Here are the top 5 two-wheelers that changed the face of the Indian industry
It’s not just the end of this year but also the end of this decade. And this has by far been the most eventful decade with numerous two-wheeler launches that went a long way in developing our two-wheeler market. While many international manufacturers entered India in this span, some important developments also put Indian two-wheeler makers in the global spotlight. Here are our top 5 picks that really changed the game in our country:
KTM 200 Duke:
When KTM entered India with its power-packed 200 Duke, enthusiasts were taken aback by its performance. With 25PS of power and 19Nm of torque on tap, it wasn’t just about the bike’s dynamics. In fact, the icing on the cake was that it was pretty competitively priced at that time, at Rs 1.17 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). The other motorcycles with comparable performance were the Honda CBR250R and the Kawasaki Ninja 250. Both bikes commanded premium pricing with the Ninja being a lot more expensive because it’s a twin-cylinder motorcycle.
It came with first-in-segment features like LED indicators, information-packed fully digital instrument cluster with mileage indicator, and even inverted forks with a radial caliper for the disc up front! Topping it all off, the orange colour scheme and the Kiska-designed bodywork managed to turn heads everywhere the motorcycle went. You may argue the KTM 390 Duke offered a whole lot more performance for its price but to be fair, it was really the KTM 200 Duke, which paved the way for its bigger brother.
TVS Apache RTR 180:
TVS has been well-known for its racing expertise in India, and the brand’s Apache range is a direct result of applying some of its track learnings into production models. Notably, the Apache RTR 180 was the first sub-200cc motorcycle in India to be introduced with a dual-channel ABS back in 2011 for Rs 78,880 (ex-showroom Delhi). The motorcycle also featured a rear-wheel lift off protection, which modulated the brake to prevent the rear wheel from lifting under extreme braking. The bikemaker claimed the motorcycle offered 10-25 per cent quicker stopping distance on dry roads and 20-30 per cent on wet roads, for an average rider.
Even years after its launch, the Apache RTR 180 was the most affordable offering with a proper dual-channel ABS. The only other motorcycle with dual-channel ABS in the sub-three lakh-rupee price bracket was the Honda CBR250R.
Aprilia SR 150:
Being a performance-biased manufacturer of two-wheelers, Aprilia left no stone unturned when it forayed into India with a proper 150cc scooter in 2016. Sure there was the Kinetic blaze back in 2006, but it was discontinued due to lack of response from the market, as it was way ahead of its time. However, things have been different for the SR 150 as it cemented the segment with reasonably healthy sales in the subsequent months of its launch. One of the reasons could be that the scooter segment slowly graduated towards higher capacities and Aprilia had a distinct first-mover advantage in the 150cc segment.
Satisfied with the response, Aprilia also launched a sportier version, called the SR 150 Race Edition in February 2017. It featured exclusive graphics and more importantly, a tuned CVT for greater acceleration.
Royal Enfield Himalayan:
When it comes to exploring the mecca of motorcyclists (read Leh, Ladakh), Royal Enfield bikes have been known to be one of the primary choices for many bikers. Royal Enfield knew its then-current lineup were all heavy, slow and lacked the off-road abilities of full-fledged ADVs. So, in early 2016, it turned over a new page in its history, with the launch of the all-new Royal Enfield Himalayan.
The Himalayan gave riders an affordable stepping stone into the world of adventure tourers. It stood apart from the crowd as it was the only affordable adventure tourer in the country. The only other options at that time you had were all large-capacity behemoths (read BMW R 1200 GS, Ducati Multistrada) that cost as much as a full-sized car.
Notwithstanding its reliability issues, the Himalayan was still the go-to option for riders who want a no-nonsense tourer that doesn’t shy away from taking the more scenic route. It proved that the Indian market had the appetite for budget-friendly ADVs, inspiring brands like Kawasaki, BMW Motorrad, and even KTM to bring their small-capacity ADVs into the country.
Royal Enfield 650 twins:
The biggest game changer of this decade has to be the Royal Enfield 650 twins. These two motorcycles single-handedly changed the perception of Royal Enfields being slow and vibey. Thanks to the all-new, butter-smooth 648cc parallel-twin and a 6-speed transmission with assist and slipper clutch, the motorcycle offered oodles of torque and was powerful enough to sustain well above 100kmph on the highway effortlessly. The 650 twins really put Royal Enfield out on the global spotlight being the only ‘highway-worthy’ motorcycle in its lineup that can handle the fast expressways of countries abroad.
What made it even better in our market is that it came with an absolutely staggering price tag. Starting at Rs 2.5 lakh (ex-showroom), the 650 twins commanded incredible value for money and even after their recent price hike, the two motorcycles remain the most affordable twin-cylinder big bike in the country. Not surprisingly, they sold like hotcakes, giving riders the taste of premium big bike experience at a fraction of the cost.