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Review: Hero overhauls its commuter flagships

Mirza Mohammed Ali Khan | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on December 21, 2017

Trademark looks: Signature design elements find theirway into the newmodels too

The Hero Super Splendor and the Passion X Pro

Youthful looks: The newblue paint scheme sitswell on the Hero Passion Pro

The Super Splendor, Passion Pro and the Passion X Pro see changes, both cosmetic and surgical

Commuter motorcycles continue to be volume drivers in the country, despite seeing substantial competition from scooters. Affordability has been a factor in the shift in preferences amongst consumers. Buyers who earlier preferred motorcycles in the 100cc range because of their affordability are now giving scooters a glance.

Hero Motocorp, the country’s largest two-wheeler company, however, is digging in its heels and has chosen to fortify its standing in the commuter motorcycle segment, taking on increasing competition. The company is overhauling its offerings in this segment, the latest being the launch of three revamped motorcycles from its stable — the new Super Splendor, new Passion Pro and Passion X Pro. This comes on the heels of the Hero Glamour getting a fuel-injected engine version earlier this year.

All of the three new launches are the latest iterations of legacy products. The Splendor became something of a family icon and has seen various iterations such as the Splendor+ and the Super Splendor over the years. The Passion, which according to Hero was a successor of sorts to the Splendor, became a successful brand on its own. Hence, Hero has taken care to carry over the recognisable elements from previous iterations to the latest versions. Here are our first impressions after a ride on all three of them.

Super SplendorLooks

The new Super Splendor retains most of the single-tube chassis looks, and design of its predecessor. There are some noteworthy additions to make it more contemporary and appealing such as new body graphics, a chrome finish muffler on the exhaust, a sleek, chiselled-looking tail lamp and a trapezoid headlamp.

The presence of a storage area under the tank, apart from its obvious utilitarian purpose, also makes the engine assembly look tightly packed, which adds to the overall appeal of the motorcycle. The seat is almost flat and offers a comfortable ride, both for rider and pillion, while the familiar upright seating posture ensures good arm positioning. The analogue instrument cluster comes with the usual parameters and a notable addition is the side-stand indicator. The gear stick gets a rubberised front end and this should serve better those who prefer to shift with the front of their foot. There is also some sizeable under-seat storage.

Performance

The motorcycle gets a bigger 125cc engine, the same as that on the Glamour, albeit the carburettor version. This translates to a peppier ride and as Hero claims, a 27 per cent increase in power and a 6 per cent increase in torque. The bike churns out 11.4PS at 7,500rpm and 11Nm at 6,000rpm.

The absence of a rev counter meant that we couldn’t figure out when exactly the extra torque kicked in, but overtaking is easy in the second and third gears, which also have a long range — thus making city riding easier. The third gear has a wider range and be used comfortably well past the 40 kmph mark so you don’t have to up-shift in a hurry during those overtakes. The absence of a fifth gear might irk some riders but remember that the Splendor was never known for one and continues to remain a commuter offering. It also gets Hero’s i3S (idle-start-stop-system) technology that switches the engine off when the bike is at a standstill and a grab of the clutch restarts it. Suspension (front: telescopic, hydraulic; rear: hydraulic dual shock absorbers) is slightly more pliant compared to the Glamour but remains on the firmer side. Handling at high speeds is decent, but we felt the need for a more accommodating suspension during a few manoeuvres at commuting speeds. The grip, however, is firm on turns and the front and rear 130 mm drum brakes do their job. However, there is no option of a front disc brake and this could have been a useful addition. Vibrations make themselves felt at higher speeds, but more so at the foot pegs than on the handlebar.

Passion Pro Look

With the Passion Pro too, the signature design elements find themselves on the new model. The motorcycle gets a chunky fuel tank and and a signature tail lamp. The bulging, curvy quadrilateral headlamp gets a chiselled cowl added to the front. The engine sits on a cradle frame and a storage space, a la Super Splendor would have been a welcome addition to the looks.

The instrument cluster consists of an analogue speedometer, with ODO, fuel level, etc getting a digital display. It also gets a side stand indicator as does the Passion X Pro. But unlike the Super Splendor and the Passion X Pro, the gear stick does not get a rubberised front end.

Passion X Pro Looks

Hero claims that the Passion X Pro is targeted at the youth, and this is evident in the motorcycle’s styling cues. The headlamp is sportier, with a new muscular fuel tank flanked by shrouds to give the bike that ‘mini-fairing’ effect. It gets a rear cowl as well, with arrowhead-shaped indicators.

The presence of some black cladding below the rear half of the fuel tank fills some space above the engine, thus making it look sleeker and sportier than the Passion Pro. Dual tone mirrors and the LED tail lamp highlight the other differences that set the Passion X Pro apart from its sibling.

Performance

Both the motorcycles share the same 110 cc engine, in a marked departure from the previous iterations. In the earlier generation, the Passion Pro was powered by a 100 cc mill, while the Passion X Pro got 110 cc.

The engine produces 9.4PS of power at 7,500rpm and a torque of 9Nm at 5,500rpm. It is mated to a four-speed gear box. According to Hero, the engine gets 12 per cent more power and torque compared to the previous version.

We noticed the engine had a pronounced growl, especially on lower gears and it felt a lot more comfortable from the third gear onwards. The third gear also has a long range, like in the Super Splendor and useful torque is available for overtakes even at low revs, underlining the motorcycles’ city utility. The i3S engine technology is on both these motorcycles as well.

When it comes to handling, we found that Passion X Pro to be more comfortable when taking corners and it also feels more stable. Suspension is similar on both the motorcycles — on the firm side. The optional front disc brakes on both the motorcycles are a welcome offering and are sharp.

On the Passion X Pro, we noticed that applying the rear brake at high speeds leads to some skidding.

Bottomline

Hero has injected some much-needed vigour and fresh features to their commuter segment flagships. The motorcycles will be available from January and prices will be revealed then. We expect some minor variations when compared to the price of their predecessors, but with scooters breathing down the commuter segment’s neck, we expect aggressive pricing.

Published on December 21, 2017
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