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What is a Platina H Gear? Before that, what is an H Gear? Even before that, what is this gear? Most of the commuter motorcycle in the market use a 4-speed gearbox. Then there are motorcycles that are slowly shifting towards the performance bracket, which use a 5-speed gearbox. And then there are 6… let’s not go there. So, the Bajaj Platina has always had 4 gears and Bajaj decided to add one more and call it H Gear. LHS = RHS, hence proved that H Gear is the 5th gear… But is it really that? Here’s the Platina H Gear review.
There are not a lot of things in the world that are good at or better yet, champions of multiple things. That being said, there are some that are. Bajaj’s Platina is one of those things. With a long history and most of it circling around the motorcycle being the mileage champion, Bajaj did not have a lot to do to keep a product like that going in a country like India. It nailed the answer to the biggest question in India which is ‘kitna deti hai?’
But that did not stop the company to keep reinventing their workhorse and for good reason, stagnancy has never gotten anyone, or anything, anywhere. Bajaj kept working to improve one of the most important aspects of this class of motorcycles i.e. comfort. And the results were out there as well. The latest, in a bid to improve their already established brand, is the Bajaj Platina H Gear. Here’s what we could gather about this rather… interesting motorcycle from the first ride.
I don’t think this part should be included in the review of the Bajaj Platina H Gear, much less in the first ride review. But since there are a few things that should be brought to the fore regarding the looks of this motorcycle, we will. Firstly, the design is roughly the same, albeit with a few changes, most notably, the graphics.
The new Platina H Gear now follows a more Discover-esque graphics scheme. The decals try to provide to the motorcycle with a refreshed look but then, that is all it is… a refresh. The Platina badging on the tank is now a proper badge replacing the old-school sticker work.
The next thing that draws the most attention is the new seat. The seat, already best in the industry in terms of length, is now a quilt pattern or rather, ribbed to provide more comfort and somewhat enhance the looks.
Amidst all that, the most understated feature in the looks department is the console. The digital console (in addition to the analogue speedo) now displays not only the gear position but features a gear shift guide that tells you when to upshift and when to downshift. Apart from that, we have the battery indicator, fuel indicator, a trip meter and most importantly, a CLOCK!
Performance ehh? IT IS A COMMUTER! Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk engine. The new Platina H Gear has the same 115cc engine as the Platina 110, but this one gets an H Gear. The power and torque figures are respectable considering the cubic capacity and largely comparable with the other bikes in the class.
Thumb the starter and it treats you with a familiar commuter exhaust note as it settles into idle. The difference comes in when you shift into the first gear. The Platina H Gear gets link-type gearshift and the difference is more than palpable. The gearshifts are smooth and positive and are comparable to bikes of a higher class. The being said, it might even beat some lesser ones from a higher class in this regard.
Let the clutch go and it… well, the friction zone of the clutch arrives a bit farther which is a bit odd. Nonetheless, the bike starts moving and the pull reminds you of the numbers on paper which suggest that the Platina H Gear has more torque than most of the competition.
Keep shifting up or err down and the Platina H Gear accelerates faster than a commuter should. The engine feels mostly refined with mild vibrations creeping in through the handlebars when you wring it to the edge of the rev-range. This is an ode to another department where Bajaj has put a lot of work in- NVH levels.
Talking about the gearbox, what the 5th gear or H Gear or Highway Gear or Happy Gear (way too many ways it can go) is, in every sense of the word, is overdrive. Roll-on acceleration, there isn’t much and the pull in the H Gear or 5th gear is not something to write home about. The point is, it is not meant for that. That gear is meant for cruising on the highways and it is not very different from the 4th gear in terms of acceleration or top end. The difference between these two gears is the stress on the engine.
Stated above is the fact that, if the situation presents itself, the 5th gear may not be enough to overtake someone on a highway. And you do not do that on a Platina. So, does it serve a purpose? Yes. What is the purpose of it then? To help you cruise at relatively higher speeds on the highway without making it feel like a mixer grinder on work to make some shake on a hot summer afternoon!
Now, the gear position indicator is a nifty addition. Even more so for people like me, who are used to the 1-down rest-up gear shift pattern as compared to the all-down on the Platina H Gear. What leaves a little something to be desired is the gear shift guide. It is a bit too eager when it comes to upshifts and a bit too lazy when it comes to downshifts. A little more time and effort in this handy piece of feature is surely going to help the Platina H Gear in taking a significant step forward in this regard.
Handling and ergonomics
This is one department where the motorcycle has evolved a lot. Like we said earlier. After nailing the mileage part, Bajaj went in search for maximum comfort on the Platina and the latest iteration, Platina H Gear, is what we have on our hands as a result of that. The handlebars are high, the seat at 807mm is low and the footrests are forward-set.
It makes for a really comfortable rider’s triangle which will make sure that long hours in the saddle of the Platina H Gear will not get tiresome. The refined motor, comfortable ergonomics and a very comfortable seat also help the matter. For taller riders though, you may have to move a bit back into the seat in order to be able to sit more comfortably. That is something that won’t bother the pillion because of the long seat.
The handling of the motorcycle is also quite sorted. The suspension is not SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS!! (‘you are breathtaking’, if you said that out loud). It does not shift the front to a different dimension under braking. This provides the Platina H Gear with good handling characteristics. But on very bad roads, it may seem a bit too stiff.
Braking shines the brightest amongst the characteristics of the Platina H Gear. Almost too bright, almost. The front brake is fantastic and brings the bike to a halt in a jiffy and the Anti-skid braking on offer by Bajaj does its job well. What is Anti-skid braking? It applies the front brake to some extent when you go a touch too hard on the rear in order to keep things in line. A handy feature but if a touch too hard becomes too hard, the rear does skid.
Bajaj also stated that they have stiffened the swingarm in order to provide the motorcycle with more stability, which was evident on the highways as the bike does not lose its composure when bigger vehicles pass by. The tyres work well in conjunction with the rest of the motorcycle and while we did not get a chance to ride in the rain (not a lot of rain anyway), we believe that these will provide enough grip even in wet conditions.
Mileage: This department is going to be absolutely nailed by the Platina H Gear. Maybe even more than the Platina 100 because of the additional 5h gear. Anyway, ARAI figure is 84 km/l, Bajaj claims 70+ km/l, and we cannot comment because we need more time with the bike to come up with it.
Rearview mirrors: The mirrors are big, placed well and give you a clear view and some of it goes to them remaining mostly buzz-free.
Headlight: We cannot comment on the effectiveness of the headlight as we did not get a chance to ride the motorcycle after dark. Those who have ridden the previous Platina 110 (sans the H Gear) can expect the performance of the headlight to be the same.
Build quality: There is no doubt that the motorcycle is built sturdily and finished well too. The Comfortec stamping on the seat and the 3D logo on the tank are neat touches as well.
Exhaust note: Platina. That is all there is to it. If there was someone who expected more, we are sorry.
The new Bajaj Platina H Gear has a lot of things going for it. Good brakes, generally refined engine, more comfort, and the magic number (in the commuter class) 5 i.e. the H Gear. It excels in most of the departments it is supposed to and has no glaring flaws to discourage a buying decision. In fact, it is just a very good motorcycle… damn! And then the H Gear is something that differs from just another gear or 5th gear by being something that does not disturb the tried and tested 4-speed formula. It is there to just comfort you and be there for you…
The Platina H Gear, in most departments, is better or comparable to its rivals and yet, it has not affected the price in an adverse manner. At INR 53,376 (Ex-Showroom) for the drum variant and INR 55,373 (Ex-Showroom) for the disc variant, the Platina H gear has got the pricing right too. Let’s just keep it simple and just say, “If you are out in the market looking for an affordable commuter that offers you a bit more than what an affordable commuter should, the new Platina H Gear deserves a look.”