Scooting about

Women’s need for a friendly and reliable two-wheeler for daily commuting is as high as men’s and the market may pose the problem of plenty with its plethora of models and variants. We make an attempt to zero in on something that will answer the conveyance needs of an urban college student or a workaday lady
Words: Gasha Aeri  Photography: Sanjay Raikar

No two ways about it. Variomatic scooters allow you the freedom of putting your mind to better things than keeping a track of the gear you’re riding in. There is no question of shifting up or down. Ease of use and practicality in the increasingly maddening Indian traffic are the hallmark. Besides, they look trendy, feel light and offer some decent storage space as well. However, the million-dollar question is which one of the lot would a girl buy? Especially a girl weighing anything between 40 and 60 kg, aged between 16 and 29 years, looking for a daily commuter and footing the fuel bills herself.

We got a clutch from which we selected the best four, namely, the Honda Dio, Suzuki Access 125, Mahindra Rodeo and TVS Wego. I’ve seen my friends ride every single one of these, but there were a few characteristics I wished to look at before making my own choice. So, hit the gong, blow the trumpet and let the tussle begin.

Agreed that, for a girl, looks come foremost in respect of an automobile. As for our contenders, each has a distinguishing point that earns them brownies. Having been there for the past seven to eight years (and proudly so), the Honda Dio still looks chic and trendy. The graphics and that big headlight play a big part in that. A salutary combination of a European design (exported abroad as the Honda Lead 100) and practicality make the Dio a model that one comes across in a large number in the parking space of colleges and shopping malls alike. On the other hand, the Access and Wego, subtly styled, straddle the thin line between a ‘girlie’ and a masculine scooter. The Rodeo manages to overtake the aforesaid two with its petite form, but fails to catch the Dio’s tail. So, the winner here has to be the Dio.

After the frills and fancy dresses comes durability. Whereas the Wego, Access 125 and Rodeo have a metal body, the Dio comes with a plastic body. This means that, in case of an unfortunate crash entailing body replacement, the Dio’s repairs will be cheap. Another smiley won. However, unlike in the Dio, washing the foot-board does not require much effort in all the other scooters thanks to the additional rubber mat.

Simple yet handy meter clustre of the
Access goes well with the subtle looks of
the scooter

The backlit meter clustre in the Rodeo
provides it that chic and peppy feeling and
you even have a digital clock which no other contender offers

With a telescopic front, Access takes care
of the rider, the bumps and itself very well

Not like it leaves you with a sore back, but
Rodeo is just a little less comfortable than
Access and Wego

Access has the maximum under-seat
storage on offer

Nothing like the luxury of not getting off the
seat for fuel fills and putting other
knick-knacks, as Rodeo stores them right
in front

Next come manoeuvrability, kerb weight and ease of use on city roads. I struggle for space on the crowded roads of my city and parking space is not easy to come by either. Sometimes I even have to lift up my scooter physically when my neighbour carelessly leaves his bike kissing its tail. I don’t want to pull an elephant to carry me to work and I need to weave through cars at a traffic signal. The Rodeo and Wego score in this respect, while the Dio falls a step or two behind and the Access hides the weighing scale under the table.

Suspension makes a lot of difference when you have to ride over ditches with interstices of tarmac. Everyone else but the Dio score a point here. The Dio needs to take a crash course from big brother Aviator in this respect. Still sticking to the leading link suspension when everyone else has moved on to the telescopic fork, the Dio surely doesn’t want old-age wrinkles to show.

The brakes are yet another important consideration. The Rodeo and Access must surrender their lone point here. The Wego responded quite satisfactorily, but the Dio took the biscuit.

Riding posture was comfortable on all four, but pulling them out of the parking lot was another story. Whereas the Dio and Access kept me on my toes on account of their high saddle, the Wego was a little better and the Rodeo felt the most comfortable, as I could touch the ground with my foot.

The next consideration was good storage space. While all of them offer under-seat storage to accommodate a full-face helmet, the Wego’s front compartment comes as a welcome addition. However, I couldn’t care less to use the key to open it every time I needed to take out the water bottle. The Rodeo walks broad-chested and flaunts a cubby-hole compartment in front, very convenient and handy. This also makes me voice another interesting feature of the scooter – its fuel tank inlet in the front saved me the effort of getting off my perch every time I went to the petrol pump. The Wego’s fuel tank inlet is also not placed under the seat, as is that of the Dio and the Access, but it needs to be opened with a key. The Access offers greater under-seat storage than the Dio, but not as much as the Wego and not as easily accessible as the Rodeo.

Now to fuel efficiency. While the Wego and the Rodeo refuse to account for a little more than 40 km per litre of petrol, the Access is slightly generous and offers two km/l more. However, the knight in shining armour (Honda Dio) won my heart with the figure of 50 km/l.

I simply cannot ignore the fact that if not a great top speed, I most certainly need good overtaking speed on city roads. The Access and Rodeo justify their heavier engines very well and the Wego doesn’t stand very far behind either, but the Dio has to keep pace with just a smile.

Did you say, ‘Any other features?’ How about a tachometer, digital watch, mobile charger, side-stand indicator and colour-changing backlight? Too much, right? But not to Rodeo, whose grin spreads from ear to ear. The Dio asks one to pay extra for a basic accessory like the side stand when the other scooters offer it as a standard feature.

Analog meters, but a little better styled is
what makes for the forheads of wego

CAPTION version of theTypical Honda
meter clustre and nothing more, that’s
Honda Dio for you

CAPTION version of these bikes is better
than their pervious iteration and the
improvements are

Still using the leading link suspension, the
ride on Dio on a bumpy road was far being

CAPTION version of these bikes is better
than their pervious iteration and the
improvements are

CAPTION version of these bikes is better
than their pervious iteration and the
improvements are

The last (and by no means the least) point is the price tag. Being the cheapest of the lot, the Dio certainly deserves more than a second thought. A refined engine, Honda’s reliability, swift and nimble handling for city roads…. the list is long, but the other camp is equally well prepared.

The Access wins with its bucketful of torque, good ride quality and punch. But its price tag makes a sizeable dent in my pocket.

The Wego really impressed me with its ride quality. Alloys and a longer seat impressed both myself and my father, as he wanted to win an all-expense-paid lift to his office behind me! However, fuel efficiency doesn’t let the Wego share the podium space with the Access.

The Mahindra warrior might be my wonder machine if I want gazillion gadgets all around me while I care for my ride quality as much as I do for Paris Hilton and her Chihuahua. Too much of everything killed the cat.

So, let’s end the suspense as I decide to buy a Honda Dio in the olive green and black combination for myself. For those who can afford to shell out a little more, the Access can be the next preferred one of the lot. The Wego, for a 110-cc scooter that it is, finds fuel-efficiency and price pitted against it. And the Rodeo can be useful for my little sister, who wouldn’t clock as many kilometres on the odometer, but would be mighty thrilled by all the buttons and twinkling lights.

So, here’s a triple toast. One for me, one for my new Dio and one for the road!

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