It’s a universal phenomena that a person first starts off with a bicycle and then progresses to two-wheelers and then to four-wheelers. I find myself in the transition phase from bicycles to two-wheelers. So here’s what I have gone through till now before getting my scooter. • The Bicycle Days I have been riding bicycles since I was about five years old. Learned to cycle on two wheels a bit late (when I was in the third standard). Cycling used to be my favorite pastime. Every evening, along with friends, I used to head out to the places I was allowed to visit (mostly the areas in vicinity of our home, as my parents did not allow crossing main roads). As I grew up, the boundaries became smaller and smaller, and I grew confident of taking my bicycle wherever I wanted. This continued till I was in the seventh standard. After that, the bicycle was used to go to school, tuition and to the weekly football match. The first time I went to school on my bicycle was on the last day of fourth standard. Being the only student in the entire class to come to school on a bicycle, I proudly showed off the keys of the cycle lock to my classmates. Started going to school on cycle regularly from fifth standard onwards. Have posted a short review of my rides here: http://www.teamfiat.co.in/non-fiat-...ficial-2-wheeler-thread-cool-2.html#post58785 Apart from the occasional fall now and then, I have been involved in two accidents. The first one was a head on collision with a Martui Zen at parking speed in 2004, IIRC. The driver was looking back and talking on a mobile phone and drove straight into me. The driver came out, lifted me up, said, “Koi baat nahi, kuch nahi hua” and fled. I was lucky to escape with a bent handle and a bruised forehead. The second one was because of my fault. It was February 2006, on a dark evening, was cycling with friends. I have the habit of getting up from the seat while pedaling when I need to cycle fast. Doing the same thing, my left foot slipped, and my throat hit the handlebar as I fell down. My voice was coarse for two weeks, and I thought it would stay that way for the rest of my life. Luckily, it was back to normal. I still have a mark on my throat that reminds me of this incident. I stopped cycling in June 2012. • The First Ride: 2004 TVS Scooty Pep We bought the Scooty Pep for my brother in February 2004. My brother chose it over the Honda Activa simply because it was lighter and hence easier to ride. I rode her for the first time in 2008, when I was in the seventh standard. Encouraged by my mother, I first used to ride her inside my home, and then gradually took her to nearby streets. I found her very easy to ride, both as rider and pillion, because of its light handling and fantastic suspension. After my brother got his Pulsar 135 in June 2010, her usage decreased. Then she started giving gearbox and oil leak troubles, because of which, in 2011, she was parked into the garage and forgotten for more than a year. In May 2012, I urged my dad to get her repaired so that I can start riding her to tuitions. After repeated persuasion, my dad finally obliged, and got her repaired from a local garage on 26th May, 2012. I was very, very happy when I rode her again after many years. It instilled a sense of independence in me. Now I was not dependent on my dad to drop and pick me to and from tuitions. Now I did not need lift from friends to far away football fields. I could do all this stuff on my own. It was an amazing feeling! • Things Go Wrong With The Pep Less than a month enjoying my new found freedom, disaster stuck. On 19th June, on my way to Maths tuition, while cruising at 40 kmph, the Pep suddenly lost power. Surprised, I fully engaged the throttle, which shut off the engine. Somehow managed to pull up safely on the road side, and called RSA (my dad ). My dad advised to start her up and let the engine idle for some time. I tried it, but in vain. Somehow managed to reach the tuition crawling at 15 kmph, 20 minutes late. On my way back, the same thing happened. My dad suggested putting her on the main stand and revving her hard (in fact, he meant the same thing earlier, but since I was confused and surprised that time, I misinterpreted it). It worked for 100 meters, but she lost power again. I called dad again, saying I’ve had enough, am parking the scooter there and walking home. Dad told me to calm down and stay where I am. After 15 minutes, he came to the spot with my bother on the Pulsar. My brother took me home, with my dad crawling home on the Pep. It was a very frustrating day indeed! After a few days, my dad took her to the same mechanic who repaired her. He said there’s something wrong with the carburetor, and it would take time to repair. Since he was short on time that day, he came back home. My brother started dropping me to tuitions thereafter for about four months. Those were very frustrating days, as many times he was late, and hence made me wait. In August, I told dad that I wanted a new scooter. He said that he’ll get the Pep repaired again, but I was having none of it. I said the Pep’s too old now and I deserve a new one. Luckily, I was not involved in any accident on the Pep. She has done about 14,200 km, out of which, I have covered only 250. She's now lying in our garage. • Pros and Cons of the Pep What I liked: o Lightweight and easy to maneuver. o Fantastic ride quality thanks to telescopic front forks. o Perfect for newbies. What I didn’t like: o Underpowered: Struggled to go beyond 50 kmph. o High speed stability. o Looks. o Cold starting is a nightmare. o Under seat storage • What I Wanted From A Scooter My requirements were simple. The scooter should look great, should not be very common, should have decent power, good features and the most important thing, ride and handling should be fantastic. I admit that the above requirements were influenced by Fiat cars. • The Selection Process While the Pep was in the garage again, I started test riding my friends’ scooters, usually on our way to the football fields. Here’s what I learned about various scooters. o Hero Honda Pleasure Condition: Not so good. Had scratches on the body and my friend said that it wasn’t serviced for a long time. Distance travelled: >35 km (both as rider and pillion). Likes: Powerful engine, stable at high speeds, brakes. Dislikes: Poor ride, plastic body. Verdict: A decent scooter, but not for me. Has got poor ride quality. o Honda Activa (Previous Generation) Condition: Good. Had just been serviced. Distance travelled: ~8 km. Likes: Refined engine, metal body, stability, under seat storage, comfortable seat. Dislikes: Not so good ride, way too common. o Honda Activa (New Generation) Condition: Good. Had only 1000 km on the odo. Distance travelled: ~10 km. Likes & Dislikes: Almost the same as the old Activa. Verdict: A tried and tested product, but is too common. o Mahindra Duro Condition: Oh my god! This thing felt like its gonna fall apart if I hit a bump too fast. Distance travelled: ~2 km Likes: Under seat storage (its huge!), sound of the starter motor (sounds like a torque wrench), brakes. Dislikes: Seating position, squeaky rear suspension, looks, other quality niggles. Verdict: Stay away! o Suzuki Access Condition: Good. Distance travelled: ~3 km. Likes: 125cc engine has got serious punch, under seat storage, telescopic suspension. Dislikes: The kick start can’t be accessed without putting the scooter on centre stand, looks. Verdict: Has got great power, but looks like an old man’s scooter. o Honda Aviator Condition: Good. Distance travelled: ~8 km. Likes: Refined engine, ride quality, front disc brake. Dislikes: Looks like a giraffe (!), common sight on roads, electric start hard to operate. Verdict: A good scooter certainly worth considering. The ones I couldn’t ride: oVespa: Read various reports on the internet. Its Italian (perfect companion for the two Fiats at home), looks great, has got a good engine. But poor brakes (as reported by Autocar India) is concerning. And then comes the price. Close to Rs 75,000 it was well above our budget. Verdict: Out of budget. oTVS Wego: TVS’s flagship scooter, which won the scooter of the year award in 2011. It looks great, has got fantastic ride and handling (the much publicized “Body Balance Tech”) and comes with decent features (for e.g. the LED tail lamps and parking lamps). Verdict: A serious contender. oHero Maestro: “It’s such a boy thing”, said the tagline. Perfect! But after reading a few reviews, I found that it is similar to the Activa. Liked its instrument cluster though. Verdict: Again a decent scooter, but I didn't like it. In the end, it was a face-off between the Wego and the Aviator. After my half-yearly exams were over, in early October 2012, just a few days before my birthday, dad and I visited the TVS and Honda showrooms. The salesman at the TVS showroom explained the features of the Wego in brief, while the salesgirl at the Honda showroom was more interested in getting our contact details, rather than explaining the features of the Aviator. Both the scooters were readily available. But we postponed the purchase because of the ongoing "no metal buying" period (forgot its name) :evil:. Which scooter did I go for? Was it the Wego or the Aviator? Find out in the next post.