Since '02 xBhp is different things to different people. From a close knit national community of bikers to India's only motorcycling lifestyle magazine and a place to make like-minded biker friends. Join us
Before we even start talking about the review, you already know what this is about; the Bajaj Dominar 250. The existence of this quarter-litre Dominar is curious and obvious at the same time. With the already established Dominar 400, did the Dominar really need another variant? And what significance does the baby Dominar has in the world of 250 Dukes and Huskies? We try to answer those questions and, of course, try to gauge if this 250 from Bajaj is worthy of the Dominar badge.
Text: Karan Singh Bansatta
Photos: Sunil Gupta
We have loved the Bajaj Dominar ever since it first came out. It did not enter a segment but defined one, at least in the Indian market. The segment was Sports Tourer. Then, Bajaj built on the already good platform of the Dominar and smoothened out the rough edges with the 2019 Dominar 400… the prowess of which we got to know during the #xBhpDominarGreatAsianOdyssey, a 15,000 km journey across 11 countries spanning over 9-0 days!
While we were all praises for this indigenous sports tourer, we also realized something. We tried to look at the Dominar 400 from a new rider’s point of view and we found that almost 40 horses and 35 Nm of torque is a lot. And so is the perception of displacement that comes along with the name Dominar ‘400’. In that sense, the D400 was a little intimidating, especially for the newer riders. But Bajaj has remedied that now and that very remedy is Bajaj Dominar 250. That’s our first question answered.
Onwards to the second question, the significance. This one is rather simple. The Dominar is a family (it is now) of sports tourers and that alone is enough to differentiate it from the Huskies and the 250 Duke. And finally, the answer to the final question is what this review is all about.
Talking about the looks, well it is a Dominar through and through. It looks almost exactly the same and it would have been very difficult to differentiate the Dominar 250 from the D400 if it was not for the badge. There are some other changes that help but only from certain angles.
The first and most obvious change is the tyres. The Dominar 250 makes do with 100-section/130-section tyres when compared to the 110/150 setup of the Dominar 400. While the engine is obviously different, visually it still looks quite similar to that of the bigger Dominar. The stubby dual-barrel exhaust is also here to stay, and it sounds just as sweet as the Dominar 400. Full marks to Bajaj for the exhaust note.
Now, for those who sport a pair of sharp eyes, there are a couple more differences. First, the USD forks are smaller in diameter now; 37mm to be precise. Next up, the swingarm; while the D400 sported a beefier swingarm, the Dominar 250 makes do with a regular box-type swingarm.
After those minor and complex differentiators, an easy one is the colour that both the Dominars sport; Red for the Dominar 250 and Aurora Green for the 400. But if you spot both in black, we are back to square one.
As we mentioned earlier, with the Dominar 250, Bajaj intends to reach a wider audience and give them a taste of what it feels like to ride a Dominar. That is why Bajaj stuck to the basics that they got right with the Dominar 400.
The ergonomics of the new motorcycle are the same as the Dominar 400 and so, they facilitate riding at a leisurely pace just as much as they do some spirited riding. The rider’s triangle is accommodating, the tank recesses are apt for riders of varied physical attributes, and the seat is plush and spacious but with a larger rider, the pillion may feel a tad cramped.
All in all, you still have the commanding riding position on the Dominar 250 and the reduced heft (7 kg) makes it even easier to maneuver it in both the situations; going through the cramped spaces in traffic or trying to string together some corners in the mountains. And if the lockdown was too harsh on your biker self, those jaunts on the straight highway roads are just as comfortable.
The engine of the Bajaj Dominar is a 248.8cc, 4-valve, DOHC unit which makes 27 Ps of power and 23.5 Nm of torque, a slight detune when compared to the same unit which powers the 250 Duke, but apt when you consider the kind of motorcycle that D250 has set out to be.
Considering the fact that the new Dominar has a displacement of a quarter of a litre, the power and torque figures seem healthy on paper… and exciting on the road. The bike pulls away effortlessly and most importantly, smoothly. The vibes are almost non-existent throughout the rev range and the Dominar 250 is a joy to ride hard.
The pull is strong right from the get-go and continues till the upper midrange tapering off in the very high rev range. While the weight reduction of 7 kg plays a part here, we feel that the 130 section rear tyre also goes a long way in reducing the drag.
With the slick 6-speed gearbox equipped with slipper clutch, we can say that the baby Dominar may have lesser displacement, but it is more than capable of inducing sensations almost similar to that of the Dominar 400… Almost. But one department where it trumps its bigger brother (and many others) in is… the ease of riding. While it is not intimidating, it can still keep you entertained over the long rides that you’ll be taking on this very capable and accommodating sports tourer.
All that said, there are a few areas where it could use some improvement. The most important one is the launch. The test mule that we had stalled a couple of times in low revs and we had to pay a little more attention to the throttle during the launch. The second one, although not too big of an issue, is that the 6th gear lacks the juice. All the grunt that you can gather happens in the 5th and the 6th is probably just meant for cruising.
When it comes to handling, the Dominar 250 lives up to the Dominar name combining straight-line stability with sharp handling through the corners. The front forks are smaller in diameter which we feel is a good decision considering the reduced load on the front with the lighter engine.
Even better, it enabled further weight savings without losing the confidence-inspiring front end of the Dominar 400. Going through corners, or maybe less than perfect roads, it is very easy to manoeuvre the Dominar 250 into doing exactly what you want. The reduced cross-section of the rear tyre makes the motorcycle quicker off the mark and the softer compound developed for this motorcycle makes sure that the grip in the corners is more than adequate.
Overall, the reduced weight and the changes that entail that have made sure that the Dominar 250 remains an agile handler for the ones looking to have some fun and the wheelbase, which is the same as the Dominar 400, makes sure that the motorcycle remains steady in a straight line even at triple-digit speeds… which it is more than capable of achieving.
So overall, the Dominar 250 has the same DNA as the venerable Dominar 400, but it is easier to ride and tame. A great learning tool for a beginner and a fun motorcycle for experienced riders, there is not a lot that stands in the way of someone looking to get one for themselves.
While we do miss the gear shift indicator, we are sure that the ease of riding and the price advantage it has over the Dominar 400 more than compensate for that. We thoroughly enjoyed riding this quarter-litre Dominar… so much so… that another Odyssey, and that too on the Dominar 250, does not seem too far fetched a thought…