The two-wheeler industry from India and around the world comes together in Delhi for the 10th Auto Expo to flaunt their latest offerings. We take you through the major action at one of Asia’s largest automotive exhibitions
Words: Adhish Alawani and Bunny Punia
Photography: Sanjay Raikar and Varun Kulkarni
Harley-Davidson setup a feast for motorcycle enthusiasts visiting the Auto Expo. Not only did the American marque surprise everyone by bringing in as many as 12 different models from the basic five families of the entire Harley-Davidson range, but they also stunned prospective buyers with a price range affordable for a wide variety of consumers.
The Harley-Davidson brand comes with a rich heritage and the company plans to charm the Indian customer with the same legacy. As a result, we see various models from each of the five families namely Sportster, Dyna, Softail, V-Rod and Touring making their entry into the Indian market. The basic XL 883L Sportster happens to be the cheapest of the lot with a price tag of Rs 6.95 lakh (ex-showroom). The prices climb up gradually all the way to Rs 21.95 lakh (ex-showroom) for the Street Glide. Apart from these basic five families, the firm has also introduced the Custom Vehicle Operation motorcycle or simply the CVO in the form of the Ultra Classic Electra Glide. To talk a bit about the CVOs, these are machines custom designed by a team working closely with Harley- Davidson and the team is responsible for creating a certain number of CVOs every year. The Ultra Classic Electra Glide will be the most expensive offering from Harley-Davidson and will be priced at Rs 34.95 lakh (ex-showroom).
The variety of machines offered by Harley makes sure that the consumer gets a huge range of options. Not only that, with the price range starting from as low as Rs 6.95 lakh, it is going to be easier for a larger number of people to purchase their dream machines. What’s more, the company’s dealerships will also sell Harley-Davidson merchandise for hardcore fans. Time to cruise, Hogs?
Harley-Davidson has tied up with ICICI to provide brilliant finance options for their motorcycles. With a minimum down payment of as much as 15 percent of the vehicle cost and a tenure for a period of five years, you can get the XL 883L Sportster for a down payment of close to Rs 1.2 lakh with an EMI of around Rs 13,000. The fantastic finance option laid down by ICICI is further going to boost sales of Harley-Davidson motorcycles and make it much easier to own these machines than most of the imported bikes available in the country.
Yamaha has been on a roll since the last Auto Expo where they showcased the YZF-R15 and the FZ16 for the first time. The two bikes went onto become a massive success and raised expectations from the Japanese manufacturer for this year’s Expo. Though the company did not showcase anything as aggressive as either of the two products that have changed the fate of Yamaha in India, they surely had some welcome surprises for motorcycle aficionados.
Yamaha already retails the YZF-R1 in India and has now upgraded to the 2010 model of their flagship bike that features the revolutionary crossplane crankshaft. Derived from MotoGP technologies, this R1 has already won the WSBK title along with many awards from various motorcycle magazines around the world. A limited edition R15 was also launched by the company which features nothing new except a fresh paint scheme. Yamaha showcased a couple of concept bikes in the commuter segment as well. The SZ Concept is expected to feature a 125cc engine while the YBR might sport a 100cc motor. Both concepts seemed to be very close to the production versions and it won’t surprise us if we see one of them rolling out in the market in the near future. The R15 and the FZ16 have helped Yamaha revive their status in India and we expect these new commuter segment bikes to further help the company achieve higher sales figures.
Apart from these bikes, the exhibits at the Yamaha booth included the R15 loaded with the Daytona Race kit and the FZ series bikes with all the optional accessories available. The company had set up a section of CBUs that showcased the recently launched V-Max. The other two very interesting exhibits in the CBU section were the T-Max and the Diversion F. The T-Max, a super scooter powered by a 499cc motor, pumps out 43.5PS while the Diversion F features a 600cc engine that delivers 75.5PS of peak power. The Diversion F will make for a very good option on Indian roads, but will attract a complete homologation (since it is less than 800cc) if it has to make it to the Indian market. The final two imported bikes on display from Yamaha were the FZ1 and the Fazer 1000, both of which are powered by a 998cc engine.
The most exciting exhibit at the Yamaha booth had to be Valentino Rossi’s YZR-M1 that he has been racing in MotoGP. The joy of Yamaha fans knew no bounds when Rossi himself appeared on stage at the company’s booth and shook hands with a few among the thousands of people gathered to catch a glimpse of their racing god. BIKE India’s Deputy Editor, Bunny Punia later got an opportunity to interact with the legend. Jump to page 105 for Rossi’s interview with BI.
Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India had as many as six launches scheduled for the Auto Expo including a variety of two-wheelers ranging from scooters and commuter motorcycles to enthusiasts’ machines. The launches included some facelifted versions of their existing models as well as some all-new machines for India.
To start with, Honda’s main attraction at the Auto Expo was the VFR1200F. The fun bike that has already been launched abroad made its appearance in India for the first time (refer to BIKE India’s January 2010 issue for Bunny Punia’s first ride of the VFR1200F) and definitely attracted a lot of attention with its radical design. The VFR1200F incorporates a lot of amazing technologies including the world’s first dual-clutch transmission on a motorcycle. This novel transmission allows the rider to ride the bike like an automatic motorcycle or manually shift gears with a button for a bit of sporty riding. Other fantastic innovations on the bike include the Layered Fairing Technology and the application of the UNICAM single overhead camshaft cylinder. HMSI claims that the VFR1200F might soon make it to the Indian market. The firm’s other CBU exhibits included the 2010 upgraded version of the CBR Fireblade that features an improved crankshaft inertia mass and a little bit of restyling along with new paint schemes.
The CB Twister’s unveiling at the Auto Expo marked the first public appearance of the new 110cc sporty commuter globally. Taking design cues from the hugely popular CB1000R, the Twister definitely makes for radical styling on a commuter. So far, HMSI did not have an offering in the basic commuter bike segment. With the Twister, the company forays into the highest selling class of bikes in the Indian market. Priced attractively between Rs 41,000 and Rs 48,000 (approximately, ex-showroom Delhi), the Twister is expected to score high on the sales front for Honda. HMSI also showcased the facelifted version of their Dio scooter which is hugely popular amongst the youth. New graphics and paint schemes plus a slightly raised ground clearance mark the new features on the Dio. It is quite surprising that Honda did not include the new 110cc motor in the Dio that is powering the new Activa and the Aviator. The Honda Stunner (carb version) gets a facelift as well with new paint schemes, graphics, an engine cowl and the inclusion of a tachometer in the instrumentation console. The concept versions of Unicorn and the CB Twister were also showcased by HMSI at the Auto Expo. In white and maroon colours, both concept vehicles sported additional body panels as compared to the production versions. Apart from these newbies, HMSI also showcased their entire existing lineup of products. Rider training simulators and the bike designing sections added a touch of interaction with the visitors.
The Honda U3X, a personal mobility device, put up one of the most exciting shows at the Auto Expo. Drawing technologies from the ASIMO, the U3X is a device that can move you in every direction – forward, backward, sideways and diagonal and can gather speeds of upto 6km/h while doing so. That makes it a fantastic mobility option in official and institutional premises. All you need to do is sit on it and incline towards the direction in which you intend to go and you are magically set into motion. Now who will not want that in order to roam around huge factory premises, offices or even educational institutes with absolutely no effort?!
Suzuki Motorcycles had a rather quiet appearance at the Auto Expo this year with no new launches. In fact, the company did not even setup a separate section for their bikes and instead simply put up the motorcycles amongst the Maruti Suzuki cars. The imported motorcycles on display included the Hayabusa and the Intruder which have already been launched in India. What made for an interesting display though, were the GSX-R600 and the SV650F. Sources close to company claim that there is a 600cc segment motorcycle that the company is probably homologating for the Indian market and our guess is that it is the SV650F. Not only is the bike a lot more practical for city use as well as touring, but it is also cheaper than the Gixxer 600 (it might get a sub Rs 8 lakh ex-showroom tag) and leaves the sport biking avenue open for the GSX-R1000. Sources also hint that Suzuki is working on getting a 250cc motorcycle to the Indian market to start off their own performance bike lineup. We hear that there are three bikes scheduled for 2010 and though there is not even the slightest of hint of the third bike, we hope to see the Gixxer 1000 or the monstrous B-King. Fingers crossed!
TVS has emerged strongly in the two-wheeler market in India and is being considered as one of the powerful brands in the country. The reason for this is simple. TVS has been consistently delivering products that are not just strong players among the competition, but also have something really new and innovative to offer. Innovation and quality products took centre stage at the TVS exhibit. The company had a wide range of products on display that included everything from scooters and motorcycles to green concepts and ATV concepts as well as some racing machines.
The Scooty Streak Hybrid did not pull a lot of visitors with its visual prowess, but it definitely packs in the green technology of the future. This Scooty sports a parallel hybrid technology in which the scooter can be ridden either with the help of an internal combustion petrol engine or a battery powered motor or both at the same time. Though the project is still under development, the prototype that we rode was definitely impressive. TVS had put up a concept scooter called the Qube 2.0 which is later on expected to boast of the same technology as the Scooty Streak Hybrid. The other concept shown by TVS was in the form of a four-wheeled monstrous machine that was defined by its radical design and aggressive stance.
An important launch from TVS came in the form of the introduction of ABS on the Apache RTR. Developed in collaboration with the German company, Continental AG, the ABS comes equipped with a Hydraulic Electronic Control Unit that senses and regulates the braking as per the wheel speed of the bike. The rest of the machines showcased by TVS included the recently introduced Wego, the clutchless Jive, the racing RTR 160, the motocross machine RTR 250 FX and the rest of the company’s current lineup in India.
Bajaj disappointed visitors at the Auto Expo to a great extent with a rather drab display of the existing range of motorcycles from their stable, a few Kawasaki Ninja 250Rs and a couple of KTMs. With absolutely no new launches, Bajaj had nothing exciting to offer. In fact, inside sources tell us that the display was a last minute one and the company had no initial plans of putting up a stall the Auto Expo.
Bajaj had shown the Kawasaki Ninja 250R two years ago at the Auto Expo and the bike has now finally made it to the market a few months ago. Not only has the Ninja impressed us to a great extent, but has already started winning accolades from various magazines in the country including the Bike of the Year honour from BIKE India (refer to page 38 for the award’s special feature). KTM bikes have been over due now and there is no concrete information yet about their launch in India. First shown and talked about in the 2008 Auto Expo, the KTMs had left a mighty impression on everyone. Ever since then, enthusiasts have been waiting to lay their hands on these Austrian beauties. We hope to see the KTMs hit the market at least in the first quarter of 2010.
Mahindra got into the two-wheeler business recently and this year’s Auto Expo was the first one for them with respect to scooters and motorcycles. Since the company’s entry in the two-wheeler market, Mahindra has introduced the Rodeo and the Duro. Though both scooters share the same engines, they differ in styling and most importantly in the basic chassis. Mahindra’s two-wheeler portfolio has one more scooter in the form of the Flyte in addition to the Rodeo and the Duro.
While all these three scooters were on display at the Mahindra stall, what grabbed the most attention were the two concept machines showcased by the new player. The radically designed concept scooter definitely talks of modern design theories that Mahindra will be looking forward to implement in their future offerings. However, much more attention was grabbed by the motorcycle on display by Mahindra. Dressed in red and black race fairings, the bike looked like an exact adaptation of a MotoGP machine. Powered by a two-stroke 125cc engine, this concept boasts 54PS of peak power and a top speed of 245km/h. Though quite an over ambitious concept, we hear that Mahindra is definitely developing a performance oriented machine which, unlike the scooters, won’t get the engine from SYM. We are waiting for the promising bike, Mahindra!
The Hero Honda stall at the Auto Expo was reminiscent of their last year’s booth. Exactly like last time, the two-wheeler giant had on display almost their complete range of motorcycles. Without a doubt, Hero Honda is the largest selling motorcycle brand in the country and accounts for a huge range of bikes ranging from the small capacity commuter machines to the high performance sporty bikes. The company’s latest and most premium product, the Karizma ZMR, took centre stage at the Hero Honda booth. Mounted on a revolving ring, the ZMR with its sports tourer styling, attracted visitors. However, no new introductions from Hero Honda disappointed the crowd.
There was a weird and completely unique exhibit at the Hero Honda booth though. A motorcycle made from all the scrap that you might find in the junkyard behind a garage grabbed a lot of attention. The bike was made completely from rusted old scrapped spare parts including nuts, bolts, springs, gears, bearings, gauges, levers, rods, etc. It also included spare parts of bicycles like the pedal, chain sprocket, bell, etc. The junk bike was definitely a piece of art, but we fail to understand the motive behind such an exhibit.
Vibgyor, a Kolkata based motorcycle firm, was present at the Auto Expo with three bikes on display – the Gallop, the Hunter and the Shark. While the 100cc Gallop is already selling in the north-eastern Indian market, the company took this opportunity to introduce their other two new motorcycles.
The Shark, powered by a 150cc motor that pumps out 13.6PS of peak power, is the most powerful bike on offer from Vibgyor and also makes for their premium product. Though the engine seems to be promising, the design and styling of the bike is quite disappointing. Taking styling cues from various Indian motorcycles, the Shark looks more like an amalgamation of different features from various bikes. Even the fit and finish and the quality of materials used are not up to the mark. The second product launched by the Kolkata based manufacturer was the Hunter which comes with a 125cc engine. The company claims that their bike’s positive factor is its pricing. The Gallop is priced as low as Rs 28,999 (ex-showroom, Kolkata) while the Shark retails at Rs 49,990 (ex-showroom, Kolkata).
Vibgyor has a few other products in the pipeline as well including a 100cc scooter called the Persona and a 200cc unnamed motorcycle. The company is looking at expanding its dealerships across North India as of now and will further spread across the nation.
Royal Enfield is upping its game with the introduction of newer technologies in their motorcycles. The Classic 500 stands as a testimony for this. With the incorporation of the Unit Construction Engine or simply the UCE and fuel injection, Royal Enfield is trying to catch up with modern day motorcycles while still maintaining its own persona. This very approach adopted by Royal Enfield was evident at the company’s stall during the Auto Expo with the unveiling of the Café Racer Concept. Apart from carrying a retro aggression in the form of racing number plates at the sides, a classic paint scheme, a bum-stop saddle and chopped fenders, the Café Racer Concept boasts of modern day features like a gas charged suspension, disc brakes, raised footpegs, a megaphone exhaust and even the UCE 500 engine albeit in a higher state of tune. Though the launch of the Café Racer is yet to be decided, company officials say that the bike will hit the international market sometime in 2012, later followed by an Indian debut.
The recently launched Classic 500 now gets two new paint schemes – military green and a combination of chrome and maroon. The bike looks stunning in military green which is sadly available only for the American market. The rest of the models from the Royal Enfield portfolio completed the company’s exhibit.
Demak Motors is a Malaysian based manufacturer of electric vehicles, petrol powered scooters, mopeds and motorycycles. Present for the first time at the Auto Expo, the firm is looking at a tieup with a local company to start selling its range of two-wheelers, barring the electric scooters, later this year. Part of the DNC Asiatic Holdings Sdn. Bhd Group, Demak already manufactures and markets over 20 products in various countries.
In India, the company showcased four products – two scooters and two motorcycles. The dirt bike, named the DMX-R, is powered by a 150cc four-stroke engine and has already won a few awards in local endurance races in Malaysia. The cruiser, christened the Cougar, seems to be a very interesting option for India. It comes with a twin cylinder 250cc four-stroke motor and should be great on open Indian roads.
In the scooters, Demak showcased the modern retro 50cc Rino and the cute 125cc Duta. Both these machines looked chic and sported decent quality panels. However, it remains to be seen how Demak’s product fare in real world conditions in the country.
Apart from their complete range of e-bikes, Ultra had a very interesting low rider concept called the Ultra Byke. It even had fake steel exhausts and the battery casings were designed like a V-twin engine.
Hero launched three new e-bikes at the Expo and also showcased a concept scooter called the Super. They had other future e-project scooters including the cute Photon and the Sunny.
The very popular intelligent energy ENV, the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell motorcycle was displayed at the Expo.
The Kolkata based electric vehicle manufacturer had their entire range of e-bikes on display.
Emmel showcased a variety of e-bikes including the Vee-Way personal transporter and the Vee500, a high performance e-motorcycle with a top speed of upto 55km/h.
BSA had their full lineup of e-scooters including the new generation Edge and Roamer Able, a scooter for the physically challenged. Also on display was a concept e-bike powered by a 500 Watt motor.
Lohia Auto was present at the Expo with both its offerings, the Fame as well as the Oma Star. The latter was part of the special subscription prize at the BIKE India stall.
The Gujarat based manufacturer showcased its most powerful offering, the EXL with a front disc option as well as a cargo scooter version of the Yo Speed, aimed at food joints.
For those not old enough to get a legal driving license or the people looking for an exquisite and premium range of cycles, here is some dope on the various models on display at the Expo
Ralson is now divulging into the field of lifestyle cycles with the introduction of Raleigh’s range of high performing cycles.
Tube Investments that manufactures Hercules and BSA cycles was present at the Expo. Also on display was the Cannondale range of premium cycles.
If not the real motorcycle, you can have the Ducati Monster 900 carbon cycle. Yours for Rs 1,80,000!
The epitome of luxury on four-wheels was also present in various two-wheeled avatars. The Kid’s bike and the sport trekking series were on display.
One of the more famous premium cycle brands in India, FireFox had most of their products on display along with riding gear as well.
MapMyIndia, one of the pioneers in navigation devices in India showcased their entire range of GPS devices. What was new was the introduction of the TrailBlazer, a first of its kind GPS device for motorcycles in India. Priced at Rs 18,990, it comes preloaded with maps for 620 cities and all important highways. Most importantly, it is waterproof and has an in-built FM transmitter.
Continental AG, Germany have developed an ABS (anti-lock braking) system exclusively for the TVS Apache RTR 180. The device works on the front as well as the rear disc brake. Continetal has used the same technology they apply on other bikes overseas, though certain parameters were changed keeping in mind the RTR’s weight distribution. The system also has a lift off valve wherein it releases the front brake for a fraction of a second if it senses the rear wheel lifting off. Further, the ABS system can be switched off manually. Expect this feature to come as an option on the RTR soon.
DSK DESIGN SCHOOL
Hall number six had an interesting little stall put up by the students and faculty members of Pune based DSK International School of Design. They showcased their concept motorcycle called the SUM or Sports Utility Motorcycle. With the Yamaha FZ acting as the base bike, these guys managed to sculpt a very jazzy looking design with interesting bits like a new smaller digital console, LED tail lamps, an underseat exhaust, etc. The SUM is the brainchild of Fabien Rougemont, drawing trainer and prototype manager at DSK and the bike should be ready for a test session next month. Lending a helping hand to Fabien were Makarand Potdar and Sachin Panchal, both final year students and Mukesh Panchal, a clay modeller. For more info on the school, log onto www.dskisd.com
BI STALL WITH GUL
Gul Panag needs no introduction. The famous Bollywood celebrity is well-known among the biking fraternity for her passion and love of motorcycles. In fact, Gul was on the jury panel for the recently held BIKE India (and CAR India) awards and played an important role in the overall analysis for the Motorcycle of the Year award. She was in Delhi to witness the Auto Expo and needless to say, visited the BIKE India stall as well. Gul spent time with the entire team and interacted with avid readers as well. Our stall itself was the best among all the automotive magazines and for good reason. For starters, we had the sexy Audi TT on display and for genuine biking enthusiasts, we had not one but three gorgeous beauties – the world’s fastest production bike, the Suzuki Hayabusa plus one of the most advanced litre-class bikes, the new Yamaha YZF-R1 and last but not the least, the sexy Italian Ducati Streetfighter S! Aaron helmets sponsored two helmets a day for daily winners of our subscription whereas Lohia Auto sponsored the Oma Star to the lucky winner (Rakesh Rajpurohit) of the mega draw.
THERE IS MORE TO THE AUTO EXPO THAN JUST NEW LAUNCHES AND CONCEPT MACHINES
The Auto Expo isn’t just about two-wheels or four for that matter. It goes without saying that both two wheels and two legs are an attraction for the young at heart and almost every two- wheeler manufacturer had glowing beauties parked, err, standing with their products or at the counter desk. Here is a little compilation from BIKE India as a tribute and salute to these damsels. All of them took the physical, and in Delhi’s case, the mental agony of standing, posing, smiling or simply trying to answer the never ending questions by the crowd. Cheers to these unsung heroines.