New bikes for 2013 in India
Thinking of buying a motorcycle this year? Here are some interesting options that are slated to be launched this year
KTM 390 Duke
Now that we know that the new KTM will be a faired sports bike in role and design, the excitement about the new bike is at an all time high. And why not. Who doesn't want a 45PS, 136kg machine in their garage, right? The 390 will share the base chassis configuration with the 200, but offer significantly more performance and hopefully, the same brand of hedonism as it will be based on KTM's 250cc Moto3 machine shown in the collage. Expect bookings to open in May-June 2013, not earlier and the price should be in the Rs 2-2.2 lakh, ex-showroom range.
Bajaj Pulsar 390
The Pulsar may appear to be following in KTM's footsteps but not only is that a flawed perception, it's also far from detrimental to the Pulsar. The P200NS is the best of its line so far and it comes close enough to the Duke 200 at a delicious price point to be a danger to Duke sales. The P390NS - we don't think it will be fully faired - should be more of the same. A gentler brand of power, about 39PS is our guess, more economy, longer highway legs (greater tank range, more comfortable seat and ergos) and a price that will probably sit as little as Rs 15-20,000 above the KTM 200 Duke, about Rs 1.5-1.7 lakh, ex-showroom. Launch dates? We'd say September 2013.
Kawasaki Ninja 300
The Ninja 300 has already received rave reviews and our turn at the tiller, as it were, should come in June 2013 when the new bike arrives here. It will come with a small price increase but it will be a far, far superior motorcycle to the outgoing Ninja 250R without a doubt. The engine is a longer-stroke version of the Ninja 250R's but it's new. There are new pistons, lower compression - and therefore a new cylinder head. The motorcycle makes 39PS and 27Nm, about 20 per cent more than the 250R. It also gets new dual throttle-body fuel injection as well as a new steel tube frame that is more rigid and new suspension settings for better dynamics. The rear tyre is now a 140 and there is a slipper clutch as well as optional ABS on the spec list too. The critical thing about the Ninja is that Bajaj have consistently under ordered the Kawsaskis so far and that trend will not change, which means book early unless you like waiting in slow-moving queues.
Piaggio Flyer 125
Piaggio have a massive capacity at their Baramati two-wheeler plant and a massively overpriced lifestyle' scooter. The fix for this imbalance should come, again during the festive season when Piaggio takes the same platform and refashions it into something like the Flyer 125 which will take on the likes of the Honda Activa fortified with similar or better performance and most crucially a price that is in the same ballpark rather than at the edge of outer space.
An Erik Buell designed and fettled 250? Hero's reputation at the enthusiast end of the market may not be gold, but their need to be seen as an enthusiast friendly brand gives us great hope. We have ridden Buells like the Cyclone and we expect the EBR250 - the official name will be something more dramatic - to be fast, light, taut and effective. The question is whether it will be versatile like a Honda or rock hard like a KTM. That character will be of great importance when it comes to suggesting what kind of motorcycles Hero's enthusiasts' oriented bike will be. Expect a launch at the cusp of Diwali and a pricing that sits squarely against the Honda CBR250R.
Honda has been playing coy about India plans for the CBR500 family but there is just too much economy engineering and emerging markets in the press release for it to not come here. The model that probably will not come till much later is the cross tourer - the suspension bits and unfamiliar format make it the least natural for our market. Which leaves the naked and the faired models. Both will offer the same kind of versatile, non-frantic performance that we know from the CBR250R. Honda will probably import the engine and bits from Thailand, but if they do make the engine here, that will be a significant move - it will be the first multi-cylinder four-stroke motorcycle engine in production in Indian history. The 471cc parallel twin is rated at 47PS. We expect Honda to launch the naked CB500 first between September and December 2013 and prices should be in the Rs 3.5-4 lakh ex-showroom range. These will be popular enthusiasts' tools if Honda nails the pricing.