Five upcoming mid-size performance motorcycles in India
The unprecedented growth of the entry-level performance motorcycle segment in India resulted in a slew of bikes being unveiled by manufacturers at the recent Delhi Auto Expo. Soon the Indian consumer will be spoilt for choice with both Indian as well as global bikemakers rolling hard to carve themselves a sizeable chunk of the market.
Mahindra, one of the newest entrants into the Indian two-wheeler market has finally unveiled its much awaited 300cc Mojo in final production form. Two years in the making, the bike unveiled at the the Delhi Auto Expo looks a lot more grown up than the initial concept, while boasting of complete indigenous development.
The company has not revealed the specifications or price of the bike, which will most likely be launched by mid-2014. The Mojo will go head to head with Honda's CBR250R, and KTM's Duke 200/390 duo. Prices are expected to be on par or lower than the competition considering Mahindra's low-cost manufacturing prowess.
In terms of looks, the Mojo is sort of in-between – it isn't over the top or flashy as the Duke, neither is it a contemporary looker like the Honda CBR250R. The design however is a huge leap from that of the concept showcased two years ago, the headlamp fairing being especially effective at reducing the awkward twin-round headlamps.
Honda in a bold move has announced that it will bring the CBR650F mid-size sports tourer to India. Rather than going through the CBU route like it does with its premium motorcycles, the bike will be assembled in India giving the company a cost advantage.
In India the CBR650F will go head to head with the Ninja 650 which is sold by Kawasaki's local partners Bajaj Auto. Unlike the Ninja though, the CBR650F doesn't just make do with a parallel twin engine, but a whopping four-cylinder in-line 650cc engine. While it may be more expensive to produce, Honda has said the bike will be launched at a sub-Rs 7 lakh price which is similar to what the green bike retails for.
The power figure for the in-line four stands at 85.8 bhp, producing most of its torque at low rpms to make it easier to use in cities, unlike its supersport motorcycles. The CBR650F is based on a platform that spawned even a naked bike, the CB650F, which Honda hasn't announced for the Indian market as of yet.
Hero surprised everyone with its awesome 620cc Hastur at the Delhi Auto Expo, but the star of its show was undoubtedly the HX250R 250cc mini sportsbike. Going head to head with the CBR250R in the Indian market, the 'HX' is the first bike from Hero to feature technology from Hero's American subsidiary Erik Buell.
In terms of styling too the HX250R is not unlike the CBR, featuring muted by handsome styling. The fairing conceals a single-cylinder water-cooled 250cc engine that supposedly produces 31PS of power. According to reports, the engine is insanely short stroked which should make for some high-revving fun unlike the more torquey CBR250R.
A huge step for Hero, the HX250R shows that Hero has clearly won the break-up between it and Japanese giant Honda. Considering the company's strengths in low-cost manufacturing and its humongous reach, the HX sure has the credibility to become the best selling mid-size motorcycle in the country.
Bajaj Pulsar 400SS/CS
(Picture courtest: www.motorbeam.com)
Bajaj Auto has only taken the next logical step in the evolution of its Pulsar brand, unveiling its largest variant so far in both faired as well as sports cruiser forms. The Pulsar 400 SS and 400 CS will combine the Pulsar brands cost competitiveness and performance, and will surely take the Indian performance motorcycle scene to a whole new level.
Just as with the Pulsar 200's powerplant supposedly being based on the Duke 200's mill, the Pulsar 400 is a Duke 390 equivalent. While the Pulsar 400 may lack the bells and whistles such as a forged piston and Nikasil coated cylinder, probably fuel injection, it does get ABS which most likely would be an option.
Moreover, the Pulsar 400 will offer cheap thrills just as every previous generation of the bike has offered. The Bajaj Pulsar range is unique for its offering of power and style at an affordable price, while the few compromises can easily be forgiven.
Another triumph of India's Bajaj Auto is Austrian bikemaker KTM. In a turnaround of events, the Duke 125/200/390 have become massive successes the world over, helping the company to become Europe's largest bikemaker. Now KTM plans to take entry-level performance biking to the next level with its RC series of mini sportsbikes.
The KTM RC 200/390 aren't all that different from their Duke cousins, featuring a slightly modified frame and wholly different faired look. The powerplants remain the same and should boast of the same linear power characteristics of the Duke 200/390. However the riding experience should be a whole lot different, with a forward leaning supersport riding position.
The RC bikes will retain the insane power-to-weight ratios of the Dukes, that should make for some sprightly riding, yet remaining pretty idiot proof for new riders. ABS is expected as standard on the 390, while it should be an option on the 200. Moreover, both bikes will wear the KTM badge, which means a fun riding experience is assured.