The Access has shed weight, and it surprised us with its ability to punch above its weight, managing to keep up with the likes of the Aprilia SR150 despite a middle-of-the-road power figure of 8.4bhp and 10.2Nm. The Grazia, on paper, offers more with 8.5bhp and 10.5Nm, but it doesn’t feel like that on the road. The Access leaps forward from rest, and keeps its lead. The Grazia manages to eat into the lead as the speeds go up, its strong midrange helping it play catch up, but the Access is always unruffled. The Grazia feels positively frenetic in comparison, which is strange for a Honda. The Access powertrain simply feels like it was developed a generation after the Grazia’s powertrain was.
The Grazia is sprung quite stiffly, and therefore takes a lot of concentration while riding on broken roads. The Access’ more pliant ride makes it better over less-than-perfect roads. Braking on both is helped by a front disc brake. The Honda offers the patented CBS system as an additional safety blanket. However, this is the fly in the Chardonnay – pull on the left lever, and, weirdly, the right lever also pulls itself in a fraction. So if you use just the Grazia’s front brake, feel and progression are faultless. However, use both, and the changing feel from the right lever injects an element of doubt to the rider. This is a common thing with a combi-braking system but it is pronounced in the Grazia.The Access is surprisingly willing to turn, and while the Grazia is an equally willing playmate, the overall compromise of ride, handling and braking is better with the Access. This round goes to the Access, whose looks belie a chassis and powertrain setup that is exceedingly willing to play.