The Indian motorcycling scenario has witnessed a large growth in recent times, and has come up a long way from being a nation of only puny 100cc commuters to a mixed bag of commuters to flagship superbikes. For those riders who have been riding the motorcycles with the engine capacity below 150cc, now have a wide variety of motorcycles to choose from. He now has various kinds of motorcycles, among which he can choose one to which he can upgrade and fulfill his increasing demands of performance. Following is a list of top ten motorcycles below Rs. 4 lakh mark, among which one can upgrade to a true blue performance machine on two wheels. The list contains everything, ranging from twin cylinder fully faired sportbikes to single cylinder naked streetfighters. So here you go, start reading, dreaming and saving for one, and if you have one, be proud of your machine.

1. Kawasaki Ninja 300

2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300
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The Kawasaki Ninja 250 was the first ever sign of the good things to come in the future, as the motorcycle showcased the best of Japanese engineering on two wheels in the quarter liter segment at the time of its launch. Few years later, Kawasaki decided to spice up the game even more by replacing it with a more capable machine, the Ninja 300.

The Kawasaki Ninja 300 has every recipe required for a motorcycle to be an epitome of perfection. The motorcycle borrows styling cues from the larger flagship Ninjas, which make it look like a scaled down version of the Ninja ZX-10R – a good trait to kick start good things.

And then comes the sweetest one of all the aspects – a liquid cooled, parallel twin, 296cc, which delivers more power and torque outputs than the 250cc engine it replaced – 39 PS of power and 27 Nm of torque, to be precise. Being a parallel twin engine hailing from the land of the rising sun, the refinement levels and power delivery of this engine is unquestionable, making the Ninja 300 an almost faultless motorcycle when it comes to mechanical prowess.

The overall ergonomics as well as dynamics of the Ninja 300 puts the motorcycle just in the middleground of being an outright supersport and soft sport tourer. Yes, the lack of ABS surely is an unavoidable thing on the Ninja 300, but apart from it, the Ninja 300 is one perfect motorcycle to start with, if you moving up the motorcycling ladder towards bigger bikes. Kawasaki retails the Ninja 300 for Rs. 3.60 lakh.

2. Yamaha YZF R3

2015 Yamaha YZF-R3
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It took a long time for Yamaha Motor India to shift its focus from scooters and commuters to what it does the best – making faultless sportsbikes. Believed to be the larger successor of the first pocket sized supersport for the Indian masses, the YZF R15, the YZF R3 is Yamaha’s first shot in the booming segment of entry level performance motorcycles.

When it comes to looks and features, the R3 completely resembles the YZF R25, which came before it and is specifically designed for the ASEAN markets. The sleek and proportional design is completely in line with the company’s design philosophy for the YZF-R series of sportsbikes.

What makes the R3 differentiable from the R25 is its heart, with the former being powered by a bored out version of the latter’s engine. The R3 sources its power from a liquid cooled, parallel twin, 321cc engine, which churns out a ballistic 42 PS of power and 29 Nm of torque. The motorcycle is blessed with all the heavenly genes of the dynamics of the YZF-R series motorcycles, which make them the pinnacle of the Japanese supersports.

But like the Kawasaki Ninja 300, the Yamaha YZF R3 too lacks the ABS even as an option, which makes it fall short by a margin to be a cent-percent perfect motorcycle. Nevertheless, for those who want to upgrade from a single cylinder 150cc motorcycle to a twin cylinder quarter liter motorcycle, the Yamaha R3, at Rs. 3.25 lakh, is an absolute steal.

3. Hyosung GT 250R

2015 Hyosung GT250R Exterior
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The Hyosung GT 250R is credited for being the first mover in the segment of quarter liter motorcycles. Though an unheard brand hailing all the way from South Korea, Hyosung hit the sweet spot of the enthusiasts hearts’, by giving the GT 250R a size and stance similar to that of the middleweight sportsbikes positioned much higher in terms of specifications and price.

The GT 250R looks fairly large, but the original design has remained largely unchanged ever since its inception some ten years ago, leaving the bike a dated proposition in front of more contemporary rivals. The GT 250R was also the first ever small capacity motorcycle to feature a twin cylinder engine, as the bike sources its power from a liquid cooled, V-twin, 249cc engine. This engine is healthy enough to produce 28.3 PS of power and 22.07 Nm of torque, which makes it a bit less powerful than its rivals.

The GT 250R does have some interesting bits like twin disc brakes at the front and upside down front telescopic forks, but some styling cues like those on the vertical headlamps, tail piece and instrument console do show the age of the motorcycle. The Hyosung GT 250R is priced at Rs. 3.10 lakh, which is a bit pricey for what it does offer.

4. Kawasaki Z250

2015 Kawasaki Z250
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So you love all the traits of the Kawasaki Ninja 300, but want your motorcycle to come sans the front full fairing. Kawasaki has an answer to this query of yours as well, in the form of the ravishing Z250.

Touted as the naked sibling of the Ninja 300, the motorcycle looks like a scaled down version of the much more premium and powerful four cylinder Z800, which gives it a larger stance than its actual dimensions. Though the motorcycle shares its powertrain and underpinnings with the erstwhile Ninja 250R. The Z250 is bolstered with a liquid cooled, 249cc mill, which churns out 33 PS of power and 21 Nm of torque.

In a typical Kawasaki fashion, the engine is highly refined, with the meat of the power lying in the higher revs. This makes the motorcycle a joy to ride for all those who love to keep the throttles of their motorcycles open all day long. The motorcycle isn’t painful to ride, as the ergonomics are spot on for daily riding duties as well. At Rs. 2.99 lakh, it is the Z250 is the most expensive quarter liter naked streetfighter available in India.

5. Benelli TNT 300

2014 Benelli TNT 300
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The Benelli TNT 300 is one perfect example of how an all new motorcycle from a rather unheard brand in the Indian context can still make a strong fan following for itself, provided it has got all things at right places. Hailing from the soil of Italy which is home to many other beautiful and artistic automobiles of the world, the TNT 300 is one very good motorcycle, if naked streetfighters are your genre and you want to upgrade to a bigger motorcycle.

Powering the Benelli TNT 300 is a liquid cooled, inline twin cylinder, 300cc engine, which makes 38 PS of power and 26.5 Nm of torque, making it the most powerful twin cylinder quarter liter naked streetfighter of the Indian two wheeler market. The exhaust note produced by this engine is the most addictive rumble heard from a small capacity motorcycles in recent times.

Unlike the other naked streetfighters existing in this space, the ergonomics and dynamics of the TNT 300 are more inclined towards a lesser aggressive stance, making the motorcycle a comfortable place to be on, even for longer hours. There are some negatives though, like the dated instrument console design and some rough edges in its fit and finish. At Rs. 2.83 lakh, the TNT 300 is a brilliant motorcycle, if standing out from the crowd is all what you need.

6. KTM RC 390

2014 KTM RC 390
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KTM broke all the benchmarks of awesomeness, when it unveiled the RC 390 for the Indian masses. The motorcycle is one high performance pocket rocket, which completely satiates the demands of the ever craving Indian motorcycling enthusiasts.
The KTM RC 390 is made up of all those recipes which a performance craver will look up to in his motorcycle – sharp and aerodynamic design with full fairing, an extra long list of fancy equipment, an engine which screams all the way to the redline and an intoxicating exhaust note from that beast of an engine. The twin projector headlamps, backlit switchgear, daytime LED lamps, fully digital instrument console, trellis frame, ABS and underbelly exhaust are some of the first-in-class features in the segment to which the KTM RC 390 belongs.

The RC 390’s liquid cooled, single cylinder, 373cc engine is one hyper active powerhouse, which produces 43 PS of power and 35 Nm of torque. These figures do make the RC 390 the most powerful motorcycle in this list. The bike loves to be revved all the time, which is a good thing for all those people who crave for power and performance all the time, but may not impress those people who love to cruise at low speeds.

The ergonomics of the RC 390 are very focused, which makes it an exceptional tool. Though those same ergonomics make the RC 390 a painful ride for longer runs. KTM has brilliantly priced the RC 390 at a mouth watering price of Rs. 2.12 lakh.

7. KTM Duke 390

2013 KTM Duke 390
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The Duke 390 came almost a year before the RC 390, and was a sort of premier to the bright future which KTM has in India. The motorcycle is based completely on the Duke 200. That means the Duke 390 entirely resembles the Duke 200, save for some features such as different body graphics, handlebar guards, ABS, orange wheels and trellis frame and of course, the engine.

The minimalist but razor sharp design of the Duke 390 makes it a hooligan on two wheels, to say the least. The wild and furious design, along with the long list of features, makes the Duke 390 one irresistible motorcycle to have.

The Duke 390 is powered by the same liquid cooled, single cylinder, 373cc engine which powers the RC 390. Though the power and torque outputs are same at 43 PS and 35 Nm respectively, the Duke 390 has a slightly better power to weight ratio than the RC 390 due to a lower kerb weight, which helps in attaining better acceleration figures. Though due to the absence of a front fairing on the Duke 390, the RC 390 feels a bit more stability at higher revs and offers a higher top speed. The Duke 390 can be all yours at just Rs. 1.95 lakh, making it a spectacular value for money.

8. KTM RC 200

2014 KTM RC 200
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The RC 200 was launched alongside the RC 390 in the Indian market, and those who find the latter a bit too extreme and hardcore, the RC 200 offers a slightly lesser madness. Though in individuality, the RC 200 is no less brutal, as the motorcycle looks exactly the same as the RC 390, save for a different paint scheme. It also borrows the entire list of features from the RC 390, except the ABS.

The RC 200 borrows its powertrain from the Duke 200, which explains why it doesn’t falls shorts on the front of performance. The liquid cooled, single cylinder, 199.5cc engine delivers 25 PS of power and 19 Nm of torque. Much like the bigger RC 390, the RC 200 too offers quick acceleration figures, agile dynamics and stiff ride quality.
For the time being, the RC 200 is the most affordable fully faired sportsbike from the stable of KTM, and is priced at Rs. 1.7 lakh.

9. Honda CBR 250R

2015 Honda CBR 250R High Quality
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The Honda CBR 250R was the first single cylinder quarter liter motorcycle to make its way into the Indian market. It was also Honda’s first shot in the performance motorcycle segments, which was till then known mostly for its range of scooters and commuters. At the time of its launch, the CBR 250R had only a handful of competitors to deal with, which resulted in the bike attaining an overnight success.
But the success is owed to a couple of its strong credentials. Though the motorcycle looks nowhere similar to the proper bigger CBRs like the CBR 600RR and CBR 1000RR, the VFR-inspired deisgn does manage to give it a big bike stance. And then, the engine, as the CBR 250R is powered by a liquid cooled, single cylinder, 249.6cc motor, which pumps out 26 bhp of power and 22.9 Nm of torque.

Adding the torquey nature of this single cylinder 250cc motor with the comfortable ergonomics of the CBR 250R, the motorcycle became the perfect sports tourer for all those who are looking for one such motorcycle in the space of 250-300cc. The Honda CBR 250R is priced at Rs. 1.58 lakh, while the version which comes with optional ABS carries a price tag of Rs. 1.88 lakh.

10. KTM Duke 200

2012 KTM Duke 200
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Last but not the least, comes the motorcycle which actually paced up the growth of performance motorcycles in India. The Duke 200 was the motorcycle with which KTM marked its foray into the Indian market, and we must agree, the debut couldn’t have been more spectacular than these.

The Duke 200 offered solutions to every motorcycle enthusiast, who was wishing for more power over the lower positioned R15s and CBRs. This entry level naked streetfighter from KTM introduced wild looks, which gave it a unique stance among conventional looking naked motorcycles. Adding to it, the long list of features do help it in becoming a brilliant value for money proposition.

The Duke 200 is powered by a single cylinder, liquid cooled, 199.5cc engine, which pumps out 25 PS of power and 19 Nm of torque. The ergonomics are fit for daily riding duties as well as occasional highway jaunts, with the motorcycle offering nice dynamics. Factoring in a price tag of Rs. 1.4 lakh, the Duke 200 is one of the most value for money motorcycles one can buy in India.

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