Another year of motorcycling has gone by and now is the time to appreciate the best two-wheelers before we usher in another year of new machines and fresh experiences
Report: Joshua Varghese
Photography: Sanjay Raikar and Apurva Ambep
After the COVID-19 drought, the motorcycling sphere has gained colour and variety over the past one year. Some great motorcycles and scooters were launched and they were spread across the segments. There was something for everyone to look forward to and that was, perhaps, one of the highlights of the year. It is also worth noting that we had a considerable number of new launches in the premium motorcycle segment. Over the past 16 years, the Bike India Jury has always selected the best and deserving bike for the Two-wheeler of the Year award, and this year was no different.
The Bike India Awards 2022 began with some retrospection about new launches over the past year and then proceeded to a strict jury round. Our experienced jurors evaluated each two-wheeler on the respective product’s most relevant traits and overall ability in their specific segments. In the end, it was not easy to pick outright winners in some categories because the competition was quite close, but there can be only one winner and our jurors have done their best to do justice to each machine. The next big challenge was the main prize, Two-wheeler of the Year. Over the next few pages, you will find the winners in each category and also the winner of the most coveted Two-wheeler of the Year award.
As always, the jury spent their time diligently testing every single two-wheeler contending for top honours. The contenders consisted of new model-year motorcycles and scooters which were launched in India in 2021. Only the winners in each category or sub-segment make it to the final short-list comprising those vying for the Two-wheeler of the Year Award.
The jury members for the 2022 Bike India Awards made their decisions taking a variety of parameters into consideration. The principal ones included value for money, technical innovation, build quality, fuel economy, performance, practicality, and styling – all pertaining to their respective segments.
This year’s jury comprised renowned automotive journalists and a former racer. Following a two-pronged voting process, a winner from each category was announced on the basis of the final tabulation of scores given by individual jurors. All votes were kept a well-guarded secret and were sealed and validated by the auditors. Following the announcement of the winners, the respective manufacturers were presented with the awards.
Rayomand is among the most prolific and successful new breed of racing drivers in the country. He showed his remarkable potential by beating Narain Karthikeyan and also won the title of the Indian National Champion in karting in 2003 and 2004. With his Indi-karting series, he is helping nurture more talent on track. He has also mentored India’s Formula 2 star, Jehan Daruvala.
The Editor of both Car India and Bike India, Aspi Bhathena is a veteran in the automotive field with over 40 years of experience and a motorcycle racing career spanning over 26 years. He is one of only two Indians to have raced in the Isle of Man TT races, winning a bronze replica in his very first attempt.
The Executive Editor of both Car India and Bike India, Sarmad has over 16 years of experience in the print publication media. Skilled in building strong team environments and co-ordinating across media, he has a sound grasp of technical information, having evaluated cars and bikes for nearly a decade. This puts him in a position to bridge the gap between the experts and the laymen.
S P Group
With a rich legacy of more than 150 years, the Shapoorji Pallonji Group Limited (S P Group) is active in a vast variety of fields. A few of the areas where the S P Group is flourishing include: real estate, infrastructure (ports, power plants, highways, and toll ways, etc), fabrication, EPC (power and steel), Gokak Textiles, construction material (pre-engineered buildings, interior, access flooring), Afcons Infrastructure (marine works, roads, bridges, tunnels, pipelines, and specialist foundation works—piling, drilling, grouting), Forbes & Company, agriculture (bio-fuels), and many more. At its core still remains the construction business. In fact, it is one of the most quality-conscious and oldest Indian construction companies.
The S P Group serves clients in over 50 countries and has a strong workforce of 60,000 professionals, comprising about 40 nationalities, that delivers the Group’s values and commitments in every project.
Motorcycles up to 125 cc: TVS Raider 125
This is an important segment for our country because it is popular with a majority of India’s motorcycle customers. A 125-cc motorcycle fits the bill perfectly when it comes to commuting within the urban jungle because, in addition to comfort and ease of use, it also returns more kilometres to the litre than a larger motorcycle. These traits make such motorcycles appealing to the mass market. The TVS Raider 125 ticked all these boxes and further strengthened its case by being more youth-friendly than its rival. In addition to what is expected of a motorcycle of this segment, the Raider also offers features such as smartphone connectivity and contemporary styling. Its 125-cc engine produces 11.4 hp and 11.2 Nm of peak torque while being mated to a five-speed transmission. As a package, it is difficult to find fault with this motorcycle and that is why our jury awarded it the most points.
Variant of the Year: Hero Xpulse 200 4V
A new variant must offer a significant upgrade over the model it replaces. That is one of the main criteria for the jury while evaluating two-wheelers for the Variant of the Year Award. The Hero Xpulse 200 4V fits the bill best vis-à-vis all its competitors. The first Xpulse 200 had stormed into the hearts of Indian motorcyclists, especially the off-road enthusiasts, so improving it was a tall order. By turning the engine of this motorcycle into a four-valve unit, Hero have enabled it to breathe more freely and rev harder than before, making it more fun to ride on trails while improving its touring ability. The 200-cc, air-cooled engine now develops 19.1 hp and 17.35 Nm. Furthermore, Hero have also revised the final drive gearing and the gearbox ratios. What really sealed the award was, perhaps, the motorcycle’s reasonable price that makes it accessible to a large number of customers.
Motorcycles up to 250 cc: Bajaj Pulsar F250
It was evident that picking a clear winner in this category would be difficult because the competition was as close as it was fierce. The jury had a tough time awarding points to each of the contenders but when the results were announced, the one that scored the highest number of points was the Bajaj Pulsar F250. The F250 was the latest Pulsar after a long time and it takes the crown from the Pulsar 220F as the flagship of the Pulsar line of motorcycles. With reworked styling that continues to retain the familiar elements of the Pulsar family, the F250 is a worthy heir to the Pulsar family. This motorcycle draws power from a 249.07-cc engine that churns out 24.5 hp and 21.5 Nm of peak torque. Furthermore, the Pulsar’s affordable price makes it accessible to a large number of riders looking to upgrade to the 250-cc segment.
Motorcycles up to 500 cc: Royal Enfield Classic 350
The 500-cc segment is one of the first steps into the premium space and, therefore, the products here need to be at the top of their game to gain popularity amongst customers. In addition to being a mechanically and dynamically sound motorcycle, the contenders in this category must also offer enormous value for money in addition to a few other parameters that the riders upgrading from a smaller motorcycle expect. In that regard, the motorcycle that resonated best with the jury was the latest iteration of the Royal Enfield Classic 350. Based on the new-generation platform and engine, the latest Classic is a significant departure from the model it replaces; in a positive direction, of course. The jury were particularly impressed by the new motorcycle’s level of refinement, performance, handling, and value for money. A 349-cc single-cylinder engine powers the new Classic and it dishes out 20.2 hp and 27 Nm of peak torque.
Premium Scooter of the Year: BMW C 400 GT
This is a new category for India and BMW have set foot in it with a defining product. The C 400 GT is in every sense the most premium scooter money can buy in the country today. It draws power from a 350-cc single-cylinder engine that produces 34 hp at 7,500 rpm and a peak torque of 35 Nm at 5,750 rpm. The C 400 GT is easily the largest scooter on sale in India today and BMW have made good use of the scooter’s proportions to provide a comfortable perch for rider and pillion alike. This scooter is also capable of covering long distances easily and comes packed with features. A particularly clever example is the under-seat helmet storage. It weighs 214 kilograms but is easily capable of achieving a top speed of 139 km/h. The C 400 GT does not compete directly with anything in the market today.
Adventure Motorcycles up to 600 cc: Honda CB500X
Adventure is integral to motorcycling and the modern ADV offers the opportunity to explore off the beaten track, quite literally in some cases. This year, two motorcycles fought for this award and the jury adjudged the capable Honda CB500X as the winner. The CB500X is a dual-purpose ADV that can handle tarmac and trails alike. Honda have done well to offer such a potent motorcycle in an attractive visual package. It looks and feels premium and is certainly a deserving candidate for this award. The jury were also impressed by the CB500X’s refinement and power delivery. Being well-balanced and easy to ride, this motorcycle is accessible to a large number of motorcyclists, experts and beginners alike. The 471.03-cc engine makes 47.5 hp and a peak torque of 43.2 Nm and it comes mated to a six-speed transmission.
Motorcycles up to 750 cc: Triumph Trident 660
This segment of motorcycles is among the first choice for those entering the world of big, multi-cylinder motorcycles. Thus, a winner in this segment must be friendly enough to the newcomer while also being capable of delivering enough thrill to keep the experienced rider engaged. In that regard, the Triumph Trident 660 is a neat all-rounder. Its 660-cc triple-cylinder engine is the smallest in Triumph’s current line-up, yet it produces a commendable 81.6 hp and 64 Nm of peak torque. One of the Trident’s biggest strengths is how it transfers this power to the road. Smooth and linear throttle response and an agile chassis make this motorcycle easy to use for a new rider and exciting for an experienced one. Furthermore, Triumph have included enough electronics to keep the rider safe without intruding into the ride experience. Dual-channel ABS, traction control, and ride modes are offered as standard and that helps make this motorcycle good value for money.
Adventure Motorcycle of the Year: Ducati Multistrada V4 S
The big award for ADVs goes to the mind-boggling Ducati Multistrada V4 S. The V4 engine is a powerhouse and Ducati have harnessed exactly 170 hp and 125 Nm of peak torque for the Multistrada V4 S. Although it looks tall and intimidating, the jury agreed that this new Multi was easy and exciting to ride. Powerful engine and brilliant handling dynamics apart, the Multistrada V4 S also boasts of radar-based cruise control, a clever and useful feature on long highway rides. The motorcycle’s off-road and touring prowess has also become evident on numerous occasions. To top it all, Ducati claim that this motorcycle’s service interval is at a seemingly impossible 60,000 km. Then, of course, there is the comprehensive suite of electronics and rider aids offered by the Italian manufacturer. Put all that together and nothing else comes close.
Premium Motorcycle of the Year: Suzuki Hayabusa
This year’s winner in the premium motorcycle category was the legendary Suzuki Hayabusa. Back in its third iteration, this epic motorcycle is better than ever before. Clever electronics, smooth power delivery, and a firecracker of an engine are but a few of its merits. In addition to offering the thrills that the Hayabusa is known for, Suzuki have also done a remarkable job with the styling. The new motorcycle is distinctly different from the model it replaces, yet it has certain trademark elements that cannot be mistaken for anything else but a Hayabusa. The latest motorcycle is powered by a 1,340-cc in-line four-cylinder engine and supplemented by the safety of electronics. In addition to the motorcycle’s heritage, performance, and long list of capabilities, Suzuki’s pricing has also made a positive impact on the new Hayabusa’s popularity.
Scooter of the Year: Yamaha Aerox 155
This was another category that was closely contested on account of there being as many as five contenders vying for the top spot. This year’s winner is a scooter that strays from what we have become accustomed to as convention. The Scooter of the Year Award went to the unique Yamaha Aerox 155. The only similarity that this scooter shares with its rivals is automatic transmission. Apart from that, this is as wild as it gets. Everything from the seating position to the engine was unheard of among scooters in India before the advent of the Aerox 155. Yamaha have somehow managed to offer the best aspects of a scooter and a motorcycle with the Aerox. It draws power from the YZF-R15 engine which in this scooter is tuned to produce 15 hp and 13.9 Nm of peak torque. This makes the Aerox 155 the most powerful scooter in this segment in the country today.
Readers’ Choice: Honda CB650R
This year our readers have chosen the Honda CB650R for the Readers’ Choice Award. The Honda CB650R has derived styling cues from its larger sibling, the CB1000R, and the neo-retro theme seems to be working wonders for the motorcycle in India. The CB650R is the most accessible 650-cc in-line four motorcycle in the country today and it draws power from a smooth and potent mill. It develops as much as 87 hp and 57.5 Nm of peak torque and is mated to a slick six-speed transmission. In spite of its size, this Honda is quite easy to manage even in slow-moving traffic and that particular attribute is crucial in everyday usability. On weekend rides, too, it is a joy to ride this motorcycle which is perfectly at home flowing from one corner to the next. It is easy to see why this attractive blend of style, function, and performance received instant recognition from our readers.
Manufacturer of the Year: Hero MotoCorp Limited
This year, Hero MotoCorp Limited have bagged the Manufacturer of the Year Award for their outstanding contribution to the Indian motorcycle market. Over the past year, Hero have crossed numerous milestones both nationally and globally. They have surpassed a few records in terms of sales and even made significant strides in research and development for new motorcycles and technologies. Their racing division, Hero MotoSports, did the nation proud by winning a stage in the tough Dakar Rally, the first-ever by an Indian team. They also entered the premium motorcycle space in the country by taking up the operations for Harley-Davidson’s Indian chapter after the American company withdrew from the Indian market. They also announced the launch of Vida, their attempt at global sustainability solutions including electric vehicles. With their past achievements and potential for the future, Hero have done rather well for themselves over the past year.
Two-wheeler of the Year: Royal Enfield Classic 350
To fight for the Two-wheeler of the Year Award, the contenders must win in their respective categories. From such an exclusive group of accomplished two-wheelers, the Royal Enfield Classic 350 stood head and shoulders above its peers. Our jury were convinced that this new-generation Classic is the most deserving of the lot for the big award. Its combination of retro styling and modern technology makes it a great value-for-money proposition for motorcyclists looking to upgrade from a small-capacity motorcycle. The Classic 350 also enjoys the optional luxury of being loaded with accessories from Royal Enfield’s Genuine Motorcycle Accessories (GMA) brochure. The jury were impressed by the manufacturer’s new approach and appreciated the efforts that went into the development of this motorcycle that has found favour with many customers across the country. An apt choice for the coveted Two-wheeler of the Year Award then.