We compare the TVS Phoenix 125 with the new and the established to see where it stands in the 125-cc segment.
Commuter motorcycles don’t have it easy. They are used every day of the year in all kinds of weather and are expected to do their duty without a complaint. Good looks and styling are always an added benefit and a compromise in fuel efficiency is tantamount to digging your own grave. And there is also the issue of pricing, which defines the segment. On the other hand, the reward for the manufacturers is the possibility of achieving high sales volumes, which has made this segment a very competitive one.
The commuter bike segment is further divided into three sub-segments, defined by engine capacity. It starts with the 100-cc sub-segment, which includes the most basic motorcycles. Then there is the 110-cc one, which has risen in popularity over the past few years, while the 125-cc motorcycles are classified as the executive commuter bikes. To be frank, this distinction is not very pronounced, since a difference of 10-15 cubic centimetres hardly makes a difference, these being very small engines not tuned for high performance. However, there exists a fierce competition in all three sub-segments.
Honda have been selling the CB Shine 125 for more than six years now and it has stood the test of time to emerge as one of the strongest and highest selling executive commuter bikes. Bajaj Auto have also been successful after re-entering the segment with the Discover 125 a couple of years ago. This year Bajaj added another bike in the segment under the Discover brand, with emphasis on touring. The Discover 125 ST (Sports Tourer) co-exists with its modest sibling, but as a slightly premium offering.
The TVS Phoenix 125 is the latest addition to this segment. TVS have paid a lot of attention to developing the Phoenix with the hope of capturing a sizeable share of the 125-cc market, which they have been missing. We were impressed by the bike when we rode it at TVS’ test track at their Hosur plant last month. This month we went ahead and compared it with the CB Shine and the Discover 125 ST in the real battlefield: the city roads.
Design And Styling
The CB Shine is a fine example of a proportionate motorcycle with a design that doesn’t look dated in spite of being the oldest of the lot. It feels solidly built and its fit-and-finish and paint job are impeccable, except for the poor quality of plastic used in the switch-gear. Apart from the body panels, the rest of the bike has an all-black treatment and graphics give it an upmarket look. Six-spoke alloys wheels are standard and it is the only bike among the three with tubeless tyres. However, there are a few areas where the Shine shows its age. The twin pod analogue instrument panel looks dated and contains a speedometer, fuel gauge and odometer while the headlight assembly lacks pilot lamps.
The Discover ST is a stylish motorcycle. The head cowl has a sharp design that gives the bike an aggressive look. The muscular tank makes it look bigger in size and the ribbed tail-light looks sporty. Its five-spoke alloy wheels have a sporty design and the front wheel has a 200-mm petal disc rotor. The Discover ST has minimal decals and an all-black treatment on the engine, chassis, wheels, front shocks and exhaust. The paint job is good, but the same can’t be said of the build quality of this bike. As with the CB Shine, the switch-gear of the Discover too has flimsy plastic. The instrument console has an analogue speedometer, fuel gauge, odometer and trip meter while the indicator section houses a battery level indicator along with the usual ones. The Discover has the best mirrors among the three bikes compared here. The design of the rear tyre-hugger is a subjective matter, but it is very effective in preventing the tyre from spraying mud or water.
The Phoenix has a simple design, similar to its smaller sibling, the Star City. However, that has been disguised by the flashy decals and we like the shine of the Phoenix’s paint. It has six-spoke alloy wheels and a petal disc and, like the other two bikes, the Phoenix has also been painted all black, except for the body panels. Its fit-and-finish is of high quality and the switch-gear has ergonomic buttons. It has a hazard light, which is activated by the red switch near the right handlebar. When switched on, the hazard light activates all the turn indicators simultaneously, which is a unique feature in this segment. The Phoenix has white LED pilot lamps like the new Apache. The lights look stunning in dark, but are hardly visible in daylight. The digital instrument panel contains a speedometer, odometer and a trip meter along with service due and battery level indicators. The mirrors of the Phoenix have a good shape, but the short stem reduces the field of vision.