Honda cliq

Our first im­pres­sion of the new Honda Cliq, a scooter de­signed right here, for ru­ral In­dia


Built tough for up-and-com­ers

We JuSt got off the new Honda Cliq after a quick test ride in Jaipur, close to its birth­place at HMSI’s Ta­pukara plant in Ra­jasthan. Here’s what we feel... Ex­plain­ing the idea be­hind the Cliq, Mi­noru Kato, the new CEO and Pres­i­dent of HMSI, said that com­pared to the de­vel­oped ci­ties, the pen­e­tra­tion of gear­less scooters is very lim­ited in smaller towns and vil­lages. In spite of the Ac­tiva out-sell­ing mo­tor­cy­cles and be­com­ing In­dia’s most pop­u­lar two-wheeler, scooters have man­aged to cap­ture just a 17 per cent share of the ru­ral mar­ket.

Just like the Navi, which was aimed at the ur­ban youth who wanted some­thing trendy, the Cliq, has been specif­i­cally de­signed to at­tract buy­ers from smaller ci­ties and vil­lages. This tar­get au­di­ence tra­di­tion­ally com­prises 100-110-cc com­muter mo­tor­cy­cle buyer who don’t con­sider scooters. The rea­son be­ing gear­less scooters are over Rs 5,000 more ex­pen­sive than com­muter bikes and the road con­di­tions limit the ac­cept­abil­ity of au­to­matic scooters with small wheels and CVT (con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion).

Honda hope to break this bar­rier with the Cliq, which comes with a few fea­tures that might appeal to the afore­men­tioned tar­get au­di­ence — such as more rugged tyres and a longer seat, etc. Most im­por­tantly, how­ever, a sticker price of Rs 42,499 for the stan­dard ver­sion and Rs 42,999 for the deluxe trim (exshow­room, Delhi) is less than usual scooters and slightly more than 100-110-cc com­muter bikes. A tempt­ing com­pro­mise which a buyer might con­sider for the con­ve­nience the Cliq has to of­fer.

The rad­i­cal scooter has been de­signed by HMSI right here in In­dia. The feed­back we have re­ceived from YOU (our read­ers) on the so­cial me­dia is rather po­larised. Clichéd as it may sound, you ei­ther love or hate the un­usual de­sign.

There’s a sin­gle front panel which ex­tends to the top, im­i­tat­ing a bikini fair­ing. The al­ways-on head­light (AHO) is po­si­tioned on it, sim­i­lar to a Dio, and a bare han­dle­bar sits be­hind the front panel. But, un­like on the scooters, the ex­posed brake lever mech­a­nism on the mo­tor­cy­cle-like han­dle­bar look util­i­tar­ian.

It’s a com­pact scooter; smaller than the Ac­tiva. The over­all length of 1,745 mil­lime­tres and wheel­base of 1,241 mm is slightly smaller than its sib­ling’s and the Cliq weighs just 102 kilo­grams. These pro­por­tions and its low sad­dle height of 743 mm make this scooter very man­age­able for peo­ple of vary­ing phys­i­cal stature.

The plas­tic pan­els on the side have a flat­tish de­sign and bear the Navi fam­ily traits. Rid­ing pil­lion, I had trou­ble pulling out the fold­able rear foot-rest, which looks straight out of Honda CD Dream 110. The ex­haust has been bor­rowed from the Dio, while the en­gine, frame and wheels are from the Ac­tiva.

The Cliq is avail­able in four colour op­tions: Pa­triot Red, Ocus Grey, Black, and the Moroc­can Blue which we rode. Per­son­ally speak­ing, the red and blue ver­sions look the best.

We think that while it gets a few in­ter­est­ing fea­tures that might at­tract new buy­ers, it also misses out on a few which could have been eas­ily in­cor­po­rated. Let’s start with the good bits. To tackle poor road con­di­tions, the Cliq comes with block-pat­tern tube­less tyres on 10inch wheels (90/100 10 53J). Our test scooter had MRF Mo­grip Me­teor-M1, which of­fered de­cent grip on the sandy sur­face of the vil­lage roads in­side the Chokhi Dhani re­sort. We got an ex­tremely short spin on tar­mac where the grip felt fairly ad­e­quate, but we hope to test it when the scooter is avail­able for a longer ride. The thing with knobby tyres is that you can feel the vibes on the han­dle­bar when on tar­mac, which makes the rider feel a lit­tle un­cer­tain about the grip.

There is no disc brake on of­fer to keep the price at­trac­tive, so you get 130-mm drums at both ends which come equipped with Honda’s Combi Brak­ing Sys­tem. You also get a de­cent 14-litre stor­age space un­der the seat and a socket to charge mo­bile de­vices. Also in the kit is a main­te­nance-free bat­tery and vis­cous air­fil­ter which needs to be re­placed around 16,000 km.

Since the Cliq is aimed at the ru­ral mar­ket where roads may be­long to the pipe dream re­gion rather than re­al­ity, we hoped Honda would con­sider better sus­pen­sion to tackle the con­di­tions. So it doesn’t get tele­scopic fork at the front as we would have liked; in­stead it comes with old-school link sus­pen­sion up­front in com­bi­na­tion with a sin­gle shock-ab­sorber at the rear. The com­pro­mise, un­der­stand­ably, has been made to keep the price down.

We also sug­gested slightly better ground clear­ance, as the Cliq’s is iden­ti­cal to the Ac­tiva’s, which scrapes its belly over larger speed-break­ers of the city, and, as we know, ru­ral con­di­tions are far more un­for­giv­ing.

Lastly, we pointed out that many buy­ers from In­dian vil­lages and smaller towns pre­fer a metal body for its strength and easy repara­bil­ity. The Cliq comes with all-round plas­tic pan­els. The Honda en­gi­neer as­sured us that the plas­tic used is sim­i­lar to that on mo­tocross bikes and is highly flex­i­ble and durable, so it will not crack or break that eas­ily.

This scooter gets the tried and tested 109.19cc air-cooled en­gine which makes 8.0 PS at 7,000 rpm and 8.94 Nm of torque, and the con­ve­nience of a CVT which powers the rear wheels. This is the suc­cess­ful setup seen on the highly pop­u­lar Ac­ti­vate and Dio scooters.

The per­for­mance, though not spec­tac­u­lar, is ad­e­quate for the seg­ment. The high­light here is the re­fine­ment and proven re­li­a­bil­ity. Be­ing light­weight, this scooter feels quick off its feet and ac­cel­er­ates as briskly as do its sib­lings.

The low seat height, com­pact pro­por­tions and light weight also make the Cliq very nim­ble, although get­ting used to the block-pat­tern tyres might take a while for first-time users. The ride, dur­ing our short spin, felt to be firmer than its sib­lings with­out be­ing un­com­fort­able. This is prob­a­bly to take on bro­ken roads with load. Since the scooters are fresh off the pro­duc­tion line, the brakes were a bit un­der­whelm­ing. We hope this does im­prove with use.

This light­weight scooter claims an ARAI tested fuel ef­fi­ciency of 83 km/litre. Thus, in spite of hav­ing a small fuel-tank ca­pac­ity of 3.5 litres, the Cliq should give a real world range of close to 200 km.

Buy­ers also get a few op­tional ac­ces­sories which make the Cliq even more user-friendly. For in­stance, a small stor­age box which can be fit­ted to the floor­board, or an ad­di­tional car­rier at the back. There’s also a smart vi­sor which can be fit­ted on to the top of the front panel and which en­hances the style to a great ex­tent.

After the Navi, Honda have taken the brave step of do­ing some­thing rad­i­cal yet again, which should be ap­plauded and en­cour­aged. They’ve made a unique prod­uct to cre­ate a seg­ment which didn’t ex­ist ear­lier. If it wasn’t for cost re­straints, a better sus­pen­sion setup and higher ground clear­ance would have given the Cliq an even wider appeal and prac­ti­cal­ity. Even so just by be­ing the most af­ford­able scooter from Honda, the Cliq will cause a stir in the in­dus­try.

It gets an ad­di­tional car­rier to carry small lug­gage, to im­prove prac­ti­cal­ity and appeal

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