Bajaj have updated the Dominar 400 with a slew of accessories and added six kilograms of weight while keeping the mechanicals untouched. How has it panned out?
The KTM-Bajaj merger that took place a few years ago did not only bring the orange brigade to India, but also gave birth to some high-performance liquid-cooled motorcycles that were a first for Bajaj. One such product was the Dominar 400. The Dominar has undergone its fair share of updates over the last two years in the form of a USD fork and a BS6-compliant DOHC 373.2-cc, single-cylinder motor. For the new year, Bajaj have given this motorcycle yet another update in the form of a slew of add-on, touring-friendly modifications that are expected to make it more long-distance friendly.
Bajaj have gone back to the board room after listening to the requirements of their customers and, instead of letting them head to the after-market for modifications, they have decided to offer those add-ons as standard fitment.
At the front, a new and taller visor replaces the short unit while the handlebar gets new hand-guards that look quite exquisite. While the visor isn’t wind-tunnel tested, Bajaj claim that Vmax numbers have shown an increase of one km/h in the top speed.
Right above the instrument cluster you now get a mobile navigation stay that can accommodate various phone holders available in the market. Additionally, Bajaj have also given the new Dominar 400 a USB charging port: a saviour of dying batteries and a necessity in this day and age.
To protect the engine, the motorcycle now gets a reinforced bash-plate made of glass-filled nylon and metal. It replaces the tiny plastic unit, flanked by a revised engine guard that adds to rigidity for better engine protection. At the back, the pillion now gets a back stopper and luggage-mounting solutions have been added in the form of a saddle stay and a top rack.
Bajaj were kind enough to let us experience the updated Dominar 400 alongside their Odyssey riders, motorcyclists who’ve taken the Dominar 400 to places you and I wouldn’t head to in order to prove the motorcycle’s capabilities. My riding partner for the day was the Mountain Monk, Sarath Shenoy. He has been associated with Bajaj since the début of the Dominar. Sarath quite literally lives in the mountains for over half a year, taking riders and enthusiasts from various parts of the world up those mountains. His recent trip was the Roof of the World Odyssey that took him to Upper Mustang in Nepal with the Dominar 400.
Upon asking Sarath about his experience with the Dominar 400, he explained to me how he struggled to find the perfect accessories for his ride back then. However, now that Bajaj have decided to build everything in-house and engineer it for this motorcycle, he said that one can literally buy themselves a Dominar 400, get the first service out of the way, and hit the highway for miles to come.
During our stint for about 200 kilometres with the Dominar 400, the tall front visor was the most functional bit of kit for me. At speeds up to 120 km/h, I felt absolutely no wind buffeting, neither did I feel any rattling from the same. The top rack felt extremely well-built along with the back stopper that would prevent the movement of the pillion in case of sudden acceleration. However, the saddle stays you see here are optional extras (Rs 650 for a pair) made of plastic. The bash-plate felt very well-built and I’m sure it will take more than just one impact. The hand-guards are something I’m not sure if they were required on a motorcycle like this. Unless one intends to take this to the mountains, I don’t feel the need for them, especially on a motorcycle that needs weight reduction. Let me remind you, this has added upwards of six kilograms to the kerb weight of the Dominar that now tips the scales at 193 kg.
While the added weight hasn’t affected the motorcycle’s handling, the motor now has to do a lot of work to get this machine going and one has to rev up the bike to actually enjoy it on winding roads. However, the Dominar 400 felt at home on the highways with effortless cruising at about 120 km/h.
The price of the Bajaj Dominar 400 is now up by about Rs 5,000, with the inclusion of all the parts you see here (apart from the saddle stays, of course). I feel this makes a lot of sense for the highway junkies who would head to the after-market in order to get all these parts and shell out double the money Bajaj are asking for.
Should you get this over the likes of the Royal Enfield Classic 350? Well, the Dominar is just Rs 16,000 dearer than the Classic 350 and now comes with quite a few add-ons for which one would have to shell out a fair bit of money otherwise. However, when it comes to the riding feel, we would be able to answer that only once we get to pit them against each other in a comparative test.