Back in the early 2000s, the Kawasaki-Bajaj Eliminator was launched. The first authentic cruiser for the masses, the Eliminator had it all: low saddle height, long wheelbase and acres of chrome, making it a hit among people with Harley-Davidson aspirations. However, Bajaj’s split with Kawasaki ended the Eliminator’s reign. Bajaj then revived it with the Pulsar 180’s engine and launched it as the Avenger 180, a bonafide cruiser coming from an Indian manufacturer.
Over the years, the updates kept flowing. Just like the movies, the Avenger lineup has been through several episodes; nine to be precise. Bajaj has now launched the tenth iteration – the Avenger Street 160 ABS, which replaces the Avenger Street 180, which… erm… replaced the Avenger Street 150.
Bajaj hasn’t fiddled with the styling at all. Barring the small ‘160’ badge on the side, the 160 looks exactly like the Street 180. Heck, even the proportions are the same. Right from the long 1480mm wheelbase to the low 730mm saddle height and the brake setup, everything is carried over from the 180. And yeah, this one gets single-channel ABS with a rear-wheel lift mitigation system. One thing I wish they could update was the speedometer. Though it stays true to the cruiser genes with minimalistic info, the secondary display is way off your line of sight and you’ll have to look further down and away from the road to check out other info, which again is the problem area on the Dominar. I digress.
The Bajaj Avenger Street 160 ABS gets a new 160.4cc, air-cooled, single-cylinder engine churning 14.79bhp at 8,500rpm and 13.5Nm of peak twist at 7,000rpm. It’s not really new though, as the Pulsar NS160 employs the same motor minus the new cylinder head. Now why would Bajaj opt for a 2V head over 4V? It delivers similar performance to the predecessor, they say. But does that reflect in the real world?
On the go, the 160’s performance is difficult to fault and isn’t really different from the 180. The motor is zealous, sprinting to 100kmph without breaking a sweat. The plush seat is great and doesn’t give you a sore butt. With a long wheelbase-equipped cruiser, you don’t expect nimble handling. However, the Bajaj will pleasantly surprise you. Though not as flickable as a naked, it can comfortably zip through city traffic. That said, you will have to work through the gearbox to overtake the big haulers on the highways. But, in keeping with the ‘Street’ moniker, this was never meant to take on the highways and the 160 packs in enough punch to take on the city traffic.
The stability is good, but the suspension isn’t pliant enough. The bike felt a bit rickety on broken, bumpy roads. As long as you avoid big bumps or potholes, the ride quality can’t be faulted. Being a cruiser, the suspension travel is limited, which means, the rear bottoms out even with my almost 70kg frame. The switchgear on the bike, too, doesn’t feel premium and the unintuitive pass switch is a bit of a stretch to operate. The brakes too are great, especially the front disc. The Avenger’s ABS doesn’t feel intrusive and the brake has enough bite. Even under hard braking, the bike holds its line and urges you to go harder.
The Avenger 160 isn’t really different when it comes to real world performance when compared to the 180. At Rs 82,253 it undercuts its closest adversary, the Suzuki Intruder by a massive margin of almost Rs 20,000. The classic lines of the Avenger may seem dated, but the aesthetics aren’t as over-the-top as the Intruder and won’t hurt your eyes. The Avenger 160, then, is definitely the go-to bike in the entry-level cruiser segment