An invitation to test ride the Honda Integra, a big scooter with dual-clutch automatic (DCT) from Hat Yai in south Thailand to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, sounds too good to let slip, so I gladly accepted it.
The first thing I noticed walking around the Integra is the seat height, 82cm, which didn't seem a big problem for a small person like me _ I'm just 160cm tall.
The Integra is actually a very handsome-looking scooter. The front of the bike, especially with the V-shaped headlamp and the big plastic surfaces, reminds you of the grand VFR1200, the petit PCX125 and the sporty CBR250. The whole fairing gives a good sense of aerodynamics.
The handle bar is designed to look like a sport touring bike. The high windscreen deflects the air nicely, but one tall participant joining the test ride thought that it should be a bit higher. The foot rest area has been designed to give three different riding positions. You can stretch your legs all the way, sit straight or a bit of that sporty style where you can move your feet closer to your body and do a little knee grip.
It has a handbrake, too, which is surprisingly useful when it comes to slopes and parking.
However, the compartment under the seat is too small and you must be careful when charging your smartphone under the seat because the heat is quite strong. These could be improved, but everybody else didn't seem bothered by them.
The Integra's parallel twin-cylinder 670cc delivers 51hp at 6,250rpm and 62Nm of torque at 4,750 rpm. It is so quiet that you can hardly hear it. An Akrapovich or Remus slip-on could add more excitement to it.
It doesn't take long to adapt from a conventional manual transmission to the DCT automatic, even if you are riding the Integra for the first time. I started with D, or Drive mode, which is meant for easy riding in the city. After awhile, you would want to change to S, or Sport mode which makes the Integra fun.
The DCT is quick and smooth. And with this auto, stalling the engine upon rolling off is history. An advanced fuel injection system also gives the Integra decent fuel consumption _ one owner claims a 35kpl best economy level.
After the Sadao immigration check-point, the real thing began. Malaysia's super highway is excellent, just as people said. The first 300km was mostly straight and the Integra's riding position proved comfortable.
Throttle control on acceleration is quite solid and doesn't feel loose. In fact, it feels like a proper big bike. The brakes yield good stopping power, although it can feel over assisted at low speeds.
There are three-piston calipers up front and a single-piston caliper at the rear for the ABS-equipped brakes.
Cruising at high speed is convincing, thanks to the aerodynamic-friendly body fairing. On the second half of the trip, we rode through mountains and that allowed me to feel the Integra in corners.
The suspension feels soft, especially when you do sharp and narrow turns. A 41mm fork is equipped at the front, while a single shock with a Pro-Link linkage is at the rear.
I swapped gears manually all the time and my riding position changed a little, too. If you move your feet more to the centre of the bike, it can actually give a feeling of a sport bike. The foot rest at the centre is apparently designed just for this. After riding for 1,300km from empty roads to heavy traffic in Kuala Lumpur, I'd say the Integra is a great bike for beginners or even the disabled who dream of riding a bike like others.
Actually, there was one biker, well into his 50s, laid low by polio. He rode with us the whole trip. It was amazing.
The Integra _ priced at 487,000 baht _ is designed for all types of customers or even experienced bikers needing a break from manual systems.
About the author
- Writer: Poravit Sreshthaputra
Position: Designer of the Bangkok Post