Some years ago, it was unimaginable to spend over a lakh on an India-made motorcycle (barring Royal Enfields, of course). Today, this Rs 1-2 lakh segment is one of the fastest growing in the Indian market. Unsurprisingly, this bracket also encompasses some of the most interesting, fun and relatively accessible motorcycles in the country. And as always, we’re looking at the ex-showroom prices, not the final on-road costs.
Note: All the prices mentioned here are post-GST.
After years of waiting for Yamaha to launch a quarter-litre motorcycle in India, it finally surprised us this year with the FZ25. The bike sports a squat, muscular stance much like the FZ16 and manages to look quite pleasing, albeit not as intimidating as some of Yamaha’s larger streetfighters. It gets a 249cc, single-cylinder, air-cooled motor that not exactly is a shining example of power and performance, but does dish out a healthy dose of refinement and linear power delivery. Weighing 148kg, the FZ25 is among the lighter bikes in this class, which makes for acceptably sprightly acceleration. And with a claimed mileage of 43kpl, it certainly seems to be one of the most efficient motorcycles in this segment as well. It is sprung a bit on the stiffer side, but that does endow it good handling characteristics, although it is not the best in class. It doesn’t get features such as ABS yet, however, it does pack an LED headlight as well as an all-LCD instrument cluster. The FZ25 might not be setting benchmarks in this category, but with its practicality, comfort, refinement and charming design, it is certainly one of the most easily likeable bikes here.
Power: 20.9hp at 8,000rpm
Torque: 20Nm at 6,000rpm
Price: Rs 1.19 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Also read: 2017 Yamaha FZ25 review
Bajaj Pulsar RS200
The Pulsar RS200 is the company’s flagship model and the only faired motorcycle in its range. It has been around since 2014, and its last noteworthy update came in 2017 with the arrival of the BS-IV emission norms. To refresh your memory, the RS200 is summarily the faired version of the NS200; which, in turn, is Bajaj’s spin on a fun motorcycle produced by its Austrian counterpart – the KTM 200 Duke. However, the RS200 is more than just another motorcycle with a lot of bodywork. The bike has a completely different frame and suspension set-up than the KTM and is a seriously fast and capable motorcycle in its own right. Underneath the fairing sits a 199.5cc motor paired to a six-speed gearbox. This liquid-cooled, four-valve, single-cylinder engine is similar to the KTM but uses a unique triple-spark-plug SOHC layout. The result is a healthy 24.5hp output at 9,750rpm with a peak torque of 18.6Nm at 8,000rpm. Like some of its competition, the RS misses out on LED headlights. However, the projectors it is equipped with do a very good job of lighting up the road.
The Pulsar also has decently sized brakes – 300mm up front and 230mm at the rear – and also offers a single-channel ABS. That being said, all is not perfect with the RS200. The fit and finish levels need to improve and the styling is not to all tastes.
Power: 24.5hp at 9,750rpm
Torque: 18.6Nm at 8,000rpm
Price: Rs 1.26 lakh (non-ABS), Rs 1.38 lakh (ABS) (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Also read: 2018 Yamaha YZF-R15 V3.0 vs Bajaj Pulsar RS200 comparison
Bajaj Dominar 400
Thanks to Bajaj, we got the first India-made power cruiser last year – the Dominar. Styled to look like the Ducati Diavel’s baby sibling with its low-slung, muscular stance, the Dominar packs quite a bit of road presence. There are some very interesting design choices as well, such as mounting the tell-tale lights on the fuel tank in a secondary instrument dashboard rather than around the all-digital primary instrument console. And it has the performance to match its beefy looks as well, as it packs a motor derived from the 373cc mill found in the KTM 390. Sure, it only gets a single camshaft, so it does lack a bit of the top-end performance of the orange machine. But thanks to three sparkplugs in the head and an engine specifically tuned for bottom-end performance, you get improved fuel efficiency and a whopping 28Nm (of the total 35Nm) of torque coming in at just 3,000rpm. This means brisk low-speed acceleration; and the Dominar can also manage to cruise comfortably at speeds of 120-130kph. It stops short of being a long-distance tourer, thanks to a small fuel tank, capacity of 13 litres, and a stiff suspension. But because of its setup, it does manage great handling characteristics; and with optional dual-channel ABS, stopping power isn’t an issue either. The Dominar promises and delivers a very thrilling riding experience.
Power: 35hp at 8,000rpm
Torque: 35Nm at 6,500rpm
Price: Rs 1.62 lakh (dual-channel ABS) (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Also read: 2017 Bajaj Dominar 400 review
Royal Enfield Himalayan
Royal Enfield recently updated its Himalayan to correct the previous bike’s reputation for low reliability. The biggest change on the updated Himalayan is that it now uses a fuel-injection system instead of a carburettor; the company has done this in order to meet BS-IV norms. The bike has also undergone other small changes – like the addition of a small metal guard on the oil cooler, matte-black powder coating for the fuel tank's cap, and bar-end weights and luggage-mounts below the rear seat. It’s a bike that is purpose-built to tread off the beaten path, with lots of suspension travel (200mm at the front, 180mm at the back) and a massive 220mm of ground clearance. Even with that much clearance, RE has managed to package the bike in such a way that seat height stays at a relatively short 800mm. A large 21-inch front wheel, coupled with a 17-inch rear (both wire-spoke) and shod with on-off road tyres, also adds to the Himalayan’s rough-roading prowess.
Power: 24.8hp at 6,500rpm
Torque: 32Nm at 4,250rpm
Price: Rs 1.67 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Also read: Royal Enfield Himalayan FI review
KTM 250 Duke
Honestly, it was a bit of a tough call between this and the KTM RC200. The RC’s out-and-out supersport nature makes it an extremely engaging riding experience. But the new 250 Duke brings all the styling cues from the new 390 (which itself is inspired from the Super Duke R) and puts it at a somewhat affordable price point. Even though it misses out on some top-end features like the TFT instrument panel and the split LED headlights, the 250 is one gorgeous motorcycle. It’s not a slouch either. It might struggle a bit in bottom-end performance, but from the mid-range revs, it really pulls hard. The one area where it could use a little bit of improvement is the brakes. While they have good bite to start with, the overall stopping power seems to be a bit dull for a bike that can accelerate so rapidly. However, this much horsepower and those head turning looks are impossible to be had anywhere else in the quarter-litre space.
Power: 30hp at 9,000rpm
Torque: 24Nm at 7,500rpm
Price: Rs 1.78 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Also read: 2017 KTM 250 Duke road test
Yamaha YZF-R15 V3.0
The R15 V3.0 has a lot going for it – it looks stunning, and is the quickest, most advanced 150cc motorcycle money can currently buy. Of course, it’s also a thrilling handler and manages to do all this while still returning impressive fuel-efficiency figures. Other than a few quality issues and the lack of ABS, it is hard to find fault with this bike – as long as you are willing to live with its committed ergonomics. If you live, breathe and sleep MotoGP, you’ve just got to have the R15; it will make you feel like one of your heroes – and that is why it gets an honourable mention on this list.