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2021 in Review: The best two-wheeler launches in the past year

2021 saw a frenzy of launches thanks to the 2020 pandemic hiatus and this has translated really well into expectations even for the coming year. For now, here’s the best of what we saw over through the year.

December 30, 2021 / 08:15 AM IST

2021 has been a rollercoaster of a year with auto companies scrambling to launch their products after the pandemic put everything on hold in 2020. Here are some of the hottest motorcycle launches for 2021.

Royal Enfield Classic 350

Based on the Royal Enfield Meteor 350, the Classic 350 has finally been updated and upgraded. In terms of design, it remains the old Classic. The components on the other hand see the majority of the changes. The frame, for instance which used to be a big single-cradle unit has been replaced with a double-downtube one. Suspension, too, has been beefed up to a 41mm fork up front. The most significant change however, would have to be the engine. Essentially the same ‘J-Platform’ 349cc single that is found in the Meteor 350, it produces 20.3hp of maximum power and 27Nm of peak torque.

KTM RC siblings

The KTM RC range of motorcycles may not have been the most popular in terms of sales. However, they were by far the sportiest bikes we have seen in those segments, all the way from the 125s to the 390s. That’s why when the spy pictures were rolling in of a redesign, people were sceptical. Cut to launch and we seem to have worried for nothing. Pictures of the bike honestly, do not do it justice. The RC bikes are best viewed personally. The RC’s design now brings it more in line with the rest of KTM’s styling with a slightly bulbous tank, a new instrument cluster and a headlamp unit that is similar to the one on the Dukes. For now, only the RC 125 and the RC 200 are available and the RC 390 is expected to be launched early next year.

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Pulsar 250 twins

One of India’s most popular bikes, the Pulsar range of motorcycles from Bajaj’s stables has finally gotten a real fresh design. Sure, there was the RS and the NS, but the Pulsar 250 siblings promise a lot of new, both in terms of engine as well as design. Bajaj introduced the Pulsar F250 and the N250 as the faired and naked bikes with all new designs. The F250 does see a familiar silhouette as the 220, but anyone and their grandmother could tell these two bikes are different. The N250 naked on the other hand sees a radical new headlamp setup in addition to all its other changes.

Ola S1 and S1 Pro

Another very significant launch in the Indian market this year was that of the Ola electric scooters. EV is all the rage now and while progress towards an electrified Indian is slower than a lot would like, the demand that the Ola scooters received has been pretty significant. Launched at a price of Rs 99,999 for the base version and Rs 1,29,999 for the Pro variant, the Ola scooters offer phenomenal range and tech when compared to its slightly pricier counterparts such as the Bajaj Chetak and the Aether 450X.

Hero Xpulse 200 4V

Hero, this year, launched the Xpulse 200 4V, its very first four-valve motorcycle. Since its debut in 2019, the new 4V will be the third iteration in the bike’s life with the first change happening just last year for BS-VI compliance. These were already significant updates and the new update allows for both power and torque to go up. There are other changes to the bike, too, such as a shorter gearing and larger oil cooler. Visual changes, however, are limited to graphics and decals which actually give the bike a very fresh look.

TVS

TVS’s lineup of two-wheelers only keeps getting better and better. Alongside an updated Apache RR 310 and the newer Apache RTR 165, TVS also launched the Raider 125 and Jupiter 125, both of which cater to the commuter segment of the two-wheeler world. The Raider 125 is a fun little commuter motorcycle with a decent amount of styling and segment-first riding modes – Eco and Power. The Jupiter on the other hand is TVS’s entry into the 125cc scooter segment that brings the ease back into the commute allowing you to travel without bothering about clutch control and gears in heavy traffic.

Yamaha Aerox 155

Yamaha is no stranger to the scooter segment. However, the Aerox 155 is a unique little thing with its sporty design and very strangely fun to ride nature. The 155cc liquid-cooled engine is a direct descendent of the YZF-R15’s powerplant. The power and torque figures are obviously different but it also gets the VVA tech from the mini sportbike. The Aerox 155 is one of the most alien-looking scooters the Indian market has seen so far, save for the electric Ather 450X. Adding to all of this is the fact that the Aerox is also, unsurprisingly zippy to ride. It’s not as sporty as the sportbike for obvious reasons, but it does get all the features you would like on a quick highway jaunt outside the city.

With everything that is happening in the conventional ICE engine’d world of motorcycles, there is no denying the fact that there is an increase in the demand for electric vehicles. The Ola Scooters may be the most affordable electric scooter in the market today, at least from a price-to-feature standpoint, but there were a number of other launches as well: the likes of the Simple One electric scooter that launched at the same time as the Ola and a few lower powered electrics. The only problem with this is our charging infrastructure. Ola seems to be working on their own proprietary Hypercharger Network, but this won’t work with anything other than Ola vehicles.

For now, however, our favourite manufacturers will continue to bring us our favourite gas guzzling vehicles for so long as the country will take them and 2021 already saw a number of new launches that were absolutely terrific.
Stanford Masters Journalist who writes on automobiles
first published: Dec 30, 2021 08:15 am
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