Thursday, Sep 29, 2022

Top 5 Disappointments Of The Year: Two-wheelers

Here’s five developments from the Indian two-wheeler industry that proved to be a bummer for us enthusiasts!

2018 has been quite an eventful year what with the 14th edition of the Auto Expo, which was then followed by various launches and announcements. In fact, this year also witnessed quite some pleasant surprises too. However, some of the developments in the two-wheeler industry were hyped up quite a lot but turned out to be a dampener, especially for motorcycle enthusiasts who had high expectations. Here are some of the major ones:

KTM 390 Adventure’s no show:

Just a few days after BMW Motorrad formally announced the bookings for its G 310 twins in India, KTM dropped a bomb of a news by confirming the 390 Adventure for our market in 2019. Going by KTM’s habit of showcasing concepts of its upcoming bikes at EICMA, followed by unveiling the production model at the following year’s event, we expected the Austrian manufacturer to give us something at the 2018 EICMA. With bated breath, we eagerly waited for KTM to give us an update only to realise that the brand only focussed on the 790 Adventure’s launch. We really expected KTM to show at least the concept because there had been numerous sightings of the test prototypes earlier in the year. Moreover, the latest versions of the 390 Adventure that were spied gave us the impression that the bike was almost production-ready.

Nevertheless, we believe KTM will showcase the production model at the 2019 EICMA, which will be followed by its launch in India. Afterall, KTM did say they’ll launch the bike in India in 2019.

BMW G 310 twins’ pricing:

There was a lot of hype around BMW Motorrad’s entry-level motorcycles, the G 310 R and the G 310 GS. That’s because the two motorcycles shouldered the responsibility of making a mark in the highly lucrative 300cc segment, which BMW didn’t have access to before. Exports for both the bikes started in December 2016, but the G 310 duo entered our shores only in July 2018. One of the reason for the delay, at least according to BMW, was that the manufacturer was caught up with setting up the dealer infrastructure for selling the bikes. However, the reality didn’t seem to be all that alluring with just 13 showrooms and 12 service centres across the country. To make its prospects even bleaker, the bike’s premium pricing didn’t exactly justify the fun-quotient of the motorcycle. Its rivals *cough* KTM *cough* offer considerably better value and riding excitement too! Kawasaki also took a jibe at the bikemaker from Bavaria with the heavily-localised Ninja 300, and to top it off, the brand priced it at Rs 1,000 less than the G 310 R! The service and spare part costs of the beemers too are on the expensive side.

Though the overall deal of the baby Beemers seem to be a not-so-satisfying one, BMW Motorrad isn’t keen on raking in the numbers, which works quite well for the brand as its touch points can only handle a limited number of bikes.

India-spec Yamaha YZF-R15 V3.0:

When news about the India-launch of the Yamaha YZF-R15 V3.0 surfaced online, we believed the brand would offer us the same motorcycle as the one sold in South East Asian markets. The international-spec model came with a no-compromise upside down forks, whereas Yamaha offered only conventional telescopic forks for the Indian market. This was in pursuit of bringing down the cost of the bike. It was a sound move from a business point of view, especially considering the fact that the segment in which the bike sits is extremely price-sensitive. Although the conventional forks work without fuss, having USDs might’ve improved its dynamics.

Also, the quality of plastics and the overall fit and finish of the model sold abroad are a lot better than the one sold here. The quality of the triple clamps and panel gaps felt like a step down in the India-spec bike, which wasn’t expected of Yamaha as the R15 had always been the benchmark in the segment with respect to quality.

TVS Apache RR 310's engine refinement:

Now let us get one thing straight - all of us here at ZigWheels pretty much love the RR 310. Heck, it’s one bike in our long-term fleet that most of us are vying for all the time. But while the bike is excellent, the one aspect that is a bit of a bummer is that it’s not high on engine refinement. Granted that TVS has been bringing in minor changes, even in existing customers’ bikes, to address this, there’s only so much refinement that this Hosur-Bavaria co-developed single-cylinder engine can manage. That’s just the nature of the beast, and by extension, this lack of refinement also applies to the BMW G310 twins.

To be honest, it’s not even such an unrefined mess that you can’t live with it - far from that. The slight disappointing thing for us is that while TVS built a great motorcycle that’s great fun to ride and practical to boot, even though it’s fully-faired, the motor’s inherent buzziness kind of holds it back from being “perfect” in our books. That said, the first generation KTM 390 Duke was far from refined too. But the second generation of the bike launched in 2017 improved that by leaps and bounds. Here’s hoping that the next-gen RR310 nails this aspect as well.

Auto Expo:

The 2018 Auto Expo witnessed quite a lukewarm response with fewer participants and launches when compared to the 2016 event. Hero showcased quite a few concepts at the previous expo, but for 2018, it didn’t have anything exciting apart from the XPulse 200. To compound matters, brands like Bajaj, Triumph, Harley-Davidson skipped this year’s expo. Honda also did not have anything exciting for us enthusiasts. Instead, the brand just launched the X-Blade and announced that it will offer LED headlamps along with minor features to some of its bikes.

One of the reasons for the lack of participation was the rising costs to set up a stall. For many, the costs didn’t justify the sales numbers coming in from the automotive show. This is because the expo audience is a more generalised crowd when compared to more like-minded visitors at other events like Royal Enfield’s Rider Mania and the India Bike Week.

[KTM 390 Adventure picture courtesy: & Bikesocial]