At the very beginning there was the Hero CBZ and we all loved it. A genuinely sweet motorcycle that kick started the 150cc four-stroke performance motorcycle segment in India. All of you who thought it was the Pulsar that did that, thought wrong. What the Pulsar did was completely take over control of that segment with its superior performance and pricing strategy. Round about the same time Honda came to India with the CB Unicorn, the first mass produced Indian bike to offer a monoshock and superb refinement. And suddenly, the game seem to have moved on from the CBZ’s court. Over the next few years the old CBZ tried to make several comebacks, finally settling for its Xtreme avatar that we are now most familiar with. That’s when a fresh problem arose. If you wanted to upgrade to a street naked from the next higher capacity, you simply had to move out of the Hero family. Not anymore though, for now we have a 200cc version of the Hero Xtreme, christened Xtreme 200R.
Not quite. The engine is actually 93 per cent new and features a counter balancer for improved refinement.Peak output is rated at 18.2bhp at 8000rpm and 17.1Nm of max twist at 6500rpm. The chassis is new too. The front forks aren’t even what was shown at the Auto Expo just earlier this year. They are fatter, 37mm. The monoshock is seven-step adjustable. The rear sub-frame is new too.
Hero says that the ergonomic triangle has been carefully created to offer the perfect balance between agility and comfort, and we’re inclined to agree after several laps of the short loop at the Buddh International Circuit. Barring some cases of poor welding, especially on the rear brake lever, there’s visible improvement in quality where fit and finish is concerned.
Depends on your idea of extreme really. Virtually every single one of us who rode at the BIC today came here with the thought that this was absolutely the wrong place to showcase a motorcycle like the Xtreme 200R. No amount of show of confidence or optimism from the good folks of Hero could shake that off. Their point was to highlight the motorcycle’s agility and stability at the top of its modest performance.
To be fair, the bike is certainly stable throughout the short loop. Given the width of the BIC and the nature of its turns, it was pretty much flat out through the entire circuit except for the makeshift U-turn that was too narrow. Over the course of the morning, two things became crystal clear. Hero wasn’t spinning a marketing yarn when it was talking about agility and directional stability earlier in the morning. The other thing that became the highlight of this bike is the engine’s spread of torque. There are of course several other motorcycles that will outdo the Xtreme 200R in outright performance. Not sure though if they’ll be able to keep up with its tractability, for the torque has really been spread as much the engineers at Hero’s CIT in Jaipur could have. The bike practically picks up from idling, something the Indian premium commuter – Hero’s target audience, will absolutely love. Remember, the average Indian rider, unlike the average Indian bike enthusiast, doesn’t like going through the ’box. Should you choose to go through the gears however, the experience is quite good with slick shifts coming up at the tip of your left toe.
The suspension is more supple than what you’d want on a surface as smooth as what the BIC has to offer. So it does feel a bit wallowy as you change directions or go from negative to positive camber on the mini parabola for bikes. But the chassis holds true and the bike tracks the line you choose for it. It’s not the stuff that’ll make your helmet feel smaller because you’re grinning. Or even smiling for that matter. But you can’t help acknowledge the fact that this handles well. Certainly well enough to be enjoyable out there in the real world with its real roads and real traffic. Dodging cars on your way to work would be easy and the ride will keep your bum safe and sound over all the ruts that Indian roads offer aplenty.
With the commercial launch due in a few weeks according to Hero, the company is remaining tight lipped on all questions to do with pricing. From our conversations with them however we’d peg our speculation at something shy of Rs 90,000, ex-showroom. At that price, this motorcycle with its smooth and torquey engine, supple ride, good dynamics and comfortable riding posture shouldn’t be a bad buy at all. If only this motorcycle had made it to Hero showrooms a few years sooner for I fear it may be a tad late to jump on to a bandwagon that has been full for quite some time. Especially when the motorcycle, though good in its own right, doesn’t offer anything exceptional.