Revised – Hero Honda Hunk

Another upgrade for the Hero Honda Hunk
Words: Piyush Sonsale  Photography: Sanjay Raikar

Another upgrade for the Hero Honda Hunk
Words: Piyush Sonsale  Photography: Sanjay Raikar

Hero Honda have further embellished their 150-cc style statement, the Hunk. This motorcycle shares its engine with  the CBZ X-treme, but has an upmarket appeal with a glossy finish and muscular look instead of the CBZ X-treme’s sporty one. The Hunk’s power plant still produces 14.4 PS of power and 12.8 Nm of torque and retains its old chassis. Though a good performer, the Hunk isn’t the most frugal 150-cc bike when it comes to fuel consumption. However, it now comes with the option of a rear disc brake (for an extra Rs 3,326) while tubeless tyres are a default.

The revised Hunk has an all-new console with a digital display  for the odometer, speedometer and time. The console has an orange backlight, which is bright enough during the day and looks brilliant at night. At the centre is a big analogue dial for the tachometer and an analogue fuel gauge is located on the left. The neutral gear indicator is located below the tachometer and the turn signal and headlight beam indicators are placed above the tachometer dial. Not so cool, though, is the chrome finish bordering the circular tachometer dial.

The cosmetic changes includes an LED tail-lamp, a re-designed visor and front mudguard, body-coloured mirrors, a sticker of raging bull on the  huge tank cowl and a new exhaust cover. The Hunk is available in six different colours – silver, grey, two tones of red, black and brown – and carries a price tag of Rs 68,827 (OTR, Pune) without the optional disc brake. Hero Honda have again managed to upgrade their product while keeping the price competitive, but, as usual, the changes remain skin-deep.

Wisdom tooth – Yamaha SZ-R

The SZ-R is a sporty variant of Yamaha’s latest 150-cc utility bike. Better late than never, says Piyush Sonsale
Photography: Sanjay Raikar

The SZ-R is a sporty variant of Yamaha’s latest 150-cc utility bike. Better late than never, says Piyush Sonsale
Photography: Sanjay Raikar

Yamaha have finally
launched a new variant in the SZ series with some essential upgrades and an ‘R’ added to the name. The SZ-R is mechanically the same as other SZ variants. However, it has the much-needed single front disc brake, which SZ lacked earlier. The disc brake goes miles in inducing confidence while riding. The bar-end weights, also part of the ‘new’ list in the SZ-R, have increased the stability of the handlebar. The sticker on the SZ-X says, ‘Power and comfort’, while the one on the SZ-R says, ‘Power and sport’. And truly so. Yamaha have given the bike a sporty edge with a new, two-layered tank cowl sporting the Yamaha logo, a tachometer to show the engine revs and side panels. While the front shock-absorber has changed colour, the turn signal indicators have clear plastic instead of orange. The colours on offer are red, black and blue.

When a person wants to buy a bike, s/he is willing to stretch the budget by one or two thousand rupees. The SZ is priced at Rs 55,186, which is Rs 2,286 more than the YBR 125 (prices OTR, Pune). The SZ-X has been priced at Rs 58,506, an increase of Rs 2,306 from the SS 125. The 125’s have better fuel efficiency, but the winner in the performance and looks category is the SZ series. With such close pricing, the products have thin boundaries in terms of the price. The buyer then has three parameters to choose from within the same brand – engine capacity and design or fuel efficiency – and ends up confused.

However, the SZ-R, priced at about Rs 60,000 (OTR, Pune), has a clear appeal. It might steal some of the SZ-X buyers, but at an increase of approximately Rs 2-3,000, you get a sporty bike with a disc brake. It is considerably cheaper than most of the 150-cc bikes and is a joy to ride, though an engine kill switch, present on the YBR’s and the SS, is still missing.

Hark,The King Is Born!

Honda fly Adhish Alawani to Thailand and give him a taste of their latest offering in the form of a quarter-litre machine – the CBR250R. Should the competition fear slaughter?
Photography: Rishad Cooper & Honda Press

Honda fly Adhish Alawani to Thailand and give him a taste of their latest offering in the form of a quarter-litre machine – the CBR250R. Should the competition fear slaughter?
Photography: Rishad Cooper & Honda Press

Five years ago, if a motorcycle enthusiast in India went out to buy a motorcycle that would give him all the kicks that he dreamt of, the best he could hope for was probably the Karizma. Then slowly the market started opening up with the grown up Pulsars. In 2008 Yamaha revolutionised the way a motorcycle was conceived in India by introducing the R15. A new era of performance motorcycles was unveiled. The pace at which the performance two-wheeler market was growing quickened and the Kawasaki Ninja 250R made an entry for the niche customers. While all this was happening, there were some engineers, somewhere in Japan, who were scratching their heads and pondering over the idea of making a motorcycle that would kill the competition in one fell blow. Perhaps, that is how the Honda CBR250R was born!

The concept was simple – make a bike with a quarter-litre mill, enough juice to click at least 150 km/h, enough comfort for everyday use and styling to die for. With inputs from the south-east Asian market, the engineers came up with something seen in the images around these pages.

The Honda CBR250R is a stunner to look at. Drawing cues from the VFR1200F, the 250R has a (pseudo) twin fairing, a bulging headlamp, a sharp tail and a meaty tank. However, without a doubt, the CBR looks much better in its smaller form and proportional figure than does its elder sibling, the VFR. The exhaust looks a little bulky, but not so much out of place. The way the lines flow from the headlamp to the tail clearly show the amount of thought that has gone into the styling of the bike. The 250R’s properly gelling fairings are not just good looking, but offer a lot of functional value by providing good aerodynamics. Move on to the finer details of the bike and everything from the front visor, clip-on handlebar, switches, instrumentation console to the grab rails and foot pegs impresses you with its quality, styling and functionality.

If the aesthetics of the bike are the first thing that strike you (and they impress you to the extent of making you fall in love with them), then your expectations of the motorcycle are bound to rise all the more. The CBR250R lives up to them in a splendid manner!

After spending a day just looking at the motorcycle, I finally got a few minutes in the saddle the next day at the Bira Circuit in Pattaya. More excited than ever, I hopped on to the bike and went out for a few laps around the 2.41-km racetrack.

The first thing that one notices as soon as the motor comes to life is the typical single cylinder note along with Honda’s trademark smoothness. After a couple of orientation laps, I got off to a race-like start and the CBR250R responded without the slightest effort. Impressive! The engine revved easily through the low and mid ranges. However, the motor did not rev as briskly as one would expect it to considering its short stroke configuration (76 mm x 55 mm). A little hesitation was perceptible towards the top revs. The red line is at 10,500 rpm and yet the bike did go up to almost 10,800 before hitting the limiter.

Since I didn’t have data logging equipment with me, the top speeds on the speedometer were all that I could note. For the first four gears these were 50 km/h, 85 km/h, 110 km/h and 136 km/h respectively. Going by these and considering a couple of more cogs to choose, there is no doubt that the CBR will give one speeds past 150 km/h. The good part is that reaching those speeds does not take much time either thanks to the 26 PS (approximate peak power output in the Thailand spec motorcycle) and 23 Nm of torque. While the peak power is achieved at 8,500 rpm, the max torque is delivered at 5,500 rpm, according to the company. It was surprising that Honda did not quote these figures in their official press release or in the spec sheet of the motorcycle and talked about approximate figures only.

Considering that there is quite a good amount of power that needs to be transferred to the tarmac, one expects equally good handling and grip. The CBR250R scores well on this front too with good handling from its diamond frame and monoshock prolink rear suspension. However, don’t expect earthshaking stuff, because the motorcycle is not meant for it. The CBR is basically aimed at everyday riding and weekend touring. It is meant to take on the traffic of the bustling metropolises and glide comfortably at 130-140 km/h on the highways. Honda have addressed these needs perfectly well. The suspension is slightly on the softer side to provide the requisite comfort and ease of riding. The footpeg–seat–handlebar geometry is relaxed and easy, neither too aggressive nor too upright. And don’t expect this Honda to demonstrate point-and-shoot precision, for it is not designed for hardcore track purposes. The power is put down to the surface through a 140/70-R17 tyre at the rear and a 110/70-R17 tyre at the front.

The task of slowing down has been entrusted to disc brakes on both the wheels and, for the first time for a bike in this segment, the option of Combined-ABS is available. Seen in bigger machines like the Fireblade and the VFR, the Combined-ABS comes as a part of the bike’s safety features. The ABS unit here is not as advanced as that found on the CBR1000RR. In the event of hard braking, the ABS kicks in and prevents the wheels from locking up. However, the unit is a little jerky and pumps out the brake lever quite a lot. Furthermore, soft suspension at the front results in a tremendous nosedive under hard braking. 

All this brings one to one most crucial question. The power is good and so is the handling. The bike offers great comfort as well. But will it sell in India? The answer is most definitely ‘Yes’. Honda have done the smartest thing. They have made a bike that is more powerful than any other bike manufactured in India at the moment and priced it at approximately Rs 1.5 lakh. Yes, you got that right. The CBR250R will carry a tag of a little less than Rs 1.5 lakh (ex-showroom) for the non-ABS version. As a package at that price, Honda have offered a deal that is too hard to resist. So start saving right away, because this Honda is expected to appear in Indian showrooms by April next year!

A Gripping Tale

BIKE India smokes some fresh rubber at TVS Tyres’ facility in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, and rediscovers interesting facts about the wheel. You can smell a lot of fun already, huh?
Testing: Aspi Bhathena, Words and Photography: Sarmad Kadiri

We have been testing motorcycle abilities most of the time, but this month decided to give it a rubbery twist. How about testing an intrinsic part of the bike’s anatomy that ensures your comfort by always being in touch with the tarmac? Tyres! It is a very vital component, because no matter how great the chassis or suspension setting, it is tyres that can actually make or mar a bike. Yet motorcycle makers do not produce such an important part themselves and depend on tyre manufacturers to acquire the right tyres for their bikes. Keeping all this in mind, my boss Aspi and I hopped on to the first flight to Tamil Nadu and headed straight for some karmic testing at TVS Tyres’ well-equipped facility in Madurai, the temple city.

Just by way of background, TVS Tyres are the largest OEM suppliers with a lion’s share (almost 37 per cent) and also happen to be the largest two-wheeler tyre makers in our country. We wanted to test their newly developed after-market tyres that are about to hit the Indian market. They seemed very excited about the newly developed tyres and we thought, why not put them to the BIKE India acid test? Yes, it’s a bit more vitriolic than normal acid!

In the tight two-day trip, we utilised the first day learning and understanding the technology. We went around the facility and saw rubber take the shape of a tyre. The TVS Tyre team, led by S. Gopalakrishnan, GM (R&D), acquainted us with the entire manufacturing process of two-wheeler tyres and also showed us their latest products and the work they had put in to develop them. A little bird informed us that the 90-year-old firm is also developing radial tyres for bikes and even a dual compound tyre. To elaborate upon that, the dual compound has a soft compound rubber on the side tread for road grip and a harder compound layer on the middle tread, which improves fuel efficiency and life of the tyre. Nice. After the factory tour we emerged a more knowledgeable duo. By the way, did you know that about 72 materials are used in the manufacture of a single tyre? We did, and, of course, now you do. Enough gyaan! Day two was when we got into action.

Next morning we reached TVS Tyres’ test track very early. The track is a few kilometres away from the Madurai plant. Here we got both an exclusive preview and an opportunity to test the new range that is in the pipeline. According to the company, these tyres have been made using different compound combinations and extended polymer to offer a better feel and improved grip. We tested four different types of tyres, namely, the Standard, Sample A, Sample B and Sample C.

We began with the OEM tyres (Standard) that are currently supplied to manufacturers like Honda for the CBF Stunner and to TVS for the Apache RTR 180. Then we swapped the tyres from the newer range. Sample A had a little extended polymer, but had the same compound as Standard. Sample B had the same amount of polymer as Standard, but had softer compound. Lastly, Sample C had extended  polymer and ran on softer compound. We also tested tyres from the competitors to get a fair idea of where TVS Tyres stand.

After hours of testing under the unforgiving Madurai sun we decided to call it a day and shared our conclusion with our friends at TVS Tyres.

Here’s an extract:
There were just two places on the track where we could actually push the tyres. First was the quick right-left-right immediately after the first right-hander, where we got to push the front end. When the tyre grip was good, we could flick the bike and easily change direction. The second was the long right-hander, where we could test the rear tyre. The tyre that emerged as the most promising was Sample C, for it held the line and kept the bike very composed while we did quick manoeuvring.

The Standard tyre, on the other hand, was struggling during the same sharp turns even at lower speeds and the rear tyres lost grip round the tight corners, screaming and protesting. In comparison, Sample C with its strong construction and soft compound inspired confidence and, interestingly, the right-hand turn exit speed also increased by seven km/h! The newly developed Sample C was up there or slightly better than its competitors as it demonstrated a good combination of grip and feel.

Obviously, TVS Tyres, treading the right track, have carved out a fine product that can rock the boat for competition. Now what remains to be seen is when TVS will launch the salvo. Will the competition be caught off-guard or are they already preparing for a counter-attack? Either way, it’s an exciting time for the Indian bike enthusiasts and we’re definitely not complaining!

Twin Paradox

Roland Brown gets an impression of Yamaha’s 800cc urban brawlers, the FZ8 and the Fazer8
Photography: Alessio Barbanti & Paul Barshon

The ingredients of a top ride are pretty simple, if you ask me: a quick, sweet-handling bike; a twisty and traffic-free road; and preferably some sunshine.

It’s no coincidence that this thought occurs to me as I’m screaming the FZ8 out of yet another smooth bend on a gorgeous Provencal morning, wondering not for the first time if there’s anywhere in the world better for motorcycling than this part of the south of France.
The FZ8 is playing its part, too, which is probably just as well. For if any manufacturer has ever needed a new bike to succeed, it’s probably Yamaha right now. The world’s second biggest bike firm had a horrendous 2009, losing more than US $2.3 billion, which cost its President his job. That seemed a bit unfair given that the firm built some superb bikes and won MotoGP and World Supersport championships plus a first ever Superbike title.
Yamaha’s problem is that all they make apart from motorcycles are other big boys’ toys such as jet-skis and electric pianos, which are equally expendable in a recession. Unlike Honda and Suzuki, they don’t produce many cheap, small bikes, which are still being
bought in some countries. Nor do they make cars, which some people still need. And unlike Kawasaki they don’t build useful ships or trains either.
At least Yamaha have managed to come up with a pair of new models, the naked FZ8 and half-faired Fazer8, which look suited to these impoverished times. The 779cc fours are intended to plug the gap between the entry-level, 600cc XJ6 and Diversion, and the 1000cc FZ1 and Fazer. (The FZ6 is discontinued.) And because some parts are shared with the larger machine, the new bikes were relatively cheap to develop.

Most of the 16-valve engine is new, including the cylinder head and camshafts. The bottom end is based on a 2008-model YZF-R1, including the crankshaft and cases. The clutch has been scaled down with fewer plates, allowing a lighter action. The injection system has intake trumpets of differing lengths — the two inner ones slightly longer than the outers — as Yamaha claims this improves low and midrange delivery (though they couldn’t explain why it’s better than having all four of medium length).
Some chassis parts are borrowed from the FZ1, including the aluminium beam frame and swing-arm. Suspension is relatively simple, with non-adjustable 43mm usd forks, and a shock that’s tunable only for preload. Bodywork — in white, black or blue — is new, although styling has a strong FZ family resemblance, both with the cut-down FZ8 and the Fazer’s taller, half-faired look.
Looking shiny and smart with a hint of menace, the FZ8 seemed an appropriate bike to be launched in Marseille, which has been smartened up from its days as the location of The French Connection but still has bits you wouldn’t want to ride through after dark. A brief spin through the city revealed that the Yamaha would make a good getaway bike. Its upright riding position gave good visibility, it engine pulled cleanly from low revs and it wide bars made it easy to flick through the traffic.
The FZ8 also worked well when I wasn’t in a hurry. It’s reasonably light, and its tank and seat are slightly narrower than the FZ1’s, so average height riders should be able to get both feet on the ground. Footrests are set 10mm lower and 15mm further back, adding some welcome legroom. Pillion passengers won’t be so happy, though, unless you’ve paid extra for the accessory grab-handles.
Like any sporty bike the FZ8 was happier out of town, on the twisty roads in the mountains north of Marseille. Its engine produces a maximum of 105bhp at 10,000rpm, which was enough for some entertainment on those traffic-free roads. Power delivery was midway between grunty big-bike feel and rev-happy middleweight; rather more the latter, with a kick at about 6500rpm.
Below that figure the delivery was crisp but not particularly strong; enough for reasonable acceleration in the lower gears but nothing dramatic. Crack the throttle at about four grand in first, for example, and the Yam accelerated quite briskly, its front wheel only
starting to come up when the revs reached that magical six-and-a-half grand zone.
This meant that when the going got hot through those blind mountain bends, it was vital to work the sweet-shifting six-speed box to exit turns with the revs up, or risk losing several metres to the rider ahead who had. Provided it was ridden right, the Yam accelerated with an addictively smooth feel as its tacho needle nudged the 11,500rpm redline, accompanied by a stirringly gruff bark from the airbox and black-finished four-into-one pipe.
On one straight the FZ8 howled up to an indicated 225km/h on the digital speedo, and was still pulling slightly although its true top speed is around that mark. As with any naked bike the lack of wind protection meant it tried to pull my arms from their sockets in thrilling fashion even before I was going that fast, slightly reducing the chance of trouble with the gendarmes. The drawback is of course that longer distances would become a pain in the neck, though that wasn’t a problem on our twisty route.

Handling was pretty good, with the Yamaha’s agility again proving useful when flicking round the inevitable gaggles of multi-coloured cyclists. The bike was stable at speed, and its suspension was soft enough to give a smooth ride, even on one short stretch of pot-holed road on the otherwise smoothly-surfaced route. Steering was light, thanks to reasonably sporty geometry (25 degrees rake, 109mm trail) plus the leverage provided by the wide and slightly raised bars.
The Yamaha certainly cornered well enough to be fun, but when ridden hard it lacked the tautness of a good sports bike, and unlike the FZ1 it doesn’t give much scope for fine-tuning. When under pressure the Kayaba forks felt slightly soft and vague, especially when braking into a turn. And although the Soqi shock generally worked well, it occasionally felt a bit harsh when the bike was accelerating hard out of bumpier bends.
That front-brake blend of 310mm discs and four-pot calipers was respectably but not outstandingly powerful. (We didn’t get to try the ABS that will be fitted in some markets.) The Bridgestone BT021s had enough grip to get the footrests scraping quite regularly, though I doubt that most riders will find that a problem.
The highlight of a memorable day was following another rider through a series of 150km/h curves on the D3 near Ollières, the bike railing through with the power on while I gripped the raised bars tight with the adrenaline flowing. That section was followed by a couple of long straights on which the Yam sat smoothly at an indicated 170km/h until my neck muscles were starting to complain.

A naked bike isn’t likely to be outstandingly practical, but the FZ8 was useful in most respects. Fuel capacity is 17 litres, good for 200km or more which is fine for a naked bike. The seat was comfortable, mirrors excellent, finish good. The list of accessories includes flyscreen, heated grips, crash bungs and a centre-strand, plus the grab-handles that the Fazer gets as standard. There’s also a top-box, though strangely no hard panniers.
The FZ8’s biggest drawback is predictable: it’s expensive. The yen’s strength has hit all the Japanese firms, especially Yamaha, whose prices have rocketed in the last year. What’s worse for Yamaha is that, to take one obvious rival, Triumph’s outstanding Street Triple is substantially cheaper in most markets. The FZ8 is a stylish and capable bike. But even if demand for big boys’ toys picks up again soon, I can’t see it doing much to save Yamaha’s new President from some sleepless nights
Riding the Fazer8
On a gorgeous spring day in Provence, it was fun to charge around on the naked FZ8, but Yamaha’s new four comes equipped for cold climates and winter weather too. The Fazer8 is basically the same bike with the addition of a protective half-fairing. It also gets those pillion grab-handles as standard fitment. In some markets it will come with ABS as standard, in which case it will also get a belly-pan to hide the anti-lock parts.
Apart from looking a bit less sexy, the sensible sister also felt slightly heavier and less agile, though its handling was still perfectly acceptable. The Fazer (I’m sticking to that from now on) accelerated with just as much enthusiasm, too; the only difference being that this time I had a fairing and screen to keep the wind off my chest, with impressively little turbulence.
This allowed effortless cruising at 150km/h, which had soon become tiring on the naked bike. It’s a key difference that makes the Fazer a potentially excellent long-haul machine, although it would be limited by the tank’s range of not much more than 200km, depending on riding style. Some riders will be disappointed that although a top-box is available, the accessory list doesn’t include hard panniers.
For charging along the mountain roads of Provence on a warm day the Fazer was not quite as entertaining as its naked sibling, but I know which model I would prefer for a long trip, or any ride on a cold day. Like the FZ8 it’s a sound bike. But unfortunately for Yamaha it suffers from an identical problem of being too expensive, in this case when compared to more powerful and cheaper half-faired machines including Honda’s CBF1000 and Suzuki’s new GSX1250FA.

At least
Yamaha have managed to come up with a pair of new models which look suited to these impoverished times

On a gorgeous spring day, it was fun to charge around on the naked FZ8, but Yamaha’s new four comes equipped for cold climates and winter too
The instrument console on both the FZ and Fazer8 are identical
The redesigned half-fairing with floating panels is tastefully done up
The 310mm discs and four-pot calipers upfront. ABS is optional in some markets

The Mojo dissection

Mahindra’s assault on the Indian two-wheeler market commences with the unveiling of the Stallio and the Mojo. Here’s a photo feature and full dope on the two motorcycles

Amidst dazzling fanfare and gaiety, as befitting the entry of a leviathan into alien territory, Mahindra took the wraps off its two new motorcycles in Mumbai yesterday. While the majority of the country waited with bated breath for the first pieces of news on the Ayodhya Case verdict, bikers in India were tuned in to a different frequency for the dope on what is reportedly one of the biggest and most powerful Indian bike ever. Let’s start with the smaller one and save the better for latter.

Mahindra Stallio

Mahindra Stallio

The Mahindra Stallio is an executive commuter, powered by a horizontally-opposed 106.7cc single cylinder SOHC engine, with a peak power of 7.3PS produced at 7500rpm and 8Nm of peak torque@8000rpm and a four-speed transmission. As with its engine, the styling is deliberately conventional and toned down. The bike bears a resemblance to many others in its category, especially in the detailing of its rear body panels, the contours of the fuel tank, panels covering the battery and air-filter and the exhaust shroud.

The bike features fully digital instrumentation that is reminiscent of the one on Mahindra’s Rodeo scooter, but with chrome surrounds this time. LEDs are used for the tail-lamps and pilot headlamps, however the former looks jaded already. The single-bar grab rail does not help matters either. The front is slightly better in that department, with an ‘inverted arrow design’ bikini fairing and the aforementioned twin LED pilot lamps. Another aspect of the Stallio worth mentioning is the pass-light switch which is still a novelty amongst Indian commuter bikes although the bike does lose out on bar-end weights which would have reduced the vibrations at the handlebar. The fuel tank cap is also fully flush with the tank itself, which is done up in matte black, lending the bike a sporty appeal.

The Mahindra Stallio will be available in two variants – self start/cast alloy wheels/digital console and kickstart/spoke wheels which are available at Rs.44,699/- and 41,199/- (ex showroom Pune), respectively and inDerby Red, Colt Black, Equus Blue, Buckskin Yellow and Ranch Green colours.At this price point the bike will look at ruffling the feathers of the likes of Bajaj Discover 100, Hero Honda Splendor / Passion, TVS Star City and the recently launched Yamaha YBR 110, when it goes on sale in the coming weeks to make the most of the festive season.

Mahindra Mojo

Mahindra Mojo

A lot has been speculated and written over the Mojo ever since Mahindra announced their intention of producing a motorcycle that would move the goalposts far forward for Indian biking. And it’s finally time now. Based on the Italian Malaguti MR250 concept bike, the Mojo is powered by a four-valve DOHC 292cc single-cylinder engine, churning out a peak power of 26.3PS@8500rpm and peak torque of 24Nm@7000rpm. Despite the single-cylinder engine, Mahindra has seen fit to include dual exhausts on both sides of the bike in keeping with the rest of the bike’s character. Transmission is via a six-speed gearbox while the Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) system has been developed by Ducati Energia of Italy. In the flesh, what first catches your attention though, will be those massive inverted front shock absorbers done up in brushed golden and the twin headlamps reminiscent of the Triumph Speed Triple. The tear-drop design coupled with the gold-painted exposed twin-tube diamond frame lends the bike a sexy side profile in conjunction with the slash-cut rear. RVM-mounted indicators are another standout feature. Instrumentation is comprehensive, consisting of an analogue tachometer, digital speedo and and tell tale lights for ECU malfunction, engine overheating, gearshift indicator etc.


The front suspension is courtesy Italian specialists Paioli, and is complemented by a horizontally mounted monoshock at the rear. Radially-mounted calipers and discs (the stylish 320mm petal disc at the front has the largest diameter amongst Indian bikes) handles the braking duties at both front and rear. When it launches, the Mojo will also be the first ever motorcycle in India to sport Pirelli tubeless radials as standard – 100/80 and 150/60 medium compounds at the front and rear respectively. The Mojo (we wish Mahindra would have kept the codename they used in the developmental stages – Diablo) will go on sale early next year, for approximately Rs 1.75 lakh (ex showroom Pune) and be available in two colours – red and black. Customers also have the option of customising their bikes with a range of decals from the showroom itself and both bikes will come with a comprehensive four year warranty. With big names like Ducati Energia, Paioli, Pirelli, J Juan (Spanish manufacturer of brake calipers) and Engines Engineering behind the two motorcycles, expect them to deliver the best of both worlds during that period.

And oh, expect to see Aamir Khan plugging the Stallio on your television set very soon.

Words: Saeed Akhtar

Hyosung ST7

It has got loads of chrome, classic attitude and it is perfect cruising material. Better still, it’s on its way to India. Adhish Alawani delivers the exclusive ride report of Hyosung ST7 Photography: Sanjay Raikar

Something Chrome, Something Cruising!

Hyosung Motors seem to have taken things very seriously. The last time they came to India with the Comet and the Aquila, it was through Kinetic Motors. These motorcycles were a success. The only glitch was the fact that these bikes came in extremely limited numbers and without a properly planned service backup. Nonetheless, the market is changing rapidly and Hyosung have decided to come back with a bang. As you must have seen on the earlier pages, we rode the Hyosung GT650R and were very impressed by the supersport machine. Let us now shift our attention to something classic, something chrome, something cruising!

Introducing the Hyosung ST7, a good example of a modern-day classic cruiser. The ST7 has been built taking into consideration the competition from the likes of the Japanese and the Americans. When we first saw the bike in pictures, we were not really sure if its styling would suit our taste. In reality, however, it’s a different story altogether. The curvaceous tank dips in towards the seat and the flow continues all the way until the broad, sweeping rear fender. The liberal use of chrome on the dual pipe exhaust, engine casing, air box, radiator case, belt drive cover and loads of bits here and there add a lot of hardcore bling to the machine. The 41mm telescopic forks set at a 33-degree rake are neither too laidback nor too aggressive. The softly padded saddle, pullback handlebars
and forward mounted footrests offer typical cruiser posture, at least for a five-foot-ten-incher like me. The instrument cluster sits in the chrome housing on the humongous tank.
The only bits of styling that do not suit my taste include the small, round headlight (a bigger
one would do the job better) and the multi-spoke alloys.

The true deal, however, is the heart of the ST7, sitting under the tank in the form of a liquid-cooled, 90-degree V-Twin, displacing 678cc and pumping out 62 PS. The peak torque figure goes to 63 Nm and punches in at a high 7500 rpm. Sounds weird for a V-Twin cruiser to have its peak torque so high. However, it doesn’t feel so while riding. The bike pulls amazingly from low revs and continues pulling strongly in the mid-range. 130 km/h is reached in second gear if the throttle is whacked open and cruising at 150 km/h is truly peaceful. Wedded to the V-Twin engine is an impressive five-speed transmission that offers butter-smooth shifts through the cogs. Interestingly, the ST7 comes with a belt drive, which not only adds to the cruiser character and attitude, but also offers a good and smooth drive.

The powerplant of this Hyosung sings a soft tune and the refinement levels are quite high: the hardcore cruiser-lovers might just miss the thump to some extent. The ST7 scores brownie points when it comes to the weight and usability of the machine on a day-to-day basis. With a kerb weight of 244 kg, the ST7 is pretty manoeuvrable even in heavy city traffic. Even after logging over a couple of hundred kilometres, there was no sign of fatigue creeping in. The not-so-wide and not-so-tall ‘bars offer good steering in tight situations as well. Not a lot is usually talked about the handling of a cruiser. But I would still make a special mention that this bike handles very well. Not even once did I feel that there was a hint of instability around corners or while flicking from one side to the other. The Bridgestones also provide awesome grip and contribute to the good road holding that the bike offers. The brakes on the ST7 are pretty decent and do the needful quite efficiently. There is hardly anything that I can complain about in this cruiser.

And looking at the price tag of approximately Rs 5–5.25 lakh, I am sure no one has anything to complain about. Hyosung have brilliantly managed to introduce a motorcycle in the market that bridges the huge gap between the local wannabe cruisers and the hardcore ones like Harleys or Suzukis. The ST7 is expected to hit the market along with the GT650R by Diwali this year. Also expect the company to offer tall windscreens and saddlebags etc. as accessories.

The final take on the ST7? Take off the pillion seat, get on the leathers and ride the highways for days on end.

For more information on the Hyosung bikes, keep checking BIKE India space or shoot an email to

Hyosung GT650R – Supergood Supersport!

Adhish Alawani lays his hands on the Hyosung GT650R , one of the bestsellers in Australia and Europe, which is now on its way to India!

Photography: Sanjay Raikar

About two-and-a-half years ago, the litre-class bikes made their way into the country. That is when the rich enthusiasts got excited and started buying motorcycles with in-line fours displacing 1000cc. We, at BIKE India, have been talking about the impracticality of litre-class bikes in a country like India since then. We neither have the roads, nor the sense and ability to handle the power that goes in excess of 170PS. What, then, is it that we need and should have in our market? A middle-weight 600cc category bike that produces adequate power, which even a first-timer at multi-cylinder machines can tame and relish. Probably yes, and Hyosung decided to give it a serious thought. The result? The GT650R is on its way to India!

Last month, we got an opportunity to take the GT650R out on a daylong ride and, boy, were we impressed!

The GT comes powered with a 90-degree V-Twin motor that produces 80PS of peak power. But what really leaves a lasting impression is the awesome mid-range and top-end delivery. The powerplant revs freely all the way past 10,000 rpm. Though we did not get enough of a stretch to red line even the third gear, we were mighty impressed with the speedo reading 81 km/h in first gear and 135 km/h in second gear at red line. Going by these speeds and considering a six-speed box mated to the V-Twin, speeds in excess of 200 km/h seem to be easily achievable. The vee configuration also assures a good amount of torque, 67 Nm to be precise, that really kicks in at 7,250 rpm. Like a typical V-Twin, the GT650R delivers the right punch in the right fashion and delights you as you zip through crowded streets.


For the 2010 model, Hyosung has handed over the carburettion duties to fuel injection on the GT650R. The power of the bike is manifested on the roads through Bridgestone Battlax BT56 160/60-ZR17 (rear) and 120/60-ZR17 (front). Not only does the Battlax rubber lend awesome grip on a dry surface, it holds its own on a wet one too (the erratic July rain allowed us to try out the tyres in both conditions). While the tyres succeed in instilling a lot of confidence around the corners, much credit also goes to the chassis and suspension. The trellis-type twin spar frame is nimble yet stable.

The fully adjustable front suspension and preload adjustable rear monoshock do their job brilliantly by giving adequate feedback to the rider. The whole package of the chassis, suspension and tyres aids the GT in superb handling and lets you push your limits around corners. The riding posture is also a major plus point of this bike. An agreeable combination of sufficiently aggressive and adequately relaxing postures makes the GT650R a bike that can be enjoyed on weekend rides through twisties as well as everyday rides within the city. The fairing is good enough and takes aerodynamics seriously to protect you from wind blast at high speeds.

Talking of fairing, the bike’s a styling that seems to be taken from various places and put together by the Korean manufacturer. The twin projectors stacked one above the other give the bike a feel of the MV Agusta F4. The two vents on either side of the headlight are a little out of proportion and non-functional. The short wheelbase, tall seat and meaty body lend a lot of aggression to the motorcycle. The tail lamp seems to have taken cues from the new Gixxer. The white backlit digital speedometer is accompanied by an analogue tachometer.

Overall, the bike carries the attitude of a proper supersport machine that is going to attract a lot of attention. (Well, I can say that for sure after the innumerable enquiries we got from all those who saw us ride the bike on the streets!) There are a couple of downsides that we noticed as well. The brakes have a little spongy feel. Probably, this particular machine that we were testing had it and needed a little bit of bleeding. Secondly, the fit and finish of the bike is not up to the mark that the international competitors have set.

There is one factor that finally forces us to ignore the downsides and that is the price of the GT650R. At approximately Rs 3.75-4 lakh (ex-showroom), the Hyosung is a steal. You get adequate power, awesome handling, styling to attract every other girl on the street and the attitude of a middleweight supersport machine at a price that is not prohibitive. Expect the bike to hit the market some time before Diwali. Until then, flip over to the Hyosung ST7, a feast for the cruiser fans!

Cycling dream – SCOTT PLASMA

A cyclist who yearns of representing the tricolor around the world

There aren’t many Indians in today’s world who have the desire to represent their country on an international level, although they themselves want to be famous. The young generation just wants to follow the western culture and live like a westerner even in their own country. But sometimes, amongst the mist rises a brave soul who still wants to do something for the country and Harman Sharma is among those few individuals who have a burning desire to make the country proud.

Harman is a cyclist who has participated in many cycling events around the country. A few of those events include the Mini Olympic, the Kila Raipur, the Mumbai Cyclothon, the Pune Baramati race and the Al- Kalam cycle race (Delhi). His latest weapon of choice is the Scott Plasma 20. A bike that was developed by Scott cycles in collaboration with team HTC-Columbia, one of the most prominent names in the highly respectable Tour De France race. Harman hopes to make India proud by making it big in the world of bicycling. We wish him the very best!


Harman’s latest bike is this sleek and tech filled Scott Plasma 20 triathlon bike. Scott cycles are among the top bicycle manufacturers in the world and have a reputation for building some of the best bikes that also participate in the prestigious Tour De France. This particular model features carbon fiber body parts along with ergonomic and comfortable seating. The engineers at Scott cycles developed this bike in the wind tunnel to achieve an aerodynamic shape, hence you do not see the clutter of brake lines running down the frame or any other thing that might create drag. At just 8kg, this bike is meant for competitions and because of the technology used it is surely the bike to watch out for. All this technology doesn’t come cheap. This particular model is priced at around Rs 2 lakh (In India).

Photos: Harman Sharma

TVS Max4R – The Workhorse

Sarmad Kadiri leaves his performance bike behind and rides the new TVS Max4R to get a feel of the other end of the two-wheeler spectrum
Photography: Sawan Hembram

It was 5.30 am and the board overhead read: Ahilyabai Holkar Vegetable Wholesale Market, Indore. Soon three men wobbled in astride their new bikes, balancing a mountain of gunny bags filled with vegetables, all tied to their pillion seats. I thought to myself, ‘Are they crazy?’ The riders parked their bikes and I could sense their feeling of bewilderment as they looked at me with my riding gear on. I suppose they must have concluded that I was either an alien or a mad man, because no one wears a helmet in the entire district, let alone full-fledged riding gear. So, the feeling of bewilderment was mutual.

The new bike in question was the TVS Max4R, designed specifically for traders and farmers, who carry their goods or agricultural produce on bikes. We’re talking about milkmen, greengrocers, vegetables growers and farmers, all of whom form a very large yet untapped buyer segment in India. Based on the Star City, the Max features a 109.7cc engine, but with some modifications, such as a bigger oil pump for better lubrication, chrome-plated piston rings and improved crankshaft bearing. Plus the clutch comes with heavy-duty springs. All this, combined with the new sprockets, gives the bike a solid mid-range, which is what the target audience of the Max4R needs.

Obviously, the top speed is of no consequence for them, especially with three jute sacks loaded on the rear. The tank is similar to that of the Star City, but it sheds the front fairing to sport a round headlight and matching indicators and also a mobile charger. The sturdy metal front mudguard comes straight from the Max 100 and the split seats’ rear portion can be detached, thus making the bike ideal for carrying assorted goods. Interestingly, the main stand has a much wider base to keep the bike stable even with a heavy load on it. Even the rear tyre is specially made to endure excess weight. It has two pairs of rear shock-absorbers. While the first pair does the regular job of a suspension, the second set acts like helper shock-absorbers that come into play only when the bike is overloaded.

I rode the new TVS with a load of over 150 kg of vegetables and then with large milk cans attached to the sides. It is insane to ride with this kind of weight. However, compared with an average commuter bike crudely modified to handle excess weight, the Max4R wins hands down. It has a good low-end power and a crisp mid-range, which is ideal for this bike.

Riding on the narrow, chaotic roads near the vegetable market, I managed to reach 70 km/h on the speedo without any load on the rear, which is decent for this segment. However, when I trod on the brake in an emergency, the whole load of vegetables slid forward, its weight on my back, forcing me to slide onto the tank. The bike came to a halt a couple of meters farther than it would normally do. Offering a disc brake is out of the question for a price tag of Rs 37,590 (ex-showroom, Indore). To be honest, TVS is walking on a very thin line here. On the one hand, it is their corporate responsibility to provide a more secure, well engineered and affordable bike that can be used as a goods carrier. On the other, the fact remains that bikes in general have not been designed to lug loads around, even though it is a common practice in our country. Actually, it remains a grey area, for the Indian law does not specify whether carrying goods on bikes is legal or not.

Overall, the TVS Max4R is a good package, keeping in view its niche market. It is not designed for a beauty pageant or to win a drag race, but what you get is a sturdy, affordable and practical workhorse in every sense.