Honda Aviator 30,000 Km Ownership Review by Sunny Banerjee

Hello everyone I am here with my ownership cum relationship review on my Honda Aviator. Yes its a scooter & its a relationship review because it was my first love but sadly its no longer with me.

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Before my emotions take control over my words I would like to say that this review is divided into different paragraphs covering almost all the essential parameters that a scooter faces in its life along with some comparisons with its competition. So you can jump start to read the section you are interested in. I dedicate this review in the remembrance of my first love the “Honda Aviator”.

Why A Scooter?

The simple answer is I was under 18 & had a license for non-geared two wheeler. There is an another & very significant answer for this question which perhaps only a person who has experienced both bikes & scooters can answer. I always believe life is too short to be spend in traffic & scooters are the perfect solution for it. Yes I love bikes & even have one.

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Bikes are fondly called as ‘traffic cutter’, ‘god of the streets’ & what not, they may be faster but the truth is non of them is as effortless as a gearless scooter in traffic. Whether you are a family man or a student no one likes to carry bags & luggages, a scooter will happily carry it for you. I could have mentioned loads of such reasons but this not a debate & the growing population of scooters is self-explanatory about how practical this vehicles are.

Selection & Buying Experience

As compare to today back in 2008 there were way lesser options. I was narrowing down to everyones favorite the Honda Activa which was actively selling among the masses. Looks are subjective & I felt a bit objective about the bland looks of older Activa. My mother felt the previous generation Honda Dio with stickers all over was too funky for her to sit behind me & the pillion foot rest was too uncomfortable for everyone.

I was eagerly waiting for the new Honda Aviator to hit the local dealership. When I was finalizing I came to know Honda Aviator was available for sale. When I saw the Aviator in the showroom I was completely mesmerized by its looks. My heart fell in love with its design & my brain followed my heart after reading its specifications. It had alloy wheels with front disc brakes which were first time for a scooter in India (except kinetic blaze 165cc).

My father was very happy with its decent style as it had no sticker job. Our instant reaction was to book the scooter & the delivery was done in 15 days which was way faster than Activa’s four month waiting period. After a good bargain the Aviator deluxe model in pearl black colour was bought for around Rs 55,000/- on road including guards.

Special Features

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The Aviator is aimed as premium scooter for men.

  • It has a 190mm disc brake & has alloy wheels in the Deluxe model while the standard model gets drum brakes with steel rims.
  • The front suspension are telescopic while the rear suspension is a hydraulic mono suspension tuned for comfortable ride.
  • At 790mm seat height you are well above other scooters & bikes.
  • Both the tires come with tuff up tubes, which is actually like two tubes holding a sealing liquid between them which helps to prevent punctures & sudden loss of air at high speeds.
  • Has a huge 20 liter lockable under seat storage.
  • Fuel tank has 6 liter capacity.
  • Indicators as well as head lamps are clear lens. Head light is powerful.
  • The instrument panel has a blue back lit which beautifully lights up the analog speedometer & fuel gauge along with the odometer. (Competition: Mahindra Rodeo has a digital console which include a clock, rpm meter etc.)
  • If you look at the body panel below the head lamp then you can see the indicator styling is inspired from the flagship Honda Fireblade.
  • The new Aviator comes with maintenance free battery & viscous air filter.

Living The Aviator Style

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My Aviator was one of the first few Aviators in my place & it was a head turner. It looks big among other scooters & gives complex to bikes. Inspite of its size its very easy to ride in the crowd places. My friend circle is a bunch of petrol heads & during those days all of them used to have scooters (many of them still have the newer ones) so I have a good experience with most of the scooters & it helps me to compare them.

Comfort Level

No ride is enjoyable unless you feel comfortable. First thing you will notice about this scooter is the seat height of 790mm which gives comfortable leg space to stretch your legs unlike other unisex scooters where you have to fold your legs like a frog. On the other hand the seat height can create a problem for short riders. The seat is wide & comfortable with good cushioning.

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The pillion seat is higher than rider’s seat giving the pillion a better view of road ahead. The pillion foot pegs are positioned appropriately & the body is designed to give better thigh support to the pillion. The handle bar is positioned in such a manner that it gives upright riding posture, even after hours of riding there used to be no strain on wrists & shoulders. The telescopic suspension gives plush feel with 12” alloys in front & 10” in rear with hydraulic suspension.

Competition: Now the TVS Wego has better ride comfort with telescopic suspension in front & gas suspension in the rear. It also has a set of 12 inch alloy wheels. I am yet to find a scooter in India which can handle rough roads like motorcycles & the only reason I find is the smaller wheels.

Performance Feel

I am a person who likes to feel the ride. I don’t believe the figures on paper until it makes me feel the rush of wind on my face. Still to mention the older Aviator used to produce 7.1 BHP with its 102cc engine while the newer 109cc Aviator produces 8 bhp @ 8000rpm & Torque of 0.9 Kg.m @5500rpm. I have experienced both the Aviators & felt that the older one had more punch in acceleration than the more powerful newer model.

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Maybe the new Aviator compromises on acceleration for better fuel efficiency. Top speed for both the model is around 90-95 Kmph (speedo indicated) & 0 to 60kmph can be done in 12 second (GPS). The engine becomes a bit noisy at high speeds but at the same time the scooter extremely planted on the road with its aerodynamic design. The Aviator climbs hills with ease. Even with a pillion the engine is not strained & can do 45kmph with ease on hills.

Competition: I found the 125cc Suzuki Swish to be more zippy while the Vespa 125lx has a better top end performance with its 3 valve head.

Braking Force & Tires

I personally believe that the brakes are most vital component for a scooter as there is no engine braking & gear option to stop specially when you are coming down hill or a steep slope. I can confidently say that the Honda Aviator deluxe has the best brakes among all the scooters present in the market today. It has 190mm disc in the front & 130mm drum in the rear where both the alloys are mated to sticky MRF nylon grip zappers.

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The front tire is 12 inch 90/90 while the rear is 10 inch 90/100. Braking & handling was never a problem in this scooter, even in the monsoon hard braking never made me wet or sweat. The rear tire lasted for about 12500km, the central thread was rubbed off while the adjacent thread were still having some life. Changed it with similar spec zapper for Rs 1300/- with the same tuff up tube.

The front tire was still going strong at 30000km however my friend who owns a Aviator had changed the front tire at 40000km. The wheels have single axle nut with a cotter pin with is easy to remove but Honda didn’t provide any wrench in the tool kit to remove the wheels which is a bad news in case of emergency (puncture). The brake pads for disc lasted for about 9000km under rough use (touring/rain/down hills), for normal city use it can easily do 12000km.

Due to scarcity of Spare parts from Honda I discovered that the brake pads of Bajaj Pulsar 150 are direct fit to Aviator after filling a bit of abrasive material & it is cheaper than the original brake pads. In entire 30000km I had encountered only 2 punctures in rear tire & mind you my rides includes every kind of tarmac & even non tarmac.

Competition: Well no competition here as Aviator offers the best. Other Honda scooters with combi-brakes are good option.

My Experience

I have done everything from traffic cutting, carrying 25kg gunny bags, crossing shallow river streams & regular 200 to 300km long rides for which the scooter was not built for but it never offended me. The engine & transmission is a gem & can take lots of abuses. During my junior college days I use to never carry any bags for college or for tuitions the under sit storage used to gulp all the books.

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20 liter storage can easily hold a helmet so you need not worry about helmet when you are roaming inside the mall or while watching a movie. Inside storage compartment there is a separate space provided to keep all the vehicle related documents. Luggage can also be carried in the ample front foot space & there is a hook provided for that. Unlike Activa there is no option for glove box.

The head lamps are 35watt multi reflector halogen bulb though the output is A.C but the brightness is great & can clear off darkest highways (this is not a over statement I have done over night Mumbai to Pune trip on this scooter on pitch dark highways). I have done Mumbai to Pune many times (every month), Aviator can cruise at 50kmph for hours without complaining.

The aviator can very well do the zero turns in Lavassa & won’t keep you behind on the famous Khandala ghat or on the hills of Mahabaleshwar. As a scooter it does becomes boring at straight stretches of panvel highway or pune nagar highway where you have nothing to do other than holding the throttle at 50-60kmph.

Service & Maintenance

I am a person who is always paranoid about well being & cleanliness of my vehicle. It can go to such extent that I had parked the Aviator inside my house during heavy monsoons when the water level was rising in parking. Regular service includes oil change (both engine oil & gear oil) at 2500 to 3000km which use to costs around Rs 400-500. I use to feed the engine with semi synthetic or fully synthetic engine oils for long rides.

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Motul is good but costly, Shell & Veedol are value for money with there smooth performance. Though the spark plug (Rs 70/-) never created any problem but I used to change it at every 10000km. The speedometer cable was broken at 13000km & I had to do a treasure hunt around the city at every Honda service to get one. Simple spares like brake pads, air filters (replaced at 14500km) are hard to find.

After free services I use to do most of the service by myself or through my trusted mechanic (with 20 year of experience). Stuff like air filter can be easily cleaned or replaced as the air filter box can be opened from outside (no need to remove the under seat storage box). I have mentioned earlier that the rear tire was changed at 12500km.

Battery became weak after 20 months & charging it was not doing any good so had to replace it with Exide for Rs 1100/-. As I used to do a lot of long distance riding & wanted my Aviator to be as reliable as it was so I did the 1st major service at 22000km. In this service the engine was decarbonised, drive V belt was replaced (Rs550), transmission clutch was cleaned, valve & tappet setting etc.

The total cost stood around Rs 3000/- (non-Authorised service) which includes cost of spares like V belt, engine oil, oil seals, gasket etc. Aviator & many such scooters have a tendency of rattling & vibration from front fairing or body panel, after many research & experiments I found that using rubber washers (on the panels & nuts) is the best remedy for rattle & vibration.

Fuel Efficiency

Comparing to similar capacity bikes fuel efficiency is the weak point of every gearless scooter. City riding at moderate speeds can give you around 40 kmpl. Highway riding at an average 50kmph with definitely give you 45kmpl. Maximum fuel efficiency I ever got was 48kmpl on the super smooth pune-nagar highway. A full tank of 6 liter of fuel used to give me a range of 200km (approx) when the analog needle use to reach red mark. The new 109cc Aviator boasts of 15% more efficiency, when tested I got around 44kmpl in the city which is good.

Competition: Vespa 50kmpl, Mahindra Duro 45-50kmpl.

Drawbacks & Negatives

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I am feeling bad to write something negative about my companion who has done so much for me, but we all know nobody is perfect & so was my Aviator.

  • Morning start issues, especially on winter mornings. I had to kick at least 5 to 10 times (even with choke on). Making the air fuel mixture rich did help a bit but again the fuel efficiency took a dip due to it. There was no start up problem during the rest of the day.
  • Availability of spare parts is a big issue. (TVS & HERO are better in this.)
  • Service from Honda is not up to the mark. I have tried different authorised service center but the common problem was that they never listened to me (customer). With such a impressive product line up Honda definitely needs to pay attention to customer service.
  • The front body panel started to rattle within a year.
  • No provision for front fuel filling so every time you have to refuel you & pillion have to get down. The pump attendant gets to see everything inside the under seat storage box.
  • Performance could have been better. Honda can use the 125cc engine to give more power & use fuel injection to manage the efficiency just like it does in its PCX models in abroad. (Its high time to bring some powerful scooters).
  • Aviator is 708mm wide & 1803mm long which sometimes create a problem in congested parking lot. I always had a fear of getting the body scratched.
  • Instrumental console is bare basic for a premium scooter, no clock, no trip meter, no mobile charger. Everything is analog which meets the basic needs.
  • The shutter key system for ignition is missing in the Aviator (even in the new model) which is present in new Activa. The key slot in the Aviator is vertical so the keychain hangs & oscillates while moving which creates scratch marks on the paint.

The Farewell

The Aviator was my first two wheeler & I still have a lot of emotions attached with the Aviator. At the starting of this ownership review I said it was my love but now I feel it was like my teacher, my school which taught me very deep aspects of riding a two wheeler. It taught me what reliability stands for & gave me my the first taste of two wheeler touring. Just like we can’t spend our whole life going to school I felt 30000km in 2.5 years was the time for me to upgrade.

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I could have kept the Aviator but with my new ride in the garage I won’t have done justice to my Aviator by letting it get ignored. More over maintaining two vehicles for a service & cleanliness maniac guy like me would have been a costly & time consuming affair. Time spend with my Aviator was like my school days which I will always cherish.

When I saw this contest I had my bike in my mind but I have read/seen tons of long term bike ownership reviews on Internet & as well as on bikeadvice but there are very few long term ownership reviews on scooters. So I decided to share my experience with you guys. Hope this review will help future buyers & you are always welcomed to ask sentences ending with question mark.

Last few days when I was burning mid night oil for writing this review & was madly searching for few pictures in every corner of my P.C then I realized that our life runs on the fuel of desires when one desire is achieved another desire arises! But leaving the first desire to get the second one is an amazing experience.

I thank BikeAdvice from the bottom of my heart for giving me this opportunity because every time I will read this in my future it will remind me from where this all had started from…

Sunny Banerjee

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