Dude! There's Your Bike
The average Indian biker is spoilt for choice these days with major motorcycle makers flocking to our shores in droves with their latest offerings. No longer are desi petrol-heads forced to satisfy themselves with iffy upgrades like ‘new decals’ or ‘ergonomic seating ’ or that very Indian design aspect – ‘the all new sari guard’. Bigger engines, throatier exhausts and fatter tyres are beckoning!
Gone are the days when we had to make do with anaemic 100c screamers, when the only muscle bikes around was the ‘Yamdoot’ RD350 besides that old warhorse, Royal Enfield’s Bullet and that flash in the pan – Jawa’s Yezdi 250cc. BMW made waves when they announced and
launched the F650 Funduro in January ’96 at approximately `5 lakh. With an output of 48bhp and 180mm ground clearance it trounced most available cars with those specifications before fading away due to a non-existent market. Individual riders imported some heavy machinery, mostly Japanese, mostly Kawasaki Ninjas and Suzuki Hayabusas, paying through their nose on customs to form their own niche riding clubs in various Indian metros, while the general bike loving public stood by drooling.
Twenty years later, the Auto Expo this month promises a slew of mouth-watering motorcycles from a range of manufacturers, all wanting a piece of an increasingly affluent middle class Indian’s disposable income. And they’re all coming – from the uber exotic MV Agustas and DSK Benellis to gigantic Indian and Victory cruisers. Home grown brands such as Hero, Mahindra and Royal Enfield are also going the whole hog with spanking new models such as the Hastur, the Mojo and the Himalayan respectively.
Ducati is unveiling the 959 Panigale, the Scrambler and the showstopping X Diavel while Moto Morini, not to be left out is introducing the Rebello 1200 as well as the Scrambler 1200. Kawasaki is taking this year’s Auto Expo pretty seriously too with up to five models – the Ninja 250SL, the Versys 650, the ZX6R, Z250SL and the monstrous Vulcan S – planned for release over the course of the year. Superbike racing champions MV Agusta are out to steal everyone’s thunder however with the five models they are predicted to launch in India – the Brutale Corsa, the F3 675, the Rivale, the F3 Ago and the Turismo Veloce 800. In the cruiser segment American manufacturer Victory is going head tohead with arch rival Harley Davidson with a slew of chrome giants. Expect to see the Gunner, the Hammer, the Ness and the living room-sized Victory Vision. Harley Davidson is expected to give it right back to Victory and their other Yank rival, Indian with India’s first production trike – the Freewheeler. We wonder how Indian streets will react to HD’s souped up ‘autorickshaw’ motorcycle.
Italian scooter makers Vespa are also throwing their gearbox into this arena of fun with a range of runabouts such as the Liberty 3V and the F1.