Honda Cliq Review
Proof that a two-wheeler need not have a large capacity engine and a high price tag to turn heads.
What is it?
Why I would buy the Honda Cliq
It is light, peppy and easy to ride.
Why I would avoid the Honda Cliq
It lacks the finesse of a modern scooter.
I am used to being interrogated by fellow motorists whenever I ride a big bike, but the attention that the Honda Cliq commanded took me a while to digest. It was just like riding the Navi for the first time all over again. Everyone wants to know what is it called, how much it costs and most importantly, ‘kitna deti hai?’ Honda proves once again that a two-wheeler need not have a large capacity engine and a high price tag to turn heads.
Most of the questions were from motorists who wanted a scooter for their wife or sister, as a learner vehicle. I can see why. It might be based on the Activa 4G’s platform, but the Cliq looks nothing like the conservative family scooter. A look at the spec sheet shows that it is just six kilograms lighter than the Activa 4G, but the tiny proportions and the lower seat height give it the air of a fairly accessible scooter, one which is perfect for beginners.
The Cliq is the perfect exemplification of the term ‘minimalistic’. The weight loss is achieved through extensive use of plastic for the bodywork. The front apron integrates the headlamp and turn indicators, and the handlebar is a straight bar, like the one you would see on a stunt-prepped Dio. Anything that doesn’t contribute towards the basic goal of getting you from point A to point B was deemed unnecessary.
How does it ride?
The biggest advantage of sharing a platform with the Activa 4G, is that the Cliq inherits the powertrain too. The 109cc mill is one of the smoothest and most refined scooter engines in business. There are no signs of vibrations or stress from the engine until you hit the 85kmph top speed. The only time you feel vibrations is when you are idling.
The CVT might have been tuned to extract good fuel efficiency, but there is no compromise when it comes to performance. The power delivery feels seamless, and the throttle response is crisp. Pin the throttle and you get an addictive burst of torque, making the Cliq a fun scooter to ride through the traffic. And this character is further supplemented by the point-and-shoot (or is it point-and-scoot?) nature of the front end. Leaning it over takes little effort and it feels planted through corners. Even when the front suspension runs out of travel through a mid-corner undulation, the Cliq doesn’t waver off the line.
And while inheriting the engine is a good thing, sharing the platform also means having to make do with the trailing link front suspension. The judder through minor bumps is bearable, but once you cross the threshold, holding on to the handlebar can get tiring. And it is the same story with the rear suspension.
The front drum brake on our test bike, for the lack of a better word, was useless. It either did too little to arrest the speed or locked up the front tyre. Thankfully, the rear brake compensated by packing enough stopping power. It even gets combi braking system as standard.
Anything else I should know?
Honda has lowered the seat and the handlebar height to make Cliq more accessible. But this also means that your knees keep getting in the way of your wrists while making tight turns. The seat is firm and comfortable for short rides, but the cramped riding position doesn't make it the most sensible choice for long hauls. It rides on block-pattern tyres from Ceat, which offer good grip on smooth paved roads as well as harsh terrains.
Apart from a brake lock and CBS, the Cliq gets nothing that can be termed as a creature comfort. It doesn’t even get a storage hook or a pass switch. The plastic panels are flimsy and difficult-to-clean grime magnets. After filling fuel or accessing the underseat storage, letting the seat drop back into place on its own will cause it to misalign with the body. You have to slowly guide the seat back into position as the hinge isn’t capable of keeping the seat’s downward drop on course.
Should I buy one?
The Honda Cliq is a welcome change in the world of conservative and boring-looking scooters. It is a modest little scooter that doesn’t mind having a laugh at its own expense. The light weight, small proportions and the CBS make it a good unisex scooter for beginners and novice riders. There might not be much in terms of creature comforts, but it does come with the hallowed Honda badge which stands for peace of mind.
The one reason I would consider buying a Cliq would be to use it as a recreational scooter for off-roading; to strap on a pair of knobby tyres and compete in a scooter rally. The steering is quick and direct and the peppy powertrain has enough bottom-end torque. Considering that the rural markets were also a part of its target audience, the Cliq feels sturdy and capable of taking a beating. And the plastic panels are affordable enough to replace in the likely event (considering my off-roading skills) of a crash. The only problem is that the Navi would be equally suited, if not better, for this purpose.
Where does it fit in?
Priced at Rs 46,719, the Honda Cliq is about Rs 800 pricier than the Navi. The more modern-looking TVS Scooty Pep+ undercuts the Cliq with a price tag of Rs 43,435, although it is targeted only at women. Tree-huggers have the option of Hero Electric Optima Plus priced at Rs 45,190. The Hero Pleasure, which is again a scooter targeted at the fairer sex, retails at Rs 50,876.
All prices are on-road, Delhi.
Photography by Kaustubh Gandhi
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