As part of its strategy to offer more choice in the larger-engine bikes category, Bajaj has come out with a 135cc variant of the Discover.

S. Muralidhar

The entry-level 100cc category of the motorcycles segment is still clearly the largest in the Indian two-wheeler market. But Bajaj Auto's blueprint for the future does not include this current market-leading segment.

With its recently announced plans to exit the entry-level 100cc bike segment, Bajaj has been drawing up a new strategy to offer more choice in the larger-engine bikes category. The Pulsar twins have grown into a quartet and now it is the turn of the Discover Duo to multiply.

The Bajaj Discover is now offered in two variants one featuring a 112cc engine and the other (the original) a 125cc engine with Bajaj's DTS-i and ExhausTEC technologies.

Executive Feel

Though the Discover was first introduced with the 125cc engine, the 112cc option was launched so as to offer entry-level bike buyers the feel and build of an executive segment bike that could also be frugal in fuel consumption, and only slightly more expensive.

However, the 112cc Discover's sales have been sluggish the last few months and the high profile advertising for the Platina has also probably ensured that Bajaj's premium entry-level bike option has drawn away buyers for the next logical upgrade within its portfolio. Of course, the price differential would have also been a deterrent for someone willing to settle for the Platina, which already offers a number of upmarket features.

But Bajaj obviously had bigger plans for the Discover and a climb up the cc-ladder was due for this bike. With most value-added features, that are the usual upgrades in its segment, already being offered with the Discover 125 DTS-i, a serious new variant clearly needed a larger engine too.

Filling a Gap

So, the Discover 135 will attempt to fill the gap and offer more choice to the buyers in this segment. The various price points that exist between entry-level and the performance segment bikes will also be covered by the addition of this 135cc variant.

In the new Discover 135, Bajaj has worked on offering a mix of additional features, including a couple borrowed from the Pulsar.

In terms of looks, the 135 is identical to the Discover 125 DTS-i except for the different paint colour theme and panel stickering.

The new variant comes with the same 17-inch matt-black premium alloy wheels, the same fairing and headlamp combination with pilot lamps and the same overall styling.

Other elements such as the tubular dual cradle chassis and the same dual-pod instrument cluster (with the addition of a tachometer) have also been carried forward.

The new Discover 135 gets the recently introduced maintenance-free battery and wider 100/90X17 rear tyre, instead of the 3.00X17 that is offered in the 125cc engine variant. The front tyre continues to be the 2.75X17 that is also offered in the 112cc and 125cc variants. While electric, self-start is another feature that has been retained in the 135 from the Discover 125, the new larger engine variant also gets a 240mm disc brake for the front wheel.

Better Ride Quality

Another change in the Discover 135 relates to the rear suspension, which has been changed to accommodate the Nitrox shock absorber, a gas-filled unit first offered in the Pulsar. The ride quality is expected to be better with this type of rear suspension.

Of course, the most significant change in the Discover 135 is in the engine department. An additional 9.7cc seems to have been scooped out from the same basic block of the 125cc engine variant. But the seemingly small upsizing has actually resulted in a more-than-proportionate increase in the peak power offered by the new engine. The Discover 135 develops a maximum power of 13.1 PS at 8,500 rpm, compared to the 125's 11.5 PS at 8,000 rpm and 112's 8.5 PS at 7,500 rpm. Peak torque of the new Discover 135's engine is set at 11.88 Nm at 6,500 rpm compared to the Discover 125's 10.8 Nm at the same engine speed level.

The 135 engine incorporates all of the by now familiar Bajaj technologies such as digital twin spark ignition, TRICS III, constant vacuum (CV) carburettor and digital CDI ignition system. All these technologies go on to improve the bike's power delivery, reduce the emissions and enhance the fuel efficiency.

The exhaust resonator developed by Bajaj, called ExhausTEC, that improves low-end torque, has also been carried forward in the Discover 135. The exhaust finisher and heat shield, though, gets a new matt-black coat, instead of the chrome finish of the Discover 125.

The new Discover 135 engine feels as refined as the smaller-size version. But the difference in power is evident from the time that you twist the throttle. Power delivery is smooth and acceleration from standstill is really quick for a bike in this class. Bar-end weights and rubber engine mounts ensure that vibrations are well contained and the overall ride quality is good.

However, the one feature that Bajaj may well have not carried forward in the new variant is the four-speed gearbox. Gearbox shift feel is good, but refinement still has room for improvement. With the high power at the disposal of the rider, the 135 would have also been a better package with an additional cog in the form of a five-speeder.

Throttle control

Electricals have been carried forward from the Discover 125 DTS-i and thisincludes the ride control switch. Almost like a reminder to the rider that despite the additional power that is available, the Discover 135 continues to be only a compromise formula for buyers in the executive bike segment, the ride control switch has been retained.

The switch, when on, attempts to keep a check on the rider's urge to twist the throttle and keep the engine on a boil in the power band, instead of the less urgent, but more fuel-efficient economy band of the engine.

The Discover 135 DTS-i is priced at Rs 49,500 (ex-showroom), up Rs 3,000 over the Discover 125. Bajaj has priced and positioned the new variant so that it offers more value than the price differential.

It may well be that Discover customers will gravitate towards the new 135. But Bajaj shouldn't be bothered, after all the customers would still be within the Discover family.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated May 13, 2007)
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