Hero MotoCorp, India's largest two-wheeler maker, has pulled out a pleasant surprise with the Hero Xtreme 200S. As the whole world waited for the prices of the X-Pulse, it announced its first fully-faired Hero motorcycle since the Karizma ZMR - the Xtreme 200s. However, we had got the first glimpse of the motorcycle last month when it popped up in a YouTube video. Many media houses reported the bike as the new Karizma. IAB was one of the few who traced it back to its right lineage.
Background - Why Hero returned to its roots with Xtreme 200S
Designed at Jaipur's CiT, the Hero Xtreme 200S gives the company an entry in the premium sports 200cc segment. Just as the naked variant, 200S continues to focus on character and comfort. While Bajaj and TVS have been focusing on outright performance and racing heritage, Hero is wooing buyers with practicality at an affordable price tag.
Ever since the split with Honda, Hero has been struggling to get its premium products right. Hero was one of the first to enter the premium 150 cc segment with the original Hero Honda CBZ Xtreme. The Karizma added a new feather to Hero’s cap but as the years progressed, they seem to have lost their way.
The Gurgaon-based manufacturer is aiming to change that with the new 200 cc range. The Xtreme 200R is for customers who want a street naked motorcycle, while the Xtreme 200S is for those who are looking for a sporty alternative. The other two products, XPulse 200T is for the touring lover while XPulse 200 will woo folks who are looking for an adventure.
With the launch of the Hero Xtreme 200R, the folks at Hero are offering a premium 200 cc motorcycle for the masses. Since its country-wide launch in July 2018, the Hero Xtreme 200R has amassed sales of 22,842 units. In comparison, Hero MotoCorp’s entire 150 cc range retailed just 20,935 units. The company sells the least bikes in the 150-160 cc and 200 cc segment at present.
Design & Features - An ode to simplicity
Taking into consideration the urban audience, Hero MotoCorp has added a touch of premium-ness to create the Xtreme 200S. While the naked 200R got wolf eye styled LED pilot lamps, the fully-faired 200S gets a sleek all-LED headlamp. While it might be a very subjective topic, but for some reason, Hero MotoCorp seems to have forgotten to spend more time with the fairing design.
That’s not all, the black cladding around the headlamp lends it a rather dull look. The overall shape of the LED headlamp (Hero calls it ‘Twin LED Headlamp’) reminds me of a mutant form origination from the amalgamation of the Ninja 400 and R15 v3.0!
However, the case is very different when you see the bike in the flesh. The headlamp and the fairing look clean, especially with the windscreen. The clean and utilitarian look with minimal use of stickers of the naked roadster is seen on the sport model too. While the naked version is available in five colours, the fully-faired variant will be sold in three colours, namely Sports Red, Panther Black and Brown.
The black side cladding and single seat from the Xtreme 200R have been retained. The designers have also left the entire tail section and split grab rails untouched. The LED tail lamp too is the same. Small design changes here would have gone a long way in distinguishing the sporty offering.
Instead of a mix of digital and analogue instrumentation like in the Xtreme 200R, the Xtreme 200S has a fully-digital panel shared with the Hero Xpulse 200T. Complete with a tachometer, speedometer, tripmeter, odometer, gear position indicator, fuel gauge and clock, the setup barely leaves the rider in me wanting more. It has even a side stand indicator and a service reminder.
Hero Xtreme 200S has another ace up its sleeve. It is the first motorcycle in its segment to get turn by turn navigation. All you have to do is install an application in your cell phone, pair the app with the bike via Bluetooth. Enter the location and the right side of the screen will show arrows to your destination.
That’s not all. Felt the phone buzzing while riding and feel irritated to not know who’s calling? Yes, I have been through this a lot too. Fret not, Hero Xtreme 200S’ instrumentation has a call alerts feature which will display the name of the caller on the screen. This will be a boon to save you from missing the all-important calls from your boss/girlfriend/family.
Cycle parts: Simplicity with a modern touch
Like the Hero Xtreme 200R, the Hero Xtreme 200S is suspended on traditional 37 mm right side down fork upfront. However, the engineers claim to have re-tuned it a bit to make it more performance friendly. At the rear, there's the same monoshock with (7-step) adjustable preload.
The fully-faired Xtreme 200S has identical length (2,062 mm) and width (778 mm) but with a height of 1,106 mm, it's 34 mm taller. Hero MotoCorp has increased the size of the rear sprocket by a single tooth, resulting in lower top speed but better acceleration. This has led to the wheelbase being reduced by 1 mm to 1,337 mm. Seat height and ground clearance remain identical at 795 mm and 165 mm respectively.
One field where Hero MotoCorp deserves a pat on the back is on the weight saving front. Despite the additional fairing, the Xtreme 200S weighs just 1 kilo more than the naked trim - 149 kg. In comparison, the smaller capacity Suzuki Gixxer SF weighs 140 kg, while the more powerful Bajaj Pulsar RS 200 weighs 164 kg. To add more perspective, the KTM RC 200 is heavier than the Hero Xtreme 200S.
Braking duties are administered by a 276 mm disc in the front and a 220 mm unit in the rear. As on the Xtreme 200R, a single-channel ABS unit for the front braking unit is standard. Tyres too remain the same 17-inch unit with the rear getting a 130 section profile and the front wheel getting a 100 section tyre. The Pulsar RS 200 also has the same setup. This is where Hero MotoCorp could have brought in a change to include a fatter rear tyre profile for more grip.
Engine: The Achilles heel of Hero Xtreme 200S
This is where Hero Xtreme 200S loses out to the competition. Powering the bike is a 199.6cc air-cooled, 2-valve, SOHC mill which powers Hero’s entire 200cc range. Coupled to a 5-speed gearbox, the engine can produce an identical 18.4 PS of power at 8,000 rpm and 17.1 Nm of torque. Fuel supply system, as in the Hero Xtreme 200R, is carburettor based. This is where Hero should not have cut costs and included fuel injection.
A fuel injection system, even if as an option (as in the Hero X-Pulse 200) would have helped in crisper throttle response and possibly improved acceleration. If we look at the competition, Bajaj Pulsar RS 200 and Yamaha Fazer 25 gets fuel injection as standard, while the TVS Apache RTR 200 and the Suzuki Gixxer SF have it as an option. With BS-VI norms kicking in next year, Hero MotoCorp will have to bring in fuel injection.
While usable power is the key focus for this power plant, I would have loved to see the Hero Xtreme 200S at least cross the 20 PS landmark. Also, the seating position could have been made sportier.
Price: The best part of Hero Xtreme 200S
This is where the folks at Hero MotoCorp played its masterstroke. Priced at INR 98,500 (ex-showroom, Delhi), the Hero Xtreme 200S is the cheapest faired offering in its class. The company's products have always been priced to appeal the masses, and the 200S pays true homage to this ideology. It is just INR 7,600 costlier than the naked variant and INR 424 costlier than the ABS variant of Suzuki Gixxer SF. The Bajaj Pulsar RS 200, with dollops of more features, costs nearly 30 grand more.
All said and done, the affordable price tag, large sales and service network and usable power will have a lot of folks rushing to Hero MotoCorp dealerships. Bookings for the Hero Xtreme 200S have commenced, while deliveries will begin in the next few weeks.