After starting off as a four wheeler utility vehicle manufacturer, Mahindra recently forayed into the two wheeler segment buying the ailing Kinetic Motors in August 2008. The first product from their stables was the 125cc Flyte which essentially is the same Kinetic Sym Flyte with Mahindra (Sym) badging. The scooter won accolades from everywhere for being a fantastic product but sadly, these accolades did not transform into sales majorly because of the concerns of the future of the company and lack of sales and service support.
Soon after, in true Mahindra style, the company launched two brand new scooters albeit with same engines and christened them Rodeo and Duro. We were also impressed by the very look and design of the products and were itching to get our hands on the machines ASAP. And the moment arrived and here we are presenting a full blown review report of the scoots and what lies inside. Has Mahindra packed in enough to give those Japanese’ any bother! Read on…
Styling, Build & Design
The Rodeo draws majority of its cues from its sibling, the Flyte. While Flyte looked a little feminine, Rodeo has been given a meatier feel to cater to both the sexes. Right from the front the scooter oozes a lot of style. It has a well crafted mudguard (which was not present in Flyte), bigger oval eye shaped clear lens front indicators, small chrome plated designing element right at the chest of the scooter, a Mahindra badge and number plate on the front with a lot of design curves running around and glitzy decals to give that flamboyant look.
Enhancing the overall like-me feel of the scooter are the body colored rear view mirrors (which are a little off-putting in terms of functionality) mounted on an aggressive looking ‘Horn Rimmed’ headlamp. Flipping over, nice snazzy body work greets you with style and the body colored grab rails and chrome plated exhaust cover complete that neat and ostentatious look of the scooter. The overall designing of the scooter has been made as streamlined as possible to ensure least possible resistance to air for better performance and fuel efficiency.
Coming to Duro, the scooter again finds inspiration from its bigger sibling, the Kinetic Nova. The overall design makes the scooter look a little big especially from the rear with a sweet looking front. Duro has been made basic but the amount of detailing which has gone into the designing is praiseworthy. Both the scooters look fantastic but Rodeo steals the show for us. Build quality seems to be very good especially on the Duro.
Rodeo – 8.5/10 | Duro – 7/10
Engine & Performance
Both the automatic scooters share the same engine from Flyte. The 124.6cc 4 stroke engine produces a peak power output of 8bhp which peaks at an early 7k rpm and the maximum torque of a healthy 9Nm which comes in at 5500 rpm. However, the distinguishing factor is the power curve which rises at around 2-3k rpm and becomes linear hereafter. We did not find even slight drop in power anytime right from the point we flipped our throttle from standstill all the way till the red line. The power delivery is by far the best in any scooter in India and distinguishably better than the Hondas of our generations! Even the load pulling power of the scooter seemed to justify its fantastic torque. Generally, you raise the throttle and expect normal acceleration, this scooter will surprise you at the way it picks up and carries its power. For all city driving, this probably is the best engine we have ridden for sometime now on scooters. The engine feels feather light and has immense potential to give that extra fun when needed. The exhaust note is also sweet and becomes punchy as and when the throttle is raised unleashing the power of this 125cc engine.
The maximum which we could achieve on Rodeo was a speedo indicated 83 kmph (which is fast by any Indian scooter standards) but the way it reached at that speed was more convincing for us. Even more inspiring was the smoothness of the engine at those high rpms. There was very little (almost nil) fuss at those high rpm where even super refined Hondas tend to give indications of vibrations. Duro would do similar speeds bearing the same engine but we could not test the Duro for performance. The only scooter which comes anyway close to these two (three if you include Flyte) in terms of performance is the Suzuki Access 125. The low end and mid range of the engine is very strong and zipping through the city roads is a breeze.
Rodeo – 8.5/10 | Duro – 8.5/10
Convenience and Comfort
Talk about the various innovative features on these scooters, and they come flaunting them in front. We thought it would be more readable if we innumerate them:
Front Fueling: The Rodeo comes with this feature of front fueling which saves you from the hassles of getting down for refueling. All you need to do is flip the key and here you go! Duro however comes with the traditional under-the-seat fueling system for which you have to get off your scooter, pull the key, raise the seat, remove the knob (at the same time holding the seat up) and wait for the your turn. And when it’s your turn wait for the guy to fill in the required amount of petrol, shut the seat, pull the key back to ‘on’, start the scooter and phew….. move. Tedious..isn’t it? But this convenience comes at a price. As the space in front is not as much as what can be stored on the rear, Rodeo’s petrol tank can hold only 4.5 liters whereas Duro is generous till 6 Liters.
4-in-1 Anti Theft Key: As they say, one key does it all! It opens (and closes) your handle lock, turns on the ignition and also breaks open the fuel tank lid. And once you have left your scoot locked the magnetic key then covers the keyhole with a solid cover protection which doesn’t allow any further entry to any unauthorized key. Now this is really an innovative way for the safety of your machine considering the alarmingly increasing rate of two wheeler thefts all across the country. But let us dishearten our Duro fans, this feature is kept limited to the Rodeo only and the Duro comes with the traditional lock and key.
Gigantic Storage Space: When we first opened Rodeos lid, we were a little surprized at what we saw! With the fuel storage tank in the front Mahindra had the liberty of increasing the under seat storage capacity which they did artistically. The boot space now stands at an amazing 22 liters which can store even the largest of helmets along with a vanity kit, 2 combs (a thick one and a thin one), a make-me-look-beautiful mirror, 22 different shaded lipsticks, 17 Mascaras, 19 eye liners, a makeup kit and might still have space left!
Duro owners might have to do with only a part of the mentioned stuff! But (on a serious note) even the Duro has pretty good boot space and can accommodate a helmet neatly along with a decent sized ladies purse.
Front box: Every inch of the scooter has been used with some innovation. The Duro comes with a closed lockable front storage box which can accommodate all what was not storable in the under seat box. But mind you only smaller material can be kept inside like books, CDs and other such stuff. Even after a fuel tank upfront Mahindra has managed to get little space for the Rodeo to have a small little open ‘Diggi’ (box) which can store minuscule things like important brochures folded, 20 Rs Dairy Milk chocolates, Pepsi 200ml cans, table tennis balls, etc
Electronic Gadget Charger: How often do you have to rush for your coaching classes or office or you are late for home and your cellphone battery has just given up. Your mom-dad, wife/husband loose some 2 kilograms running up and down waiting for your call. Now, you can charge up your battery on the go and call up your loved ones informing about your haleness (helping them save those 2 kgs!). Mahindra has loaded the Rodeo with a 12 volt charging point just beside the key lock entry where you can charge your flaunting iPod Touchs, cheap intex MP3 players, or your cell phones. For all those whose best excuse of meeting their girlfriends is getting killed, Duro is just the right scoot for you. You can safely vouch and show your dead cellfone to your dad as Duro doesn’t come with this feature.
Broad Seats: Both the scooters come with wide comfortable seats which can accommodate four massive butts completely. The Duro is a little wider and slightly more comfortable but Rodeo has a softer cushioning which helps keep that pain away.
The seats are ergonomically designed and have the right contours at the right places. However, the rear footpegs need you stretching for reaching them on the Duro.
Massive Leg Room: We have ridden quite a few scooters which have so less space left for the knees but Duro comes with Indias best spaced leg room. The scoot has enough room to carry a regular LPG cylinder with ease! Even the Rodeo comes with decently generous front space and ample enough for smaller to mid sized riders.
Sidestand Buzzer: The next time you forget to remove that side stand, you would get such a loud warning that you would prefer not to repeat the same mistake again. Rodeo comes with a side stand buzzer which goes berserk once it sees you moving it without removing the side stand! The buzzer is also accompanied by a warning light on the scoots console which flashes till you do the required job.
Illuminated Under-Seat: Both the scooters have a well lit underseat storage for all those dark night halts and safety pin searching exercises.
Foldable Mirrors: Lifted from the Flyte, the mirrors have this uncanny knack of folding themselves ‘in’ in the event of an impact which ensures you can see your lovely face in them with a bright smile again.
Rodeo – 9/10 | Duro – 7.5/10
Electricals & Instrumentation
A lot of thinking has gone into the making of these scooters appeal to the masses and it clearly shows. On the instrumentation front the Rodeo has been loaded with some superb stuff. The scoot comes loaded with Indias first all digital console what we have seen in the Yamaha FZ. What is even better is the presence of a tachometer (only current production scoot in India) which is also digital. The revs raise in bars (like in FZ) whereas the speed is displayed in a digitized format.
The console has loads of gadgetry; it also has a provision of a tripmeter, acceleration indicator, fuel gauge, clock and an odometer. Now comes the interesting part, you can change the background light of the console with a push of a button and you have seven different colors to choose from to match your yellow sandals, pink belts, Blue Lipgloss etc. (Is Honda taking note…’colors’ we are talking about!).
On the other hand, Duro sports conventional all analogue console set up on white background which has a speedometer, fuel gauge, indicator lights, upper beam indicator and an odometer. Frankly speaking, Rodeo’s display looks a little childish and funny because of its smaller size and that funny color changing scheme whereas Duro’s look fantastically classy, although being analogue and has a classic touch attached to it. However, the amount of data the Rodeo has in display is pretty useful and futuristic. Both the bikes come loaded with powerful batteries (how powerful? We don’t know!) and in our whole stint with both of them, the scoots started with the smallest of pushes on the button. For all those emergency situations we also have the kicker. But with the indicators on, the horn played Himesh Reshammiyas tunes on both the scooters. However, what we did not like was the illumination provided by both the scooters’ headlamps. We counter checked with the servicemen but they said, they were the stock scooters and nothing had been altered. However, we would keep our comments reserved on these till we satisfy our pedagogies.
Rodeo – 8/10 | Duro – 7/10
Handling & Mileage
For all those reading, let us inform you that we are a little spoilt after having ridden Honda Dio for many days, which according to us remains the best handling scooter in India, still! Talking about both of these, they handled pretty well with nothing very offbeat to talk about. Duro has a slightly better handling than the Rodeo because of the large (largest in India on any scooter) 1290mm of wheelbase which comes handy especially at higher speeds. For general place A to place B commuting these two would do their job easily. The good part, however, is the light weight (106 & 105 kg for Rodeo and Duro respectively) of these scooters, which, along with low saddle heights (of 760 and 770 mm) ensure that you do not get that heavy unstable feeling. The feet remains well planted on the ground and maneuvering around even the densest of traffics is really easy (easier than Activa and Access). Rodeo comes equipped with telescopic ‘PRO-SUS System’ shock absorbers upfront which really help in tackling those real broken roads and innumerable potholes Indian roads are flooded with, however, we would have liked the travel (of the shock absorbers) to be a little more along with a slightly softer damping. Duro, on the other hand, comes equipped with traditional hydraulic front suspension and it behaves like all (similar suspension laden) other scooters, real bad!
Both the scoots we had were loaded with CEAT Secura tyres and under hard braking were skidding off their line slightly. If given a chance we would have loved to change them to the MRF Nylogrip Zappers loaded on the Honda Dio. Anyways, the braking of both the scooters was above average and under normal city driving would give enough bite to instill confidence in the rider.
Mileage has been decent with this engine with Flyte reporting quite decent figures in the range of 40-45 kilometers for every liter in cities and we expect both these machines to be in the similar region as well owing to the identical setup these three machines have.
Fit and finish of the scooters was also pretty decent and the paint quality seemed pretty fine . Duro is available in six color options – Cappuccino Brown (hate this color), Majestic Maroon, Pearl White (looks good), Mystique Grey, Golden Beige and Fiery Black (Pick of the colors). However, Rodeo is made available in more radiant colors suiting its personality – Fiery Black (second only to blue), Deep Ocean Blue (pick of the colors), Cappuccino Brown, Golden Beige, Forest Green, Majestic Maroon and Blazing Red (looks fiery).
Rodeo – 7/10
Duro – 7.5/10
Apart from the glitch that Mahindra is still expanding, which might mean a little time consuming service and spares delivery, we don’t see any particular reason for a person choosing that 102cc (or 109cc) engine above these. Believe us, this was the most responsive scooter we have driven in India till date especially in the useable lower and mid range where we drive our scooters 98 percent of times. Higher range is a little let down but that’s probably only 2 percent of the life of the scooter. With so much practicality associated along with some pretty innovative features in offer, these scooters have won our heart and we would recommend them big time.
Now is the time to reveal the offbeat pricing these scooters have been offered for! The Duro would be your genie at Rs 43,477 and with a host of features the sexy Rodeo is Rs 46,801 all inclusive on road in Pune. Compare this to the smaller engined Activa which sells at 46-47k and the new Aviator which is 47k and 50k+ and the similar capacity Suzuki Access which retails at a tad lesser than 50k on road Pune. Does it get any more Value For Money than this!
Rodeo OVERALL – 8/10 | Duro OVERALL – 8/10
– Saad Khan