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Karizma is one of the most iconic names in the Indian motorcycling scene beyond the shadow of a doubt. Despite its status, the name kept getting muddied; it culminated with the last Karizma that found itself out of the market quickly after it came into the picture. But you know what? Everyone likes a good resurrection story and as far as we can tell, this one is shaping up to be very good. Yes, the storm is well and truly back! We swung a leg over the new Hero Karizma XMR and here’s how it panned out.
In the last three months, Hero has unveiled a few motorcycles with the Xtreme 160R 4V and the Harley-Davidson X440 being the prominent ones. The Internet was abuzz with the rumours of this fabled comeback and we have been waiting with baited breath and finally, Hero took the wraps off of it.
The motorcycle was launched on the 29th of August in the presence of Hrithik Roshan, the Brand Ambassador for KARIZMA, along with Mr Niranjan Gupta, CEO of HeroMotoCorp, and our very first Roadie and biking enthusiast, Rannvijay Singha.
Right from the first look, we found ourselves admiring Hero MotoCorp for the work on the design. Everything on the motorcycle is brand new and it is as modern as they come. Every cut and every crease on the motorcycle goes a long way in making it look like the sporty icon that the original Karizma was. All-LED lighting, adjustable windscreen, clip-on handlebars and the split seat make the new Karizma XMR look sporty and purposeful.
We loved how Hero MotoCorp went about designing the new Karizma XMR. It is not overdone but not underdone either. Keeping it simple and not chasing something outlandish helped the brand design a motorcycle that looks proportional and pleasing to the eye. Neither absurdly big nor too small, the new Karizma XMR looks just about perfect.
There are three colourways to choose from; Iconic Yellow, Turbo Red, and Matte Phantom Black. While the other two look quite good, it is the yellow one that is going to turn the most heads. So in terms of looks, we feel that the Karizma XMR looks bang on. Rest, you can decide for yourself based on the photos.
In terms of features as well, the new Karizma XMR comes well-endowed. LED-projector headlamps with intelligent illumination, fully digital LCD cluster with smartphone connectivity, SMS and call notifications and turn-by-turn navigation, dual-channel ABS, and a fast-charging USB port. We have already mentioned the adjustable windscreen which is a first in the class.
The million-dollar question though is… how does it go? We’d say pretty good. In its class, the Karizma XMR gets the most potent engine. At least in terms of numbers. The 210cc liquid-cooled DOHC engine is good for 25 bhp and 20.4 Nm of torque. The power is sent to the rear wheel via a 6-speed transmission. In terms of grunt, the Karizma XMR has plenty. The powerband is linear and the engine feels as good in lower revs as it does in the midrange.
The engine is no-screamer so the power tapers near the top but that is linear too and it does not just fall off a cliff. In terms of acceleration, the Karizma XMR feels quite good and while we did not get to test the top speed, we think it would be quite comfortable cruising at around 100-110 kays an hour.
The one gripe that we have is in terms of the refinement. The engine starts to get buzzy around 5,000 rpm and intensifies as you close towards the redline. Strangely the vibrations disappear somewhere in between those revs but come back up. We could tell with the buzzing sound coming from the fairing area that disappeared and showed back up again.
The transmission though is quite slick with a slip-and-assist clutch making things better. No hiccups moving up the gearbox or climbing down. The clutch makes it easier to ride in traffic. The powerband of the engine makes the motorcycle tractable while the liquid-cooling setup keeps the temperature in check.
Moving on to the ergonomics, we are happy to report that the Karizma XMR is not as hard on the rider as it looks. The seat is comfortable and the rider’s triangle is quite accommodating. The 810mm seat height is a little on the higher side but because of the narrow tank, it is easy to manage for our 5 ‘2 rider.
Seen in action here is the latest helmet to come out of the collaboration between xBhp and Axor- #TheNineteen. A celebration of #19YearsOfxBhp with one of the safest and most well-designed helmets out there, the Axor Apex Series.
The windshield offers enough protection from the windblast but we just wish that the adjustment feature worked a little better. While it is a good add-on, the whole setup and the button to do so just don’t work too well in tandem. Again, it might be a nice addition but with the vibrations, the overall fit and finish, and the battle against the elements, we are not sure of its functioning longevity.
In terms of handling, the Karizma XMR is a sports-tourer through and through. The 37mm telescopic forks and the monoshock work very well on bad roads. It absorbs all but the nastiest of potholes and glides over almost everything. While it may seem that the plush ride has compromised the handling, we are happy to report that isn’t the case, not entirely anyway.
The new Karizma XMR is built on a trellis frame and weighs 163.5 kg. It is not featherlight but it is not carrying around too much mass either which makes it spirited. When ridden hard, it complies and only starts to feel like a sports tourer when pushed beyond the brink. Bigger USD forks may have made the front end feel a little more confidence-inspiring but then, the price would have gone up and it is one of the major selling points of the Karizma XMR.
The braking system comprises a 300mm petal disc up front and a 230mm disc at the rear, with the added safety net of dual-channel ABS. The setup works just fine and if you do not wish to take it to a racetrack, it would work just fine. In terms of rubber, it is a 100/80-17 front and 140/70-17 rear setup. They are not radials and we believe that a better set of tyres will make the new Karizma XMR an even better handler.
At an introductory price of INR 1,72,900/-, the Karizma XMR looks like a steal. And it is in every sense of the word. But there are places where one would not have minded paying a little more money. Instead of the intelligent illumination (something you’d get bored of soon) and the adjustable windshield, we would have liked the fit and finish to be a bit better. From the stickers to the overall quality of the panels, we would have liked a little more. The engine refinement is another thing we’d like to add here but it being a single-cylinder engine, we can still be lenient.
Riding gears are indispensable and we had the Rynox Tornado Pro 4 and Rynox Aitex Pants for this ride. Both of these prove to be perfect for sports touring with all the important armours, abrasion resistance, stellar ventilation and high visibility for riding in fog or at night.
Against its rivals; Suzuki Gixxer SF 250, Yamaha R15 V4, and the Bajaj Pulsar RS 200, we believe that the new Karizma XMR has got a lot going for it. But it also falls a tad short in some departments. The competition is stiff and the Karizma XMR gets a lot of kudos so do not write it off before you give it a try. After that, we believe there’s a choice to be made.