Jun 7, 2017

Pitching the Dominar 400

Front page ad for Bajaj's Dominar 400. Go hyperriding!

Recent reports suggest Dominar's not selling in numbers that Bajaj may have anticipated, expected and estimated. Royal Enfield's Classic just clocked sales of a whopping 60k+ motorcycles last month, May 2017.

Bajaj hasn't hidden its intention of taking some market share of this growing category and competing with Royal Enfield's motorcycles. That snow-clad-mountain visual in the background seems to suggest just that.

Am wondering what happened to 'Dominate The Night' which showed city-roads at night as the territory of Dominar! You see, if we take the message literally, it might even mean Dominar's good for riding in the city at night, some other bike may be better for day-time traffic riding. I may be over-interpreting. But then, may be not.

Dominar suddenly seems to have chucked the nights and city-roads for days and highways. That may not be an issue though. Whatever folks promoting Dominar say, buyers of the bike will ride when and where they like to or have to ride. The question is, does the categorizing and positioning and messaging by the marketing folks make it any easier for riders to choose Dominar 400 over RE's motorcycles? Are they making it difficult? If only it were easy for the agency folks to offer a glove like expression for the motorcycle that is Dominar 400. One that really trades punches with the Classic.

Look at the message again! Hyperriding? If ever there's been a motorcycle on Indian roads that can claim and rightfully boast 'Hyperriding' that's the KTM Duke, with the exception of Yamaha RD350 discontinued ages back. You read about Indian motorcycles on whichever forum or platform, and that's what you come to know.

I like the term 'Hyperriding'. KTM says 'Ready To Race' alright. But folks understand those terms to mean the same. One can go do the surveys and researches to validate this.

Dominar isn't 'Hyperriding'. Do they mean riding on high altitudes as 'Hyperriding'? Oh dear! Do they mean adventure riding at high speeds as 'Hyperriding'? My guess is as good as yours.

Some other comments... For me, that perimeter frame is an eye-sore-like design element. And those tail-lights give an impression it's a Pulsar. Over-all design reminds one overwhelmingly of Pulsar 200NS. Or rather, just makes it look like a bigger Pulsar. And all the PR for the 2 odd years that preceded the launch of Dominar, established it as a bigger Pulsar.

Now whenever I hear Mr Rajiv Bajaj speak, I like it. And so let this be a reminder. Sir, the perception building started way before the motorcycle was christened as Dominar. It's Pulsar!

But then what's Pulsar? Definitely male! Bajaj tried to tag it with India's No.1 Sports Bike. But then, after KTM, the Sports Bike thing doesn't stick to Pulsar.

Consider this.

Dominar 400! Definitely male!

Does that ring in the ears?

Let me think of other alternatives, since a lot of water has already passed by. I can't undo the flow. Let's say you really want to offer a great alternative to RE's motorcycles... RE's are known to be not-so-reliable in spite of the new platform. So, here you go.

Dominar 400. Hyper-reliable Highway Rider!


Dominar 400. Damn fast. Damn dependable!

Or something more courageous.

Dominar 400. Dad on the Highway!

When I reflect on pitching motorcycles for the highway, I am cautious since even RE's motorcycles are typically ridden in cities or at best just around cities. Highway riding is still leisure and still a very small number. Another try!

RE's are known to be slow and loud. So here you go.

Dominar 400. Not that loud, but real fast and real good!

Or something more direct.

Dominar 400. Fast. Not just phat-phat-phat.

Dec 18, 2016

Is it really Dominar 400 vs Classic 350?

For Benelli TNT 300 wins the battle against these two bikes. But, of course, the price difference is mighty and most wouldn't even consider it as a competitor (perhaps rightly so). India is very very price-sensitive. 3L+ for a motorcycle is a big sum. Anyone reading this should surely test-ride the Benelli.

Sep 27, 2016

The Pulsar Pandemonium

I've been wanting to write about this for a pretty long time. But I needed a prod I guess to finally write.

Verbatim from bikeadvice.in:
The company’s Managing Director, Rajiv Bajaj, in an interview to Money Control has revealed that they will launch the 2017 range of Pulsars very soon. The timeline given is “between now and December (2016)“. Without naming any specific model (from the existing range), he informed that these will get “significant changes in both their appearance and performance“.
I've observed the improvement in performance of a Pulsar in the avatar of 200NS. But it's the appearance that has confounded me the most for quite some time.

Let me indulge in the appearances and draw my inferences keeping in mind the announcement above.

Here's the look that folks have come to admire and adopt over time. 

Here's 200NS. Compare this with the one above.

And then here's RS200. All 3 have been amusingly (at least for me) called Pulsars.

And then here's the Pulsar that won't be called a Pulsar any more but that folks have been eagerly waiting for as the big Pulsar and that has also been widely shown and talked about as the biggest Pulsar yet. On earlier occasions it's was called Pulsar CS400. Off late, they were calling it Pulsar VS400. Now we hear it won't be Pulsar at all. And that open's my speculative mind.

So going by appearances, CS400 has a good number of similarities with 200NS. No? Have a look at them yet again. The second pic and this fourth pic.

Now if the motorcycle in the fourth pic isn't called a Pulsar, I would say even the one in the second pic shouldn't be called a Pulsar. And if Pulsar 200NS would no longer be a Pulsar, then the Pulsar as seen in the 1st pic is going to stay the quintessential Pulsar. But we've been given to know that Pulsar will see significant changes in appearance and performance.

If the significant change of appearance in the fourth pic isn't a Pulsar any more, then are we expecting a completely new Pulsar look which isn't yet captured in any of the 4 pics shown above? In which case, the Pulsar 200NS look will also likely be discontinued for its blatant similarity to the non-Pulsar 400VS.

I also don't fathom any great relationship between the appearance in the first pic and the one of RS200 in the 3rd pic. Which means even that isn't the future look of Pulsar either. Which means even that is going to be discontinued. Or am I going way too speculative?

While the earlier Pulsars -150, 180 and 220 - all seem to be well-liked even now, the recent ones and the publicity-garnering pics and announcements have kind of messed up Pulsar, the brand, the look, the essence.

Time to come clean. I would be happy to see a new non-200NS, non-VS400, non-RS200 appearance for Pulsar. I haven't seen any spy-shots so far on these lines, so my thinking could be just very wildly speculative. But I trust Bajaj to spring pleasant surprises more than any other motorcycle company in the country. Let's keep a close watch.

Apr 4, 2016

Riding Mojo

Have followed the Mahindra Mojo story ever since it was announced 5 years back. Was glad to know its about eventual launch with very much the same design that was shown so many years back. And finally was able to check it out in my city.

The bike is huge. Fit and finish felt good. White and red colored bike felt far far more pleasing to the eyes than the black one.

The default sound of the engine is really good. But for the one that I test-rode, they had removed the mufflers so that it could sound even louder. The sales guy explained, people want louder sounds in order to feel like a heavy bike. I can understand his point since I hear so many superbike riders rev their bikes real hard as they cross the busy street outside.

The sitting posture is upright. I am not a fast rider so I could barely take it beyond 60kmph in the little stretch I rode the Mojo for. Yes, the bike felt really really stable. I am not surprised so many Mojo riders and reviewers feel good on the highways.

These days I often look for nimbleness whichever bike I test-ride. The worst point about this bike is the one that strikes the most to the onlooker. Yesss, the twin-headlight console attached to the handle-bars section of the motorcycle. To me the console felt way too heavy, and so the handle-bar has a certain heft which doesn't lend itself to nimble handling. Again, it could just be a matter of habit but I felt the same problem when I rode the Pulsar 200NS and when I used to ride my Bullet way back in 2006-07. Mojo has been developed as a tourer, and on the highways, I suppose, one wouldn't have to handle in the way that one does in city conditions. When seen that way, it might not look like such a big drawback. But I prefer lightness and nimbleness when it comes to swing-arms whether for within-city-riding or highway riding.

Since I have been riding the Yamaha FZ for 5 years now, I obviously do find it a great motorcycle for city riding. Way before I bought the FZ, I got a chance to ride the R15 for quite a few days soon after it was launched. I still remember the experience. And now I understand how well designed these motorcycles are. On occasions, especially on widely spaced roads, they might feel just slightly under-powered but they are so amazing to handle. I've test-ridden the Duke200 as well and I have a similar impression regarding its handling. So nimble.

Two points about motorcycle handling I realize. No matter the bulk of the motorcycle in totality, the handle-bars or swing-arms should feel nimble. Obviously it contributes when there are fewer things attached to the handle-bars section of the motorcycle. And when it comes to city-riding, 200cc is just about the right (safe and enjoyable) capacity for even enthusiasts.

I've to test-ride the Pulsar 200AS now. And am eagerly waiting for KTM's 200cc adventure version for India. Hoping it'll be out soon. I've saved some money for a new motorcycle.

Mar 27, 2016

Yamaha Fascino, Unicorn 160, Benelli TNT 300 and Bajaj V

This happens to be the first post since Sep 2014. Even I am surprised. Apart from my hyper occupation with my venture, in spite of a string of motorcycle launches in the interim I just couldn't find the motivation to write about any motorcycle.

But even so, I did go to test-ride some of the new launches.

I went to Yamaha to test-ride Fascino. I was told I can only admire its looks, there was no scooter available for test-riding. So much for Yamaha's push to make a mark in the scooter market.

I test-rode the Honda Unicorn 160. Felt it has a good sweet engine but no looks whatsoever. Tyres felt rather thin and didn't seem to fit the proportions of the bike. Of course, my familiarity with the sight of my red FZ daily doesn't help me see any motorcycle with thin tyres favorably I suppose.

I also test-rode the Benellis. 250 and 300 both.

I first tried the 250. It felt good. Big and, of course, with quite a bit more power than my FZ. I was about to leave when the sales-guy at TNT offered me to test-ride the 300 as well. And 300 felt amazing. Super-smooth and such good sounding. So much better than the 250. But the price difference also turned out to be really big.

Both motorcycles however felt quite heavy for city riding. When I compare them to the Duke 200 and even the Duke 390, I don't think the Benellis are as nimble. The Duke 390 has that 6th gear which you just can't get into when riding in city conditions but very nimble I would say.

Why did I write this summary sort of post btw. I wrote it for V.

I ride in and around the city quite a bit. Amidst all the launches, this comes closest in terms of styling (though a little less on power) if the purpose is to enjoy city-rides. I have read this is a torquey bike. Just a couple of days back also checked the newspaper ad, so I suppose it's in the showrooms. Hopefully, a test-ride's available. I am gonna go and post my impressions soon.

Sep 25, 2014

A little review basis my test ride of Suzuki Gixxer

The sales guy (the one you see in the pic with a rotund tummy) sees my red FZ, greets me and tells me, "FZ bhool jaoge Sir aap!"

I take the Gixxer for a spin. I have one word for the Gixxer. Smooth.

Pick-up was good, stance felt very good, gear-changing super-smooth. Sound was alright. Gixxer felt just the right size and very nimble.

When I ride my FZ, people give it a look, even after so many years, and after so many FZ's on the road. Not one guy looked at the Gixxer. Having said that, the Gixxer is a good looker. Nicely designed tank with recesses and a very pleasantly different looking exhaust muffler. The design has the right proportions. I don't like the cowl on which 'Gixxer' is written.

White won't be fun though. Red is the color. Second-best, the grey that I saw on display.

Post the test ride, I picked my FZ again. FZ felt great. The FZ 2.0 should be pitched against this one and checked.

Jul 20, 2014

First experience of the Yamaha FZ-FI

Just been to the Yamaha showroom near ISRO, Ahmedabad. Here's the little story.

I enter the showroom and meet this lady who greets me, "Yes Sir?" And I tell her that I want a test-ride of the newest FZ model.

She says, "Sir, test-ride is not available for the new model."

That doesn't cheer me and I look around at the displayed motorcycles to find the particular model.

Pointing to the one parked nearest to me, she adds, "Sir, this is the latest model."

I retort, "No! This is not the latest model. This is the older one. I want to see the one that has just been released."

Not giving up, lady responds, "Sir, everything is new in this model..." I stop listening to her. Watch where she was pointing out and tell her in plain simple words, "Madam, this is not the one. I own an FZ and I know this is certainly not the new one."

At this point, a man sitting on the chair nearby interjects and tells her, "Show him the FI model."

I ask again, "Is it not available for test-ride?"

Lady replies, "No Sir, if someone's new motorcycle is ready for delivery, we can give you a test-ride." I say to myself, "Wow!"

Another guys approaches me and tells me to accompany him downstairs to their stock-yard.

That's when I spot the one shown in the pic.

My conversation with him is inconsequential barring the fact that he mentioned this model FZ-FI will give a mileage of 45kms per litre easily. That sounds pleasant, no?

He mentions that the muffler also emits a different sound now. And I latch upon the opportunity to poke him to switch the engine on. He does and I was happy to hear the sound. Punchier and more pleasing than the sound that my 3-year old FZ emits.

The tank's shape has been changed a bit but it retains the beefiness and size. In the pics I saw online, the exhaust-muffler looked a bit over-done but it looked good in actual.

All else looked just in right measure. The split-seat and the tyre-hugger.

I felt and expressed this earlier, and I want to tell you again, the FZ is the best-designed and the best-looking, the best-built, and for me, also the best-performing motorcycle yet, given the Indian conditions and Indian motorcyclists' pockets.

People can debate, for that's what it's all about, but FZ is far far better than the Pulsar or the Apache, and in over-all impact, any day better than the Honda Trigger/Dazzler.

What do I mean by best-performing? Let me just add a few words here. I am a 50-80km/hr rider. In that range, the FZ feels very solid, smooth and sure-handler. Given its apparent bulk, it turns and twists without any unease.

Having said that I also feel that if FZ comes out with a variant with an engine-capacity between 200cc and 250cc, it would be the only motorcycle to desire in this country. I've ridden the KTM 200, and loved it.