Hayate in Japanese refers to a fresh breeze. Suzuki Motorcycle India, which recently launched a fresh attack into the commuter segment with the Hayate, will be hoping that buyers will find the bike to be just that.

Suzuki India’s new 112 cc motorcycle is the maiden machine for the company in the highly competitive commuter bike segment in the country. The company has adopted a top-down approach in the motorcycle segment. Will the Hayate indeed live up to the name?

We got a first glimpse of the Hayate at the Auto Expo 2012 in Delhi earlier this year and the bike was finally launched in May. Hayate’s promotional pick in brand ambassador and Bollywood muscle man Salman Khan riding the lush Green model seems to have done its bit to entice the audience. The company must be hoping that quite a few riders in their late teens will want to emulate 'Sallu bhai' and ride the fluorescent green version that features in the ad.

Apart from the much-anticipated tough fight in the entry-level segment, Suzuki also needs to satisfy some loyal roadies who have fond memories of the two-stroke Suzuki Max 100 R and Ind Suzuki bikes. The motorcycles created an iconic image in the minds of many Indians in the 80s and 90s. Suzuki may not be able to create a cult following for the Hayate, but will aim at creating a niche amongst the common man with the bike.

First look

There are a number of design features that remind me of the Slingshot (the company's 125cc bike). But overall, the look of the Hayate isn’t bad, aided by the metallic lush green and glossy paint job on the variant I was testing. The eight-litre fuel tank gleams as if it’s a mix of Suzuki’s other models - Sling Shot and GS150R. The mask, fairing and the smiley-like head lamps give it just that dash of eye-catchiness. The body paint and stickering spreads from the tank and mask spills over to the front mudguard and tailpiece. The rear mudguard and mid-riff sport black plastic panels that have been fabricated to look like faux carbon-fibre. The black matte-finish five-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels are the other appealing feature on the Hayate.

The motorcycle has very less chrome on it, but sports a lot of matte-finish parts including the silencer, engine, pillion grip and also the handle bar. The instrument cluster pod carrying the speedometer, adjoining fuel metre and high beam, side and neutral indicators looks average. Suzuki could have made it more sporty. The absence of a tripmeter, a reset button and an engine cut-off switch will be felt by the fuel-conscious bike buyers that the Hayate is targeted at. Many of them will want to keep a tab on their fuel consumption and frankly many of them will probably also not bother filling up the fuel tank with 8 litres except when there is a petrol price hike.

Engine

Bolted on to the frame, the heart of the Hayate is a 112.8 cc, 4-stroke single cylinder petrol engine capable of churning out 8.8 PS of peak power and generating a max torque of 8.4 Nm. The engine is accompanied by a four-speed gearbox, with an all down configuration. With most of the bikes I rode during the recent past being 'one down rest up', it took a while to return to the Hayate's all down set up. The bike has been given a Mikuni VM17 carburettor.

The Hayate has good pickup for a bike in this class, and riding it is easy-breezy. The wet multi-plate clutch is easy on the fingers, so is the easy twisting throttle. They are focused on city riders and are really not very progressive or offer much feedback. Gear shift quality is good and easing into the top gear in city riding conditions can be quick and held on to within the average urban riding speeds.

When on open roads, Hayate touches 60 kms on the speedometer in 10 seconds. The engine cruises with low noise levels, but handle bar vibrations start to set in at speeds above 70 kmph. Peak power also chokes off fairly quickly and then you feel the absence of a fifth cog.

I am guessing that the mileage offered by the new Hayate will be about 50-55 kmpl in city riding conditions, which is what will be the daily turf for most buyers.

Riding comfort

Just like the other commuter bikes, the Hayate will feel comfortable on city roads, but may not be very advisable for long rides. Front suspension is courtesy telescopic forks and coil springs and the five-step adjustable rear shock absorbers manage to do a fair job of cushioning the ride over pot-holes and a menagerie of obstacles on the road. Fitted with drum brakes in front and rear the Hayate provides adequate braking during dry riding conditions on black topped roads.

You can't expect similar performance from the drums on a rainy day or even on sandy conditions. Talking about the seat, the Hayate is comfortable for the rider, but the pillion won't be completely relaxed and it can become quite a squeeze even if a child is added to the mix.

Bottomline

It is quite obvious that Suzuki has chosen some of the Hayate's features with the objective of keeping costs and as a fallout price of the bike low. So, the wheels are smaller 17-inch alloys, the swing arm is a tubular member (most of the recent bikes have been sporting box-section swing arms which improve ride quality) and over simple instrument cluster etc., are features that allude to cost-savings. Thankfully, this has also translated into a lower price for the Hayate.

Suzuki Hayate is available in five colours including black, white, grey and red and in variants of self and kickstart. Having predicted strong competition from big players like Honda (with the recently launched 110 cc Dream Yuga), Bajaj and Yamaha, Suzuki has strategically priced the Hayate at Rs.38,212 for the kick start variant and at Rs. 40,212 for the self start variant (prices are ex-showroom, New Delhi).

(This article was published on July 10, 2012)
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