Hero MotoCorp is India’s largest selling two-wheeler maker. There was a point of time in 2017 when it did seem that their erstwhile partner Honda was coming close to their volumes. In fact, the Japanese manufacturer seemed to be well on the way to overtake them in a few years. However, fast forward to 2019, the company has maintained its market supremacy while Honda’s volumes have severely shrunk.
One reason for this success can be attributed to the fact that Hero’s approach to its product line-up has been very mass-market centric. In fact, only Hero could make the exciting 200 cc motorcycle segment commuter-ish. Their 200 cc line-up has the least powerful engine in the market. However, the features list of these machines does not tell the same tale. The newly launched XPulse and Xtreme 200S are the first Indian motorcycle with Bluetooth enabled instrumentation with navigation and call alerts.
Here are 5 mean machines which Hero showcased in the past few years but are still far from being available in the market:
Hero HX250R: A 31 PS quarter-litre which is now a dream
The brand which immortalised (erm… not really) the Karizma name showcased this power-packed punch of a product called Hero HX250R at Auto Expo 2014. The bike had it all (at least claimed to). Sharp looks (which Hero called Lightning Bolt), Pirelli tyres, under-seat exhaust, discs at both ends, liquid cooling, fuel injection and a 6-speed gearbox. All these features were a huge deal in India back in 2014.
Powering the bike was a 31 PS 250 cc single-cylinder motorcycle which allowed it to accelerate from 0-60 km/h in 3 seconds. Apart from that, the bike had a 300 mm front disc with 3 piston calliper and a 139 kg kerb weight. In 2016, the company shelved the ‘R’ from the name, raised the engine's max power to 31.4 PS, and revealed that the peak torque was 23 Nm. The top speed was pegged at 165 km/h!
It is 2019 and the HX250 has become an urban legend. The project was axed recently, and the reason given was that the market had moved on from the segment. What we get instead is a 200 cc 18.6 PS Hero Xtreme 200S.
Hero Hastur: a mythical middleweight which was never meant to be
Possibly the biggest surprise pulled off by any Indian manufacturer has been in the form of the Hero Hastur. This radically transforming concept had the potential to transform Hero’s brand positioning in the global two-wheeler map. The ‘fill it, shut it, forget it’ brand showcased this naked monster atAuto Expo 2014.
The Hastur flaunted a sharp, razor-sharp look. A yellow trellis frame, twin projector headlamps, and front-heavy look of this motorcycle could have given even the established brands like the big 4 Japs and Ducati a run for their money. Packed with a 620 cc parallel-twin engine, the Hastur was claimed to have an output of 80 PS and 72 Nm. The highlight, though, was the low 160 kg kerb weight. That’s lighter than several other naked middleweights in the market.
Other features include a DOHC layout, cartridge type 6-speed gearbox, adjustable upside-down fork up front and 4-piston radial callipers over twin 300 mm discs in the front. Also included was a Lithium-ion battery, Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tyres a top speed claim of 240 km/h! I am still wondering how they came to that figure!
Launch plans you ask? Nope, not happening anytime soon.
Hero XF3R: Design Concept Vehicle or Loch Ness Monster
In 2016, Hero unveiled a concept naked motorcycle, the XF3R. This whacky-looking motorcycle strangely reminds me of the Xtreme Sports and Pulsar NS200. It was also the first Indian concept motorcycle to be showcased with a single-sided swingarm.
Powering the XF3R is a 300 cc+ engine which traces its origins to the 200 cc powerplant from the Xtreme 200R. However, this time Hero did not reveal any figures this time. They said "arresting design, powerful styling and mid-segment high-performance engine" to describe the motorcycle. Besides that, the XF3R gets an upside-down fork up front, disc brakes and Pirelli tyres. The upswept Scrambler-ish dual-barrel exhaust looks completely out of place.
Hero currently has not officially scrapped the XF3R but there has been no indication of a launch. The management has confirmed that they will be look into the 150-400 cc segment.
Hero Zir: 150 cc Euro-style maxi-scooter
The Hero Zir was originally unveiled at Auto Expo 2014, as a 150 cc automatic scooter with dual projector headlamps, integrated pillion handle and a combo of digital-analogue console. Besides that, the scooter was showcased in two variants, one as a step-through and the other with a flat footboard.
Powering the Zir is a 157.1 cc liquid-cooled, fuel-injected mill. The latter was claimed to have smartphone connectivity for displaying engine and riding parameters. Power and torque outputs were pegged at 14.3 PS and 12.7 Nm respectively. The Zir was suspended on 35 mm standard telescopic fork up front and a monoshock in the rear with adjustable preload.
Besides that, Hero Zir includes a disc brake in the front and a drum unit in the rear. It tips the scales at 139 kg and is fitted with a 130-section rear tyre.
However, what we have from Hero in 2019 are 110cc and 125cc scooters with usable features. In fact, they even launched India’s first fuel-injected automatic scooter in the form of the Hero Maestro Edge 125.
Hero iON: A Hydrogen fuel-cell concept
Of all the two-wheelers showcased ever, the Hero iON concept is the most futuristic. Bringing it straight out of a science fiction novel, the iON flaunted hubless wheels with electric traction motor which use a friction-less magnetic levitation technology!
The Lithium-Air powered machine claimed to use the oxidation of lithium with oxygen molecules sourced from the air. The vehicle was suspended using an advanced anthropomorphic technology which created an electromagnetic force to not only stabilise it but also power it. Phew! Now with this futuristic and advanced technology, Hero claimed a 0-100 km/h acceleration time of 5 seconds and a top speed of 160 km/h! Besides that, this 100 kg marvel had a claimed range of 300 km!
Well, with 90 million Hero badged two-wheelers sold so far, Hero has showcased several amazing concepts which have not been mentioned here so far. Honorary mentions include a turbocharged diesel 150 cc scooter RnT with a 35 Nm torque output and India’s first series-hybrid scooter Leap.