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Just six months after the double whammy of Pulsar 200 NS & Discover 125 ST, Bajaj is ready to shake up the fortunes at the bottom of the pyramid with its latest bike, the Discover 100 T. The Discover 100 T stands out like the proverbial cat amongst the 100 cc pigeons. It has just the right amount of bulk and chiseled cuts, which give it the quintessential feeling of “majbooti” that is quite rare in this segment. No wonder then that the Discover 125 ST is flying out of the showrooms.
Photos: Gourab Das (MG)
Not only the Discover 100 T look good but it is also well made. It backs up its perception of durability with excellent fit and finish. Details like 100 T’s chrome lined instrument console, aluminum foot-pegs and intricate alloys give it a premium feel. It has a wide, long and well padded seat coupled to slightly lower handlebars giving it a comfortable, upright seating position, only grouse being that the knee recesses could’ve been a little bit more accommodating.
The Discover 100 T is the first 100 cc motorcycle to get a 4-valve, dual-spark head, which has made the engine remarkably unconstrained and free revving compared to the old Discover 100’s unit. Being the lowest displacement engine here, coupled to a 5-speed ‘box, having slightly taller gear ratios has given it a clear advantage in the fuel efficiency stakes, but it doesn’t have the low-end thrust of its 110 cc competitors. However, it has a decent mid-range as evident from its tractability from low speeds in higher gears as well as its ability to cruise comfortably at 80 kph. It also has excellent top-end punch as evident from its triple digit top speed, although the engine does sound harsh in the upper reaches of the rev range. Overall refinement is better than the 4-valve mill of the Discover 125 ST, which itself was an improvement over the 4-valve mill of the Pulsar 135 LS. The combustion noise is well controlled, but there’s a peculiar clatter audible every time you give it some gas. The gearbox is fairly smooth, though it could have done with more feel and longer throw, while the clutch feels a bit heavy to operate.
The Discover 100 T has by far the best chassis-suspension setup in its segment, and the absence of the 125 ST’s monoshock is never felt on the move. It is softly sprung and well damped giving it a remarkably pliant ride quality and at the same time it also has the longest wheelbase and highest kerb weight in class giving it class-leading stability on the highways. Handling too could have been class-leading if only it had wider, softer compound tyres and had ditched that ribbed tread pattern for the front wheel. An optional disc brake too would have been splendid, not only to rein in the additional performance but also as a long-term policy to democratize its proven superiority over drums, in the larger interest of improving road safety.
Now that you have a brief idea about Bajaj’s latest offering, let’s find out how it stacks up against its fierce competitors, the Honda Dream Yuga/Hero Passion X Pro siblings & the Suzuki Hayate.
Design & Engineering (Discover 100 T – 9, Honda Dream Yuga – 7, Passion X Pro – 7, Suzuki Hayate – 5)
The Dream Yuga in stark contrast to the Discover 100 T sticks to a conventional shape and simple lines of the Honda Shine. While the Discover 100 T looks like a good amalgamation of different design elements, the Dream Yuga looks like one seamless unit. The Passion X Pro with its tall, narrow headlamp, small tank extensions and slim, plain side panels, looks svelte but very similar to the Passion Pro, in spite of having entirely different underpinnings. The Hayate, looks dated not just compared to the Discover 100 T but also compared to age-old designs of the Shine (Dream Yuga) & Passion. All thanks to the rustic design of its big, un-painted side panels, the fenders, the blinkers, the exhaust and even the design of the decals, the tank and the bikini fairing being it’s only saving grace.
Both the Passion X Pro & especially the Dream Yuga have excellent build quality. The Dream Yuga’s twin pod instrument console though dated is well finished and easy to read. The X Pro’s semi-digital rectangular console is a novelty in this segment, but has no added functionality over an analog console, while the Hayate’s console not only looks dated but also incredibly cheap. Sadly, none of them sport a tacho, which frankly is worth way more than the little cost saving achieved by excluding it.
The Dream Yuga and the Passion X Pro both have straight, flat tanks with no knee recesses, which make them feel puny especially the X Pro due to its slender tank. The Hayate has excellent ergonomics. Its stubby tank has perfectly shaped knee recesses and a comfortable seat. However, the handlebar could have been a little lower.
Performance & Refinement (Discover 100 T – 9, Dream Yuga – 10, Passion X Pro – 9, Hayate – 6)
The Dream Yuga and the Passion X Pro share the same gem-of-a-powertrain. The engine is a remarkably refined unit, which revs freely and sweetly through the rev range and even sounds sporty, if a bit buzzy at the top. It has excellent low-end and mid-range performance as well as a decent top-end. It is coupled to a smooth, tactile gearbox with 4 well matched gear ratios coupled to a featherweight, progressive clutch. Only the most enthusiastic of the riders will feel the absence of the 5th cog. In many ways the Dream Yuga’s engine gearbox combo is even better than the Shine’s, which isn’t as eager to rev, as relaxed to cruise or as fuel efficient. Whatever little tinkering that Hero has done to the Dream Yuga’s engine for that additional 0.2 PS power output has only resulted in a slightly lower refinement rather than any tangible gains in performance. The Hayate’s engine has a strong low-end, but it is lazy to pick up revs and does not have the lively top-end performance of its competitors. It goes about its business very silently but has a rather tinny exhaust note. It has a smooth shifting ‘box with short ratios which coupled to it reluctance to rev makes it feel constricted, while its excessive engine braking makes matters worse.
It’s high time that all the bikes in this segment made a transition to the 1-down 3/4-up shift pattern, which is a global standard. It enhances rider safety by minimizing the risk of a rider accidentally shifting into neutral mid-corner and losing control of the bike.
Dynamics (Discover 100 T – 7, Dream Yuga – 6, Passion X Pro – 6, Hayate – 4)
The Dream Yuga is sprung slightly on the stiffer side which can be felt while riding over the bumps and ruts. Honda has given it a longer wheelbase over the Twister and Shine, giving it good enough stability on the highway in spite of its light kerb weight. The Passion X Pro shares the same platform but has adopted a slightly shorter wheelbase, softer suspension setup and a segment first, 90 mm rear tyre. Ride quality feels slightly better than the Dream Yuga but still not quite in the league of the Discover 100 T. Handling of both the bikes can be described as good enough for the segment and sub-par overall as the humble chassis suspension setups employed by these, or for that matter any commuter bike in the country are not really the last word in rigidity and mechanical grip. This is a serious and often unsaid issue with all the four bikes present here. While riding along on the highway, following a lorry at 70 kph, none of these bikes’ engines lack the power to overtake the lorry in front. But all of them lack the requisite road holding and braking capability to handle panic braking at that speed, if something like a stray animal or a crater full of gravel were to suddenly appear in their path.
The X Pro is also the only bike of the bunch to offer an optional front disc brake. The Hayate disappoints in dynamics, thanks to its antique tubular swing-arm and a lackluster chassis suspension setup. The front end feels too light even without a pillion on board while the soft springs fail to inspire any confidence in the turns, even those encountered during slow speed commuting in city confines.
Pricing and Features (Discover 100 T – 8, Dream Yuga – 7, Passion X Pro – 8, Hayate – 9)
The Discover 100 T retails for Rs. 56,500 (On-road, Pune) and is available in a single variant loaded with a lot of standard kit like alloy wheels, electric start, DC headlamp and a maintenance free battery. The Dream Yuga’s only variant that comes with an electric start is equipped with alloy wheels and tubeless tyres and costs Rs. 58,200. The drum brake variant of the Passion X Pro with electric start, alloy wheels, tubeless tyres retails for Rs. 58,000. Opt for a disc and the cost goes up to Rs. 60,200, which is well worth the upgrade. The Hayate is a whopping 7-10k cheaper than the other three with its one and only variant equipped with alloy wheels and electric start retailing for Rs. 49,000.
The Hayate is comprehensively outclassed in this group, but then don’t forget that it at least got shortlisted for this comparison for being better than similarly priced rivals like the Splendor +/Pro/NXG, Passion Pro, Discover 100, CD-Deluxe etc.
The Discover 100 T presents a tempting alternative to plain-jane Honda & Hero twins. It’s got the style, the speed, the dynamics and also the economics going for it. The Yuga & the X Pro hold just one ace in their hand, the engine. The creamy refinement, the sheer tractability, the sweet exhaust note, the surprising sportiness & the gutsy performance needs to be experienced to be believed. It puts all arguments to rest, like for example this one.
Overall (Discover 100 T – 32, Dream Yuga – 30, Passion X Pro – 30, Hayate – 24)
A special thanks to Puneet for helping us out in the photoshoot