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Old 22nd July 2008, 19:05   #1
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Default My Valentine- The Honda Activa- a very long term test!

This Valentine, my Honda Activa was bought on Feb 14th 2003. I've covered about 10300 kms on it. All the free services were done at the dealership. Being a DIY I've been tinkering on this scooter ever since. But other than routine maintenance like changing the engine and gear oils and cleaning the air filter/ carburettor/ spark plug no other problem has fortunately cropped up till now.
The engine is a gem and is so smooth and silent that when new, I had a tough time sometimes guessing whether it is on or off. of course now the engine sound is prominent and my ears are tuned to know its moods.
The choke is funnily located and concealed from the rider's view. So in some cases one may engage the choke and it remains engaged till one sees it or hears abnormal strokes from the engine.

Though the whole body of this scooter lifts up to open and facilitate repairs accessing the spark plug is problematic. The older scooters were much better for DIY guys like me. I had the whale of a time doing the jobs on Bajaj and Lambretta scooters. Also accessing the carburettor in the Activa for getting it opened is a problem. These take unwanted, extra time and could have been better located. The air filter, oil change (both gear and engine) ports are well located.

The tuff -up tube is much hyped about. This scooter had two major punctures on the rear wheel about six months after it was bought. Roadside puncture wallahs treat these tubes, the same way as any other. But luckily apart from the solution draining out fully from it, the tube is perfect till this date.

Touchwood! no more punctures after that.And the inner wheel rim- the rear wheel rim when opened during July-Sept 2003( after one monsoon and 5-7 mths of use) showed rust on the metallic silver paint. I have a garage and do not live in a coastal area. Thats deplorable. Luckily, I did'nt have to get it opened later. By now, it may be more rusted all over the inside.Even the silencer gets rusted within a month of use. I have tried to save the rusting on it by applying coats and coats of paint every few months but to no avail.


The new battery (Exide)conked off in 2005. For a few days, I was kick-starting and using the scooter. But at traffic junctions if the idling engine switches off, try the impossible. Kick-starting it with the rider seated and the centre stand taken off. That's impossible. Even kick-starting the scooter otherwise is a turn off. The kick-starter is very funnily located. As is evident in the picture below the disengaged centre stand will never allow the rider to use the kick-starter- how about my friends who could not get the battery replace or friends whose scooters have fault in the self starter mechanism? In traffic signals if the engine stalls then its very tough.Drag the scooter to the corner and then get down and kick-start the scooter.The kick-starter is shown in an image below.My Valentine- The Honda Activa- a very long term test!-activa10.jpg

The plastics are of a very poor quality. The mirrors casings as OE get whitish grey in no time and even after trying to keep these looking slick (car dashboard polishes) nothing works. The plastics on the obverse of the footboard too become whitish grey. The front axle has plastic covers as seen in the picture. these are akin in quality to some children's games bought from the roadside. We buy Honda and we want Honda quality- what if the costs are more by another few hundred rupees?
The omnipresent warning in all new vehicles- "Objects in the mirror are closer than they actually appear" is not viewed seriously by many.

The scooter is otherwise very,very dependable, sturdy and easy to use handle in any kind of city traffic. Its fuel consumption is about 41-45 kmpl depending upon the riding style.The variator does'nt allow fuel economy but Honda can seriously think of bettering it. Because the 2 stroke Kinetic Honda with a 100cc engine consumed the same amount of petrol. A 4 stroke engine must be leaner.

Sometimes I prefer it over any four wheeler in crowded places where parking is a nightmare. But again another woe- HMSIL can't do anything about it! when parked very close to bikes (in cities this can't be avoided) and other two wheelers, the sides of the Activa which have a gleaming paintwork get badly mauled and scratched. the silencers and foot pegs of bikes get close to the Activa's rear left and right sides.


My Valentine- The Honda Activa- a very long term test!-activa3.jpg

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Old 22nd July 2008, 19:44   #2
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Neat review. I like the reflective stickers on the mirrors and number plates.

The kick starter position is a Honda trait. Kinetic Honda was also known for a very painful kick starter position. A normally ridden KH would give around 35 kpl.

OT: Each time I see a modern scooter on the road, I can't help thinking of the advertising tagline for the Kinetic Honda in the 80s

"One day all scooters will be like this"
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Old 22nd July 2008, 20:06   #3
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Activs is a sturdy machine.

I have one that I bought in 2002. Had to leave for usa in 2003. It was laying in parking unused for 3 years.

Came back, called up garage expecting that it is going to cost 5k to make it usable again. Mechanic came, Lo and behold it started in a few kicks. Total service bill was 1k.
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Old 22nd July 2008, 20:23   #4
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Originally Posted by NetfreakBombay View Post
Activs is a sturdy machine.

I have one that I bought in 2002. Had to leave for usa in 2003. It was laying in parking unused for 3 years.

Came back, called up garage expecting that it is going to cost 5k to make it usable again. Mechanic came, Lo and behold it started in a few kicks. Total service bill was 1k.
I agree completely. I have one and since I travel most times, I left this unattended several months in home. On return, only thing you need to do is few kicks. Button start wont work. Once it starts, then its just as usual.
Excellant engine and vehicle.
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Old 23rd July 2008, 16:53   #5
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Activa - Very dependable machines. Have two of them, both have been driven around 20,000 Kms and have been very reliable.
Major expenses/replacements: Batteries & front suspension parts.

Engine is very smooth & both vehicles still sound/run like new even after 5/6 years of limited daily usage.
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Old 23rd July 2008, 17:39   #6
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Anjan, can you explain what happens when you have a puncture with tuff up tube. Is it possible to just keeep driving on...and if so, how do you even know you have one and needs to be fixed.
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Old 23rd July 2008, 20:26   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mpower View Post
Anjan, can you explain what happens when you have a puncture with tuff up tube. Is it possible to just keeep driving on...and if so, how do you even know you have one and needs to be fixed.
I drove the scooter for 2 kms on the First occasion. Nothing happened. the scooter was parked at my garage for more than 12 hours . The air pressure was quite OK for being driven to the repair shop. On the first occasion, when that fellow took out the nail a sticky yellowish white gel came out , which I found was placed in the annular space between the tube and tyre as a sealant. As the tube was vulcanised, using the age old method the sealant was fully lost.The second time the puncture was simply vulcanised like any other tube. The front wheel now has the original sealant. the repair process is described in the manual. The piercing nails etc should be taken out only after observing the precautions so as to allow the sealant to remain there for future help.
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Old 23rd July 2008, 23:41   #8
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Nice write-up anjan. Wow, Feb. 2003 and done only 10k odd kms??!! I bought mine 2nd hand (aug. 2007 model only) in march this year and it had run 1700 kms only then. Now (as of today) it reads 11000+ km!!
Of course my travelling is quite intense, especially since I live in the outskirts of the city.
I didnt know tuff-up was the tube's name! I thought it referred to the shock absorbers!

Incidentally, Ive been trying to get the existing free servicing done on the bike (still have 3 left)
Trouble is the nearest service centre to my place is atleast 10km away and they tell me everytime to come over as early as possible in the morning- like 7.30/8am, which is practically impossible!
Still, since I missed getting my last free servicing done, I'm keen on giving it this week.
One query though- how reliable is the suspension on this bike? Ive been told by a more experienced person who drove it once that I need to get the forks adjusted as there is some vibration/slight misalignment. Maybe true as Ive (mostly unknowingly) driven it over many potholes/speedbreakers, especially in the night. Infact today I drove through a pothole (which turned out to be a slab cover for a manhole) that was I guess 2 feet deep!
I did apply the brakes but was too late and it dived through the ditch with a bone-rattling effect! 'barely managed to keep my balance!

I'm worried now about the state of the suspension and rims, couldnt check them as it was dark tonight. 'will do so in the morning.
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Old 24th July 2008, 00:23   #9
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Excellent machine to have for the Indians, I would say the best produced in India till date; excellent power, pickup and smooth engine
however for the headlight unit they could have used a stronger unit package
this is only scooter i know after the Lambretta on which when you leave both hands it takes you absolutely straight, neither moves to the left or the right = GREAT BALANCE

Quote:
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Anjan, can you explain what happens when you have a puncture with tuff up tube. Is it possible to just keeep driving on...and if so, how do you even know you have one and needs to be fixed.
The tubes are filled with a fluid gum sort off, in the event of a puncture if it is not a big one you wont even know about it till you check your tyres, the fluid would bind around the nail to prevent the air from moving out. When you remove the nail out the fluid again binds the hole to cover it and prevent air leak.
However, if it is a big one then you would have some fluid and full air leak. In such a case follow the regular routine Look for the nearest PUNCTUREWALLA
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Old 24th July 2008, 17:39   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avi.k View Post
The tubes are filled with a fluid gum sort off, in the event of a puncture if it is not a big one you wont even know about it till you check your tyres, the fluid would bind around the nail to prevent the air from moving out. When you remove the nail out the fluid again binds the hole to cover it and prevent air leak.
However, if it is a big one then you would have some fluid and full air leak. In such a case follow the regular routine Look for the nearest PUNCTUREWALLA
So, if its a small puncture, you will keep on driving for weeks with it unless you regular inspect your tires. Does the handling and the feel change when you are running on that fluid instead of air?
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Old 24th July 2008, 20:21   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stanher View Post
Nice write-up anjan. Wow, Feb. 2003 and done only 10k odd kms??!! I bought mine 2nd hand (aug. 2007 model only) in march this year and it had run 1700 kms only then. Now (as of today) it reads 11000+ km!!
Of course my travelling is quite intense, especially since I live in the outskirts of the city.
I didnt know tuff-up was the tube's name! I thought it referred to the shock absorbers!

Incidentally, Ive been trying to get the existing free servicing done on the bike (still have 3 left)
Trouble is the nearest service centre to my place is atleast 10km away and they tell me everytime to come over as early as possible in the morning- like 7.30/8am, which is practically impossible!
Still, since I missed getting my last free servicing done, I'm keen on giving it this week.
One query though- how reliable is the suspension on this bike? Ive been told by a more experienced person who drove it once that I need to get the forks adjusted as there is some vibration/slight misalignment. Maybe true as Ive (mostly unknowingly) driven it over many potholes/speedbreakers, especially in the night. Infact today I drove through a pothole (which turned out to be a slab cover for a manhole) that was I guess 2 feet deep!
I did apply the brakes but was too late and it dived through the ditch with a bone-rattling effect! 'barely managed to keep my balance!

I'm worried now about the state of the suspension and rims, couldnt check them as it was dark tonight. 'will do so in the morning.
Thanks Stanher for your liking the write-up. I use it very rarely and hence the odo reading.Nice to know that you bought one with a low mileage.
The guys do not do anything worth its name during the free services. But for a valid warranty thats needed. I too encountered potholes unaware many a time. I feel that the front axle and suspension is not so rigid to suit our conditions. Both the shocks (front and rear) are stiff.My scooter's front axle has developed some play after the acrobatics it has gone through.You can drive it and if you feel there's something needing attention, then it has to be attended. The rim may also get dented in such cases. Lets hope for the best anyway.

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Old 24th July 2008, 21:33   #12
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So, if its a small puncture, you will keep on driving for weeks with it unless you regular inspect your tires. Does the handling and the feel change when you are running on that fluid instead of air?
i think there is some misunderstanding, if there is then let me clear it - the tyres do not have 100% fluid its only a certain percentage. It is not even 10%, the rest is all regular air. You wont even feel the difference between normal and fluid filled tyres on the Activa.
Its not that you can go on for weeks without inspecting the tyres. It will affect you some day or the other, depends on how lucky you are. Even if you inspect and remove the nails if any in your tyre, you have to pay a visit to your Puncturewala to get the hole patched up. Again it depends how lucky you are on how long you can ride without a visit to the puncture wala. If you are lucky enough you can go on and on and on.
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Old 25th July 2008, 03:35   #13
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Originally Posted by avi.k View Post
i think there is some misunderstanding, if there is then let me clear it - the tyres do not have 100% fluid its only a certain percentage. It is not even 10%, the rest is all regular air. You wont even feel the difference between normal and fluid filled tyres on the Activa.
Its not that you can go on for weeks without inspecting the tyres. It will affect you some day or the other, depends on how lucky you are. Even if you inspect and remove the nails if any in your tyre, you have to pay a visit to your Puncturewala to get the hole patched up. Again it depends how lucky you are on how long you can ride without a visit to the puncture wala. If you are lucky enough you can go on and on and on.
OK, let me rephrase my question. I am driving along in my Activa and drive over a nail that pierces my tire. What happens now and what do I feel as a rider? Thats my question.

Is it like half-flat instead of full flat?
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Old 25th July 2008, 21:59   #14
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OK, let me rephrase my question. I am driving along in my Activa and drive over a nail that pierces my tire. What happens now and what do I feel as a rider? Thats my question.

Is it like half-flat instead of full flat?
Again, it all depends on how lucky you are. If the nail is small you could have a half flat tyre, a full flat tyre or absolutely no feeling. All depends on your luck. I guess thats why the fluid filled tubes are not so famous in India.
You could also get your normal tubes filled with the fluid, would cost something around Rs. 100 to 150 per tube. But it is not always consistent and reliable. Hence i think not used by all.
I hope there is no more confusion.
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Old 14th February 2009, 22:16   #15
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A Very Happy Sixth Birthday today to my Valentine the trusted Honda Activa-bought on 14th Feb 2003!
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