The commuter motorcycle segment is what sells in the highest numbers in India. The motorcycles in this category are aimed to maximise utility rather than come with a fat feature list. But, the TVS Raider promises to do a bit of both and it comes packed with a handful of segment first features on the specification sheet! This got us curious to know how the Raider stacks up against its rivals, namely the Bajaj Pulsar 125, Hero Glamour and the ever-so-trusted Honda Shine.
First things first, all four contenders have a 125cc engine as their power source. But the Raider has a 3-valve engine, while the rest make use of the 2-valve engine. The better airflow attained by three valves helps the Raider to produce 11.2bhp, which is very close to the Pulsar’s power figure of 11.6bhp. This extra amount of power will come in handy in case of overtakes or for a highway stint. The Hero and the Honda have an almost similar amount of power and torque at 10.7bhp and 10.5bhp respectively. Where the Shine has the advantage is with its lowest in segment 114kg kerb weight. The Pulsar 125, however, despite having the most horsepower, is on the defensive here as at 142kg, it is the heaviest, which may hamper the fuel economy of the motorcycle.
People buying in this segment seriously consider the running costs of the motorcycle. These bikes are meant to be their daily riders, and good fuel economy is definitely a factor that affects purchase. While the Pulsar and Glamour give a fairly good range, the Shine has been the people’s first choice for this. And the new entrant, the Raider is also making bold claims with its claimed fuel economy of 67kmpl in Eco mode. We have yet to test these claims, but it is the highest claimed figure of the lot.
To keep the manufacturing cost low and provide cheap replacement parts, the chassis setup has to be kept fairly simple in this segment. Meaning, among these motorcycles, there is a common theme of a simple single-tube chassis rolling on skinny tyres using thin front forks and twin coil-spring shock absorbers at the rear. The Raider here has upped the game in terms of handling with it being the only bike to get a rear mono-shock. With this, TVS is aiming to provide the handling characteristics of a sportier motorcycle with the practicality of a commuter.
The theme is common for the rest of the hardware as well. Take brakes for example, barring the Pulsar, which comes with front disc brakes as standard, all three get 130mm drum brakes for the base variant with optional front disc brakes. Next up are the wheels, you will find the 18-inch rims on the Glamour and on the Shine, which comes in handy on bumpy roads. For their sporty characteristics, both the Pulsar and the Raider get 17-inch wheels that help them in quicker turn-ins. How far apart these wheels are placed is also important. The wheelbase of the Raider and the Pulsar is 1326mm and 1320mm, notice that these figures are significantly longer than those of the Glamour and the Shine with 1273mm and 1285 respectively. This is to keep the smaller footprint of the latter two motorcycles, which are more dedicated to being a commuter. The faster ones here use a long wheelbase so that the bike remains stable through the corners and on straight roads.
We had a chance to ride the Raider and you can read about its handling .
The feature list also has to be simple to keep the costs in check. Honda and Bajaj have kept their contenders pretty basic. The Pulsar gets the age-old semi-digital instrument cluster showing speed, fuel, an odometer with a trip meter, and also a tachometer. Meanwhile, the Shine provides more of an analogue experience and shows only the speed, odo reading, and fuel level. For rider aids, it has combi-brakes.
In stark contrast, the freshly launched Raider comes with the most amount of bells and whistles at a very similar price point. For starters, the Raider has two riding modes, Eco and Power. In Eco mode, the rev limiter kicks in at 8000rpm cutting the power by 10 per cent to save fuel in city commutes and the engine revs happily till the redline if you select the Power mode. The colour LCD instrument cluster is packed with information like real-time range and fuel economy, a gear position indicator, and time. Moreover, it also displays the top recorded speed and intimates the rider to wear a helmet. TVS has endowed the Raider with SmartXonnect, which further enables features like voice assist and navigation, and this variant comes with a 5-inch colour TFT display and prices for the same have yet to be announced. There is a USB charger and best-in-class under-seat storage. And for a convenient riding experience, the Raider has its Intelli-Go feature which is similar to the iSmart technology on Hero Glamour.
The Hero Glamour on the other hand has the i3s, a negatively lit LCD instrument cluster, and a side-stand engine cut-off feature. If you want more features like navigation assist, Bluetooth connectivity, USB charger and Hero’s AutoSail (which helps your bike crawl in slow-moving traffic without shifting gears much), you have to go for the Glamour Xtec which with an ex-showroom price of Rs 80,500 is slightly more expensive.
Prices and verdict
Below are the prices of all contenders and their variants.
Best value for money? Well, the Honda Shine with its Rs 72,787 price tag is the most affordable here, but it gives no additional features apart from the bare essentials. But it does its job perfectly, and humbly! We all have a handful of friends that own the Shine and they will swear by it! The Glamour at Rs 74,900 is also in its simple form just like the Shine but it can be kitted with useful modern-day tech in its Xtec range. The Raider, the coolest cat in town, has pricing starting from Rs 77,500 and TVS might have a winner on their hands. Its looks are on par, has a fully loaded equipment list, and with a claimed fuel economy of 67kmpl, TVS has managed to keep everyone happy, especially the Gen-Z. Most of them are embarking on a new career, so they might want a workhorse with trendy styling that doesn’t burn a hole in their pocket. And lastly, the Pulsar 125, it is the most expensive motorcycle here, but also generates the most horsepower from the engine that is housed in the tried and tested, albeit heaviest, Pulsar chassis. It strikes a good balance of handling and practicality and that is why it still sells well. But is getting a bit long in the tooth in terms of design and equipment and we urge Bajaj to give that Pulsar template a long overdue update.