Bajaj has, to this point, been very successful with its Discover range of commuters. Now, the new Discover 100T is up for grabs as the ‘most premium’ 100cc in the market, but how does it fare on the black top?

From the time Bajaj started making motorcycles, the company’s product line-up has always been, well, different. Bajaj has chosen to offer the customer a number of engine variants for each of its product ranges. And each product range, if Bajaj’s claimed product strategy is to be considered, is different from the other in character. The Discover has always been one of the favourite exec-commuters, and though there have been at least three different engine variants at any given point of time, they all looked almost identical (just like the Pulsar range).

However, when the 125ST came out, it was a refreshing change in the line-up in terms of both design and engine performance. But then the same thing happened again – the 100T showed up looking exactly like the 125ST. I guess siblings do need to look like each other, after all.

But it’s one of the best looking 100cc bikes out there, so we decided, why not? One week on the road and here’s what we…er, discovered.

Overview

India is a country where a bike’s engine displacement plays the major part in tilting the scales in a customer’s purchase decision. Next on the priority list is mileage and then power (for the commuter). You may ask, so why the hullabaloo over the ‘premiumness’? It’s because there are hardly any others in this segment that come this well sculpted and fairly equipped. The flared bikini faring on the headlamp, the two-tone stickering, and a new side cowl make the 100T stand out, for a 100cc.

Added to that are alloy wheels, pilot lamps, a nice looking console, self-start, a sari guard, engine guard and a chain cover case, all part of the standard variant (there’s only trim). The switches are all Spartan overall in terms of design, but have been finished neatly. In appearance, the 100T is mostly the 125ST, sans the mono-suspension in the rear and the rear tyre hugger.

On the road

The Discover 100T runs on a 102cc DTS-i, 4-valve (a first in this segment), 4-stroke, air-cooled mill that churns out a peak power of 10.2 PS at 9000 rpm and offers a maximum torque of 9.2 Nm at 6,500 rpm. That’s one of the better numbers I have seen in 100cc.

The engine is mated to a 5-speed gearbox, and riding this around the city through horrendous traffic jams was not a bad deal, as the low-to-mid range torque helped me pull away from clusters very easily. The gearbox sounds and acts clunky, reminiscent (but not exactly similar) of the old Boxer and CT100 gearboxes.

The gear ratios, however, are very sensible – I could pull away on third and fourth gear from speeds as low as 20 kmph, and the engine never stalled. The engine pulls clean, if you power up just as some mild knocking starts to set in.

In my opinion, the Discover 100T churns out really good power in city traffic, but it definitely doesn’t give that slightly sporty performance feel that I’ve always got while riding a few other bikes in the slightly larger engine size segments.

Ride and handling

Although the 100T lacks the monoshock at the rear, the twin Nitrox suspension and the telescopes in the front soak up potholes and bumps like a dream. What’s more, the bike runs fairly smoothly, sending up vibrations very rarely. The new muffler also has a very quiet, whistle-like tone, and is far, far away from some of the ‘aggressive’ silencers I have seen recently.

The same, however, cannot be said about the handling. Though the 100T has been tuned for on-street manoeuvring, I found the front fork to be a little unstable. I’m not sure if the problem was with the unit that I was riding, but I experienced some tankslappers while recovering from some high-speed turns. The thin tires also make the 100T feel a little too light on its feet.

Braking too, is disappointing. The drums don’t offer enough bite or feel. I think Bajaj should’ve added a front disc, even while they’re calling it a premium commuter. Moreover, the 100T’s tends to stray away from the line during sudden braking.

Bottomline

Yes, the Discover 100T looks good, has a good city running motor, is very comfortable on bumpy roads, but it handles a bit like an unruly kid. I guess it’s just the younger sibling feel to it. At an ex-showroom (Delhi) price of Rs, 50,500 and a mileage of 58 kilometres to a litre (under our riding conditions which included generous amounts of traffic jams), along with the looks, the price tag is justified to an extent. But at just Rs 5,000 more, the 125ST, which handles really well and is bundled with more features, makes a more appealing case if you are looking for a more sporty performer.

sabyasachi.b@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on March 25, 2013)
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