2017 Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350- Road Test Review
When I got a call today morning from the local Royal Enfield dealer, who also happens to be a dear friend of mine, that they are letting me test drive the new Thunderbird 350 BSIV variant, there was no dearth for my excitement. I reached the showroom and collected the keys of the Cruiser that was majestically waiting for me to acknowledge its presence. Although we are used to the styling of this Cruiser, which has remained almost unchanged since the TB got its first update back in 2012, there is still something about this motorcycle which attracts everyone’s attention.
Thunderbird 350 definitely looks like a proper cruiser with its layback relaxed sitting stance, padded seats and the proper cruiser like handlebars. Of course, there is plenty of new modern tech in the cruiser which makes it really modern, and if we think about this price range in which the Thunderbird 350 is positioned, there is no other motorcycle that can compete with this Royal cruiser.
Talking about the BSIV variant, in particular, there is no change in power or torque output which is a good thing because compared to the displacement, the Cruiser does not generate sufficient amount of power on paper. Don’t get me wrong, when you ride it in the City traffic, you will realise that there is enough to push you forward through with ease, and as always, is a breeze on the highways too.
Now, I have had the motorcycle with me for a whole day and ridden almost 150 kilometres on it, covering almost every road condition our roads have to offer. Here is a comprehensive review of the new 2017 Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350 and what exactly are the changes you will find in this BSIV variant.
Click past jump to read our full review the new 2017 Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350
2016 Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza- Driven
We all have at least one single nostalgic moment attached with the Maruti 800. After all, for all the kids, youth or middle age men belonging to the era of nineties, this one car happened to be their first ever family car, thus being a part for most of their memorable moments. However, over all these years, the Indian car market as well as Maruti Suzuki itself have evolved a lot, which not only has made the average Indian car buyer mature as well as picky, but at the same time, has made the Indian car makers competitive enough to make cars which are better and modern in one way or the other.
Speaking of Maruti Suzuki, the manufacturer has come a long way from being a maker of small mini hatchbacks to a name which now makes everything from an entry level hatchback to a premium crossover. And yes, it now also has a significant contribution in the fastest growing segment of today’s times – that of the compact SUVs. Now, the combination of Maruti Suzuki and SUVs never happened to be popular in the past, with its only offering in the SUV segment in the form of Grand Vitara being a big flop in India in the past, due to the image of Maruti Suzuki as only a small car maker.
But that’s now a thing of the past, and as Maruti Suzuki too is being perceived as a maker of value for money premium car makers, it has made its debut in the compact SUV segment in the form of Vitara Brezza. Developed fully in and for the Indian market, the Vitara Brezza since its launch in August 2016 has been shattering all the records and benchmarks of the sub-four meter SUV segment and is consistently finding a place in the top ten selling cars in the Indian market, thus putting Maruti Suzuki as a prominent name in the highest UV seller in India, one title which nobody would have thought it would bag.
Now, for a compact SUV which is consistently raking in 8000-10000 units per month and at the same time, commanding a waiting period of nearly six to seven months, the Vitara Brezza needs to be special. What all things are making the Vitara Brezza this popular and special, which is managing to outsell its competition? Let’s find out:-
2016 Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350 - Road Test Review
Passion, rebellious and single-handed reign – these three words truly define the path and philosophy of Royal Enfield towards two wheeler motoring. The immense fan base and the customer centric approach with its built-to-taste products, beautiful and fun filled rides and various programs make sure that no other motorcycle manufacturer in the mass market segment is as passionate towards motorcycling as Royal Enfield. The fact that Royal Enfield has chosen a path to make an altogether different kind of motorcycles and segments like retro roadsters, café racers, cruisers and now an adventure tourer truly signify the rebellious nature of Royal Enfield, where other manufacturers are busy in the rat race of churning volumes through commuters, scooters and sportbikes, none of which is manufactured by Royal Enfield, and it has no plans of making them in future as well. And lastly, the fact that it hasn’t been challenged by any other manufacturer till date, with no direct rivals to its motorcycles, has ensured that Royal Enfield is the sole player and ruler of its own playground.
Talking about one of the categories in which Royal Enfields has its mastery, the cruiser segment has not seen an alternative to the Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350 since the motorcycle made its inception in the Indian market almost a decade ago. Yes, Bajaj did came with the various versions of Avenger, but then, it is strategically positioned much below the Thunderbird 350, in terms of powertrain and pricing. The Thunderbird 350, on its very first arrival, was an altogether fresh wave of change from the otherwise retro styled roadsters under the ‘Bullet’ brand. Branded as a leisure motorcycle which is a treat for those who plan for long distance touring most of times, the Thunderbird 350, after the Classic 350, is the highest volume bringer for Royal Enfield. So high is the charm, aura and demand of the Thunderbird 350 is that even after decade long existence, counting in the four years of the current generation version, the motorcycle still commands a waiting period of almost 2-4 months. Yes, there is a 500cc version of the Thunderbird too, but then, it is targeted only for a niche audience who value performance more than any other aspect.
So, what all things and traits do make the Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350 such a special motorcycle in the hearts of enthusiasts? What could have been a better way to take the motorcycle itself for a spin and find out!
2016 Yamaha Fascino- Road Test Review
Ever since the refurbishment of the scooter segment in India posts the arrival of Honda Activa into the scene in early 2000s, there has been a lot of change in the way scooters are perceived in India. There was a time when the scooter segment was almost dead, after the dusk of the era of two stroke scooters from Bajaj and LML. The debut of Honda Activa in the market and its open-handed receival by the ‘aam aadmi’ of India not only made us rethink that there is still a lot more action to be seen in the scooter segment, but also it forced other two wheeler manufacturers to rethink their strategy and come up with more and more scooters.
Now, such is the scenario, that every other mass market two wheeler maker, barring Bajaj Auto and Royal Enfield, has entered into the game of scooter production and sales. This is where the versatility has come in this segment as well. From a time, when the Honda Activa paved the path of only conventional looking unisex family scooters, in the current times, we can see a variety of scooters plying on the roads. And by variety, we mean to say that the scooters now differ a lot from each other in terms of body style, features and performance.
Among all the scooters existing today, the segment of retro or neo-classic scooters is undoubtedly the most unique and attractive one. Initiated by Piaggio with its legendary Vespa range, the segment of retro/neo-classic scooters is the one which focuses on overall styling rather than performance and other aspects. It is there cool design bits inspired by the scooters from the yesteryears, fused with the modern styling cues, which make them look standout from the crowd of monotonous scooters.
Ever since the success of Vespa, in spite of their steep pricing, other manufacturers too have started taking a note about it. The first manufacturer to follow the foot steps of Vespa happens to be Yamaha, which is the newest manufacturer to enter into the scooter segment. The scooter in question here is the Yamaha Fascino, which is currently the highest selling scooter from the stable of Yamaha, owing to its distinctive design. But as they say, it takes prowess in all aspects to be a game changer. So, apart from design, what more does the Yamaha Fascino packs in? Let’s find out.
2015 Honda CB-Hornet 160 R- DRIVEN
The CB-Hornet was the last bike that was launched by Honda in the year 2015 and it has been launched to take on the likes of the Yamaha FZ and the Suzuki Gixxer which has created their very own identity in the 150 cc segment and has been attracting the young generations of the Country. Compared to the Gixxer and the FZ the Hornet 160 R is the most powerful motorcycle here.
The Honda CB-Hornet 160 R not only is powerful but looks impressive too at the same time and the extra 10-12 cc displacement is the reason behind all that extra power. The CB Hornet 160 R comes from the stable of one of the most popular two wheeler manufacturer of India who is known for their engine refinement and technology.
The CB-Hornet 160 R definitely looks muscular and the massive and brawny rear wheels and the muscular tank speaks for it but does it have what it takes to compete with some other tough competitors of its segment? I was able to get my hands on this new motorcycle and was able to push the bike to its limits. Below provided is an exclusive review of the new street naked sports motorcycle from Honda.
Click past jump to read more about the new 2016 Honda CB-Hornet 160R
2015 Bajaj Pulsar AS200 : Driven
When Bajaj introduced the NS200, it was an instant hit! I still remember going to the Bajaj showroom several times just to get a glance of that motorcycle. That muscular fuel tank, ‘Autobot’ inspired headlamps, that cheeky looking rear tail portion, nitrox monoshock shock absorbers and not to forget the underbelly exhaust, everything was just perfectly crafted giving it an aggressive character and also justifying Bajaj’s old tag “Definitely Male”. Then it was the technology that it offered. The NS200 was the first budget performance motorcycles to offer a liquid cooled engine, then offcourse! There was the triple spark technology. Everything about this motorcycle was new to the Indian customers back in 2012.
Skip to year 2015, the motorcycle scenario has also changed completely we now have plenty of new offerings from different two wheeler manufacturers. Motorcycle enthusiast now has better options to choose from if they have a flexible budget.
But think deeply! For those who are looking for an entry level performance motorcycle still gets few options in their hand. Let me be honest here, we either have the blue eyed boy of this segment the KTM Duke 200 (which according to me is overpriced but stays on top of the list for its performance and offcourse the ‘Austrian’ tag mark. yes! We were always attracted to ‘videshi’ objects) or the old Karizma ZMR (which looks to me that it has tried to lose several pounds and ended up losing its original identity) and then there is the new entrants the Mahindra Mojo and the Benelli TNT250i.
So what about those people who don’t want to spend 1 and half lakh rupees behind an entry level performance motorcycle? well! We have got our very own two wheeler maker Bajaj as our only savior! Their new breed of Pulsars which evolved from the NS200 including the RS200 and the AS200 definitely leaves their mark here. The real spotsbike styling and charisma, the advanced hardware and the powerful engines and the aggressive pricing is what makes this motorcycles crowd favourite.
We have already talked about the RS200 now it’s time to we talk about the AS200 which is just a semi faired variant of the NS200 or there is something more than that?
Yes! I have answered to all your questions, is it better than the Pulsar 220? Can it be used for touring? What is its top speed? Etc but to get all your answers you need to read this review first.
Read more about the 2015 Bajaj Pulsar AS200
2016 Bajaj V15 : Driven
Bajaj launched their newest commuter in India called the’ V’ which perhaps breaks the stereotypes of commuter motorcycles in India. This new offering from Bajaj looks different from the rest of the lot and also carries a premium feel with it. What sets this motorcycle apart from the rest is the fact that each and everytime you swing your leg over the motorcycle you are opening an important chapter of history. The Bajaj V as you all know by now carries the metal from the scrapped INS Vikrant warship which served Indian navy in one of the most prestigious battle between Indian and Pakistan in 1971.
After the first aircraft carrier of India was relieved from its duty it was preserved as a museum ship in Mumbai. Later the museum was closed for safety of the visitors and in January 2014 this aircraft carrier was scrapped for metal. Bajaj brought the scrap metal ship and decided to engrave the same metal onto the fuel tank of their latest commuter motorcycle and thus "the legend is born once again".
After the successful stint with the Pulsar 150, Bajaj needed a new commuter which could win the hearts of the people equally. If we take a closer look the new V15 has been positioned cleverly in between the Discover and the Pulsar range giving a hint that the ’V’ is not exactly your daily commuter like the Discover series neither it wants to become a sporty commuter like the Pulsar series. So there you have it, a completely new 150 cc motorcycle which stands out in the group.
Recently I was able to get my hands on this motorcycle for an entire day so read the whole review to find out whether this new entrant in the 150 cc space has what it takes to make its presence felt in one of the most competitive motorcycle segments of the Country or not.
Click past jump to read more about the 2016 Bajaj V
In the automobile industry of India, there are manufacturers who wake up from the slumber when a response to their rivals is needed to be given, as and when required. And then, there’s KTM – a motorcycle major from Austria which has been shattering all the myths and establishing new benchmarks in the entry level performance oriented segments of the Indian two wheeler market.
In a commuter obsessed nation like that of ours, KTM has emerged as a brilliant motorcycle maker which has studied and understood the needs and requirements of the motorcycling enthusiasts like no other manufacturer has been able to. With its stupendous price to packaging ratio, the motorcycles from KTM have set new standards when it comes to the aspect of value for money.
This brings us to the core that how KTM emerged as one of the fastest growing motorcycle companies in India. The story of inception hails back to 2012, when this Austrian manufacturer entered into the Indian market with the collaboration of its Indian partner Bajaj Auto. The bike in question was the Duke 200, which marked as the ticket by KTM for the vast playground which the Indian two wheeler market is.
In a very short span of time, the KTM Duke 200 went on setting new sales records and did started a new trend of performance oriented motorcycles. The key factors to its success was the premium big bike feel of the motorcycle at a price slightly premium to that of a premium 150cc offering, say Yamaha YZF R15 or Honda CBR 150R.
Though KTM now has a wide range of four options which are equally tempting, it is the Duke 200 which happens to be the most affordable model in the lineup of KTM for India. We, at Topspeed, got an opportunity to test the latest iteration of the smallest pocket rocket of KTM, the Duke 200, which comes with a number of slight changes which the motorcycle has received.
Click past jump to read the full test review