Fire and brimstone

The TVS Flame is back with a new look and better features. Is it worth it, asks Saeed Akhtar

When the Flame was first launched, it created quite a stir in biking circles for its DeltaEdge styling, fighter craft inspired bodywork and the bundle of features that came with it. Sadly, due to some legal wrangles over copyright infringement, the bike had to go back to the drawing board sooner than expected. Now TVS has introduced a new variant of the Flame – badged the Flame SR 125 – with new colours and a bigger spec sheet. Let’s take a closer look.

The first thing that strikes you about the Flame is its luscious paintjob done up in vibrant colours. The bike’s older iteration was no ugly duckling, but this one is simply gorgeous. Now available in vibrant blue, it outclasses most of the present 125cc bikes by a fair margin. It is all wedges and slash-cuts wherever you look, lending the bike a very bold and edgy look. The twinpiece tail lamps surrounded by black plastic panels looks uber cool and the pillion grab rail is also tastefully designed. The angular side indicators integrated into the fuel tank shrouds look smashing while the cubbyhole in the fuel tank itself is pure genius. However, it decreases the fuel capacity to a meager eight litres. The ergonomics are top notch; everything feels solidly built and made to last. The seat is narrow but quite comfortable. The biggest visible change on the SR 125 is the wider 100/90 tyre that adorns the black mag alloy wheel at the rear. Coupled with the 90 section front tyre, the bike features the widest tyres in its class. Together they impart a macho edge to the DeltaEdge styling of the Flame.

The instrument console remains the same analog speedo-digital odometer/tripmeter combo with a real time mileage indicator, clock and fuel gauge. There are also power and economy mode indicators that blink alternately depending on the strain you are putting on the throttle cable. The only thing missing is a tachometer but that’s not a standard feature on 125ccs anyway. The overall layout and fonts are very stylish and this has got to be one of the most striking consoles ever on a 125cc Indian bike. It looks even better once it gets dark and the backlights are turned on.

Like its previous iteration, the SR 125 employs a three-valve engine and not the regulation two valves normally found in Indian bikes with TVS’ patented Controlled Combustion Variable Timing Intelligent (CC-VTi) thrown in for good measure. Developed in conjunction with AVL of Austria (they also helped Royal Enfield develop the lean burn 500 engine), the CC-VTi employs a twin-port layout with tumble and swirl induction technology. The layout has been optimized keeping in mind factors such as emissions, fuel efficiency and rideablity for small capacity engines. Peak power and torque remains unchanged at 10.5bhp produced at 7500rpm and 10Nm at 6000rpm respectively.

On firing up the engine, the first thing that strikes you is the throaty soundtrack, uncharacteristic of most TVS bikes. The delta shaped exhaust can emits a throaty wooden sound once the revs rise and the second inlet valve kicks into action. It keeps getting louder as you continue to wring the throttle but those who love smooth, quiet and refined engines may feel a tad disappointed by it. It’s another matter for performance enthusiasts though. Despite the presence of bar-end weights, the handlebar is quite vibey and you need to squint into the rear view mirror once the speeds rise above 55km/h. The performance figures haven’t changed much and are on par with other bikes in the 125cc segment. The front disc brake is quite sharp and coupled with the wide 90 section contact patch it takes minimal effort to lift up that rear. The suspension is set too firm (it is adjustable though) considering the target buyer of the bike who will mostly consist of college goers and youngsters with a sporting intent. Handling is neutral and the bike scoots wherever you point it. My only concern was the low set footpegs that scraped the ground far too early, but it is highly unlikely that most buyers will be hearing the metal versus tarmac sound everyday on their commute.

In all probability, the majority of owners will be using the Flame for riding to college and occasional trips to popular hangouts. For that purpose, the Flame, with its striking good looks and attractive colours fits the bill admirably. It is distinctively styled, packed with goodies and has some additional tricks up its sleeve too. The new SR 125 comes for an on-road price of Rs 54,705 (in Pune) with a front disc brake and electric start as standard equipment. It remains to be seen whether this well-rounded exec-commuter succeeds in making a dent in the most cutthroat segment of the domestic motorcycle market.

The instrument console is one of the most comprehensive ever on a 125cc bike

A wider 100/90 rear tyre, twin tail lamp lens and a snazzy grab rail – the rear of the Flame looks as good as the front

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