Royal Enfield is a brand which Indians not only love but adore. In fact, it would not be wrong to say that they sell dreams and not just motorcycles. Their stellar rise has been the envy of many. Several business theses can be written on why the brand met so much success in India. I am no business and trade expert, but one thing stands out to me, the utter lack of competition!
The introduction of an era of Jawa motorcycles in India has seen a drastic fall in Royal Enfield Classic 350 model. Chennai-based Royal Enfield though has divested to several global markets to safeguard itself from the domestic slump. Also, the introduction of more premium and powerful 650 twins have been returning the company good revenue.
The stage, though, is now wide open and based on Jawa’s success, several brands are planning to get a share of this pie. Here is a list of 5 motorcycles which can give Royal Enfield a run for its money:
Benelli Imperiale 400 - Sino-Italian motorcycle to take Royal Enfield head-on
The Benelli Imperiale 400 is a humble-looking motorcycle with a heart full of free spirit. Calling the design layout of the Imperiale 400 retro is an understatement. The rounded headlamp, teardrop-shaped fuel tank, split seats and chrome screams of old-world charm.
Powering the Benelli Imperiale 400 is 373.5 cc air-cooled single-cylinder SOHC mill. That puts it fair and square against the likes of Royal Enfield 350 cc models (Bullet and Classic). In its present tune, this fuel-injected engine produces 19.7 PS of power and 28 Nm of torque. The gearbox is a 5-speed unit. Anchors for the Imperiale 400 include a 300 mm disc in the front and a 240 mm unit in the rear.
Suspension duties are administered by a 41 mm conventional telescopic fork up front and dual springs in the rear. The bike employees a 19-inch wheel in the front and an 18-inch unit in the rear. The latter gets a 130-section tyre profile. The Benelli Imperiale 400 is expected to be launched in India by March 2020 with localisation helping the price to be competitive.
Husqvarna Vitpilen 401 - KTM Duke 390 in a neo-retro form
KTM-owned Husqvarna Motorcycles is expected to make an entry in India later this year. The first model in their range will be the Husqvarna Vitpilen 401. The design of this motorcycle has a fresh take started from scratch on the drawing boards at Kiska. The result is a progressive looking machine which combines retro love with modern technology.
This amalgamation of the old and new world is powered by a 373 cc single-cylinder mill which is, in essence, the powerplant from KTM Duke 390. In its present tune, it produces 43.5 PS of power and 37 Nm of torque. Ther's a 6-speed gearbox works in tandem with a slipper clutch. The lightweight bike tips the scales at just 148 kg (without fuel). However, the high 835 mm seat height may not go down too well with shorter riders.
The Husqvarna Vitpilen 401 is suspended on an upside-down 43 mm fork in the front and a monoshock in the rear, both sourced from WP. The front wheel gets a huge 320 mm disc brake and the rear wheel has a 230 mm disc brake. Expect this Royal Enfield competitor to hit the market around November with a sticker price under INR 3 lakh.
Kawasaki W800 - A 360-degree firing order in a parallel-twin!
The Kawasaki W800 has been a long time coming but Indian riders have been devoid of this bike for more than 2 years now. This retro-styled roadster has a unique 773 cc parallel-twin mill with vertically inclined cylinder layout with a 360-degree firing order! An auditory bonanza is guaranteed!
This air-cooled, SOHC, fuel-injected engine produces 46 PS of power and 62.9 Nm of torque. It is paired with a 5-speed transmission. The Kawasaki W800 features a truly classic design with a circular halogen headlamp, round fuel tank, trapezoidal side panels, raised handlebar, twin-pod analogue instrumentation with a digital readout and a single-piece comfortable seat.
Besides that, the bike uses standard telescopic fork up front and twin springs in the rear. Brakes include single petal discs at both ends. Kawasaki is expected to launch the W800 in India soon, with a price tag of around INR 7 lakh, which will make it a more premium alternative to the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650.
Suzuki TU 250X – Affordable and reliable alternative to Royal Enfield Bullet 350
The engineers at Hamamatsu have a gem of a product which has so far been hidden from the eyes of the Indian market. Rounded headlamp, classic paint scheme, dollops of chrome, circular tail lamp. And boy, that pillion seat looks invitingly comfortable.
At the heart of Suzuki TU 250X is a 249cc single-cylinder, air-cooled, SOHC, fuel-injected mill. Mated to a 5-speed gearbox, the engine develops 19 PS of power and 21 Nm of torque. Apart from traditional Japanese reliability, the TU 250X offers a disc brake up front and a drum unit in the rear. A specially developed Pulse Secondary Air Injection system in the motorcycle throws in fresh air into the exhaust port. This helps in using up any unburnt petrol, hence, reducing pollution levels at tailpipe.
Suzuki India can offer the TU 250X as an alternative to the Royal Enfield Classic 350, emphasising on a modern engine with a retro touch. Expect the price tag to hover around INR 1.5-1.8 lakh.
Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 – Most affordable Ducati on sale
The Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 is a 399 cc engine model with true-blue Italian lineage. Styled on the same lines as the bigger Ducati Scramblers, the Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 is a perfect competitor to Royal Enfield Interceptor 650.
At the core of the Scrambler Sixty2 is a 399 cc L-twin, Desmodromic air-cooled mill that produced 40 PS and 34 Nm of torque. It is linked to a 6-speed transmission. The engine's fuel injection system utilises 50 mm throttle bodies, and the CO2 emissions are pegged at 108 g/km. Also, the suspension system includes traditional Showa fork up front and a Kayaba sourced fully adjustable monoshock in the rear. The tyres have been sourced from Pirelli with an 18-inch front unit and a 17-inch rear unit.
Ducati may not be able to offer accessibility in terms of pricing as Royal Enfield. However, the premium positioning will be their key USP.