Honda CB Shine vs Honda Activa 125: Comparison Review

20 June 2016, 11:44 AM Ranjan R. Bhat

Introduction

Scooters are the flavour of this age. After their monumental rise, fall and the recent resurgence in the Indian market, scooters have now become the cash cows for several two-wheeler manufacturers in the country. While the Honda Activa and the Hero Splendor continue to be embroiled in a fistfight for the top spot in the two-wheeler market, scooters are now being looked at as alternative to motorcycles rather than just a secondary vehicle. 

Buyers of the 125cc motorcycle segment usually are the ones upgrading from entry-level motorcycles; ones who are looking for the middle ground of performance, style and efficiency. And the Honda CB Shine well, truly shines in these aspects. Apart from being one of the best-selling 125cc motorcycles in India, the CB Shine is also Honda’s top-selling two-wheeler among its worldwide operations.

However, with the recent change in scenario, the Activa 125 seems like a worthy alternative to the CB Shine. Apart from the convenience of an automatic transmission, it offers decent performance, versatility and dollops of practicality.

So if you are one such commuter looking to buy a 125cc motorcycle, does it make sense to go for a scooter instead of settling for a tried and tested formula? We put the Activa 125 and the CB Shine through different test scenarios to find out the answer.

City

We started out riding the CB Shine and the Activa 125 back-to-back in their natural habitat – the concrete jungle. When it comes to power delivery, both the Activa 125 and CB Shine are bottom-end friendly. Both seem very refined at low revs, but the engines begin to get vibey when pushed, getting to a point when your toes and wrists start tingling. However, it was quickly obvious that the CVT gearbox in the Activa 125 is its biggest asset. While the tall third ratio on the CB Shine ensures that you do not have to shift very often, it still isn’t as effortless to ride as the Activa 125, be it slow moving traffic or the sprint between traffic signals.

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Honda Activa 125 [2016-2017]

Honda Activa 125 [2016-2017]

  • Displacement124 cc
  • Mileage - ARAI54 kmpl
  • Max Power(bhp)8.5 bhp
  • Kerb Weight111 kg
  • ;

Last known Ex‑showroom price

 61,545

Riding over bumpy roads shows  Activa 125 is harsher on your wrist and the spine than the CB Shine. Mind you, this ride quality and dynamics are among the best when it comes to scooters, though it still is no match for a motorcycle. The larger 18-inch wheels and bigger brakes is what works for the CB Shine. The Activa 125’s handlebar is set closer to the rider’s knees, making it slightly difficult to take U-turns.

When it comes to fuel economy, a CVT-driven scooter can never outperform a motorcycle. Also, the tiny 5-litre fuel tank in the Activa 125 requires refuelling a lot more often. Add to that the cumbersome process of having to get off the scooter, removing the key from the ignition, lifting the seat and then filling fuel, and the Activa 125 makes this simple task look unnecessarily complicated. Besides, the CB Shine’s real world range of over 600 kilometres means that it truly is a fill it, shut it and forget it machine.

It might lose out on ride, handling and economy, but the Activa 125 strikes back with its utilitarian factor. The abundance of storage space below the seat and on the floorboard bumps up the practicality quotient. Carrying shopping bags on a motorcycle is never viable, though doing the same on a scooter is a piece of cake.

Highway

The highway is another area where the CB Shine beats the Activa 125 fair and square. While none of these two are actually meant for highway cruising, the CB Shine outperforms the Activa 125, be it the high speed stability or cornering . The bigger contact patch on the CB Shine (courtesy the bigger wheel) allows you to go faster into the corner.

Both offer a neutral sitting position though the Activa 125 edges ahead in terms of comfort, thanks to the broader seat and the softer cushioning. Even the pillion comfort is better on the Activa 125 and the bigger grab rail offers more room.

The plush seat of the Activa 125 might feel cozy on brief rides, but the CB Shine feels more comfortable on long hauls. Even when you suddenly come across the occasional speed breaker, all you need to do on a CB Shine is grab the tank with your knees and stand up.

Ownership

 

Both the Activa 125 and the CB Shine are safely styled to look attractive and acceptable by a large cross section of buyers. So there is no real competition here. However, when it comes to ‘pride’ of ownership, a motorcycle will always command more respect than a scooter.

 

Basic maintenance costs are identical for both the Activa 125 and the CB Shine (the paid service for either of the two will set you back by Rs 400). In the long run and during the occasional breakdown, the Activa 125 would be marginally more expensive to maintain owing to higher cost of spares and components.

Conclusion

 

It would have been a photo finish between the CB Shine and the Activa 125 had this been a run of the mill comparison. But this isn’t one. The question is, do you prioritise safety and pride of ownership, or do you go for practicality and ease of usage?

The fact remains that parameters like practicality, ease of usage and the versatility command a far bigger weightage while making a buying decision; big enough to tip the scales in the favour of the Activa 125. Though there would be many who value the sense of control and the safety that a motorcycle gives you, an average buyer wouldn’t mind compromising on these aspects if the scooter offers more versatility. And at a time when most of the commuter motorcycles look and feel like clones, the Activa 125 brings in a breath of fresh air. Even though you would spend similar kind of money to buy either of these, the Activa 125 has a premium aura to it, which the plain-Jane CB Shine lacks.

Photography by Kapil Angane

Click here to read the Suzuki Access 125 vs Honda Activa 125 Comparison Test

Click here to read the Honda CB Shine SP First Ride Review

Click here to read Honda NAVI First Ride Review

Specifications

 MAKE Honda Honda
 Model CB Shine Activa 125 
 POWER TRAIN    
 Engine Type Air-cooled Air-cooled
 Capacity 124.7cc 124.9cc
 Max Power  10.5bhp 8.6bhp
 Max Torque  10.3Nm 10.12Nm
 Gearbox 4-speed CVT
 CYCLE PARTS    
 Chassis Diamond Under bone
 Supension F  Telescopic Telescopic
 Suspension R  Dual spring hydraulic Mono shock 
 Brakes F  Drum/Disc Drum/Disc
 Brakes R  Drum Drum
 Tyre F 80/100-18 Tubeless 90/90-12 Tubeless
 Tyre R 80/100-18 Tubeless 90/100-10 Tubeless
 MEASURES    
 Fuel Tank  10.5 litres 5.3 litres
 LxWxH  2012mm x 762mm x 1090m 1814mm x 704mm x 1151mm
 Wheelbase  1266mm 1260mm 
 Kerb Weight  123kg 110kg 
 COST    
 Price (OTR, Mumbai) Rs 72,710 (Alloy-CBS) Rs 72,473 (Alloy-CBS)
 Warranty 2 years/24,000kms   2 years/24,000kms

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