVE THIS BIKE BELIEVE ME ITS AMAZING BUT WE WILL HAVE TO MAINTAIN THIS BIKE.THIS BIKE IS NOT FOR BAD ROAD BECAUSE SHOCKERS ARE VERY WEAK.I HAVE KEPT A NEW NAME FOR MY BIKE THAT IS HONDA ACTIVA URG BECAUSE ALL OVER THE NET I SAW AND I ASKED MANY FRNDS BT EVERY WHERE I FOUNDED THAT TOP SPEED IS 89-90KM/H BT I RODE IT AT 98KM/H UNBELIEVABLE NA???????????????????BUT ITS TRUE???????????????IF ANYONE HAS RODE IT FASTER THAN ME THAN MAIL ME AT biplab07@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Hai,reader i am chikku studing in x th.My father recently bought me a aviator full option.I Very nice in the market.New aviator is with 109cc with 8 bhp power .it is very easy handel.Disk brakes r superb.I got top speed 81 km/hrs.If honda should upgrade in to 125cc.It will be most superb scooter in premium version

Anonymous said...

Can anyone tell me the thickness of its disc pad? Plz...