Bajaj Dominar 400 UG: first long term report
It’s been precisely one year (issue#28) since the Bajaj Dominar UG won our big comparison test against the mighty KTM 390 Duke and the understated BMW G 310 R. “The Dominar will not only keep you happy in the canyons but also on long rides thanks to its comfortable riding position and that brilliant chassis”, is what I had to say about the greenie-meanie back then. And since then, I’ve been itching to spend quality time with Bajaj’s flagship. Thankfully, the folks at Bajaj heard my plea and sent us the Dominar UG for a period of one month. And I’m glad (and relieved) to tell you that my observations about the Dominar UG have been absolutely spot on after living with it for a while.
I’m not a big fan of the green shade but the first thing you’ll notice after you get close to the Dominar is the way it is put together. Unlike its predecessor, the UG feels like a solid machine. The panel gaps are minimal and even after having 6,000 clicks on the odo, in the hands of media, the UG feels in great shape. Of course; there are vibes once the KTM-derived motor gets past the 6,000rpm mark but nothing substantially troublesome as such. The motor is extremely potent as well and getting to speeds up to 130kmph is an easy affair. 100kmph comes in in sixth of at a measly 5,000rpm which means you can easily cruise at highway speeds comfortably. Even the clutch action is light and the slipper clutch lets you downshift without creating any dramas. Corona pandemic means not many weekends rides have happened but I can tell you that the perimeter frame is brilliant and provides ample feedback. I have taken it to the highways though and can tell you that the Dominar UG is a brilliant power cruiser. The saddle is quite comfortable and you’ll not mind spending long hours for the engine along with the ride quality will keep you happy for miles. If you are looking for a fast cruiser on a budget that can take you to Goa from Pune or Mumbai, the Dominar UG is probably your best bet.
What hasn’t impressed me is the brake feel, switch gear and the twin-instrument cluster. The headlamp toggle switch for example lets you choose between DRLs and headlamp. However, what it does is basically switching from high-beam to low beam. Wondered why you spot the Dominar even in broad daylight even from a kilometre away? Because the DRL switch is basically the headlamp in full-beam! Then there’s the blue backlight switchgear that really feels tacky on an otherwise premium product. The cluster too feels very old and straight out of a Casio calculator of the 90s especially the transitions and font. The secondary cluster mounted on the cluster displays the more relevant info including the clock and gear position indicator. But it is totally out of your sight of vision and you have to look down completely and take your eyes off the road to take a good look at it. Last but not the least, the brakes are a bit too spongy. The front brakes especially take a lot of time to bite and that takes away some confidence from the rider. Even the fuel efficiency figures have been not so impressive. The 390 Duke fares slightly better in this regard as the engine doesn’t have to work as hard, being lighter by a fair margin.
But these are all minor issues and considering the price tag, the Dominar UG is impeccable value and absolutely the best machine this side of Rs 2 lakh if you believe in one-bike-fits-all approach.
Fuel efficiency: 26kmpl
Mileage this month: 1734km
Total odo: 6111km
Price: 1.9 lakh
Time on test: 1 month
Running total: Rs 5,202