Words by Ajinkya Nair
Hero Motocorp unveiled three of their updated and refreshed models from the commuter line up on December 21, namely the Passion PRO, Passion XPRO and the Super Splendor. This segment has been an outstanding success for Hero and it looks like they have no plans of getting off that horse anytime soon.
Now coming to the motorcycles, as soon as you lock your eyes onto them, the Passion XPRO clearly stands out from the three, owing to the bolder design strokes and fresh paint scheme. Keeping the youth in mind, Hero has included some exciting features like a sharper fuel tank, sporty real cowl, LED Tail Lamp, and a digital-analog meter with a digital fuel gauge.
The comparatively conservative looking Passion PRO shares the heart with the XPRO, but the tank is more chiseled, rear panel a bit more rounded, and the tail-lamp design sports a nice fresh look. Along with that, there’s also a side stand indicator, redesigned digital-analogue meter, AHO, maintenance-free battery and an optional mobile charger accessory which goes under the seat.
Both, the XPRO and PRO have the same engine; a 110cc mill churning out 9.4hp at 7500rpm and 9Nm of torque at 5500rpm. And together the vehicles receive the clever i3S feature from Hero’s end. So for two motorcycles which are similar in almost every way must ride similarly too, right? No, that’s not the case here. Let’s see what’s analogous first. Neither of the commuters are happy being throttled hard, and the gear levers were so stiff, clutchless shifting seemed impossible. The seating geometry is upright and non-demanding. Both the XPRO and the PRO weren’t confidence inspiring in corners, and vibrations easily extended to my hands and feet at high revs. But then I realized one thing. These are true-blue commuters, and ripping the throttle wouldn’t do justice to their purpose. So with that thought crossing my mind, I stopped on the side of the road, popped a few buttons off my jacket, and rode them like what they were created for. I commuted! That’s when things started to get in perspective, and I could understand what these motorcycles were all about. The mills of both these bikes pack good low-down grunt and I could manage to pull from 25kmph in the fourth gear itself, which is an amazing advantage to have in traffic conditions. The PRO being three kilos lighter than the XPRO, and having a softer suspension set up was more forgiving to me in the Delhi traffic. I could zip in and out of traffic on both the bikes with ease. Also, the XPRO has a longer swingarm and felt stable throughout my ride. Brakes, however, are nothing to write back home about. Both get a 240mm disc upfront and drums in the back, which stop the rider fairly well.
Now let’s move to my favorite of the lot, the Super Splendor. The motorcycle gets well shaped wide seats, and the side panels along with the upswept tail have been redesigned too. It shares the same engine which is present in the Glamour i.e. a 125cc air-cooled single-cylinder unit making 11.4hp at 7500rpm and 11Nm of torque at 6000rpm. Compared to its forerunner, the 2018 Super Splendor makes 27 percent more power and six percent more torque. Even this gets the i3S tech from Hero. What I loved about the motorcycle was the engine itself. It’s a lovable little motor which is effortless, smooth, and feels eager to pull.
The Super Splendor is in its element anywhere between 40kmph to 85kmph. But when I say smooth, I do not mean Honda smooth. All three motorcycles should’ve been a little more refined is what I feel. The Super Splendor felt the most confidence inspiring to me and was surprisingly fun around corners too. The two extra horses, when compared to the PRO and XPRO, shine bright within the city as well. A huge letdown was that disc brakes aren’t given even as an option on the Super Splendor. Braking, however, is progressive but still yearn the bite of a disc set up. According to Hero, the new Super Splendor has the largest underseat storage in its class with additional storage under the tank. All three motorcycles get an i3S on/off switch in place of the kill switch.
A special shout out to the i3S tech by Hero. I had never ridden a motorcycle with i3S before, and I was sure that it would be a gimmick of some sorts. But after my test rides yesterday, I am convinced that it’s truly a good feature to have when you consider the amount of traffic we struggle with in our cities. So how it works is, if your motorcycle is idling on neutral for some 10 odd seconds, it’ll automatically kill the engine, so fuel doesn’t unnecessarily go to waste. To re-engage the engine, all you have to do is depress the clutch, and the sensors will act upon it, bringing the motor back to life.
It must be tough for Hero to constantly evolve fill it – shut it – forget it motorcycles, but surprisingly, they have done it again. For a commuter, you can pick any of the three and wouldn’t go wrong. My pick, however, would be the Super Splendor. It’s a straightforward, no-nonsense motorbike which is easy, rock-solid, hassle free, remarkably effortless to ride.