Tiny Crusader

The XCD135 stretches the DTS-Si platform further while still sticking to 125cc segment pricing. But does it really deliver?
Story: Rohit Paradkar, Photography: Sanjay Raikar

When the CBF Stunner was launched, it wasn’t a bike competing with its 125cc (Shine) sibling but was instead a sportier alternative based on the same platform. Yamaha did the same when they made a sporty Gladiator Type SS/RS based on the commuter Gladiator. Along similar lines, the XCD135 joins its sibling, the Bajaj Discover 135 with an intention to capture the market with its 125cc segment pricing. Is the new XCD a sportier variant of the Discover then? Or is it just another commuter? Can it really serve as an alternative to the existing line up of 125cc commuters? With these queries haunting me, I set off to get my answers.

When BI broke the news of the XCD135 being Bajaj’s first model for 2009, we had highlighted the fact that the bike would be based on the XCD Sprint concept that Bajaj showcased at the ninth Auto Expo last year. Unfortunately, the production version shaves off all the radical design elements of the concept like the chiseled side profile of the headlamp, the floating type panels, the visor for emulating a bikini fairing, the chrome spine on the tank extensions, the toe shifter and the swingarm mounted rear fender. What makes it to production though is a conventional trapezoidal headlight that gels well with the edgy design of the bikini fairing, visor and other body panels plus other commuter bits like a toe-heel shifter and a large rear fender with a wheel hugger from the Pulsar 150. The tank extensions, now becoming a regular feature on Bajaj bikes, make the tank appear quite muscular. The inclusion of mesh covered vents on the tank extensions and centre body panels add a streak of sportiness and at the same time highlight the Pulsar (220) lineage. The turn blinkers look stunning with the arrowhead design and are unconventionally mounted on the triple clamp. The tail light looks radical too and the fine weave of reflectors within the unit makes it appear like the compound eyes of a sinister insect when lit. Though the bike’s design carries cues from the original XCD125 like the graphics, paint schemes and body proportion ratios, on the whole, the XCD135 still manages to look different and fresher.

The digital console is well laid out with easy to read letters and an orange backlight. However, the high gloss covers for the tell tale lights appear too reflective during the day making it difficult to see them even when lit

The XCD135 uses gas damped NITROX shock absorbers for rear damping and provide great handling capabilites to the bike. The bike employs a 135cc DTS-Si mill unlike the older DTS-i version on the Discover

Get astride this refreshing new bike and its muscular tank suddenly appears puny and fails to fill in between the rider’s thighs – reminding you of the much smaller 100cc commuters. However, in spite of the tank’s mere 8-litre capacity, you will get a riding range of more than 500kms between consecutive tank ups courtesy the bike’s impressive mileage figures of 68kmpl and 62kmpl on the highway and in the city respectively. However, in order to achieve them, you will need to restrict the revs to approximately 5500rpm translating to 60km/h in the top gear. Above this mark, you will not only lose out on the mileage but will also start feeling the engine vibes. The 135cc engine redlines at 9000rpm, but the XCD takes ages to climb that tall. Nonetheless, between 5000 to 8000 revs, the XCD guarantees a decent punch for quick overtaking maneuvers in Indian traffic conditions. On the highway, the XCD135 will max out at 104km/h (true speed), which is a tad less than its segment sibling, the Discover 135. However, the XCD impresses with an equally good acceleration and significantly quicker roll-ons which can shame even the sporty 125cc bikes like the Stunner and the Gladiator. Our test bike managed a standstill to 60km/h stint in less than 6sec! The suspension setup complements these figures by providing spot on handling capabilities to the bike. The XCD135 uses gas filled Nitrox shockers for rear end damping unlike the S-N-S units on its 125cc sibling. What further aids traction and stability around corners is the Eurogrip footwear that I was already introduced to on the Discover 135. Overall the bike handles very well throughout twisty roads and has a grunty engine to match, but how does it all sum up?

Well, it’s a mixed bag of positive and negative points for the XCD135. The bike, though marketed as a sport commuter, will target the executive working class at the end of the day. It will primarily execute its chores around city environs and that is exactly where its performance needs to shine. The healthy roll-on figures are a boon and translate into quick overtaking maneuvers. Easy flickability was the XCD125’s forte and the 135 not only builds further on this aspect but also impresses with its handling around corners. But in the bid to achieve this capability, the XCD uses a stiffer suspension by default and hence loses out on ride comfort. Though the seat has ample space for two adults to perch, the hard sponge makes it uncomfortable while the 810mm saddle height means it is an awkward task for short riders to get on the bike. There are some positive bits as well, like the ergonomically positioned ultra wide footpegs and a tall handlebar making for a commuter-ish riding posture, but these are not enough to provide the kind of comfort a commuter will look for. This product then is not all that potent as the balance between its performance capabilities and commuter comfort is not up to mark.

But let’s evaluate the deal as a whole. Compared to its segment sibling, the Discover 135 as well as other bikes in the targeted 125cc segment, the XCD is definitely sportier with better styling, roll-ons and a fifth cog. It has the latest gizmos like a digital console, auto choke, LED taillights and a gas damped suspension. Additionally, it comes in an attractive ex-showroom price ranging between Rs 43,000 to Rs 47,000. The XCD135 is definitely a worthy consideration for a buyer looking to put money in the 50-55,000 rupees sport commuter segment. However, for people looking at a more focused product like a hardcore commuter or an outright 125cc sport machine, the Shine and the Stunner/Gladiator still remain worthy alternatives albeit for a few extra bucks.


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