What are the most underrated mass oriented bikes of India?
The list includes a model from almost all the manufacturers from India. We ought to give them some slack.
In our number of stories, we have repeatedly said that the Indian two wheeler market is one tough field to study. The kind of demands we Indians do ask from two-wheeler makers are quite hard to conquer, as we want literally everything in one product.
Keeping in view of such demands from a very competitive market, the manufacturers too are doing a tremendous job by offering products which are offering a good blend of all the traits in one single package. Out of all these products, some do hit the sales charts with massive popularity, while some of them end up being average or low sellers, despite being a brilliant piece of engineering and design.
In this feature story, we are going to throw some light on the latter category of motorcycles and scooters, ones which are not selling as expected despite being wonderful in one way or the other. Here’s a list of all such unfortunate and underrated motorcycles and scooters, and we seriously wish that they do post impressive numbers for their makers:-
1. Hero Hunk
Once launched as a direct rival to the Bajaj Pulsar and as a helping hand to the CBZ Xtreme to make its parent manufacturer the leader of the 150cc category, the Hunk is now being ignored by most of the prospected buyers in this segment. And what is more surprising is the fact that there is hardly anything wrong going on this motorcycle. Its muscular stance makes it a very handsome looking motorcycle, it has got the most powerful engine in its category, the build quality and fit and finish are exemplary and is adequately loaded with contemporary features like part digital meters, rear disc brake and gas charged shock absorbers.
The Hunk sources its power from a single cylinder, air cooled, 149.2cc motor, which pumps out 16 bhp of power and 13.5 Nm of torque. However, the fact that there has been hardly any change in its overall design in its 10-year long lifespan makes it a bit dated proposition, resulting in lesser units of Hunk rolling out of showroom despite it being a fantastic product.
The new Hunk has been launched in two variants - while the base model comes with a rear drum brake and is priced at ₹69725, the more premium variant comes with a rear disc brake as standard and bears a price tag of ₹72825 (both prices ex-showroom, Delhi).
Now, a lot has been said (or to be precise, criticised) about the overall styling and stance of the current generation Karizma ZMR. The fact that Hero has totally ruined the looks of the Karizma brand to make it look more like an EBR inspired motorcycle hasn’t worked at all for Hero. Despite being a fantastic motorcycle under the skin, the motorcycle has failed to impress the prospected buyers of this segment, because of its awkward and disproportionate design.
Power is sourced from a single cylinder, air cooled, fuel injected, 223cc engine which produces 21 bhp of power and 19.7 Nm of torque. At its price, the Karizma ZMR offers itself as a package which offers you the stance of a sports tourer, with its adequately torquey engine, comfortable seating and suspension and a set of good features. Wish it was styled a bit better!
The Karizma is offered in four different monotone paint schemes, Blazing Red, Panther Black, Spotlight White and Vibrant Orange, which are available at the price point of ₹ 1.1 lakh.
Everyone in the motorcycle fraternity knows that how the Pulsar brand has established itself as the largest-selling performance oriented brand of the Indian market. Bajaj tried to attract the buyers of 125cc commuters by launching its smallest Pulsar, the Pulsar 135 LS. With a clean and sharp design which looks very European, the Pulsar 135 LS offers a perfect package for those who want the performance and features of a 150cc motorcycle, at a price and size of a 125cc motorcycle.
For 2017, the 135 LS gets matte finish handlebar, black heat-shield, single piece longer and wider seats, larger windscreen, a single grab rail and gets the automatic headlamp on (AHO) safety feature.
Power comes from a single cylinder, air cooled, 134.6cc engine, which delivers 14 bhp of power and 11.4 Nm of torque, putting it in the category of 150cc performance. However, even after its recent makeover, the Pulsar 135 LS isn’t selling in those high numbers as other models with which it shares its nameplate, despite being a good value for money proposition.
The Pulsar 135LS has been priced at ₹60718 (ex-showroom Delhi), roughly ₹1500 higher than the earlier model. It comes in three new colour option and decals that are influenced by the Laser Edge design philosophy. The new colours are Laser Black, Nuclear Blue and Dyno Red paint schemes.
Speaking of 125cc motorcycles, this particular category of motorcycles is something which has to deliver the best of both the worlds – performance and features of a 150cc motorcycle and efficiency and ease of driving of a 100cc motorcycle. This is one tough job for any motorcycle maker, but TVS pulled it off by the Phoenix 125 excelling wonderfully. By offering a premium looking motorcycle which has a big stance, it is loaded with some very exciting features such as fully digital meters, vehicle locator key, parking lamps, etc.
The Phoenix 125 offers a punchy performance from its single cylinder, air cooled, 124.53cc engine, which produces 11 bhp of power and 10.8 Nm of torque, which is just right in between the 100cc and 150cc spaces. Sadly, even after being such a great package, the Phoenix 125 is not seen much on the road as its peers.
TVS Phoenix 125 is available at ₹ 51990 for the drum brake variant and ₹ 55899 for the disc brake variant (both prices ex-showroom, Delhi).
Though the Unicorn had some excellent positives up in its sleeves – it’s bullet proof build quality, excellent engine refinement and reliability have been second to none in its category. But then, the buyers of this segment (most of them) wanted more, which resulted in the birth of its new generation model – the CB Unicorn 160.
Besides having the good characteristics of the 150cc CB Unicorn, the CB Unicorn 160 brought some dash of chiselled looks and features on board. However, like the 150cc Unicorn, the CB Unicorn 160 too has turned out to be an average seller, particularly because of its premium sibling, the CB Hornet 160, has become a more popular player in this space owing to its sportier stance and sharper looks.
As opposed to the old school (and rather boring) design of the old 150cc CB Unicorn (which recently has been re-introduced in the market owing to public demand), the CB Unicorn 160 adds some style and looks much fresh.
At the heart of the CB Unicorn 160 is the same four stroke, air cooled, single cylinder, 162.7cc engine, which debuted on the previous CB Unicorn 160, but this time, Honda has retuned the engine to make it feel more gusty for city duties. However, rather than making it more powerful as it did for the CB Hornet 160R, Honda has taken a back-foot by detuning this engine. The performance numbers are now 14 bhp of maximum power and 13.92 Nm of maximum torque – almost 1 bhp lesser and 0.7 Nm lesser than what the previous engine used to pump out. This is to make the engine compatible with BS IV emission norms.
Honda has revamped the paint scheme options as well as prices for the CB Unicorn 160. This time too, the motorcycle is available in two variants – Standard and CBS – which are priced at ₹ 73,481 and ₹ 75,934 respectively.
Bored of the boring stance of the Activa, but want to go for a unique looking Honda scooter? Honda offers you such a choice with its Aviator, which is touted to the most premium 110cc scooter in the Indian market. The Honda Aviator was always an elegant and stylish looking scooter. A certain charm had loomed its appearance of which it is capable of wooing its audience. The scooter continues to retain the same silhouette as its previous generation model, without any major changes to the shape of body panels. For 2017, it’s been topped up with classy features that only add to your quotient in more than one way.
Powered by a 109.19cc air-cooled, four-stroke, single cylinder, OHC engine, it is mated with a V-Matic automatic gearbox and is now BS-IV compliant. This engine produces a maximum power of 8 bhp at 7000 rpm while the maximum torque produced is 8.77 Nm at 5500 rpm. Honda has equipped its scooter with the new HET (Honda Eco Technology) and as a result that has increased the fuel efficiency of the engine and the new engine returns an impressive mileage of about 60 km to a litre.
But then, why does it sell so less and in limited numbers, you ask? Blame its ridiculously high pricing. Now, Honda has also listed its BS-III models as well along with the new BS-IV editions, which is of course for a lower price. The Aviator Drum variant (BS-III) comes for ₹ 51637, Aviator Disc (BS-III) for ₹ 56983, Aviator Drum (BS-IV) for ₹ 52077, Aviator Disc (BS-IV) for ₹ 56454 and finally the Aviator Drum Alloy (BS-IV) for ₹ 54022. All the prices are ex-showroom, Delhi.
Again, if you want the trouble-free experience of riding an Activa, but wish it to be a bit more premium and powerful, the Honda Activa 125 is just for you. Just like the Aviator, the Activa 125 tries to impress you with its larger stance and premium design, which makes it look expensive from every angle. The new Activa will get a new middle variant apart from the existing two and will have alloy wheels on it. Calling it a ‘Frontastic’ outlook, the new scooter has a fresh new front façade with LED integrated into the chrome chest.
The major highlight, though, is its engine. Honda Activa comes loaded with a new Honda Eco Technology (HET) 4 stroke, single cylinder, air cooled engine which has a decent displacement of 125cc. This powertrain produces a maximum power of 9 bhp at 6500rpm and a maximum torque of 11Nm at 5000rpm. This engine is BS-IV compliant for reduced emission levels.
But at the same time, just like the Aviator, the pricing of the Activa 125 is a bit unjustifiable. You can get your hands on the new Activa 125 starting today for a price of ₹ 56954 for the standard variant, ₹ 58900 for the alloy drum variant and ₹ 61362 for the ally disc variant (all prices ex-showroom).
8. Suzuki Swish
After the massive popularity which the Suzuki debuted in the scooter market of India with the Access, Suzuki tried to take the game forward in a more competitive way with the all new Swish. Launched as a more premium and sportier looking scooter over the Access, the Swish impresses you with its larger stance, features, peppy performance and the way it handles, making it one of the most dynamically better scooters of the lot.
The single cylinder, air cooled, 124.53cc engine shared with the Access develops 9 bhp of power and 9.8 Nm of torque, making it sufficiently powerful as well. However, despite all things going in favour of the Swish, the scooter is not selling much regarding volumes. The main reason for this fact is that Suzuki itself focuses much more on Access rather than Swish, pitting the latter as a premium and niche product, which has kerbed the sales of the Swish.
On the pricing front, the new Swish carries a premium of ₹ 3000 over the outgoing model and is now priced at ₹51661 (Ex-showroom, Delhi).
9. Suzuki Hayate EP
After a couple of failed attempts in the initial stages in the 125cc segment with the poor looking models like Heat and Zeus, Suzuki tried to refurbish its plans for the motorcycle segment in India by marking its debut in the 110cc segment with the all new Hayate. Launched as a direct rival to the well-heeled models like Hero Splendor, TVS Star City Plus and Honda Dream Yuga, the Hayate offered itself as a well built, easy to ride and handle Japanese motorcycle. However, the Hayate didn’t sell much as what Suzuki expected from it, which is why it gave a makeover to the motorcycle and rebranded it as the all new Hayate EP.
The configuration of the engine – a four stroke, single cylinder, air-cooled, 113cc layout – has been carried forward in this new model, but here, the engine does get a super sleek piston, high-ignition spark plug and low friction cylinder & piston rings. These have resulted in improved combustion, high compression ratio, reduced friction and weight reduction. The engine now produces a maximum power output of 9 bhp, while the maximum torque output is now rated at 9.3 Nm. Considering the improvements in combustion, the fuel efficiency to has seen a hike, which now is a claimed figure of almost 75 kmpl.
However, the motorcycle still fails to generate many numbers, particularly due to lesser focus by Suzuki on this particular model and the 110cc segment of commuters.Besides being the cheapest motorcycle from the stable of Suzuki, the Hayate also served to be one of the most affordable 110cc motorcycles one could have bought in the country. Continuing this aspect, the new Hayate EP has seen a minor price hike and has been priced at ₹ 44802. At this price, features like alloy wheels and self-start are offered as part of standard equipment.
10. Yamaha YZF R3
There is no hidden surprise to the fact that how massively popular the YZF R15 has become in the Indian market, as it was this model, alongside the FZ 16, which brought Yamaha back into the game of competition. Witnessing the popularity of R15, Yamaha offered a suitable upgrade for all the R15 owners by launching the YZF R3 in the Indian market. The R3 offers a big bike package scaled to smaller dimensions, but offers world class technology, build quality and performance.
The R3’s power mill is a 321cc, 2-cylinder, liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC, 4-valves engine with fuel injection and returns 41.4 bhp at 10750 rpm with 29.6 Nm at 9000 rpm. A 6-speed constant mesh gearbox delivers power to the rear wheel through a chain. This motorcycle also has electronic fuel injected engine which will send the exact amount of oil to the engine making sure that the motorcycle receives the right amount of power and without any wastage of oil.
However, the steep pricing as well as the lack of ABS, which is a big miss in this category, has cost the R3, which is why despite being a fabulous product, the R3 hasn’t been able to shake up the sales of the likes of KTM and Kawasaki in this range as expected.
Yamaha launched the YZF-R3 in India priced at ₹ 3.25 Lakhs (ex-showroom). Unfortunately, it does not gets ABS and is available only in Racing Blue (white with blue) and Black Lightning (black with red) colours.
11. Yamaha Saluto RX
If you are a typical motorcycling enthusiast, you do have fond memories of the legendary Yamaha RX 100, for the motorcycle is still highly regarded as one of the most successful performance oriented motorcycles in the Indian market. Yamaha tried to revoke its feel by launching its all-new offering in the 110cc commuter segment, the Saluto RX. No, the Saluto RX does not give you the riding thrills of the RX 100 but gives a refined package with an easy-to-live-with styling and simple performance.
Compared to the tried-and-tested 106cc engine which Yamaha has been using for all of its four-stroke 110cc motorcycles till date, the Saluto RX has been bestowed with an all new single cylinder, air cooled, 110cc engine which is a bored-down version of the 125cc engine of the Saluto. This engine produces a maximum power output of 8 bhp, while the maximum torque is rated at a healthy output of 8.5 Nm.
However, the Saluto RX is too simple to be desirable, and with 110cc commuters becoming a bit more premium, feature rich and nicely styled, the Saluto RX is lagging behind in the game with very limited numbers up its sleeves.
Yamaha has the Saluto at a starting price of ₹ 46400, which surpasses the 125cc Saluto to become the most affordable motorcycle from Yamaha’s Indian portfolio, a title previously held by the bare-bones Crux.
12. Mahindra Mojo
It might have taken a very long time to arrive on the block, but the Mojo is here in the Indian market. The styling may be quirky to look at but the premium features and chassis components related to suspension and brakes make the Mojo every bit a premium and well-built motorcycle.
Mahindra has worked hard to make its first shot in making a big bike engine successful, which to a large extent, has managed to make a positive impact. The Mojo comes with a four stroke, single cylinder, liquid cooled, fuel injected, 295cc engine, which puts up 28 bhp of maximum power and 30 Nm of maximum torque. Mahindra has built this engine from scratch, which means that everyone had high hopes from this powertrain. Mated to a 6-speed gearbox, the engine has an abundance of torque in the lower as well as middle rev range, which makes it a very lively motorcycle to ride on all kinds of roads. The refinement levels too are quite commendable.
This, along with the supple suspension, makes the Mojo a great sports tourer in this category. Though the motorcycle hasn’t scaled up in the charts of popularity, as the sales of the motorcycle are through limited dealer outlets, and at the same time, the design does take time to get digested.
And then, the final dart happens to be the price – at ₹ 1.36 lakh for non-ABS and Rs. 1.50 lakh for the ABS version.
The Aquila 250 is not new for India, for the motorcycle did come to Indian market very long time ago in association with Kinetic. At that time, the motorcycle was launched in a very limited number, and all of them got sold out immediately. Given the fact that there was nothing in the market at that time like the Aquila 250, it offered big bike like looks and performance, and that too in a niche segment like that of cruisers.
However, the game has much changed since then. It has been a long time since Hyosung launched the Aquila 250 on its own in the Indian market, but the motorcycle hasn’t enjoyed the kind of popularity which it received in its first stint in India.
This updated version continues to be powered by a new 249cc, V-twin, oil-cooled engine which generates 26.2bhp of maximum power at 9500rpm and 21 Nm of torque at 7500 rpm. The fuel injected engine is mated to a 5-speed gearbox.
The update/limited edition motorcycles will be made available at all their dealerships for a price of ₹2.94 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).
14. Kawasaki Z250
Kawasaki has been on a roll ever since it expanded its middleweight lineup with the Z800, Versys 650 and ER-6n, with the Japanese maker getting some impressive numbers in the middleweight as well as litre class category. However, the one segment in which it is yet to post success is the place from where it started – the quarter-liter category. Speaking of this segment, Kawasaki has the most affordable motorcycle for India in this very space only, the Z250. Regarding looks and stance, the Z250 is every bit a baby Z800, so the job is already half done.
Unlike the other Kawasaki motorcycles on sale in the Indian market, the Z250 SL may make a new impact as the motorcycle may happen to be the first ever single cylinder Kawasaki to be ever sold in the country. The motorcycle sources its power from a four stroke, liquid cooled, single cylinder, 249cc engine, which pumps out a maximum power output of 29 bhp and a maximum torque output of 22.6 Nm.
But blame its ridiculously high price tag of ₹ 3.2 lakh, which forces the prospected buyers of this segment to look past the Z250 for more value for money options, out of which the KTM Duke 390 steals the show.