Harley Davidson Dark Custom Street 750 & Forty-Eight Ridden
Harley Davidson, the undisputed leader in the big bikes market in India, recently launched the upgraded versions for 3 of their bikes, including their bestselling models the Iron 883 and the Street 750, which was launched just about a year ago. The third bike to be upgraded is the Forty-Eight.
The new bikes are launched under what HD calls “Dark Custom” range and are upgraded as per the customer demands and their market survey.
What these bikes have undergone is primarily a facelift surgery with some functional changes here and there.
Let’s talk about the Street 750 first. The Street 750 is definitely one of the most important products in HD India’s portfolio as it was designed specifically for India and other developing countries. The bike has kept the production lines busy ever since it was launched. We had reviewed the Street 750 at the time of its launch and came back pretty impressed with the overall product except for a thing or two.
One of the let down about the Street 750 was its spongy brakes with less than desirable bite. And this has been the biggest upgrade in the Dark Custom Street 750. The Dark Custom Street 750 gets an all new front and rear braking system with bigger rotors. The difference between the braking efficiency is easily noticeable. The brakes require much less effort and don’t feel spongy. The bite is much stronger. Though that brings us once again to the stock MRF Tyres. The Street definitely deserves stickier rubber than the one it currently has and people planning to buy it should go for a tyre upgrade as soon as possible.
The other noticeable change is the beefier clutch and brake levers that are more comfortable than the earlier ones. Then you have a newly designed, trendier rear brake pedal. Harley Davidson also says that they have rerouted the internal wiring to hide the open wires that were visible earlier and the change is (in!)visible, though if you want to nit-pick you could still find a wire or two that lie open.
The Street 750 otherwise remains essentially the same performance wise and style wise. Oh yes, the new Street 750 is also available in a superior blue paint scheme which really looks good on the bike. The price of the new Street 750 is INR 452,000 ex-showroom Delhi.
We also rode the Dark Custom Sportster Forty-Eight for an awfully short time, which didn’t do justice to the lovely motorcycle that it is. Anyways, the new Forty-Eight in its stripped down, lean-mean avatar has to be one of the most gorgeous bikes I’ve ever seen. It catches your attention as soon as you set your eyes on it.
What with the new tiny tank with vintage graphics, the 3D Harley Davidson logo, the new single seat, and fat rubber upfront – all giving it a rebellious and menacing look – the Dark Custom Forty-Eight is for keeps!
While most of the changes on the Forty-Eight are cosmetic in nature, there’s a new adjustable rear suspension and lighter alloy wheels on offer. Everything else remains pretty much the same. The Forty-Eight comes with the same amount of torque that it is known for.
You’d be more than happy to keep it in the garage and take it out for a spin every day. Though you’d have to think twice before planning a long ride as the tiny tank is tiny in every sense and offers only 7.9 L of storage, forcing you to take fuel brakes more often than you’d prefer. Also the fatty front tyre no matter how badass it looks would impact the handling of the bike and it wouldn’t change direction as and when you want it to. But if you can live with that, the new Dark Custom Forty-Eight can be yours for INR 912,000 ex-showroom Delhi.
Overall, the changes in the both these bikes aren’t really revolutionary or groundbreaking in nature, but certainly are welcome and we do believe that they’ll force the prospective customers to give these bikes a serious thought.
Yamaha YZF R3 Review
Reclaim, Redeem & Restore – these 3 words were seemingly the motivating force for folks at Yamaha when they woke up from their slumber and decided to finally bring a motorcycle that they are known to make. The occasion was the launch of the R3 and perhaps by then Indian motorcycle enthusiasts had started to believe that Yamaha India had forgotten to make performance motorcycles or they are so busy chasing numbers in the commuter segment that they conveniently chose to ignore the segment that brought them back from the verge of oblivion in the Indian market. And it was clear from the speeches of senior Yamaha folks at the launch that they were aware of this growing perception. Anyways as always it is better late than never. Those who got to ride the Yamaha YZF R3, including yours truly, seemed to forget the past as soon as they sat on the saddle and thumbed the starter.
Styling wise, the Yamaha R3 carries forward the legacy of the R15 in India with its full fairing, sharp lines, and aggressive twin headlamps. The overall design looks stunning, especially in the blue paint scheme. There’s an immediate unrelenting desire to ride it as soon as you set your eyes on it. The riding posture is balanced – it is not as aggressive as the R15 and not too upright either – but perhaps tilted just a little bit towards comfort mode which makes it suitable for long hauls on the highway without breaking your back, but a potent track tool as well. There is enough room even for tall riders to sit comfortably without feeling cramped. The seat height of 780 mm is a bonus for not-so-tall riders. The large analogue + digital instrument cluster is a refreshing yet familiar design that houses an analogue tachometer with a digital screen on the right that displays the speedometer and fuel gauge along with other things like two trip meters, odometer, etc.
The overall fit and finish is top class and worthy of brand Yamaha. Switchgears’ plastic quality leaves nothing to complain about. The seat feels plush and firm.
Powering the R3 is a 321cc inline twin, 4-valve, DOHC motor that pumps out 42 horses at 10,750 RPM and 29.6 Nm of torque at 9000 RPM. This is transmitted to the rear wheel via a 6-speed gearbox. The engine is fed through a fuel injection system with 32mm throttle bodies.
The engine comes to life with a gentle push and feels refined and rev happy. It feels grunty but is subdued and those who prefer loud pipes may want to go for an aftermarket exhaust. The clutch is super smooth and gear shifts reassuring and positive. Open the throttle and the 42 horses working in unison start pushing the bike forward gently without any jerks whatsoever. There is abundance of torque in the low revs but the meat of it comes in the mid rev range, especially as you move past the 4500 rpm mark. And that is when you fall in love with the R3. Very handy when you are fighting city traffic – can get you through without having to resort to too many gearshifts. Also would have enough juice to overtake trucks and buses on the highway without having to build up too many revs. The bike feels firmly planted on straight line speed runs. On the back straight of BIC, we could see the speedometer going north of 174 kmph and still had some juice left. It was equally stable while negotiating the corners. The bike feels eager to lean and maintains its composure through the curves, giving your confidence a solid boost. However, the stock MRF Zapper tyres didn’t feel up to the mark when put under pressure and you could feel them losing grip if you were a little adventurous with the throttle coming out of the corners.
The brakes were equally impressive and the bite felt progressive, though again the tyres didn’t help much. Also you are left longing for an ABS set up as an additional safety measure on the R3 and Yamaha should think of fitting it onto the bike whenever they plan to launch an upgrade. ABS is anyways going to be mandatory for Indian bikes pretty soon.
Vespa SXL150 & VXL150 Review
Vespa has been in the Indian market for quite some time now with their line of scooters and they have had reasonably good sales numbers as well considering their positioning in the premium segment. At a time when there was very little variety in the Indian scooter market, they’ve been a breath of fresh air for those who could afford to spend more. They pushed the envelope once again recently when they launched their range of 150cc scooters – Vespa VXL and SXL, the largest engine capacity scooters in India. A very bold decision we must say considering that no other manufacturer has thought of venturing into the territory of ‘maxi scooters’ in India as yet.
We got to ride the Vespa VXL and SXL recently in Pune and here’s what we think of them. Both these scooters, the VXL & the SXL, are available in the 125 cc variant as well. Visually the only thing that differentiates between a 125 cc and the 150 cc VXL and SXL is the 150 badge on the rear left of the scooter. Everything else just looks the same. But since we’ve already covered the 125 ones, we’ll focus on the bigger Vespas in this article.
Styling wise, both the SXL and VXL have been able to maintain classic retro styling that Vespa is known for. They are available in a range of bright attractive colours, including with a matte finish. The paint quality is just top class. There’s just the right amount of chrome thrown in here and there, including around the headlights and fully chrome rear view mirrors. Both these scooters also come fitted with trendy alloy wheels with single sided suspension at the front and rear. Here the SXL gets the blackened alloy instead of the regular ones on the VXL. The handlebar grips are comfortable. The switchgear is borrowed from the earlier Vespas that are available in India and the quality of plastic on them is good. The overall fit and finish of the scooter is typical Vespa like – impeccable. The front of the scooter has been tweaked a bit. There is a new oyster-shaped digital console that has a fuel gauge, trip meter, and a clock to keep a check on time. The speedometer remains an analogue unit.
There’s ample spacing on both the scooters in the form of underseat storage that is good enough to keep a half face helmet along with other small items. There is storage option provided just below the handlebar as well in the form of 2 small pockets on the SXL, which is just good enough to keep small items like spare keys, etc. The VXL gets a lockable storage space, which is handy if you want to keep your belongings like documents, etc. safe. Other major differences between the SXL and the VXL are the shape of the headlights – The SXL has a rectangular headlight while the VXL gets a rounded one. There is no rear grab rail in the SXL either.
The steel monococque chassis of the new Vespa duo, a standard with all Vespas sold in India, gives them a very solid feel while riding and instils confidence in the rider. The riding stance is pretty upright and the ride doesn’t feel cramped. The hydraulic suspension setup did feel a ‘little’ stiff on the bumpy roads, though it wasn’t really a deal breaker. A telescopic suspension at the front would’ve made things better. The wider Maxxis rubber provided good grip in general, but it didn’t inspire much confidence while riding on wet tarmac. Braking did feel sufficient and progressive with the 200 mm single disc at the front and 140 mm drum at the rear.
Now we come to the most interesting part – the 150 cc single cylinder, air-cooled carburetted engine that has been put in the Vespa VXL and the SXL makes them the most powerful scooters in the country as of date. This engine makes 11.6 PS of power at 7000 RPM and 11.5 Nm of torque at the 5500 RPM mark, which is delivered to the rear wheel via CVT transmission.
The ‘upgrade’ in power figures is readily noticeable as soon as you jump from their smaller capacity siblings onto the bigger Vespa. The engine does have more grunt and is quicker off the mark. It has got a sweet midrange and the power delivery is smooth without any major peaks or troughs, which makes it an ideal machine for commuting in the city and also cruising on the highways while maintaining a decent speed even with a pillion on board. It feels smoother as well across the rev range without any noticeable vibrations.
Mahindra Mojo Review – The Mile Muncher!
Mahindra Mojo Review – The Mile Muncher!
Mahindra wants to drum it into your skull that the Mojo is a tourer. While the bike was being showcased to us the evening before the ride, the company boffins were at pains to point this out, so much so that they used the term ‘tourer’ at least 20 times in the 10 minute presentation! But true to its name, the bike does have tons of touring mojo and we came away suitably impressed. Yes, we start with the verdict!
In the 2010 Auto Expo, Mahindra first showcased its oddly styled flagship motorcycle to the public and had to beat a hasty retreat after coming under scathing criticism by the media and fans alike. Thumbs up to the company for persevering and after half a decade have finally brought out a well put together package called the Mahindra Mojo. This is thanks in no small part to P S Ashok, Head of R&D and the man behind the realisation of this machine, since he took over this position in 2012. The Red & White and White & Black colour schemes were also displayed and the bike looks best in red, since it’s similar to what Mahindra Racing used in Moto3.
Cut to the chase, around 30 odd media guys found themselves standing in line waiting to grab the keys to the Mahindra Mojo for a reasonably long ride of 600km from Bangalore to Madikeri and back. Almost everyone was excited to ride the bike, what with the 5 year wait, though I was a bit disappointed that we weren’t getting the red bike. As Henry Ford once famously remarked “You can have any colour as long as it’s black”! At long last, it was time to straddle the bike and thumb the starter.
Only after a madcap dash out of the city to avoid Bangalore’s famous peak hour traffic, did I get a chance to stop the bike and take a proper look at it. And a good hard look is essential, since the majority of us have been led to believe that the bike isn’t good looking, at least that is what websites and forums have harped along from the time it was first showcased. Though the Mojo isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing and will have its fair share of ridiculers, the bike has a robust aura which inspires confidence in the hardcore tourer. From the side profile, the bike reminded me of a small mountain pony, with strong fore limbs and relatively slim hind quarters. Giving it the appearance of a bike ready to climb the harshest terrain under load, but not necessarily the fastest to the top. From the front the bug eyed headlamp takes prominence and on closer inspection you see the LED DRLs, with the entire assembly rather large in comparison to the bike. This does give the bike a bit of a robotic (read transformers!) appearance and you wait in anticipation that it will actually start conversing with you! Move along to the side and you notice the massive front disc, the beefy USD forks with a triple clamp for added rigidity and the radiator shrouds with silver fins, and to add to the bulky look is the chiselled 21 litre fuel tank, spacious rider saddle and twin exhausts. The bike narrows after the waist and the tail is a sleek affair, with the LED tail lamp giving the bike a contemporary appearance. Something that I didn’t like was the forks, chassis and swingarm dipped in gold. A bit loud for my liking. The red colour on the other hand has a black frame which adds to its charm. The paint quality on the motorcycle is great, while the gold on the frame highlights the weld marks. The switchgear is simple and functional, while the entire motorcycle oozes quality with a built to last feel.
The Mojo comes with some nifty specs and safety features which include the Twin Tube HTR Frame, USD Fork with 143.5mm travel, Gas charged mono-shock at the rear, 320mm disc (segment largest), Pirelli tyres, 1-2 dual exhaust, liquid cooling and a torque limiter slipper gear to increase starter gear train life. On the safety side of things you get the Limp Home mode, which restricts the bike to 4k rpm in the event of an engine malfunction and roll over sensor, which shuts off the engine when it senses the motorcycle is leaned at 45 degrees or more and the rear tyre is in the air. On the gimmicky side of the garage you get a top speed recorder and 0-100kmph time recorder. Not features that you would use every day or for some tourers – ‘ever’!
For the ardent motorcycle traveller, bikes don’t prove their worth on paper but on the open highway. And that is where we were most impressed with the Mojo. The bike with a 1465mm wheelbase is rock steady at high speeds on the straights. Though the visor is ineffective and a windscreen is sorely missed as the windblast does tire the rider. The saddle and suspension are plush; keeping the rider happy even on potholed infested roads, the fabric used on the saddle isn’t slippery but does allow the rider to move around when cornering and has sufficient room for moving back and forth to release those aching muscles on long rides. The ergonomics on the motorcycle are as straight up as one can imagine, foot pegs directly below the rider coupled with a raised single piece handlebar takes some time getting used to, but are very comfortable for long distances. Though at 5’11”, I did feel it a tad bit cramped. The bike idles steadily at 1500rpm, with the dual exhausts emitting a lovely bass note. Mahindra did tell us that the dual exhaust aids getting better power and fuel efficiency from the engine along with increasing the aural pleasures, but it does make me wonder about the extra weight that is being lugged around, is the trade-off worth it? For the rider on the go at triple digit speeds the bike sounds like a KTM, but when a bike whizzes past you, it sounds like any ordinary single. To make matters more enjoyable, the Db killers can be removed in the SVC without voiding warranty and that does improve the sound of the motorcycle considerably.
Mahindra Mojo Review Tech Specs
Try flicking the bike at speed and you can feel the frame flex, as the bike moves sideways. It isn’t as stiff as the KTMs, but neither is it all bound by rubber bands. One pleasant surprise was the lack of vibrations, with no vibes felt in the handlebar, foot pegs or mirrors; with the RVMs perfectly placed, leaving hardly any blind spots. The 21 litre fuel tank should give a range of around 500km, one of its biggest USPs, though we didn’t get a chance to accurately measure the fuel consumption. The 295cc engine produces a healthy 27bhp at 8000rpm and 30Nm of torque at 5500rpm and this shows up when riding. There is hardly anything in the bottom end and you need to keep the bike revving past 4500, and quick overtaking manoeuvres require the rider to be closer to 6k, not too much of a problem on highways, but it wouldn’t be a lot of fun in city traffic; the biggest shortcoming of the Mojo. The bike cruises at a comfortable 105kmph at 6000rpm and can be ridden between 100-120 for the entire day without breaking a sweat; usable speed for Indian roads. The tacho needle would also be jumping around needlessly even when the engine was being held at constant revs, though the lights moving along with the needle are something new and therefore cool! Clutchless shifts are not a problem, and we quite enjoyed working the slick gearbox, where with varied riding conditions, we never got a fool’s neutral nor any missed shifts. With the weight of the bike, moving it around in parking lots isn’t going to be fun, especially once luggage is loaded on it.
It isn’t light at 165kg dry and it shows while remaining planted in crosswinds at speed, but while cornering it isn’t the easiest to throw around. A firm hand is required on the handlebars to lean it into the corners, though once done it stays there predictably. Mid-corner bumps are also absorbed with aplomb, though mid-corner corrections are not as easy. The brakes on the Mojo are a funny lot, on paper the 320mm front and 240mm rear mated with steel braided brake lines should get it stopped in a jiffy. But in reality, the bike does so rather gently and progressively. A good thing for tourers and beginners, though doesn’t allow you to push the bike’s limits. The J Juan callipers are from Spain and developed with help from Mahindra Racing based out of Europe. For those who don’t know, this Spanish company doesn’t just work with Mahindra in Moto 3, but also provides braking components to Kawasaki Racing’s championship winning bikes in WSBK. I found the front brakes perfect, while some co-riders complained of locking up the front and rear and sliding the tyres when on the brakes. Engine braking is optimal and the bike is easily controlled with the judicious use of the brakes and downshifting. For those wondering about ABS, currently Mahindra is testing it out and will probably appear on the Mojo, sooner rather than later. The icing on the cake in the handling department is the Pirelli Diablo Rosso II Radial tyres, which make the bike stick to the tarmac like on rails. The quality rubber allows the rider to forget the length and weight of the bike as we flicked the bike through the Ghats of Coorg, even on damp tarmac. Some aggressive riders even mentioned scraping the pegs thanks to the confidence inspiring Pirellis. Though, Pirellis as OEMs would increase the cost of the motorcycle, Mahindra did state that they would continue with the same in future as well; but cheaper alternatives might be made available as aftermarket replacements if the owner so wishes.
Among other things, the pillion seat isn’t as comfortable as it looks, the broader front half being unusable, while the latter half is too narrow to provide adequate support to the pillion. The tail lamp is a bright 8 LED unit, which glows to 12 LEDs when you get on the brakes. Trafficators are clearly visible even in bright daylight. One thing we couldn’t check was the effectiveness of the headlights, since we didn’t ride after dark. If you plan to take the bike round the corner to buy vegetables, make sure you wear shoes, anybody in slippers could easily get burnt on the silencer while engaging the side-stand. But then you wouldn’t be riding the bike in slippers! The stand was a tiny irritant, it wouldn’t go up easily, and pushing it up with riding boots was a clumsy affair, the instrument cluster does get a side stand indicator, and I would suggest to check it every time before riding off! The instrument panel is easily readable in bright sunlight and quite informative, displaying an analogue tacho, digital speedo, clock, fuel gauge, engine malfunction light, rev limiter LED, trip metre, engine overheat and the regular tell-tale lights.
Mahindra has positioned the Mojo as an outright tourer, and it does that job with panache. The few things that we feel would add to its label of a tourer as accessories are – windscreen, centre-stand, hard panniers and hand guards. Though the company did confirm that soft panniers, tank bags and riding gear would be made available shortly for Mojo owners. The bike can do everything that the rider throws at it, in moderation but push the limits and this isn’t your cup of tea. Buy the bike if spending long hours in the saddle is a pleasure, where ‘tech specs’ are far less important than practical usability. If I were to buy a Mojo, it would surely be the red!
Mahindra Mojo Review: Technical Specifications and Comparison
H2O: Kawasaki Ninja H2 Review: First Impression
What do you exactly do when someone offers you to ride one of the most breathtaking motorcycles on the planet? It depends on what kind of person you are! This well could be taken as the new personality type test, especially for the petrol heads, and finally Dr. Freud could be given a backseat! I’ll tell you what I did – just managed to stop myself from acting like a neurotic and snatching the key from the owner and gulped all the saliva that I was drooling and in the most nonchalant way possible swung my leg over the Kawasaki Ninja H2 and thumbed the starter. Revved it a little and heard the supercharger flutter through the sweet inline four sound that we are used to.
This was it. One of the most hyped motorcycles in recent times was now under me, right here in Delhi! The marketing, drama and buzz that was created around the launch of this bike, banked primarily on the social media and seeding videos, sound of the bike and image teasers. I tell you – it was worth it!
I first saw its demonic version, the H2R at INTERMOT 2014, and then finally the road legal angelic H2 at the EICMA later in 2014. The strange logo on the front intrigued the whole world, but now of course we know it to be the Kawasaki River Logo, the historic emblem of the Kawasaki Heavy Industries. This means that it’s one of the very rare times other divisions of KHI have any input in one of its smallest divisions – motorcycles.
The year 2015 looks like there is a renewed interest from the JapFours in building something extra ordinary, in this case building something beyond belief, or that’s how Kawasaki puts it. Suddenly the whole spectrum is alive again: the low capacity yet very important 250 CC segment, the middle weight 300-650 CC and the superbikes for the Japanese manufacturers.
Coming back to the main subject at hand, the H2 looks astonishing, and the finish of the bike is beyond anything I have seen – right from the immaculately laser-cut frame tubes in the green trellis frame down to the last nut and bolt. The major contributor to the aura of the bike is the paint job that almost has a mirror finish, thanks to a layer of actual silver(!) over the base black coat. The intense looking headlight assembly also contributes to the overall futuristic and bold styling. It is not a typical Kawasaki design. This might be the only Ninja as well which doesn’t come in the trademark green, and I think even they know it Batman and Darth Vader like black.
The bike itself is not as compact as the modern superbikes that are meant to be track tools, nor is it as big as a supertourer like the Hayabusa or ZX14. It sits somewhere in between and it definitely looks bigger than it is thanks to the generous use of bodywork.
And of course the biggest thing that makes the H2 unique is that there is no other supercharged production bike in the market.
Riding the H2 on Delhi roads is not exactly what you would term as ‘reviewing’ such a motorcycle or even getting the right impression. But let me tell you, we all know it’s bloody fast and it’s got host of technology stuffed into it. It is a landmark motorcycle and no matter what flowery language I put down to say this, this bikes needs no reviews, it needs to be bought (if you have the money) and ridden.
There is a lot of tech inside the bike too, along with the engine which has been developed from ground up to accommodate the supercharger without an intercooler to keep things cool. To achieve this, Kawasaki took help from its aerospace division, much like you probably take help from your colleague to put together that presentation – “Hey, guys, can you leave designing the planes, jets and whatever useless stuff and work on something actually exciting that can be used on planet Earth?” ”Yea, sure” どうも有難う(thanks!).
That was it. This is how big Kawasaki’s prowess is. Motorcycles are but a hobby for them. Delving into how they managed to keep things cool despite adding the supercharger without an intercooler actually makes riding the bike more interesting, especially in a hot country like India. From using a heat dissipating superalloy named Inconel to using 35% more oil (4.9 litres) than standard litre-class bikes to get rid of that heat, it’s an engineering marvel in itself.
I pushed the bike while being a gentleman and remembering not to drop it or let any elephant, cow, dog, man, cycle, plane, tree, etcetera objects which so widely populate the Indian roads crash into it.
Fifty odd kilometres later I came down the bike, carefully swinging my legs over the rear cowl unit as not to scratch it and handed the keys back over to the humble owner. We needed something exciting and affordable like this to stir things up, I am not sure for how long I have to wait for another landmark moment like this, but I hope it’s soon, both for the motorcycling industry and as a motorcyclist.
While the 200 odd horsepower seemed enough for the H2, I cannot even begin to imagine what the H2 R will be like with an additional 125 horse power and 15 odd kgs off it.