New Yamaha FZS variant gets styling touches and Bluetooth connectivity.
New Yamaha FZS variant gets styling touches and Bluetooth connectivity.
The Hero Xpulse is extremely capable straight out of the box, but this rally kit can take you even further off the beaten track.
Story: Anosh Khumbatta
Photography: Sanjay Raikar
Since its launch last year, the Hero Xpulse has quickly established itself as the go-to bike for beginner off-roading enthusiasts due to its attractive price tag. While it may be underpowered, the excellent pairing of that diamond frame and well-damped, long-legged suspension has proved to be extremely capable off road or over the worst roads India has to offer. The stock Xpulse strikes a fine balance between on-road manners and off-road ability, but now you have the option to turn your Xpulse into an ultra-capable off-road machine with the beans to take on a proper, cross-country rally raid.
While the standard Xpulse is pretty capable as it is, Hero MotoCorp have gone the extra mile for serious off-roaders with the introduction of a bolt-on rally kit that transforms the bike from a competent dual-purpose machine to a full-on, off-road beast. They recently sent us a rally kit for our long-term Hero Xpulse, and I wasted no time in heading out of the city to some nearby hills to put it to the test.
The rally kit for the Hero Xpulse swaps out the stock suspension for taller units with more travel, boosting ground clearance by 50 millimetres to 275 mm. The fork is adjustable for compression and rebound damping and boasts of 250 mm of travel, while the monoshock gets preload and rebound damping adjustability, with 220 mm of available travel. The stock Ceat dual-purpose tyres are pretty good in most conditions, but the aggressive Maxxis knobbies that are included with the rally kit take things to a whole new level. The kit also includes bar-risers for a more natural arm position when riding standing up on the pegs, a flat bench seat to allow the rider to easily slide fore and aft, and a longer side-stand.
The taller suspension and higher, flat seat raise the seat height by 110 mm, pushing the saddle up to a lofty 933 mm. At 5’ 5”, I found this quite worrisome, and even clambering aboard was a bit of a struggle. But I soon got used to sliding off to one side at stops and by the third day with the bike had gotten rather comfortable. While the knobbies felt quite odd on the road, they amazed me with the amount of available grip as I rode up a soggy trail, and the suspension seemed ready to take on anything, with no sign of bottoming out, no matter how hard I landed.
While I cursed the flat seat for making it so hard to reach the ground, I soon got to appreciate how easy it made moving my weight around, sliding forward to dig the front tyre into the dirt to make corners, and back over the rear wheel when accelerating.
After spending a considerable amount of time with the Hero Xpulse equipped with the rally kit, I came to the conclusion that there’s just one word to describe this machine: unstoppable.
Following the launch of the KTM 890 Adventure R and the go-anywhere Adventure R Rally, the Austrian firm has now revealed the KTM 890 Adventure as an entry point into their middleweight ADV range.
After experiencing the new Triumph Tiger 900 in Morocco earlier this year, we now attack India’s mean streets and trails with Triumph’s latest big cat.
Kawasaki have released a video, teasing six new bikes that will be revealed for international markets later this year
The KTM 390 variants have always run on imported Metzeler tyres, much to our delight, however the bikes are now being shipped with MRF hoops.
Ever since their launch, the KTM 390 Duke and RC 390 have always run on sticky Metzeler Sportec M5 tyres, while the smaller-capacity siblings made do with Indian-made MRF rubber. Now, with the Austrian brand claiming difficulties with importing the German tyres to India, even the KTM 390 Duke and RC are being shipped with the MRF Revs C1 tyres found on their smaller-capacity siblings.
KTM recently announced now liveries for their entire RC range, but swapped out the tyres without any official announcement. Indian import restrictions and supply chain constraints are probably responsible, but there has been no word from the manufacturer about whether this tyre swap is a make-shift arrangement for the time being till they sort out their supply chain issues, or of this is a permanent shift. We expect there has also been quite a bit of cost saved by switching to an Indian tyre manufacturer, but none of this is being passed on to customers, with no price cut being announced.
Expect more info as soon as we have it.
Honda have decided to cash in on the modern retro motorcycle craze with the unexpected launch of the Highness CB350, a 1970s-inspired machine powered by a single-cylinder thumper and bathed in loads of chrome. Let’s see how it measures up to the established competition in the segment.
With prices starting at Rs 1.90 lakh (ex-showroom), the new Honda H’ness CB350 goes up against the Royal Enfield Classic 350 and the Jawa, both of which are priced at about Rs 1.65 lakh (ex-showroom). Either of these three machines can satisfy the desire to own a shiny retro-designed machine with modern features like fuel injection and ABS and, while all three are powered by similarly-sized singles, there are subtle differences. While the Jawa’s motor is the only one that displaces less than 300 cc, it makes up for this with liquid-cooling, and features the highest power output of the three. It is also the only bike with a six-speed gearbox, while the other two make do with a five-speed ‘box.
Here are the numbers:
|Engine Capacity||Peak Power||Peak Torque||Transmission|
|Honda H’ness CB350||348.4 cc||21 hp @ 5,500 rpm||30 Nm @ 3,000 rpm||Five-speed|
|RE Classic 350||346 cc||20 hp @ 5,250 rpm||28 Nm @ 4,000 rpm||Five-speed|
|Jawa||293 cc||27 hp @ NA||28 Nm @ NA||Six-Speed|
As you can tell, while the Jawa makes the most outright horsepower, the Honda leads the torque stakes, and will probably be the most rideable at low revs. The Classic isn’t too far behind in this respect, and while Jawa haven’t released at what rpm their motor makes its peak power and torque, we know it’s the highest revving of the three bikes here.
Let’s now compare dimensions:
|Length||Width||Wheelbase||Overall Height||Saddle Height||Ground Clearance||Kerb Weight|
|Honda H’ness CB350||2,163 mm||800 mm||1,441 mm||1,112 mm||800 mm||166 mm||181 kg|
|RE Classic 350||2,160 mm||790 mm||1,390 mm||1,090 mm||800 mm||135 mm||194 kg|
|Jawa||2,122 mm||789 mm||1369 mm||1165 mm||765 mm||172 kg|
The Honda is the longest of the three bikes with the longest wheelbase while the Jawa is the shortest, which will probably make it the most nimble. The Honda and the RE both share an acceptable 800-mm seat height, although extremely short riders might be more comfortable with the Jawa’s 765-mm saddle height. In terms of weight, the RE is the heaviest, closely followed by Honda, while the Jawa is the lightest of the three motorcycles here.
We’re looking forward to riding the Honda H’ness CB350 soon to bring you a proper comparison between these motorcycles, but hope this spec comparison gives you a good enough idea of where the Honda stands in our market.
2021 will see the British marque bringing back the legendary Triumph Trident name.
The electric scooter manufacturer has introduced the Okinawa Eco App to give their customers the connected experience
We spend some time with the latest quarter-litre motorcycles to hit our market from Swedish marque Husqvarna