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It’s a great time to be a biker in India

Sabyasachi Biswas | Updated on March 10, 2018 Published on January 01, 2015

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Because 2015 will only continue the motorcycling mania that 2014 started

The year 2014 kicked off the golden age of motorcycling in India. And it’s not going anywhere in this New Year.

In just one year, the Indian motorcyclists have come to a point where they can pick from British, American, Japanese, Korean, Austrian or Italian makes, apart from the homegrown stock.

Of course, it didn’t happen just over this past one year – the build-up to this point was a little more than two years long – but the wait was truly worth it.

And we say that because for the first time in the history of modern motorcycling in India, the fiercely competitive action has been spread out over all segments evenly.

Mid-size mayhem

We’ve got to give the Harley-Davidson Street 750 all the due credit for bringing us to the edges of our chairs and making our jaws drop with a mid-sized V-Twin that’s made for India, in India, and with an ex-showroom price of ₹4.1 lakh. The smallest Harley also turned out to be one of the most fun bikes of the year. If that wasn’t enough, we’ve got our eyes peeled out for the Street 500. It’s anybody’s guess that Harley-Davidson is bound to capture the attention of the young biker of India (if it hasn’t already).

Speed freaks also have a lot to look forward to now, thanks to Bajaj – in this one year, the Pune based manufacturer has brought in the naked Kawasaki Z250, the Z800 and the most important of all, the KTM RC390. The KTM RC390 (and RC200) are the slightly tweaked, faired versions of the hugely popular Duke 390 and the Duke 200, but they’re more than just fairing-clad cousins of the latter. The RC390 is a mad, mad machine that one can go bonkers on, while on the track. At just a shade over ₹2 lakh (ex-showroom), it’s a track machine for everyone. Agreed, that it’s not really your everyday street bike, but it is bound to quench your need for speed.

Moreover, Bajaj will be launching the new, faired, and bigger Pulsars soon – need we say more about the popularity of the Pulsar marquee? It should be exciting to see how the new, bigger Pulsars go up against the upcoming Hero HX250R and probably a 250 or 300cc Yamaha, in a country that absolutely adores faired bikes.

The list of mid-to-big engined bikes also includes the Indian Chief Classic, the entire Triumph stable (from everything to the obscenely huge Rocket III to the scary fast Daytona 675R), and now the legendary Italians, the Benelli motorcycles. And since the competition is getting so intense, we’re expecting our good old Royal Enfield to jump into the action any moment now.

Street savvy

But it’s not just a big-bike story – the smaller engines have our attention too. In a segment that’s been dominated by the Bajaj Pulsar, Yamaha, Suzuki and Honda have decided to shake things up. Yamaha has refreshed its FZ-S with edgy styling, and a more efficient fuel-injected motor. On the other hand, Suzuki has launched the Gixxer, a 150cc that shows a lot of promise. And to cap it all off, Honda’s latest announcement, the updated CB Unicorn 160 – the conventional, sober styling has been modernised to attract the 25-35 year olds, and the new 163cc engine promises better fuel economy.

HMSI has promised 10 models in 2015, so we can expect the buyer to be seriously spoilt for choice. The manufacturer has also had a dream run for its commuters, the Dream series. But that’s not to say that its number one rival Hero Motocorp has been quiet – a slew of variants for the Splendor and Passion series have begun flooding the market, bringing unconventional styling into the 100-110cc segments

And everything else

It’s not just the presence of new motorcycles that have made the motorcycling world so much better. Royal Enfield’s aggressive promotion of the Continental GT made many bikers aware of the whole café racing culture. It’s definitely premature to call it a resurgence, but big and small garages across the country are busy building custom café racers, street fighters and scramblers from Yamahas, Hondas, Suzukis and whatnot.

KTM has paved the way for track days – owners of the Duke 390 and RC390 can now take their machines to the track and hone their track skills.

Thanks to all this, the demand for better, imported helmets and riding gear has gone up, and the social networks have been abuzz with veteran riders sharing their experiences and advice for the younger ones.

We’re hoping that with new regulations such as mandatory ABS and day-time running lights, among other things, this New Year would be just as safe as it is exciting for those whose hearts beat for two wheels.

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Published on January 01, 2015
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