TVS Scooty Zest 110 Review
Text: Sandeep Goswami/ Old Fox
Photos: Sunil Gupta/ Sunilg
That the all-new TVS Scooty Zest 110 is ‘actually’ new and not just a sticker n paint rehash is written all over it. And it is a new product not just physically but also in the way it has been shaped by the market and shall in turn shape it. Read along to know what all goes into making even such a diminutive and ordinary two-wheeler a potential success story in the present era of those never ending demands for more power and performance from anything and everything on wheels.
We were invited for the Chennai launch of the Scooty Zest 110 followed by the first ride experience at TVS’s Hosur plant test track. The Scooty brand-name goes back to 1994 when TVS launched the scooter targeted at both the genders but did a review a couple of years later realizing that more women were buying it than men! And so the Scooty then was repositioned exclusively as a woman’s two-wheeler. And ended up becoming the largest selling women two wheeler brand by notching up 25,000 units sold in a month for a stretch at one time! The Zest 110, a couple of decades later, has also been aggressively positioned as being tailor-made for young women. But a lot of specialized market research and analysis over these 18 years has been the additional spur for this decision. TVS has used what is called the ‘Trigger and Barrier’ study for market research which entails detailed questioning of the target group both for the ‘triggers’ for purchasing the scooter (earning capacity, utility, need for freedom etc) and the ‘barriers’ that hinder the purchase (social restrictions, perception as being unsafe, seen as unnecessary for women in a patriarchal society etc). Of course even the best of surveys and market research eventually depends on its analysis, interpretation and implementation of the findings. For example the ‘triggers’ are the most effective positives to talk about when presenting the product as in advertisements. The barriers are sought to be demolished by the effectivity of the product itself. To further encourage the ‘triggers’ and lessen the power of the ‘barriers’, TVS launched the TVS Scooty Institute way back in 1998 to facilitate rider training for women and girls. The certificate course fee was Rs. 350/- a week and any girl over 16 years of age could take it. The trainers are all TVS certified women riders. Thousands of women have ended up taking the course which still is available in some 80 centers and its details can be accessed at the link here.
Coming back to the Scooty Zest 110, this is a pretty and compact scooter that looks proportionate and welcoming. Neat flowing lines that ostensibly merge the contradictory sharp and curvy elements, it is a statement of practicality with a definite personality. The fit and finish is top notch, the glossy paint, the well fitting plastic embellishments and the all black engine underneath save for that shiny stainless steel exhaust shroud. Solidity in feel is a difficult task to achieve in a scooter especially since it has so much covering the actually ‘solid’ machinery underneath. But the Zest’s plastics do feel robust and should be immune to the age old build quality issues TVS products have been plagued with over the years. In fact this build quality has seen a strong and definite improvement since the Phoenix 125 launch. The Zest has that premium product feel about it though how well it retains it during usage in our dusty, dirty, humid and while running on our ‘violently trafficked’ roads remains to be seen.
Even though the Zest engine comes from the existing Scooty range, it is distinctly tweaked up to be peppy and torquey in its working range and yet return good fuel efficiency to keep the recurring cost of ownership low. The 109cc 8 bhp carbureted single cylinder unit feeds power to the rear wheel through revised ratios in the CVTi automatic transmission, an ‘optimized for flow’ air filter airbox and a stiffened chassis with sharp steering geometry all put together make this 98 kilo light-weight a delight to ride. The acceleration is surprisingly more than you expect from it and has excellent pull till the 60 kph mark (which TVS says is attained in a shade less than 12 seconds). Beyond 60 kph, the speed build up is gradual and peters off at somewhere about the 90 kph indicated mark. Couple the peppiness with an assured 62 kmpl (of course when ridden sanely and not wide-open-throttle), a smooth engine and light weight and you have a definitely likeable urban runabout in your hands.
The rear brake needs to be pulled in for the starter to work. The engine starts and quickly settles to a fast but stable idle. There’s an auto-choke installed to help in cold weather starts. The side-stand has a beeper that sounds if it is deployed while the engine is running. Roll the throttle and the Zest starts rolling, gathering speed quickly, quietly and efficiently. The steering is sharp, thanks to the steep geometry and short wheelbase, but there is no adverse effect of this sharpness on straight line stability. For a motorcyclist, the Zest steers on the mere thought of a steering input but in the world of scooters, this is just the way it is. The front telescopic fork and the rear mono-shock with that single-sided swing arm make for a great combination of secure handling and good comfort for the rider. The rear did not bottom out even when we hit a substantial dip in the test track at around 70 kph riding 2-up. Which probably is as good as it gets. Ground clearance during high speed turns appeared less with the main stand grinding away at times but then that’s not the way the vehicle is meant to be ridden anyways. It’s a daily runabout, a true blue commuter and not a performance machine.
The drum brakes at both are good despite an unusual quirk associated with them. The front drum at 110mm is smaller in diameter to the rear at 130mm! It is usually the other way round with most 2-wheelers. And the same reversed logic gets applied to the tyres (tubeless which is another big plus) too with the front being wider at 100mm than the rear at 90mm! Topsy turvy huh? The reason for this cited by the technical development team being that scooters by virtue of their design (engine at the rear etc) are rear weight biased which only gets worse when a pillion joins in. And hence the rear brake is a lot more effective in retardation than the front (remember friction or traction, if you please, increases in direct proportion to the load on the tyre). That explains the bigger rear drum but what about the wider front tyre? Again the same rear weight bias requiring a wider front to compensate for the low weight transfer under maneuvers and braking. The wide front should make the steering heavier but this does not happen mainly because of the steep rake, short trail and good leverage from the wide handlebars. Braking even with the drums is good and we did not detect any tendency to fade from repeated use. The scooty felt stable and composed even during attempted panic stops.
Talking of ‘width’, the Zest’s seat is probably the widest amongst all small scooters and definitely so among motorcycles. The foam is density tailored to avoid pressure points and even-out the load across the entire seat surface. The seat cover is a breathable synthetic non-slip type materiel and double stitched not just to look good but to stay good longer. I wish I could have something even close to this on my Duke 200. And at 760 mm high, the seat height is just right for any rider between 5ft and 6ft. The wide gap between the seat and the handlebar aiding this accommodation of varying rider physique. The textured non-slip foot board does away with the need for rubber floor mats and similar pattern finds its place on the funky looking front glove compartment. There’s ample storage with the 19 ltr under-seat one being the best of the lot what with that squarish shape and clean insides except for a small bump. There’s also a retractable bag hook under the handlebar and another fixed one under the seat. And a helmet lock is provided too. There are also plans to give a 12v socket under the seat. The one negative here is the angle at which the seat opens up. Near vertical, it has to be held up with one hand or it drops shut. Ensuring it opens to an angle a little beyond the vertical is needed. The foot-rests fold backwards into their recesses, their backward folding helping the rider avoid chaffed calves as she walks the scooter around, say while parking it. Upward folding ones hit the calves or ankles.
Switchgear clusters are painted and have an up-market feel about them. Lights are good, the 35w headlamp with the multi-plane reflector seems bright enough. The tail lamp/brake light combo is a long life low load LED cluster while the flashers have bulbs in them. The fuel tank can swallow 5 ltrs of the amber liquid and take you around for a little more than 300 kms. Nothing exceptional but then much the norm in the class. The body coloured leaf-shaped mirrors are vibration free and offer a good view of the rear. The low effort ‘EaZy’ centre-stand is another plus and that light throttle should find appeal with the ladies. The back-lit instrument cluster has a speedo and a fuel gauge. Alongwith the tell tale lights come the ‘power’ and ‘economy’ mode lights. The ‘power’ indicator starts blinking if the engine idles for a little more than a minute urging the rider to switch it off and start when ready to move. The provision of a kick start in addition to the electric start is a good thing as all back-ups usually are. The small ‘clip type’ parking brake that holds the rear brake pressed is a well-tried piece (I remember using it on the Kinetic Honda 20 years ago) that should find a place on every scooter.
So how good is it? Pretty good and does the job very well. Only for the girls? Not necessarily – the boys too can have as much fun on it and also revel in its undiluted practicality. Will it sell? Why not and going by what the competition offers, the Scooty Zest 110 is either mostly at par with them or better and so it should. Would I buy it/ if I needed an auto-geared scooter, I would.
Price: 42,300 INR ex-showroom Delhi
Type: Single cylinder 4 stroke, CVTi air cooled engine
Displacement: 109.7 cc
Power in KW @ rpm: 5.9 @ 7500
Torque in Nm @ rpm: 8.8 @ 5500
Wheelbase: 1250 mm
(L x W x H) (mm x mm x mm): 1770 x 660 x 1139
Kerb Weight: 98.5 kg
Seat Height: 760 mm
Tyre Size FR: 90 / 100 – 10, Tubeless
Tyre Size RR: 90 / 90 – 10, Tubeless
Brake: Drum Front 110 mm
Brake: Drum Rear 130 mm
Rear: Double rated Hydraulic Mono Shock
Ignition Systems: Digital IDI Ignition
Battery: 12 V, 5 Ah
Headlamp: 12 V, 35 / 35 W
Tail Lamp / Brake Lamp: 12 V, 3W (LED)
Turn Signal Lamp: 12 V, 10 W
Fuel Tank Capacity: 5 Litres
Vespa S Review
The Vespa S Review is here. We rode the Vespa S in scenic Kerala and found out how different is this scooter compared to the other Vespas in the market!
TEXT & PHOTOS: Sunil Gupta/ Sunilg
The overall Indian 2-wheeler market is still in its early evolutionary phase. The customer is wary of venturing too far out from his traditional set of choices and consequently even the manufacturers have a very limited product portfolio with very few things differentiating their products from one another. While the above isn’t true with motorcycles anymore, the scooter market particularly hasn’t tried to experiment much except the Kinetic’s brief stint with Italiano series and the subsequent launch of the Blaze scooter that had styling which was way ahead of its time. Fast forward to 2014 and we still have scooters which have very few differentiating factors. Thankfully Vespa is trying to create a niche in the market and offering us some drool-worthy Italian styling.
Vespa made a comeback with the Vespa 125 some time ago, which was followed by the Vespa VX. Both these models didn’t get big numbers in terms of sales but definitely helped the company make its mark as far as the brand perception is concerned. People who had money to spend on a niche product and who wanted to look different welcomed the Vespas with open arms. To consolidate that niche segment, Vespa recently launched their third offering – the Vespa S.
Styling wise, the Vespa S, true to its DNA, has got lots of oomph! The one thing that sets it apart from any other scooter in the market is its retro styling, accentuated by its rectangular shaped headlight with a generous amount of chrome. The same design cues are carried over to the rear-view mirrors as well. The distinctive white lining on the seat complements its retro styling. The S maintains its typical Vespa ergonomics with the Vespa monocoque steel body and simple curves.
The black plastic body instrument cluster looks upmarket and has speedometer and fuel gauge in 2 separate dials. The upper/lower beam and turn indicator lights sit at the bottom along with a digital clock, though the control buttons were kind of tiny. The left handlebar has the upper/lower beam, turn indicator, and the horn switches; the right houses the self-start and the headlight on-off ones. The switches were smooth to operate, with quality plastic on them. The hand grips themselves are easy to hold and have a mesh-type texture on them which makes the grip non-slippery. The brake levers have a very meaty feel. The overall fit and finish and paint quality is top notch.
There are few minor styling titbits that make the Vespa S stand apart from the other Italians; e.g., the chrome lining at the front going all the way down from the headlight to the black plastic grill and the red spring coil in the suspensions.
Storage wise, there are two pockets/slots provided at the front which are good enough to carry a half-litre bottle or other small items. There’s also a plastic hook between them, which you can use to hang your bags or other such stuff, a small but pretty useful feature we must say. The under-seat storage again is good enough to hold a half-face helmet. However, the floor of the scooter is not meant to carry any big luggage as the meaty spine at its centre makes it useless if you want keep something on it as it tends to fall easily on one side as you brake.
The Vespa S uses the same 125 cc engine that you’d find in other Vespa machines in India. This engine is capable of producing 10 PS at 7500 rpm mark and peak torque of 10.6 Nm at 6000 rpm, which is transmitted to the rear wheel via CVT.
Performance wise, the Vespa S is won’t disappoint, though that doesn’t mean it will prove to be the quickest in a quarter-mile drag either! If you have ridden the Vespa LX or the VX, you can expect the same performance from the S as well. It is quick off the line and has a smooth power delivery pattern throughout. The scooter feels a little stressed after around 75-80 kmph mark, but feels smooth and peppy before that. Handling is effortless and precise thanks to its monocoque chassis and the hydraulic monoshock at the rear and single-sided front suspension which take care of the potholes and bumpy roads with ease even with a pillion on board.
Braking is taken care of with the help of a 200 mm disc at the front and a 140 mm drum at the rear, which is good enough for a machine like this. The Vespa S is also fitted with the MRF tubeless tyres, which is always a plus point and an advantage over tubed ones.
The riding stance is upright and comfortable, even the taller riders didn’t seem to have any sort of problems during the ride. The saddle is spacious and comfortable. The pillion though is left only with a belt around the seat to hold on to, and there’s no back rest and no grab rail either. The grab rail issue becomes even more irritating when you try to put the scooter on the centre stand. Though the grab rail, etc., are available as an accessory at an extra cost.
So overall, if you are someone who likes to look and be different from the crowd and want everybody’s attention focused on you, then the Vespa S is the machine for you. It will give you probably give you the same amount of attention that your neighbourhood superbike-riding dude gets! But the Vespa doesn’t isn’t cheap either. At 75,424 INR ex-showroom Delhi, it is pricy. To put things into perspective, with that money, you can buy another 125 cc scooter from Honda or Suzuki and will still have around 25K left in your pocket! So there’s only the price tag which doesn’t really work in the favour of this scooter, but if you are ready to pay the price for the premium, you’ll find very few other reasons to not buy this.
Harley Davidson Street 750 Review!
The Harley Davidson Street 750 Review is here. xBhp rides this new HD and finds out how good is it!
After a gap of nearly 14 years, Harley Davidson launched a completely new motorcycle, choosing India to be the centre stage of this great event in their history.Which isn’t surprising as India today represents a ray of hope in the globally declining motorcycle market. And this shows not only in their selection of India as one of the manufacturing hubs for this motorcycle, but you will find a lot of features/ design specifications (which we will discuss later), which point towards India as one of its major target markets, though the folks at Harley Davidson deny it and say that none of their products are designed keeping a specific geographic area in mind.
Anyways, the bike in question here, the Harley Davidson Street 750 was first unveiled in EICMA in October last year along with its sibling, the Street 500 which by the way will not be sold in India as of now. We got to see the Street 750 during the recently concluded Auto Expo 2014 where Harley Davidson had also put up on display various customized versions of the Street 750.
We finally got to ride the bike in Delhi when Harley Davidson organized a ride for media professionals and here’s what we think of it.
Design: The first impression of the Street 750 is that of a reasonably big, yet compact, classic Harley cruiser with low seating, a round headlamp with bikini fairing and a teardrop tank. The overall design of the bike is that of a neat and well-proportioned motorcycle that is neither too big to intimidate you with its presence, nor too starved to kill your dreams of owning a big bike. The dark custom theme with all black treatment to the engine suits this bike perfectly. Swing a leg over the saddle and you will see a single unit round digital+analogue speedometer console that has the speedometer needle going all the way up till 180 kmph. A small digital window at the bottom shows you other stuff like odometer, trip meter, etc. The neutral gear and turn indicators lights glow up in the form of small LEDs. The switchgear assembly on the handlebar is completely different from what we are used to seeing on other Harley Davidsons. On the left we have the button to activate the horn, low-high beam switch, and the turn-indicator slider switch that is of push-to-cancel type. There is no pass switch, sadly! On the right, we have the electric-start switch and the left-to-right sliding engine kill switch. Also the thing you will notice instantly is the new lock unit on the Street 750 that has both the ignition lock and the handlebar lock in one unit instead of the separate handlebar lock in other HD bikes. Also of note is the lockable offset fuel tank cap, which proves the Street 750’s Indian DNA as we haven’t seen it on any other HD bikes that we’ve ridden so far. The natural sitting posture with not-so-forward set footpegs again seems to have been designed keeping in mind the height of the average Indian motorcycle rider. The taller riders would find themselves sitting a little awkwardly on the stock seat; however, they can opt for the ‘tall-boy’ seat, which is available as an accessory at HD and can make it much more comfortable than the stock seat.
Engine: Nesting at the heart of the Street 750 is a 4-stroke, 749 cc, V-twin, fuel injected, liquid cooled (with a huge radiator) engine pumping out about 55-60 horses (though this figure is just speculative as Harley doesn’t reveal the actual BHP figure of their machines.) There is 64.9 Nm of torque that is spread evenly throughout the rev range so that you don’t feel any peak or blank spots anywhere when you twist your wrist. The peak torque comes up as early as the 4000 rpm mark, which makes this bike a breeze to ride in city traffic. Also worth mentioning is the refinement of this engine, which is again unlike any other Harley that we’ve ridden before. The liquid cooling jacket helping cut down all extraneous noise from within the engine. Also it feels relaxed and happy to rev.
Handling & comfort: The Street 750 feels as nimble handling the city traffic as it feels at home while negotiating the long winding curves. At around 222 kilos, it isn’t really a lightweight, but it doesn’t pin you down with its weight either. Also it is definitely lighter than any other HD bike in production.
The new Revolution X engine provides a vibration free ride up to about 145 kmph, after which slight vibrations can be felt. With a bit of tail wind, we managed to clock a speedo-indicated 180kmph, which is where the speedo needle swing’s end. The Street is easily capable of cruising at the 120-130 kmph mark the entire day with a lot of juice left in reserve, in case you need to accelerate quickly.
If loud pipes are music to your ears, you’ d better go for the aftermarket Screamin’ Eagle as the stock exhaust note of the Street 750 is quite muted one. The bike comes fitted with MRF 150/70-15 at the rear and 100/80-17 at the front, which though look kinda skinny compared to its otherwise big bike feel, provide good enough grip for the regular use. However, you can opt for a fatter set of premium aftermarket rubber and get that issue sorted.
Brakes on the Street 750 feel adequate for an average run; however, in case of sudden or panic braking, you’d definitely want something that is more reassuring.
Fit & finish:This is one area where the folks at HD need to work. The overall fit and finish on the Street 750 leaves a lot to be desired. There are a lot of exposed wires here and there in the bike, which isn’t a deal-breaker but feels like an eye-sore on an otherwise good looking bike. Cost cutting is visible in the plastic that is used to make the switch gears.