Blasting past the back-roads in Haryana, I could sense the comfort and composed behaviour of a well-engineered motorcycle. Neatly tucked behind the visor of the new Karizma ZMR, there was no wind blast hitting the helmet and the relaxed yet sporty riding posture only added an inch on each side of the grin inside my helmet. There was something charming and telling about the new ZMR, especially after riding on a few broken roads it was evident that this bike can take it all, no matter what the riding conditions are.
The most striking change is the new multi-reflector headlight and incorporation of a full fairing a la superbike. The large state-of-the-art digital dials upfront are a welcome change over the old-school analogue instrument cluster seen on the earlier Karizma. The flashy part about the console is that the owner can feed a custom message of upto 60-odd characters in the right-hand side dial that will display the text each time the ignition is switched on.
After almost half a day of riding, I noticed how easy and comfortable the ZMR felt, especially due to its seating geometry. The posture is tailor-made for long distance touring, which has always been the Karizma's forte and it also distinguishes the ZMR from its competition. The two-piece handlebars are raised for easy reach and the saddle/ foot-peg equation is well-matched for an effortless and pleasurable experience, which is suited for those with itchy feet. If we may call it that, this is India's first true-blue 'Grand Tourer'. Hero Honda has made no tall claims about its performance and the bike won't come in the sniffing distance of its competition like the Bajaj Pulsar 220 DTSi or the super-sport offering from Yamaha, the YZF-R15. But if you are charting a ride to Leh or planning a visit to the Southern coastal locales, the ZMR will be the most fitting set of two-wheels for stress-free mile-munching.
First Ride: Hero Honda Karizma ZMR
By: Varad More, Photography: Kunal Khadse 10 Oct 2009
But what has been repeated for over three years, about how much we would love to see HH plonk a full-blown 250cc liquid-cooled DOHC motor inside the Karizma, reality remains that the new bike is still powered by the tried and tested 223cc air-cooled engine, that has been serving the old bike since 2003. However, on the ZMR there are a few new developments. The most crucial improvement is the inclusion of Honda's PGM-Fuel Injection system which has given the lazy power delivery of the old Karizma a solid boost in its new form, especially in the higher rev-range. And like they say, competition brings out the best in breed - Hero Honda has finally incorporated technologies like an oil-cooler, gas-charged rear suspension, rear disc brake and tubeless tyres, which have become a norm on most Indian performance motorcycles.
How will it run?
In the past four years, the sales of Hero Honda's premium products' consisting of its 150cc and above range of models has recorded triple growth rate with significant contribution from the Karizma-R. This growth rate has forced India's leading bike-maker to share its focus on the performance segment and the Karizma ZMR is the first indication of this welcome change in the company's outlook. Moving over its image of giving new sticker-jobs and new paint-schemes, this time Hero Honda has made considerable alterations to its flagship model, the Karizma. Only time can tell if the new ZMR will be able to shake off the big Pulsar from its perch, or not, but we can rest assured that it is now a good moment for Indian biker's to truly rejoice, as the battle of the biggies commences.