So here we are once again, rounding up the year that was with the bharathautos.com 2014 Top Five Bikes list – as with previous edition in 2013, the writers each pick five cars that caught their attention big this particular calendar year.
In this article, we’ve set the marker at five, not because we have anything against going the usual route of 10, but to select five out of a host of new arrivals in any calendar year means having to be more selective about things and encourage more thought in the process. This year, we welcome new name to the 2014 edition – Ritij Khurana jump in head-first with the five that stood out for them.
“The year 2014 was yet another impressive year for the bikes. The Indians witnessed the launch of many affordable sports bikes and the budget commuters were there as well. So in a way, there was something for everyone in store and the year ended on a high with the anticipation of better things to come in 2015. Let us take a look at the top 5 bikes for the year 2014.”
1. KTM RC 390
The RC390 is the cheapest sports bike in India that develops over 40PS. The bike, at Rs 2.05 lakhs, brought the fun of a motorcycle from a segment above it to the Indians without burning a hole in their pockets and has truly been a game changer.
It is powered by the same 373cc motor has its naked sibling and develops 44PS of maximum power. It has a full fairing to go with it and the bike has been modified enough to be the right mix of tourer and a track focused bike. The bike also accounts for a good bike within the city so it is just what the fans wanted.
2. Hero Splendor iSmart
The iSmart is an extension to the popular Splendor moniker and is a pretty smart bike too for a commuter of its price. The moment you stay still for more than 30 seconds, the bike shuts off the engine immediately and you just need to press the clutch to restart it.
It is priced at just Rs 48,000 and returns a mileage of 73 kmpl. Yes, it may not be the fastest one when the signal turns green but it surely is the most economical one when it happens. It has a 97.2cc engine which develops a maximum power of 7.8 PS and a peak torque of 8.04 Nm.
3. Yamaha FZ V2.0
The much awaited upgrade to the FZ 2.0 came this year after a lot of wait. The Yamaha FZ-S and FZ-16 were finally upgraded but the power got reduced this time around. But Yamaha claims the ride is similar and you won’t notice a difference. The bike now comes with a 149cc fuel injected motor and is priced at Rs 76,250.
It develops 13.1 PS now coupled with 12.8 Nm which is the least in its segment and it priced by about Rs 7,000-8,000 more than the competitors. The bike may not look good on paper but in real life, it rides pretty well and is surely worth making it to our list of the top 5 bikes of 2014.
4. Suzuki Gixxer 155
Suzuki has never been able to make a mark for itself in the 2-wheeler segment in India but it has went on the right course of events to change things now. It launched the Suzuki Gixxer this year in the 150cc segment and bike has gone on to become pretty popular courtesy of a good overall package and its looks.
It was launched at a price of Rs 72,199 and has a power output of 14.6 Bhp coupled with a peak torque of 14 Nm. It score high on the fuel efficiency too and is positioned as a street sports bike. Needless to say, it does live up to the expectations and is a worthy competitor in the 150cc segment.
5. Harley Davidson Street 750
Harley Davidson launched its cheapest motorcycle ever in India this year, the Street 750. The bike was launched at a price of Rs 4.10 lakhs (ex-showroom) and it went to become a best seller for the company. The bike also marked a first for Harley Davidson in the form of its first ever liquid cooled engine.
The bike has a 750cc V-Twin motor that develops a peak torque of 68 Nm and the bike is quite a good handler in cities as well as on highways. The bike is responsible for making the brand a lot more accessible to the masses and we love the bike too for what it is.
“The year 2014 was a great one for the two wheeler industry in India. Firstly, the price of petrol dropped, which ensured that bikers had fun with no limits. There were more and more consumers getting into the performance biking segment and the low capacity – high performance biking segment grew more than ever before, there were many new scooters which were launched in 2014 which as usual clocked great sales numbers. In 2014, the two wheeler industry also saw the launch of some of the best superbikes and performance motorcycles and even the number of consumers purchasing these premium motorcycles increased in 2014, so the last year was an awesome one for the biking industry. Of all the two wheelers launched in India in 2014, here are my top 5 favourites.”
1. KTM RC 390
With great confidence I can say that, the KTM RC 390 was definitely the most eagerly awaited motorcycle of the year 2014. All the biking enthusiasts in the country were excited and awaited the launch of this motorcycle because they knew that this could very well be a pocket rocket. Everyone had seen what the KTM Duke 390 could do – decimate all other motorcycles upto 500cc, and when KTM announced that they would be making a fully faired version, it got everyone pumped up.
The suspension is firm enough to take corners really fast and at the same time, tough enough to take all the potholes on Indian roads with ease. Features like clip-on handlebars, wide and grippy tires, dual disc brakes and integrated pillion seat only enhance the sportiness quotient of the motorcycle. The 375cc, single cylinder liquid cooled engine has a power output of 43 PS which is more than required for Indian roads. This bike gives the most performance and is the quickest one can go within a price point of Rs. 2.4 lakh and it is for this reason, the KTM RC 390 finds a spot on our list.
2. Honda Activa 125
This definitely is the scooter that the country loves the most. The Activa has been in constant demand by consumers ever since its first generation was launched way back in 2000 and the demand never fell. The Honda Activa received updates cosmetically and even the engine was upgraded to a 110cc single cylinder unit over the years, and the demand just kept growing.
Though the Activa had a chassis and suspension which was more than 10 years old, it still sold very well, and with only a 110cc engine, it gave the 125cc competition a run for its money. So, when Honda announced that they were going to make a 125cc version of the Activa, it made prospective scooter consumers wait, because they knew it was going to be good, and the wait was definitely worth it. The Activa 125 has been very successful indeed and it is no surprise that a scooter which already sold well, is now selling more with a telescopic front suspension and a more powerful and more refined 125cc engine.
It is for the addition of these great features to a great scooter that brings it to this list.
3. Kawasaki Z250
If the KTM RC 390 was the most awaited motorcycle of the year, the Kawasaki Z250 was the most awaited NAKED motorcycle of 2014. The Naked motorcycles that Kawasaki manufactures like the Z800 and the Z1000 possess this mean aggressive look that no other manufacturer has, and their performance figures too are good, so Kawasaki felt that launching the Z250 in India was a good idea.
The Z250 looks more aggressive than any other 250cc motorcycle out there and it also boasts of Kawasaki’s reliable and robust high performance build quality. It is powered by a liquid-cooled, four-stroke, parallel-twin, 249 cc, 8v, DOHC engine. This fuel-injected unit is paired to a 6-speed transmission, and puts out 31.54bhp at 11,000 rpm and 21Nm of torque at 10,000 rpm.
For offering a design that good with a low capacity engine at a low price point, Kawasaki has put the Z250 in this list.
4. Bajaj Discover 150F
The Bajaj Discover has been known well as one of the best commuter motorcycles in the country. It is a mass market motorcycle and sells very well indeed, but lacked the flair and the style that a modern day commuter required. The boffins at Bajaj too felt the same way and hence they got back to their drawing board and designed the new Discover 150F.
The Discover 150F is powered by the same air-cooled 150cc, single cylinder engine used on the Discover 150, but the aesthetics this time around has completely been changed, and it has changed for the good.
For bringing the word premium to mass market commuter motorcycle segment, the Discover 150F finds a place on this list.
5. Harley-Davidson Street 750
American motorcycle manufacturer Harley Davison always manufactured motorcycles which were huge and with large capacity V-twin engines, but now they are changing strategies. Harley Davidson developed the Street 750 for growing markets like ours and they went all the way in, because for the first time in 13 years, Harley developed an all-new platform for the Street series motorcycles.
The Street 750 is powered by a liquid cooled, single overhead cam, 750cc V-twin power plant, with a max torque of 65 NM but aesthetically, one would not feel this was a downsized Harley, because the level of detail found on other Harleys is found on this Harley too. It looks like a Harley should really look and feels like a Harley too, so there has been no downsizing in the important areas.
The main reason that the Street 750 finds a spot on our list is because it gives the feel of a Harley at a low price point of Rs. 4.10 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).
“Indian automobile industry in 2014 ran on the two-wheeler segment as high interest rates and a stuttering manufacturing industry kept a check on demand. The two-wheeler segment marked positive growth of 12.9 percent YoY (year-on-year) to reach sales of nearly 13.5 million units by October. Strong demand from scooters contributed 27% of total sales volumes. As Customers preferred higher segment vehicles, Royal Enfield’s achieved 49.3 percent YoY growth till October. Indian two wheeler market saw a 7% increase in sales volume than the previous year. Motorcycles grew by a mere 4% YoY whereas scooters geared up by logging a growth rate of 22% YoY.”
1. Kawasaki Z800
Kawasaki launched high performance bike named “Z800” in the month of January 2014.Kawasaki’s Z800 features twin head lamps, LED tail lamp, minimized body panels, wider tyres, inverted forks with rebound damping and spring preload adjustability front suspension, bottom-link Uni-Trak gas-charged single shock with piggyback reservoir rear suspension, 250mm petal disc with single-piston caliper fitted to the rear wheel and 310mm dual semi-floating petal discs with opposed 4-piston caliper to the front wheel.
Coming to the technical specifications, Kawasaki’s Z800 is powered by an 806cc, 4-stroke, liquid cooled engine using 4-valve per head and coupled to a six-speed transmission producing a maximum power of 111 BHP at a maximum torque of 83 NM @ 8000 RPM. Kawasaki Z800 achieves a maximum speed of 233kmph and is priced at INR 8.05 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).
Kawasaki Z800 providing excellent handling, comfortable riding position, eye catching styling cues in this range of motorcycles makes it as my choice for the 2014 top five bikes.
2. Suzuki Gixxer 155
Suzuki Motorcycle India Limited (SMIL) launched the much awaited Gixxer in the month of September 2014 at a price tag of INR 72,199 (ex-showroom, Delhi). This new 155cc flagship model from Suzuki is slotted above the GS150R.Suzuki’s Gixxer features telescopic forks in the front and monoshock at the rear, digital instrument console, LED taillights, twin exhausts, body-colored grab rails, large fuel tank, gear indicator in the instrument panel and chrome tipped exhaust.
Coming to the technical specifications, Gixxer is powered with an air-cooled single-cylinder carbureted engine mated to a five-speed gearbox producing a maximum power of 14.8PS at 8,000rpm and a maximum torque of 14Nm at 6,000rpm.It is also equipped with Suzuki Eco Performance (SEP) technology, which the company says that it reduces mechanical losses and maximizes combustion leading to fuel economy figures of 63.2kmpl.
Suzuki Gixxer featuring new styling cues, clip on handle bars gives a sporty look along with proper weight distribution, powerful engine and all new chassis makes it the best buy in this segment in turn being my choice for the 2014 top five bikes
3. Honda Activa 125
Honda launched a new Activa powered by 125cc engine in the month of April 2014. Honda Activa 125 features viscous air filter, maintenance free battery, five-spoke alloy wheels, tubeless tyres, digital instrument console with odo, trip and even a clock, telescopic front forks, coil spring at the back and clear lens indicators. The all new Activa 125 is available in two versions i,e Standard and Deluxe.
The Honda Activa 125 is priced at INR 56,607 for the Standard variant which comes with pressed-steel wheels and 130mm drum brakes. The Deluxe variant comes with 190mm disc brake and alloy wheels and costs INR 62,588 (all prices, ex-showroom, Mumbai).
Activa 125 equipped with new features and styling cues along with the large after sales service network makes it a best buy in this segment making it in my 2014 top five bikes list.
4. KTM RC 390
KTM’s highly anticipated super sport motorcycles the RC 390 was launched in India in the month of September 2014 at a price tag of INR 2.05 lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi). KTM’s RC 390 is based on the successful KTM Duke 390 and also features new fuel tank, tail section, twin headlamps, mirror mounted turn indicators, sporty clip-on handlebars, further pushed back foot pegs and integrated underbelly exhausts.
Coming to the technical specifications, KTM RC 390 is powered with a single-cylinder; liquid-cooled 375cc motor mated to a six-speed transmission producing 43.6PS of power at a maximum torque of 35 NM.
KTM RC 390 excellent styling cues, features list, sharp steering, effective aerodynamics in turn providing excellent ride quality and handling, higher top speed makes it in my 2014 top five bikes list when compared with other motorcycles in this segment.
5. Yamaha Fazer FI v2.0
Yamaha launched the fuel injected variant of Fazer 2.0 in the month of September 2014 at a price tag of INR 83,850 (ex-showroom Delhi). Without any grand gesture, Yamaha’s all new Fazer FI was spotted at a dealership outlet in Gurgaon. The engine options in the all new Fazer FI is similar to the Fuel injected single cylinder engine already seen in FI variants of FZ 2.0 and FZS 2.0. The new Fazer FI is powered with the single cylinder air cooled 149cc engine with 2 valves (SOHC) and fuel injection technology producing a maximum power of 13.1 PS at 8000 RPM and a maximum torque of 12.8 Nm at 6000 RPM.
It features front half length extended downwards, MRF Nylogrip tubeless tyres, front disc brake with BYBRE 2 pot caliper, rear drum brake with mechanical leading trailing shoe and bit sharpened twin headlamps. Apart from these, rest of the fitments is similar to the recently launched FZ 2.0 and FZS 2.0. The new Fazer FI is available in color choices of Red Dawn, Black Hawk and White Cloud. With the traditional carburetor being replaced with BlueCore technology and changes to the chassis for a light and agile ride, the new Fazer FI delivers 14 per cent more mileage than the earlier Fazer.
“Time flies, doesn’t it? A blink of the eye and the year has already ended. 2014 had been a great motoring year for me at bharathautos.com – a lot of exciting as well as boring bikes being launched in the Indian auto market.
Quite a number of bikes were memorable for me this year, but five is where the bump stops, and so a premium commuter motorcycle, a scooter, a couple of entry-level sportsbikes and a cruiser motorcycle make up my selection. All have certainly impressed, one way or another.”
1. Suzuki Gixxer 155
The Gixxer is much ahead of the model it replaces. Love the twin exhausts, sleek headlight, and instrument console. It has got a sporty resemblance due to its stylish and eye-catching design, sporty seating and nicely positioned handlebar. Excellent handling, good power & torque figures, and zero vibration will bring a smile on your face every-time you gun the accelerator.
Also it’s easy to own & maintain, and priced around Rs 3,000 lower than the cheapest Yamaha FZ. If I had to choose between the Gixxer and the new FZ, I would definitely buy the Gixxer since it will be more exclusive. You can find an FZ on every street corner. The Gixxer owners across the country have reported the rusting issues, which Suzuki offered to rectify effectively.
2. Honda Activa 125
Hoinda Activa 125 was one of the most awaited scooters in the Indian market. The company brought in the Activa 125 to cater to those who wanted more power than the one in the 110cc segment. The Activa 125 has been priced competitively while offering better styling and more features than the immediate competition.
The company’s brand image, service and quality make the Activa 125 is a best option for the buyer. The Activa 125 has a good value for your money and cannot be omitted as a choice if a powerful everyday scooter is something you’re looking for.
3. KTM RC 390
The KTM RC 390 is a sport bike in its purest form, extremely fast, agile and ridiculously sporty. In my opinion it’s perhaps the sweetest biking deal available in India today, with all the capabilities of a higher cc machine and safety features such as ABS brakes as bonus, still not even optional on several more expensive sportbikes; making this a KTM that’s well worth every last paisa in India.
However, the RC 390 is not your everyday motorcycle, due to such a track-focussed posture and unusable power. Like a lot of motorcycles in our country right now, it does not try to do a lot of things. It does just one thing good and it’s a master at it. It truly is ‘Ready to Race’.
4. Kawasaki Z250
The Kawasaki Z250 is the cheapest offering from the Japanese two-wheeler for the Indian two-wheeler market and has everything you need from a Kawasaki – incredible design and styling, great performance and good ride quality making it the best in the segment. The ticket price ain’t cheap though.
Priced at Rs 2.99 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), the Z250 is expensive and surely not what you will call value for money. For this price, the company should have atleast offered the anti-lock braking system (ABS) as an option. The Z250 isn’t the cheapest twin-cylinder bike on offer in India (that honour lies with the Suzuki Inazuma which is on its way out), but will offer you a much bigger bike-like feel in the overall sense.
5. Harley Davidson Street 750
The Harley Davidson Street 750 is one cruiser that has really mixed things up. On one hand with its almost unbelievable pricing, it grabs the attention of almost everyone and makes them at least consider it when out in the market for a motorcycle, especially due to the Harley Davidson badge.
Priced at Rs 4.1 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), most Indians are closer to their aspiration of owning a Harley-Davidson. The Street 750 isn’t a half-hearted job from Harley just to make it the most affordable Harley-Davidson, instead is a well-rounded motorcycle.
The Street 750 provides the same feeling, thrill and performance for which the Harley is known. Indigenously built, it is affordable and easy to maintain, it is decently quick and very friendly for riders upgrading from small capacity motorcycles.
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