India is a price-sensitive market and as the lockdown eases across the country, several studies suggest that public transport is set to lose its charm. People would now prefer their personal vehicles over the fear of virus contamination. It is also to be noted that the country is home to one of the biggest markets for two-wheelers around the world. Hence, when you put two and two together, it could be speculated that the market for affordable motorcycles say under INR 1 lakh* is soon expected to witness a boom.
Hence as the concept of ‘new normal’ settle in the minds of people, motorcycle manufacturers are scrambling for a piece of a pie that manufacturers like Hero currently dominates. Given that India is also home for one of the largest population of people under the age of 35, the offerings would be aimed at pleasing the youth while being light on their pockets. So if you fit the bill and are looking for your next motorcycle under INR 1 lakh*, here is our carefully curated list of the best ones out there.
Hero Xtreme 160 R
At the outset, allow us to tell you that the motorcycle begins very close to our price limit, but remains in the ballpark. The 160 R is the typical embodiment of all the criteria mentioned above. Aimed at the beginner crowd, check. Aimed at capturing customers looking for an affordable commuter, check. Aimed at capturing customers looking the oomph in an entry-level motorcycle, check.
The Xtreme 160 R is Hero’s first stab at the 160-cc segment in India. The motorcycle was first showcased at last year’s EICMA as the Concept 1.R. Since then, not a lot has changed in the motorcycle. A fleeting glimpse on the design of the bike and one might fail to believe that it is a Hero. Unlike the Xtreme 200 R which was an uprated Xtreme Sports, the 160 R does not share its roots with any other offering.
At its heart is a 163-cc liquid-cooled engine that puts out 15bhp and 14Nm of torque. While these are not segment-leading figures, the bike tips the scale at just 139 kg, which is the lightest in its segment. The motorcycle gets a digital instrument cluster that shows all the necessary information except for a gear-position indicator. It gets a parking light as well, which is a segment-first.
Bajaj Pulsar 125
The smallest Pulsar was launched not so long ago. In comparison to its stablemates, the Pulsar 125 is comparatively new, which means Bajaj was most opportune to prepare an offering that can meet today’s expectations.
The motorcycle completely resembles its siblings in terms of cosmetics with the neon graphics and the slimmer tyres being only differentiating elements. At its heart is a 124-cc engine that churns out 11.6bhp and 11Nm of torque. The engine is a derivative of the 150cc units that power the Pulsar 150 keeping its aura the same.
Might we add that while the Pulsar brand has been a mainstay for Bajaj in the past and has secured a spot for itself in the market, the design language and the mechanicals deserve a much-needed revamp to ditch the elements that are over a decade old.
Honda SP 125
The Honda SP 125 is essentially Honda’s attempt to maintain or even get a better grip at the commuter segment in India. The motorcycle very well embodies the ‘new normal’. If the ‘new normal’ could be seen as the potential and the capabilities that commuters under INR 1 lakh* are offering.
The SP 125 very well could be a case study for the ideal commuter offering. It is powered by a 124-cc engine that delivers 10.6bhp and 10.9Nm of torque. The motorcycle comes with a part-digital, part-analogue instrument cluster that shows ample information. It also features Honda’s silent smart technology that avoids mesh grinding for ignition.
Bajaj Avenger Street 160
The list would be incomplete without a cruiser. With the popularity that cruisers hold in India, it is quite difficult to get one under INR 1 lakh*. However, Bajaj’s Avenger comes as the sole offering that fits the bill perfectly. While its elder sibling, the Avenger 220, has not seen much turmoil in its lifecycle, the story is not the same as the smallest one.
What is now a 160-cc offering started its life as a 150-cc unit. The same iteration excelled in terms of pricing and fuel efficiency but lacked in terms of performance. To fix the same, Bajaj then increased the displacement to 180cc. However, as Bajaj found out that a majority of its buyers were expecting a commute friendly iteration, the poor fuel efficiency that came alongside the apt performance started weighing heavy. Hence, its current iteration was launched, an iteration that fits in the sweet spot between its two predecessors.
Being old in the tooth, the motorcycle does not offer much in terms of features, but makes up for the same in engine performance and ride quality. Remember, that the idea was to make cruiser motorcycles more accessible and Bajaj did a splendid job for the same. The motorcycle is powered by the same engine that powers the Pulsar NS160. It delivers 15bhp and a little over 13Nm of torque.
TVS Apache RTR 160
The lowest variant of the previous-gen Apache RTR 160 falls under our price bracket. While the design might not be as compelling as its newer version, the bike does have a place in the segment. The numbers on paper resemble that of the Hero Xtreme 160 R with a 159-cc engine that outputs 15.1bhp and 13.9Nm of torque. The bike gets a single-channel ABS and a few features like a semi-digital instrument cluster.
Having said that, TVS Apache has always enticed buyers looking for a more sporty and performance oriented motorcycle in budget. There are other, more powerful versions of the TVS Apache available in the market as well.