Honda took a risk by introducing the Activa scooter in India in 2001, when motorcycles ruled the roads. But the risk yielded rich dividends as the Activa became a household name.
The Activa's reliability and rock-solid build quality have ensured it has topped sales charts since its launch.
In the last few years, new competitors have entered the fray. They include the larger-hearted Kinetic (now Mahindra) Flyte, Mahindra Rodeo and Suzuki Access.
The latest entrant in the scooter space is TVS Motor Company's Wego. How does it fare in comparison?
While both the Activa and the Wego are designed for family use, their design philosophy is quite different. The Activa's lines are smoother, the front apron more rounded and there is a chunky air about the scooter.
The instruments are neatly laid out and feature a speedometer and fuel gauge. While the styling is easy on the eye, this Honda might not get more than a passing glance at traffic signals.
Compared to the user-friendly but staid Activa, the Wego sports sharper styling. It is larger than the TVS Scooty and its large, 12-inch alloy wheels look better than the Activa's simple pressed-steel rims. Instrumentation includes a speedometer and fuel gauge.
Both scooters feature variator-driven four-stroke, single-cylinder and air-cooled motors. The Activa's engine displaces 109 cc, while the Wego produces 109.7cc.
The Activa takes 10.16 sec to reach 60 kph and the Wego takes 9.86 sec. The Wego too feels smooth and vibe-free. Performance is zippy and the power is adequate even when riding with a passenger.
But the Wego loses points for its slightly hoarse exhaust note. The refinement level of the Activa is higher than the Wego's. There are absolutely no vibrations and at speeds above 50 kph, the gentle hum from the exhaust note fades into the sound of wind.
The two scooters are quite evenly matched, though it is the Honda that is slightly more frugal. In the city, the Activa delivers a mileage of 44.1 kpl to the Wego's 42.9 kpl. On the highway, the Activa delivers 47.6 kpl to the Wego's 46.3 kpl.
It is here that the Activa trails behind. It uses an obsolete linked suspension up front and a stressed engine with a single shock at the rear. Ride quality is average and you feel most bumps.
As a result, riding over longer distances gets tiresome. The TVS, which uses superior telescopic forks in front and a stressed engine with a gas-charged shock at the rear, effortlessly soaks up all bumps.
The seats on both scooters are nicely padded and spacious enough for two adults. Taller riders may find the Wego's riding position slightly cramped due to the slightly low-set and narrow handlebar.
Handling on both scooters is nimble and city-friendly, with the larger wheelbase Wego feeling more composed at higher-than-average speeds.