The number of things I don’t understand in this world keeps increasing exponentially.
Before this review begins, I would like to admit that my testing methods are weird, my ability to comprehend other people’s perspectives limited, and overall, my knowledge of the motorcycling world quite narrow and one-sided. Part of this can be attributed to inexperience, 10 years with two wheels is hardly enough time to grant you the power of passing sweeping critiques about things that inherently have far more value than your reviews of them ever will. The other must be my narrow-mindedness, I have a very brief set of beliefs I live by, and a majority of them don’t seem to be shared by the general population.
Look at Royal Enfield for example, I never got how in god’s name their products could get such a cult following, and that has never stopped that company from growing like the hair on an Indian man’s balls. And then there’s Trump, President Trump for fuck’s sake.
I had no intention of reviewing the Honda Activa, it just so happened that I was forced into riding 2 different models of it for some 650 kms, and during that time the single question that kept looping in my head was “What the hell is wrong with people?”. Here’s a detailed breakdown of why I think this thing is one of the worst set of 2 wheels I’ve ever plonked my ass on.
Honda Activa review: Negatives
Most of the riding I did on the Activa was on the highway, some was in the city, and a small part was off-road. Yes this thing is designed to be used in the city, and thrashing it on the highway with pillion and luggage doesn’t exactly make sense, but stay with me, since the highway experience was probably the only good part of the entire picture, although that part where it took me 8 hours to do 300 kms was a bloody nightmare.
1. Stupid suspension setup
I have a theory about why the shock absorber system on the Activa is the way that it is, and although it may end up looking like a conspiracy theory by the end, the major difference between the two would be that mine is not one.
There’s an underground Satanic cult of fanatics who have dedicated their lives towards the final aim of jiggling bosoms. Both the designers behind Activa’s suspension, and those who created the speed bumps that are all around us, belong to this sect. The combined effect of Activa’s moronic suspension, which as a scooty is primarily used by ladies, and the rumblers and speed breakers that such scooties must jump over 13 times per kilometer, means that the average breast air time has significantly increased in the last decade, bringing untold happiness and glory to our lord and savior The Prince of Darkness and the Brotherhood of Bouncing Boobies.
The front is too hard, the rear is too soft, and it seems to be designed that way on purpose. As you hit a speed bump with the front tire, the jolt is so hard that it flings even your man boobs straight into your throat. While you are recovering from this sudden jab on your wind pipe, the front is still flying, not coming in contact with the ground for a few seconds, thanks to the rear-biased weight distribution. Then the rear hits, and your moobs are delicately extricated out of your chest, and thrown down again, as the front finally touches the ground. The party doesn’t end there though, the rear is so squishy that the up and down motion doesn’t stop for the next hour or so, with your assets waltzing with the motion, like a ship riding a tsunami.
Part of the blame here must go to the wheels, they are too tiny. The reason why a lot of adventure fetishers like to put 21 inch front wheels on their bikes is simply because it’s much easier to fly over bumps with that. The Activa’s wheel size is actually smaller than Eric Cartman’s dick, which should tell you a lot about just how much influence the Brotherhood of Bounching Boobies had on the development of this scooter.
The final effect is this: A bone-shattering ride, little or no control over even the smallest obstacles, and total compulsion to come to a complete stop before you can take even the smallest speed bump, or the shallowest pothole. During one of the off-road sections of the ride, I was going uphill with pillion, and there were plenty of rocks on the way. My front wheel rarely ever touched the ground, every rock would fling it in the air, and the weight of the pillion plus the engine at the back would keep it there. Ducati’s front wings would be very useful on this piece of shit.
The purpose of an Activa is to be a commuter, to be used by ladies or old people to go live their lives, and to spend most of its kilometers inside the city. Cities are full of potholes, speed bumps, and rough roads, and the way this thing is designed means that it’s going to inherently suck at the very place it’s supposed to be brilliant at.
A round of applause then to the geniuses behind this project.
2. Weird ergonomics
I was riding the Activa with my brother-in-law as pillion for some 150 kms, and by the end of it he was more or less completely slumped on top of me. I didn’t know why he was doing that, until I gave him the control and sat behind him.
Holy shit, I used to think Dukes have bad rear comfort, this beauty is on a different level!
The rear section of the Activa’s seat is fat as fuck, and there are 2 reasons for this. First, there’s an engine and fuel tank underneath your ass, so they could’ve made it only so thin. However, I think the most important reason for this decision was aesthetics. The Honda designers wanted to give the Activa a feminine look, and apparently a big ol’ hiney is the best idea they came up with.
When you are sitting at the back, unlike a normal seat where most of your weight is on your butt, the width of the Activa means that most of your weight is on your thighs. This means that your legs, rather than supporting you and helping to brace against any unwanted movements, are gently dangling in the air, dead and useless. Thus you end up sliding uncontrollably up and down as the road demands, while trying your best to hold onto yourself with your hands, which generally find themselves deep under the grab handle.
Things aren’t much better at the front either. The Activa’s riding position is far too straight, especially for the suspension setup that they’ve given. After just 50-60 kilometers, your lower back starts to ache, swiftly followed by your shoulders. Since you have no fuel tank to hold onto with your thighs in an effort to steady yourself, like you can with a motorcycle, most of that effort is done via your arms, which start paining soon afterwards.
Every time you hit a bump, the front suspension sends the whole lot of it straight to your hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, neck and then your brain. Then the rear suspension joins the party and sends your ass flying out the seat. If you are not careful, it’s far too easy to lose the front on even the smallest obstacles.
The switchgear isn’t bad though, all the buttons are within reach, although not entirely perfect in any way. The dash is OK too, although both my speedo and odo died within the first few hours of the ride, thanks to a few small bumps. The filler cap under the seat is extremely annoying, especially since the seat hinge is designed in such a way that you simply have to keep a hand on it to keep it from falling down and locking itself silly. Not the ideal situation to be in when you are trying to look down the fuel tank to see how much petrol is in there, and the damn thing comes crashing through your skull.
The fuel tank itself is quite hilarious, I was rarely able to fill up more than 200 bucks worth of fuel in it, which roughly translates to 3 liters. I’m pretty certain that fat butt could’ve taken a few more liters quite easily, but who knows what these people were thinking.
Overall, Honda has left no stone unturned in making the Activa experience as uncomfortable as it gets, and the story doesn’t stop sthere.
3. Snatchy throttle
You don’t generally expect grannies and teenagers going to tuition to be experts in throttle control. Honda disagrees, in their world all Activa users are personally coached by Keith Code.
I don’t know if it’s because of the transmission type, or the way the engine’s personality is, but damn this thing is lurchy. If you are taking a tight corner, and you would like to take it at constant throttle like any intelligent man should, tough luck, Honda wants you to accelerate uncontrollably, then brake like hell, shit yourself as you notice you’re aiming directly for the cliff, stop just in time, and thus complete the 5 point turn.
When you first touch the throttle, there’s a lag, and then it all comes gushing out, at which point you end up closing abruptly, and then there’s sudden engine braking. That friction point between no power and all the fucking power is too narrow, even a multiple world champion like me could barely hit it 50% of the time, I shudder to think how mere mortals handle it.
Combine this with the first two points, and you see the general direction Honda is going in, to make their scooter as unrideable as possible.
4. Heavy weight
Continuing with Honda’s aim of trying to fuck up everyone’s riding experience as much as possible, we move on to their latest trick, to make their scooty, which is aimed to be used by pre-pubescent girls, old ladies who live alone, and the general population that’s too scared of clutch and gears, so heavy and cumbersome that nobody can confidently ride it.
And the best part is this, when you go to buy an Activa, you get bombarded with offers to put those guards on the front, back, and sides, which a lot of people do. You end up paying ridiculously more for the scooty, and it weighs even more than it should have. But it’s OK, if everyone is stupid, nobody is stupid.
110 kgs may not be much for someone like me, but for most ladies it’s far too heavy. My mom has never ridden it, she is too scared. She used to ride the Sunny, and one fine day some girls suddenly came in front of her, forcing her to lock the brakes, and the scooter fell on her leg, breaking it. The Bajaj Sunny weighs as much as an adult Rhinoceros’s shit, so think about that.
I don’t know why it weighs so much, the exhaust is too fat for sure, but otherwise I don’t really see any simple way of shedding the weight. Which makes the TVS XL Super Heavy Duty an even better choice, as we shall see.
There seem to be 3 version of the Activa, the i, the 3G, and the 125. Their ex-showroom Mumbai prices start at some 50,000 bucks, and go all the way to 65,000. That’s an on-road price of 60-75k, for a scooter, and a crappy one at that.
A TVS XL Super Heavy Duty costs 27,000 bucks ex-showroom Mumbai. It can carry much more stuff than the Activa, carry you much more comfortably, all the while making you look like the goddamn sexual tyrannosaurus that you are. You could buy 2 TVS XL Super Heavy Duties for the cost of 1 Honda Activa, and you should.
The TVS XL Super Heavy Duty weighs 66 kgs, the Activa weighs 110 kgs. This means that the XL has a power to weight ratio of 0.05, while the Activa has 0.07. You are paying double the money for something that weighs twice as much, and gives you 0.02 hp/kg more.
Remember that time when Hero Puch used to be the sexiest way for a woman to travel? The sound that thing made, the speed that it had, and the way it looked, I loved it, more so because my mom had a shitty Bajaj Sunny. When did a fat, ugly, design become hotter than a streamlined, beautiful one?
All you are paying for is marketing, and the fact that the Activa was one of the first of its kind, and hence a lot of people buy them, because a lot of people used to buy them.
Don’t be a sheep.
6. Useless headlight
I have never seen a more worthless beam of light in my life, even those flowing out the hands of our gods seem to have more use and value than this.
If you’ve ever ridden out at night in India, you might have noticed that so many retards go around with high beams. However, the most irritating beams are those from scooters, not just because they are so scattered and in your face, but because even in low beam, their spread is designed mainly to send coded messages to aircrafts flying above.
There’s no proper cut-off point, no sense of direction, just a vague bombardment of photons on whatever sorry son of a bitch finds itself in front of you. It’s not even like the light is useful for you, it’s far too low in brightness, and has far too many black patches in important places.
And that’s the final nail in the Activa’s coffin of uselessness, it’s unrideable in the day, and a sure suicide machine by night.
Honda Activa review: Positives
There are some positives, but not many. I had to really think about what I’m going to write in there, since this 6-points-for-both-good-and-bad rule forces me to think from every single perspective. As much as I am disappointed in this thing, and completely enraged by the sheer number of people who waste their money on it, not everything is bad.
You may notice that I’ve not talked about brakes in the positives, and neither in the negatives, and that’s because they are OK, nothing special. Their bite and feel is vague, but you do get the combi thingy, and that makes things a bit better.
As a motorcyclist, it’s so crazy to have a place to keep your helmet in, or a heavy bag not slung across your shoulders, or a bunch of groceries not hung on the handlebars. The underseat compartment in the Activa is quite nice, I had no trouble fitting my full-face SOL helmet in it. Most of the time I kept its papers and shit in there, but you can’t really keep too much, not just because of that weird hump in the middle of the chamber, but also because as you keep riding, that space slowly becomes an oven, thanks to the engine’s heat.
With that knowledge, I used to keep my food in there to keep it warm, and that worked brilliantly. Keeping your cold-drinks there is not such a great idea then, and neither is putting your phone or anything else delicate.
One of the Activas that I rode had that cage thingy in front, under the handlebars, and that was pretty nice to keep small stuff, although it did fuck with my knees sometimes. It also prevented me from fitting some fat bags in that space, but that’s nothing a bit of shoving around couldn’t accomplish.
Seating space is plenty too, although like I mentioned in the start, they might have gone overboard with the rear seat a bit.
All in all, I think the Activa could pass the Dilip Bam LPG cylinder test with flying colors, and that’s the end of that discussion.
2. Good mileage
I was quite surprised by the mileage I got on this thing. I rode one of the latest models, the HET one, and one that was old, and both gave roughly 35-40 kmpl, which is rather OK considering how much I was punishing them, and that all the time there were 2 people humping the shit out of it at places it was never supposed to see.
The fuel tank like I said, is quite tiny though, 100 kms is the maximum that you plan for before you gotta stop. This decision was probably made considering the fact that the scooty is designed to do some 20-30 kms a day inside the city, and hence a 100 km range might last a few days, if not the week.
3. Quick acceleration
Yes the throttle is snatchy as shit, but that also means that it’s quite easy to win red light races, at least at the start. The 0 to 60 kmph acceleration on it is quite fun, although the fun falls off a cliff the moment you cross 60.
When I used to live in Chandigarh, and rode around on my Pulsar 150, this used to be a very painful thing for me, to watch girls pull off the light and fly away into the distance, while I was still juggling with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd gear. I did always catch up to them, but was never able to beat them off the line, no matter how perfect I got it.
This acceleration is also useful on the highway, when you want to overtake big trucks on narrow roads. Most of the time, you are getting overtaken left right and center by almost everything, thanks to the sorry top speed, but when you do hit the behind of that overloaded truck doing 30 kmph, a tight twist of the throttle takes you past it quite quickly.
When I rode the Activa, and tried to swing it in that small space between 2 cars, did I realize why squids do that weird left-right slalom thing with it. It might be fat and uncomfortable, but you can countersteer the shit out of it, and it very happily goes left and right, to some ridiculous angles.
It might be the weight distribution or tire size or something else, but it’s very easy to change directions, the scooter feels very agile on its feet. The tires also work rather well, I never faced any issues with them skidding or losing traction, both when accelerating and braking.
In short, the handling of the Activa is the kind of experience squids masturbate to.
5. Well built
When I took it off-road, I was quite convinced that parts of it are going to fall off very soon. The suspension was bottoming out, there were rattles and weird sounds from every direction, and the vibrations in my body were hitting orgasmic levels. Even so, nothing happened. I was surprised to see all the panels where they were supposed to be, and nothing was broken.
This might be the positive side of the weight, but I’m not certain of that. The kind of torture I put both the Activas through should’ve easily cracked at least the mudguard, if not destroyed the entire suspension, but it didn’t. That’s miraculous, to put it mildly.
I rode it for hours on end, with the throttle pinned all the way, the engine screaming. I was quite concerned that the weight of 2 people plus luggage, and the speeds that we were doing, would cause massive engine damage, but it pulled through quite nicely.
Honda is known for making bullet-proof engines, and it does show in this creation of theirs. The engine never over-heated, never lost power, never made any awful sounds, and that is very impressive in my eyes.
The entire reason why I rode this godforsaken thing over such a long distance was so I didn’t have to go in a bus, however, if it had broken down in the middle of nowhere, that would’ve kinda spoiled the fun a bit. It did not, and I respect that deeply.
Honda Activa review: Verdict
Honda Activa is the Bullet of the scooter world. Nobody knows why people buy it, and yet it keeps selling like toilet paper. What irritates me most is the fact that any new entrant in the scooter section gets compared to it, which is ridiculous. The Honda Activa is not a scooty, it’s as opposite to one as it gets. Every requirement that a scooty owner has is purposely not served by Honda, and yet there’s a waiting period to pick their Activa.
A scooty is meant to be comfortable, the Activa’s riding experience is like trying to take a shit out the window of a moving local train. A scooty is meant to be light, the Activa weighs more than twice of what most of its prospective owners do. A scooty is meant to be easy to ride and control, the Activa is about as easy as Counter Strike Condition Zero with Expert bots on a system with lag.
Honda sold 13,38,015 units of the Activa from January till June 2016, the Activa sales account for almost 15% of the total 2-wheeler industry. That’s fucking insane! Considering the price you pay for one, and the value it brings to your life, I’m surprised anybody buys it at all, and that should tell you a lot about how much I understand the world of two wheelers.
The biggest buyers of Activas to me seem to be teenagers, who use them to go to tuitions, school, college, and rave parties. All of them force their parents to buy them one, and their parents do, since they don’t know any better, and watching everyone else make the same mistake seems like a good enough reason for them to.
Why do these kids buy them? Because other kids buy them. You cross in front of any coaching center in any city, and there would be a line of thousands of Activas in front of it. Kids are morons, they just want to fit in, and buying a TVS XL Super Heavy Duty is not going to do that for them, although in reality, there’s nothing more raw, more masculine, more panty destroying than that little fireball.
In the end, the only reason Activa seems to be so popular is because it is so popular, its sales have crossed that point where people no longer think about buying a scooty as a complicated decision with many choices and factors, it’s just the Activa, and that’s the end.
Which tells you a lot about the way people think, and why Brexit happened, and why Trump happened, and why people make such ridiculously stupid decisions on a daily basis just because they’d rather not spend their time researching that tiny little bit, preferring to waste it jacking off, or posting selfies online, which I guess are the same thing more or less.
I don’t know if there’s a better scooty in the market right now, the Aprilia SR150 looks like a lot of fun, but I haven’t ridden it yet. All I can tell you is that the Activa isn’t the scooter you are looking for, you’d be better off buying literally anything else in the market.
Can’t get worse than this.