Honda Navi Ownership Report
The Honda Navi has been a reliable companion for Ben Raja
It has been a little more than seven months since I bought my companion and in all these days, I had only great smiles riding it. Every ride, be it city or highway, was adventurous and fun-filled. Above all, my Navi took me to places with pampering comfort. My colleague who is also an auto enthusiast used to say, ‘Between the Lamborghini Huracan and the Pagani Zonda, it is the Zonda which is driven excessively by its owner.’ A vehicle may not perform or be in line with its class but if it is able to deliver something extraordinary, there is no stopping it from grabbing the heart of its owner. This is what my Navi did to me. To start with, this is the only bike which I had ridden extensively, so extensively within a short span of time.
I will first discuss the positives followed by the negatives. But don’t get a wrong perception that the bike has negatives without reading them completely. Navi is one of the best looking bikes in the country as of now. Almost everyone who sees it on the road gets excited. After all, I am tired of clearing strangers’ doubts at the signals. Nowadays, I close my helmet visor whenever I stop at signals. If strangers try to ask about the bike, I will pretend as if I didn’t listen. Whenever my friends or colleagues see those dramas on the road, they say, ‘Ben has a lot of fans!’ The funny part is if my Navi catches the attention of a commuter on the road and if that person tries to stalk me, I will rev the little boy and within seconds disappear from his eyes. The bike is that quick on its feet. Finally, the most interesting aspect is that my Navi has indeed caught the eyes of all of my women colleagues. Almost all have ridden it and instantly liked its peppy nature. One girl, after riding my Navi, was talking about it all day long.
Following the aesthetics is the performance and NVH department. It may surprise a few of you reading this but it’s 100% true. Navi is lighter than the Activa and much more lighter without the accessories. Couple this with the raised bike-like forks and little longer wheelbase, it shoots like a pocket rocket off the line. In fact, it’s quicker than the Activa itself. Beating the geared 100-110cc commuter bikes and scooters in acceleration is like a walk in the park for the bike. Navi’s engine and gearbox is one of the best engineered in the country with utmost precision. I cannot find out even one flaw in their form and function. The gearbox is by far the highlight of the package. That free-revving Honda engine can get no better CVT gearbox than what has been provided. If I give 10/10 for the engine, I will give 11/10 for the gearbox for the extra smoothness. The engine redlines comfortably and there is no vibration whatsoever at any part of the power band.
The Navi has been delivering very good fuel efficiency and low running costs
Coming to the fuel efficiency and the practicality department, owners play a major role in giving room for their bikes to perform the best. This is quite applicable with me. Right from the beginning, I carefully followed the break-in. Not even once did I rev beyond 40 km/hr in the first 1100 kms. Because of my care, my Navi rewarded me with awesome fuel efficiency. It cracked the 60 km/l mark even before 500 kms. Surprised! There is more in store. Even after revving the nut and bolt of the bike, mileage hasn’t dropped below 45 km/l. Still want more! In all these 10,000 odd kms, my Navi cleanly returned between 54-56 kml with 25% aggressive riding and 75% sedate riding.
Adding to this, it literally crawls like a diesel car in heavily congested roads with absolute comfort while geared bikes burn their clutch. In fact, the gearing is spot on that my Navi is at home even at 10 km/hr, no vibrations or stress can be felt on the engine. The bike’s wheelbase may be longer, but the small 12-inch front wheel helps it turn like a bicycle. A tiny gap is what the Navi needs in heavy traffic to progress forward. Honda has indeed loaded the bike with excellent utility space. Though I am yet to make use of the under-tank storage, the under seat storage is of great use. It can store even a lunch box and can be safely locked. The two lockable helmet hooks are a great boon as well. There is also some space available between the tank lock and tank cap (usually found in Hero and Honda bikes). It can be used to store tiny stuffs like mobile, cash, etc., and can be locked. Finally, I fixed a tank cover with three different pockets which further increased the utility of the bike.
The Honda Navi also shines in the handling, ride and braking department. Its stiff suspension setup with super grippy MRF tyres and light weight makes it go like a mag-lev train. You feel like you are flying in the air but still you will have absolute control over the bike. Feedback from the handle bar is excellent with the Navi turning direction really fast. But the bike is not intended for knee down handling due to the smaller wheels and protruding engine-chassis components. Brakes are another highlight of the package. Believe me, you will never get better brakes on any other commuter bike or scooter (exclude the combi brakes).
Service costs are pretty cheap with the Honda Navi
In fact, I escaped an accident by a whisker in a couple of instances because of the awesome brakes (God first!). Coming to the after sales department. In my earlier review, I would have complained about the poor service offered but now things have improved. Till now, I had completed three free services and the service charges have greatly decreased. They charged me just Rs 313/- overall including semi-synthetic oil cost for the third service which I did at 8074 kms. The quality of water wash is also top notch nowadays. I am highly satisfied with it. Hope it is the same with other Honda dealers as well.
My Navi has strongly marked its name in the reliability department. In all these seven odd months, the bike went through the hottest summer, coldest winter and severe rains, but even today it is the same as the day it came to my home. In fact, during cyclone Vardah which caused devastating effects in the city, my Navi effortlessly waded through knee deep water even with the cooling fan and most of the exhaust submerging in floods. That day, all the roads were filled with broken tree debris but my bike again effortlessly surpassed all the obstacles even with a pillion. It has also landed in very deep and sharp potholes at high speeds but till now, nothing has happened to the wheels and shocks. Also, many of my friends deterred me from buying the bike citing the use of plastics all around. But believe me, my Navi stands in the hot sun all day long (my office doesn’t have a proper parking shelter) and still even today not an iota of colour fade can be seen anywhere. It continues to shine and grab the attention of people on the road.
The front tyre still looks almost new and the rear has worn out by almost 40% but grip levels are still awesome on both. Honda has also provided really good quality brake shoes. They look like they will last another 10,000 kms. The headlight gets a halogen bulb (Navi is the cheapest bike to get it) and illumination levels are extraordinary. Navi also gets a maintenance free battery and viscous air filter which lived up to their tag in all these days. Honda has got maximum bashing for the switch gear offered in its range but the Navi’s unit is really great. Even today, all switches give a re-assuring feel. The key hole, fuel cap, foot rests, body plastics, grab bars, and all regularly accessed parts feel built-to-last. The chassis and engine paint quality is also good, no rust can be seen anywhere. The use of textured black plastics is a brilliant move by Honda to arrest fading in the hot sun. The under-chassis is also excellently protected by a plastic sheet.
Now coming to the negatives. The first and foremost negative is the fuel tank. Its capacity is just 3.8-litres and there is no possibility of filling fuel for anything above Rs 100/-. We can fill up to 2-litres but should inform the petrol pump employee to hold the pipe much above as it will submerge leading to back flow and wastage. Essentially we will be forced to visit the petrol station almost every 80 kms. Secondly, the pillion foot rests protrude outside very much leading to hurting your legs while walking. But they also act as a crash guard covering the engine and gearbox, a compliment in a flaw! The handle bar has an ugly cross bar. Also, it cannot be changed as the clamps are literally buried inside the tank shrouds. But we can manufacture long mild steel spacers in lathe shops and install clip-on bars (I am planning to fix one). Flat street-fighter handles (like the ones on FZ and Gixxer) are almost impossible to install.
The rear tyre hugger doesn’t look good and removing it will result in mud splashing even up the seat. The suspension is on the stiffer side taking a hit on the ride quality. During the first 2,000 kms, the CVT was vibrating at idle (due to the higher idling rpm) but it got rectified in service. The speedometer needle was flickering but that too was rectified in the service center. The self start delay is quite high (around one second) so we need to start the bike around one second earlier in signals. The seat is quite hard so I pasted one inch thick extra cushion and the problem got solved!
Finally, the disappointing thing to note about the Navi is its top speed. I have recorded a genuine top speed of 85 km/hr (Ulysse GPS) while the speedo shows 90 km/hr. This is quite low when compared to many other bikes. For example, with the same app, I have recorded a genuine top speed of 96 km/hr on my Yamaha Crux. So, in a really long stretch, many bikes overtake the Navi. Just because of this limited speed, the brilliant effort made by the engine to accelerate brutally fast gets wasted. If the top speed was around 95 km/hr, it would have made even some 150 cc bikes run for performance. But, the bike reaches its top speed so fast and effortlessly without any vibrations.
In the end, if you want more clarifications on any aspect of the review, please feel free to ask me in the comment section. The Honda Navi is the only bike in the Asia to provide unadulterated fun for a price tag of Rs 50,002/- (on-road, Chennai). Don’t think twice, get it and experience what it has in store. Good luck! Ride safe!
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