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Two-wheel duel
Mahindra Duro; Honda Activa (left)

As we know, Kinetic Motors is now Mahindra 2 Wheelers and Mahindra & Mahindra is making sure that Kinetic’s infamous product quality stays in history books. It has produced the Duro, the latest scooter powered by Kinetic Flyte’s engine. But can it stop the Honda Activa dead in its tracks?

The Duro looks bland compared to the Honda Activa Deluxe. On the styling front, the Duro comes second to the classic Honda scooter, which is neater and holds wider appeal. Both scooter bodies come finished in glossy, single-tone paint jobs. However, the Duro’s mudguard, front apron and floorboard lose ground in contrast to the well-sculpted Activa.

In terms of instruments, both have a large speedometer and a fuel gauge. The Activa comes with a more powerful headlight, superior mirrors and better-quality grips. The levers and switches on both scooters offer satisfactory feel, though the Duro loses out further because it lacks a brake lock clamp.

The Duro’s horn is too feeble for Indian traffic, but it fights back with a lockable storage bay under its handlebar, adding to the storage regions of a flat floorboard and underseat bay (found in the Activa too). It also offers a burglar-proof safety shutter that prevents tampering with the ignition slot.

The Honda allows easy access to its engine thanks to its CLIC system. On the other hand, Mahindra has equipped the Duro with alloy rims, something that the Activa lacks. But fit, finish, build and overall quality are way better on the Honda.

The Duro shares its trusty 124.6cc, SYM-developed engine with the Mahindra Flyte and Rodeo. Meanwhile, Honda has upgraded its rock-solid 102cc-scooter engine to a larger-capacity, 109cc powerplant for the new Activa.

Both four-stroke scooters use similar-spec engines. Electric starters are standard with convenience further enhanced by variomatic transmissions. Power and torque outputs from this pair are identical — a shot in the Activa’s arm, for it manages to stay level despite having conceded a handicap of over 15cc.

The two also share close performance parameters. The Duro reaches 60kph at 10.03 seconds, the Activa at 10.16 seconds. Thereafter, at 70kph, the Honda arrives at 13.55 seconds, quicker than the Mahindra’s 14.52 seconds. Top speeds recorded were 89kph on the Duro and 88kph on the Activa Deluxe.

The Activa and the Duro come with nice, wide riding saddles that offer cushy padding for riders and pillions. The Honda Activa has a perfect commuter riding position, while the Duro’s riding posture is clearly out of place on a scooter, with the rider having to reach far down for the handlebars. It loses further ground with its bouncy suspension. Straightline stability can feel nervous, with cornering and handling iffy, at best.

The Honda proved way superior across all these parameters, enjoying respectable ride quality thanks to a well sorted suspension, decent cornering and light handling, as well as better stability. It also has better tyres, with a Tuff Up tube used at the rear.

Both scooters come with similar brakes. The Activa clamp requires both hands to operate, failing to feel as solid to use. Its mechanical Combined Braking System can help novice riders extract good braking. Depressing the left (usually rear) brake lever now operates both brakes, allowing safer stops. The right lever remains dedicated to operating only the front brake.

The Activa returned 41.9kpl in the city compared to the Duro’s 36.8kpl. And it maintained its lead on the highway with 46.9kpl to the Duro’s 38.3kpl.

The verdict is clear — Mahindra’s Duro finds itself knocked clean out of the ring by Honda’s Activa Deluxe. While the Duro comes close to matching the Honda with a good engine, the poor ergonomics and alarming ride and handling let it down. The Activa is solidly engineered and comes with good styling, a refined engine, perfect handling and comfort.

Spec check

Honda Activa deluxe

Engine: Single-cylinder, air-cooled, four-stroke

Maximum power: 8bhp at 7500rpm

Maximum torque: 0.9kgm at 5500rpm

Gearbox: Variomatic

Suspension (F/R): Link, twin shocks/ stressed engine, single shock

Brake (F/R): 130mm drum

Mahindra Duro

Engine: Single-cylinder, air-cooled, four-stroke

Maximum power: 8bhp at 7500rpm

Maximum torque: 0.9kgm at 5500rpm

Gearbox: Variomatic

Suspension (F/R): Link, twin shocks/ stressed engine, single shock

Brake (F/R): 130mm drum

 

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