Mahindra Rodeo RZ review

125CC 8BHP 9NM

Mahindra recently launched the face-lifted version of the Rodeo, one of the many scoots that are powering the Mahindra 2 wheelers bandwagon for quite some now in the absence of any motorcycle in their portfolio. The Rodeo was launched by Mahindra as a peppy and rugged scooter targeted towards the young just-into-the college type crowd. It has been there in the market and has made its own space in the scooter market. And with the upgraded version of its hard-working sibling Duro out in the market for some time now, it was high time that Mahindra gave Rodeo a decent facelift too.

xBhp was there during the launch of the new Rodeo RZ and here is an account of our brief rendezvous with it.

Text & Photos: Sunil Gupta

Mr. Viren Popli, Senior VP, Strategy and Market Development, Mahindra Two Wheelers

Mr. Viren Popli, Senior VP, Strategy and Market Development, Mahindra Two Wheelers talking about the Rodeo RZ

First of all, the new Rodeo RZ gets its name from the all new 125 cc Z-series engine that it has been fitted with. This new engine, along with a new carburetor system and the dual-curve digital ignition, produces a peak power output of 8 bhp at 7000 rpm and a torque of 9 Nm at 5500 rpm. It also promises to deliver a more punchy performance without compromising on the fuel economy front. The Rodeo RZ with its new engine now claims to give an ARAI certified figure of 59.5 KM per liter and is also claiming a best-in-class pickup.

Mahindra Rodeo RZ acceleration figure
Mahindra Rodeo RZ fuel efficiency
Mahindra Rodeo RZ color options

The new engine did feel punchy and relaxed even while carrying a 67 kg rider and going uphill. We managed to clock a figure of 5.6 seconds going from zero to 50 kmph that was calculated by the inbuilt acceleration timer (more on that later). This figure was tested on 2 different scooters and came out to be the same.

Mahindra Rodeo RZ

Styling wise, there aren’t too many changes except new, minimalistic decals on the body panels. And it is not a sure shot headturner either. There are quite a few color options available though to match your taste. It is available in 7 different colors now.

Mahindra Rodeo RZ headlight
Mahindra Rodeo RZ switch assembly
Mahindra Rodeo RZ switch assembly
Mahindra Rodeo RZ turn indicators

The ground clearance on the new Mahindra Rodeo RZ has improved and now stands at 154 mm (124 mm with Rider + pillion weighing around 150 Kg in total) that seems better than the competition with Suzuki Swish at 140 mm and Honda Activa at 150 mm.

Mahindra Rodeo RZ ground clearance
Mahindra Rodeo RZ ground clearance

Features: Unlike the motorcycle market where the performance figures are a big deciding factor, a customer who is going to buy a scoot wouldn’t really care much about these numbers as the difference between various products’ performance figures isn’t that huge. What a customer looks into a product like this is the riding comfort, convenience to carry some luggage, styling, and “add-on” features (all this while the price and all important mileage figures have been taken care of). And this where M&M is trying to make some inroads.

The Rodeo RZ is fully loaded with features that will make heads turn. It has got an all-digital console including digital tachometer and digital clock and 7 color backlight options to choose from, front refueling, best-in class “illuminated” under-seat storage (22 L), Mp3/mobile charger, four-in-one anti-theft key, side stand buzzer, overspeed alarm, and a 0-50 acceleration timer to name a few.

For us, the main USP of the Rodeo RZ was its all-digital console. It was full of freebies and useful features. Apart from the speedometer and the tachometer, it also had the following options available in digital format: Odometer, Trip meter, Clock, A-T (acceleration timer), and M-T (time taken to cover a measured distance??). And it is not done yet. The backlight has 7 different colors available that you can select according to your mood or the color of yours or your girlfriend’s tee.

Mahindra Rodeo RZ digital console

Then, there is front-refueling that is a plus feature as neither you nor your pillion will have to get off the scooter while refueling. Then you have a four-in-one anti-theft key and a bonus mp3/mobile recharging point (#WhereIsThatLikeButton) that is surely going to be a handy feature.
Move a little back, and you have this “illuminated” 22 L underseat storage. Yes, bright LEDs light up the storage space as soon as you lift up the rear seat. No more ‘groping in the dark’ now to find your keys or other items in case your scooter is parked in a dark place. The storage space is large enough to carry a half-face helmet and will still have a lot of space left over. We tried to put our Daijya full-face helmet in but it proved to be a bit too big for the under-seat storage.

Mahindra Rodeo RZ anti theft key

Mahindra Rodeo RZ underseat storage

The RZ also has a quite irritating and so a useful side-stand buzzer in case you tend to forget to disengage it.

Then, there is this over-speed alarm in the Rodeo RZ. There is no ‘sound alarm’ per se, but the entire digital console turns red if you go above 60. But this red light wasn’t quite visible during the day time and also won’t be visible in case you have already selected the red color as the backlight color. So this limits the usefulness of the overspeed alarm.

Mahindra Rodeo RZ features

Features comparo – Again provided by Mahindra and Mahindra

And lastly, unlike the previous Rodeo that had a not so accurate fuel gauge, this new version has new patented pressure sensors fitted inside the tank (and not just a float valve mechanism) to accurately gauge the actual fuel level and give the correct reading.

There is one more thing that is worth mentioning here, though it is not a feature of the scooter per se. In case you are thinking about buying the new Rodeo RZ and want to test ride it, just give these guys a call and the test machine will be delivered at your doorstep for you to test ride. And this is something of a ‘revolutionary’ step in this 2-wheeler industry where the customers don’t get that kind of a royal treatment that even a rare 4-wheeler customer gets.

Riding comfort/Handling/Braking: Sitting on it, the Rodeo RZ doesn’t really give the feel of a ‘big scooter,’ but it feels compact and easy. The sitting posture is upright and easy on the joints. Coming to the handling bit, the chassis and suspension setup did feel strong. The front dual telescopic suspension does its job quite effortlessly. With drum brakes at both rear and front, the braking was quite sharp and effective, though we did feel uncomfortable during hard braking. Particularly, braking on a wet surface didn’t inspire any confidence at all. There is no scope of any adventure during the rains and it will leave you yearning for a softer tyre for more grip in case you are riding it monsoons in a city like Mumbai where the tarmac is of worst quality at best.

Mahindra Rodeo RZ front tyre

Price wise, the Rodeo RZ has been launched at a price tag (ex-showroom) of AP – Rs.49,575 /-, Kerala – Rs 49,410/-, TN – Rs. 50,710/ and Karnataka – Rs. 48,930/-, respectively, which is around 2500 higher than the Duro but seems justified given the features packed in it.

So clearly, Mahindra wants you to “Do More” with your scooter and not just settle with anything less. There does exist a big market for a feature-packed product like this, but whether or not they will be able to sell this scooter well will now depend upon their marketing strategy and how well they have trained their sales team so that he/she could explain and sell all these features to a prospective buyer. A bigger dealer network and more visibility will also go a long way in selling this scooter.

Mahindra Rodeo RZ

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Mahindra Rodeo
Mahindra Rodeo RZ
Mahindra2Wheelers
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Rodeo RZ

Bajaj Discover 125ST Review – The Urban Sports Tourer

124.6CC 12.8BHP 11NM

The Discover series of bikes has been a runaway success for Bajaj Auto in the “Deluxe Commuter” category (the category above the entry level motorcycles). Well known as an extremely fuel efficient brand, the Discover has found favor among both the young and mature commuter crowd. Launched in 2004, Bajaj has managed to keep the Discover brand fresh with timely upgrades. These upgrades included changes in the engine platform to cosmetic/feature upgrades. But till now the silhouette has always been essentially the same as the one launched in 2004.

Text: Satadal Payeng (Payeng)
Photos: Gourab Das (MG)

Bajaj Discover 125ST right side view

The Discover 125ST which represents the next generation Discover and also the flagship variant (older Discover models will be on sale alongside) is an all new model altogether. Everything about the Discover 125ST is brand new including the styling, engine, chassis and the ride experience. I take one for a test ride to “Discover” more about it.

Discover 125ST in a nutshell

USP (Unique Selling Proposition): Discover brand name, handsome big looks for its segment, first in segment monoshock suspension.

Good Bits: Surprisingly “fun” handling for a commuter, rev happy 4 valve DTS-I engine.

Things that could improve: Features like a digital speedo display, LED tail lamps can be re-introduced

What does the “ST” in Discover 125ST stand for?

According to Bajaj, the “ST” in the name stands for “Sports Tourer”. This is not to be confused with the Recreational Touring kind of bikes but more in terms of an Indian commuter who does long distance travel and an endeavor to make his commute less stressful.

Styling, Design, Fit and Finish: “Elevates from Deluxe Commuter to Stylish Commuter”

Bajaj Discover 125ST
In flesh the Discover 125ST doesn’t look like a 125 cc and can easily pass of as a 150 cc bike. The bike has handsome and muscular proportions and looks much bigger than the current Discover 125 or the Honda Shine. Resemblance to the current Discover range is there in the form of tail lights which have a similar design theme, the chrome masked headlamp and also the decals remind you of the older/current Discover models. But apart from that the rest of the bike is different.

Personally I would have preferred a simpler design for the alloys and the rear mudguard/hugger. The Discover 125ST is a Déjà vu of a couple of bikes. The headlamp for example reminds that of the Pulsar, from the sides the tank has traces of that of the Suzuki GS150R (accentuated by the scooped rider seat) and the rear panels of the bike has very Honda Unicorn type of lines (the monoshock only adds to it). Before anyone cries copycat, the Discover 125ST somehow clicks visually and after spending some time with it, even starts to appear distinctive.

The design intent of the new model is definitely sportier but at the same time it does not let go of its commuter roots. If the old/current Discover caters to the “Deluxe Commuter” category (with bikes like the Hero Splendor, Honda Shine etc.), the new Discover 125ST now addresses the “Stylish Commuter” category (which has got bikes like the Yamaha SS125, Hero Glamour, Honda CBF Stunner). The fit and finish is at par with the other offerings in this segment. It would have been good to have a digital speedometer display and LED tail lamp (this one actually mimics the design of the LED taillamp of the current Discover) though.

Ergonomics, Riding Stance: “No-nonsense, Good Boy ergonomics”

Bajaj Discover 125ST left

The new Discover 125ST might have slight sporty intent in its design, but swinging a leg over the scooped rider’s seat will instantly make it obvious that it is basically a no-nonsense commuter. The foot pegs are placed forward and the handlebars are placed at a comfortable height. The handle bar-seat-foot peg relationship makes you feel like an obedient and responsible “good boy”.

My short legs are very sensitive to seat height and let me state that the rider’s seat on the Discover 125ST is one of the best for short guys. The scooped seat makes it possible for short legs to place both feet with confidence on the road. The Discover 125ST might look big in size (compared to other commuter bikes), but the weight is distributed on the bike in such a manner that it has a light front end which results in an easy to maneuver, light and easy handling. The turning radius is also small, resulting in very easy and tight u-turns.

In short the ergonomics on the Discover 125ST is a commuter’s delight with no sporty intent whatsoever.

Engine Performance: “4 Valve head makes for an unstressed top end”

Bajaj Discover 125ST c

Commuter motorcycles are usually about low and mid range performance. Most commuters hardly take their bikes above 60-70 kmph. Therefore every commuter bike out there including the old/current Discover models are tuned to perform at low-mid engine speeds. The new Discover 125ST becomes the first bike in the “commuter” category to feature a 4 valve head. This lets the engine breathe easily at higher engine revs and the light valve train ensures a stress free power delivery of 13PS from the 125 cc DTS-i (Digital Twin Spark Ignition) engine. The power/torque delivery is linear and the gearing on the bike ensures that the bike has enough poke at low speeds. One can easily potter around at speeds as low as 35 kmph in top gear (5’th) and yet pick up cleanly without any snatching.

The Discover 125ST does around 70 kmph quite cleanly. It is the performance post 70 kmph which comes as a surprise for a commuter. The engine feels unstressed and eager to rev even when the speedometer needle goes past the 90 kmph and breaches a speedo indicated 100 kmph plus speeds. The 4 valves per cylinder does its job well here. The engine and exhaust note remains quite civil and quiet till the 70 kmph mark, but as the speedo needle goes past that mark, the exhaust note makes a pronounced sporty grunt. The engine might feel unstressed doing 90-100 kmph but then at those speeds you do get to experience “sporty vibes” (pun intended). Nothing disturbing but just a mild tingling sensation at the foot pegs and handle bars.

The older Bajaj built engines had a snatchy feel to it. But of late the new generation of Bajaj built engines like the XCD 135, Pulsar 135LS and the current Discover models has got a well built and built to last feel to it. The Discover 125ST is built on the same platform of new generation engines and has got similar well built feel to it. One noteworthy feature of this new 125 cc, 4 valve engine air cooled engine is the cooling fins which have a corrugated design. This reportedly helps in increasing the cooling rate of the engine.

Clutch & Gearbox: “All izz well”
The clutch is delightfully light for a commuter and the 5 speed (one down – four up) gearbox does its duty well. The gears ratios are spaced in such a manner that it makes for an effortless ride for a city commute.

Ride and Handling: “The ghost of Karizma”

Bajaj Discover 125ST
Commuter bikes are not meant to attack corners or play “Rossi” on the streets. Also barring the Pulsar 135LS, Bajaj bikes are never spoken for their handling prowess. But the handling of the Discover 125ST made my jaw drop. The Discover 125ST takes corners in a manner which is eerily reminiscent of the Hero Karizma.

Like the Discover 125ST, the Karizma has got a light front end. Around corners the Karizma feels like it’s got over steering tendency (getting into a corner too fast) which puts the heart in the mouth of the first time rider but as the bike enters into the corner, the chassis somehow keeps the bike in a straight and stable line and the corner is taken smoothly. This makes even dumb novices feel like “Wow.. I can corner too..!!”

Bajaj seems to have somehow cloned the handling characteristic of the Karizma on the Discover 125ST..!! The Discover 125ST handles almost exactly like how it feels on the Karizma. i.e. enters into a corner bit too eagerly, but somehow maintains its line and makes a clean exit. Leaving a “Main bhi Rossi” impression on the rider.

I hope you noticed that the Discover 125ST is the first sub 150 cc commuter bike in India to feature a monoshock suspension (its got Gas Filled “Nitrox” can as well). Even at max speed the Discover 125ST retains its composure and its very stable on the road. The ride is slightly on the sporty/firmer side but nevertheless is comfortable.

Brakes: “Decent for a commuter but can be better”

The 200 mm front disc brake offers better stopping than drum brakes would but it needs a bit more effort from someone who is used to modulating the front brakes of bikes with 1 or 2 fingers. Considering most Indian commuters still apply the rear brakes more than the front brakes, I guess the current set up would do just fine with them.

Conclusion: “Stylish looks and features but with strong commuter values. The handling zapped me”

Bajaj Discover 125ST
The Discover 125ST looks big and handsome, has got features to showoff like the first in class monoshock and 4 valve engine and got an extremely agile and sporty handling with comfortable ergonomics. Fuel efficiency has never been an issue with Discover (and Bajaj) bikes and we can safely expect a decent fuel efficiency figure from this new Discover as well.

The bike might not attract the “Sporty Commuter” crowd (the market for Pulsar, Apache, FZ etc.) but at an on road price of around Rs. 60,000, it seems like a fair deal and the bike has the makings of a best seller. Most importantly for Bajaj despite the sporty intent in its styling, the Discover 125ST still retains its “Mass Appeal”.

Bajaj Discover 125ST
Bajaj Discover 125ST
Bajaj Discover 125ST
Bajaj Discover 125ST front
Bajaj Discover 125ST front disc, alloy wheel
Bajaj Discover 125ST tail light
Bajaj Discover 125ST instrument panel
Bajaj Discover 125ST handlebar
Bajaj Discover 125ST switch gear
Bajaj Discover 125ST exhaust pipe

tags
Bajaj Discover
Bajaj Discover 125ST
Discover 125ST