Yamaha R15 has been launched and is expected to be the new benchmark for performance motorcycles in India. Now the ball is in Bajaj Auto, Hero Honda and TVS Motors’ court, and it remains to be seen how these biggies of Indian automobile world respond, to counter the threat posed by Yamaha R15.
After all it’s not just the coveted title of the most powerful motorcycle in India on the line, but the brand image, exposure and desirability which comes with producing these niche motorcycles, which only a few can afford, but majority of the bikers dreams about.
We examine the leaders of Indian motorcycle industry and try to gauge what their likely response would be:
Bajaj Auto: Bajaj Auto has kept the flame of innovation burning for past few years and until recently held the title of producing the most powerful production motorcycle in India (Bajaj Pulsar 220 DTS-Fi). They certainly have the talent, pocket and willingness to recapture the title of most powerful production motorcycle in India.
Having launched the Bajaj Pulsar 220 DTS-Fi exactly a year back, we feel time is right for them to release the updated version of 220. A four valve 220 with a few more engine tweaks and a bit of weight loss might just be enough to exceed/match the R15. After all if they can add 3 extra horses in the four valve XCD Sprint (XCD 9.53ps vs. XCD sprint 12.5ps), why not the 220?
Hero Honda: With Honda’s world renowned technology and the fact its flagship product (Karizma) is getting a bit too old; a new updated version and/or a new flagship product is on the cards, which would likely have more than just cosmetic upgrades.
Karizma Fi, CBR 250 or even the CBR 150 to take on the R15, our guess is as good as yours as we wait for India’s largest motorcycle manufacturer to reveal its cards.
TVS Motors: TVS Motors is the only home grown Indian motorcycle manufacturer which actively participates in the motor sports arena and puts the feedback and knowledge gained on the track to their every day motorcycle. While they are expected to launch the Apache RTR 160 Fi in the coming days, it is the performance race kit version which we are eagerly waiting for.
Showcased at the AutoExpo 2008, the performance race kit for Apache RTR 160 (carbureted version) adds another 3.3 horses to an already potent package and is still expected to cost 15-20k less than the R15. Whether or not that would be enough to take on the might of the R15, but it would surely be fun to see bikes with similar capacity but totally different technology going head to head!
Whether its Bajaj Auto, Hero Honda, TVS Motors or any other motorcycle manufacturer, who manages to dethrone the R15, it is surely going to be an exciting time for us bikers.