Hello friends, This is Arunkumar, 25, a chemical engineer by profession, living at the outskirts of Chennai. I am the one which posted a review on my previous Bajaj Discover. I did purchase Hero X-Treme 2012 on 10-12-2012. This review is going to be a quite lengthy one relative to my former post. Just note that in this article QRD means. Quality, Reliability & Duarability.
I was scrutinizing for a quite long period. That does not mean that I was in a mission to accomplish a massive technical evaluation. Instead, I was doing it because I did not have enough finance hence I used technical evaluation as a vent for my eagerness for a new machine. If I had managed to arrange Rs.1,10,000/- three years ago, I would have purchased the TBTS, if I had managed to arrange Rs.1,26,000/- some months ago, I would have purchased the YZF R15 v2.0 and If I had managed to arrange Rs.1,13,000/- four months ago, I would have purchased the Karizma ZMR.
I was not ready to go with EMI and wanted to avoid interest. But all these does not mean I have landed on an incompatible or a trivial machine. But I have diligently worked to select a best option filtered by price, mileage, QRD, comfort, features etc..
Royal Enfield Thunderbird Twinspark
I am a great enthusiast of the RE bikes and a former bodybuilder and was very fond of buying a Thunderbird four years ago as TBTS matched perfectly with my physique. Then, Thunderbird became the harbinger of UCE engines of which attracted a more number of customers. During those days TBTS’s on road price was approximately INR 95,000/- about four years ago and those were the days I started learning about bike technology though I had a Discover which was 2 year old.
Then, its price went to 1,04,000, and 1,10,000 and then to 1,16,000 because of new emission norms. Then it finally reached INR 1,28,000 which was very hard for me to grab. Yet I was quite inclined to the TBTS. Finally, the TBTS 350 was upgraded similar to TBTS 500 and the price reached around 1,40,000 which was according to me, not a wise investment, as I am going to pay Rs.45000/- for the same 350CC engine. Since I am a normal middle class man with average earnings, I just ruled TBTS out.
YZF-R15 v1 and v2.0
High end motorcycles were predominant in my list since I had plans for occasional long trips and it is my dream that I should take the GST road (Chennai-Trichy-Madurai-Tirunelveli-Nagercoil-Marthandam) through Marthandam since my native is Kanyakumari district. I had both R15 and TBTS in mind since they were the powerful bikes in the 1 lakh category. I loved the v1 of R15 very much because of its comfortable seating position and was planning to buy it even without having ample savings. I test drove the v1 from Raj Yamaha, but couldn’t even reach 40kmph (because of test driving distance, not even a kilometer) and the bike behaved like a normal 150CC bike at the lower rpms.
I started day dreaming and was seeking a day to quench my thirst on biking. Soon after, the v 2.0 was launched which was cosmetically excellent, but did hardly attract me since it was not a bike for the pillion, even for the rider at long distance touring. I had to consider the pillion’s comfort as well since I am married and can’t be so selfish on my decisions. I even had a chance to own this bike through military canteen since my uncle was an ex-service man and through the military canteen, YZF-R15 v 2.0 costed just 94,000/- with 15000/- as registration and others. I had a chance to save 18,000/- through the military canteen. Listen, still I did not save anything and all my hope was on the auction chit which is a local form of investment in Tamil Nadu. Owing to the poor comfort it offers to the pillion, it just kicked it off from the list since it lacked a kick start and was off low mileage (Raj Yamaha, Chennai reports it to be 32-35 kmpl)
So, no other way, I stepped on to the commuter segment.
I tested it at SMK Suzuki, Guindy, Chennai. Despite of its low power (13.8 BHP) and high weight (149 kg), the bike responded well. I could hear the voices of people who say that GS-150R’s pickup is poor, but comparing it with my Discover, it was fantastic. It had a sixth gear and the engine has been tuned for peak power at higher rpms, hence perfect for long distance touring. Not only long distance, my daily commuting itself, is like a touring, because I travel 40 kms a day with a pillion, my wife and I was looking for a touring machine which would offer enough torque for a ride with pillion. It had rpm blinker, and excellent mileage, super stability on highways. But the only drawback was the tyres.
I don’t know why Suzuki prevented a set of tubeless tyres. I enquired all tyre dealers in Chennai for 18” tubeless tyres. But it was hardly available except Ceat. I was looking for MRF/Michelin/Pirelli. So I would have to spend additional Rs.5000/- on tubeless tyres. Additionally the bike’s aesthetics did not attract me more or prevented me from being keen on it. It was ruled out of the list.
TVS Apache RTR 180 and 160
I took both 180 and 160 for test driving from Ramkay TVS, Medavakkam, Chennai. Wow! Monstrous pick-up. Not even the R15 can beat at within 4000 rpm. (Beyond it, R15’s story is different, you guys know it). Alas, TVS gave it a facelift which was actually a facedown to me. I did not like the new model of RTR bikes. Users reported 43kmpl for RTR 180. All my expectation was, I should not end up in frequent maintenance which my previous Discover gave. Go read my previous post which would clearly describe all my ordeals and woes about the cheap quality Bajaj product. So I was looking for a reliable, durable engine with a top class quality. Though TVS’s quality cannot be compared with that of Yamaha, Honda, Hero Honda (Hero, now), Suzuki and Royal Enfield, it is far more better than the Bajaj products (in terms of durability and reliability), as I heard.
But the former Bajaj products were excellent. I could still see scores of Bajaj M80s ruling the roads and it is over a decade, M80s’ production were stopped. It runs still. OK, coming to TVS story though I was inclined to the RTRs and I had a TVS showroom just within a km from my home, I ruled it out. Because many owners reported that it’s brakes, despite of being powerful, wear out frequently and the bike gives rattling sounds at high speeds after a couple of years of purchase. But there are no issues about the engine of RTRs. I have even seen a Dazzler’s engine opened, but have never seen an Apache’s engine open. Anyway, because of negative feedbacks and comfort issues, I neglected it.
Yamaha Fazer and FZ-S
Users reported its mileage to be 30-40. Excellent engine and engineering, reputed for its QRD, great handling potential, beefy front shock absorbers, mono-rear suspension, full DC set-up, great tyres, etc. Still I was not inclined to make it to FZ-S. Because mileage figures made me repel from Yammie products.
WHAT MADE ME NARROW DOWN ON HERO X-TREME
- 14.2 BHP of power and 12.8 Nm of torque. So better pick-up. I just hated the old version of CBZ because of its design. To me, it was repelling. But Hero Moto Corp, played a nice game, giving it a major facelift in design and safety features. Ie., everything except engine has been changed.
- It’s on road price is INR 81,423/-. Paid it fully in cash. Thank God which enabled me do it! All new X-Treme will now have a kick start facility but sheds the Honda’s prefix “CBZ” and it is only Hero X-Treme. I was the first customer at Mohana Automobiles, Wall Tax road, Chennai to purchase this model. I started rushing to many dealers after having it confirmed new models would have a kicker.
- Split handle bars.
- Excellent paint quality. Hero and Yamaha are always known for their best paint quality.
- MRF Tube-less tyres.
- Powerful engine for commuting and touring as well.
- Excellent comfort with heavy duty suspension. Seats are the best attractive factor in X-treme. In my, perception, no other bike in 150CC category (except GS-150R) would give such comfort. Seats are quite stiff. Believe we would get accustomed to it.
- Nice foot pegs for pillion and rider.
- Mileage was reported to be 45 kmpl. It is OK for me. Mileage is not a major concern. We have to sacrifice something to get a better thing.
- Good looking and long lasting rear brake LEDs.
- Dual disc brakes. Rear disc brand is NISSIN and front is from BYBRE. So no worries. I have read reviews complaining about braking efficiency of Hero Honda bikes. But, for a person like me which used a bike lacking even a single disc, it is indeed a boon.
- Nice digital, blue lit, instrumentation panel with separate analogue fuel meter. But the brightness of the illuminated numbers are dull during night, i.e., the contrast between the black display and blue lit background is quite less. But that is a frivolous issue.
- Key shutter is an excellent security feature. No one can use even a duplicate key.
- Diamond frame which is reputed for best stability.
- Above all, QUALITATIVE, RELIABLE & DURABLE engine which would never make me suffer.
- No vibration or atleast negligible vibrations. I mention it so because no air cooled engine is vibration free. There would definitely be minute vibrations even in FZ-S (my mechanic says). The issue is how much the vibrations make us feel concerned of it.
- Excellent fit and finish. You cannot see unwanted free spaces between the engine and frame.
- There are also some negative factors which did not prove themselves strong enough to make me withdraw from X-treme. After doing so much review hunt, customer surveys, mechanic opinions, I found that no bike is 100% perfect. All bikes have negatives and let downs. It is all gain some and lose some. But confined to my expectations, Hero X-Treme was the only bike which had the least negatives. Let me list them down and explain.
- Comparing it with other 150CC machines like GS-150R, Pulsar 150, Yamaha SZ-R etc., it provides low mileage (user reported). A 150CC commuter bike should give atleast 50 kmpl. But, owing to its weight, 150 kg, and 14.2 bhp powerful engine, low mileage is obvious. But I was ready to have it compromised since I was formerly looking for R15 and Thunderbird whose mileages always lie between 35 and 40 kmpl.
- Lack of engine kill switch. It is very useful in tier 1 cities like Chennai where traffic signals make you angry more often. I don’t know why Hero and Honda are so reluctant providing a simple on-off switch. There is not even pass light switch in CBR-150R. I would never accept if Hero and Honda would say that the answer is cost cutting. So I made my mind to ignition key during long signals.
- Not a complete DC set-up, just partial. Only the pilot lamps (HMC people call it parking lamps) glow when the engine is not running with the ignition on. Head lamp is the same conventional AC setup. Quite disappointing when I discovered it since thought it to be a complete DC set up. But it is negligible.
- Paint was found missing in some minute spots, on the gearbox and engine fins. Some paint was missing around the bolted areas. I fixed it myself, by touching it up with black paint and covering it with araldite. If anyone of you have better ideas, please share it with me. A minor scratch near the left indicator. I informed the showroom staff to check the vehicle for such scratches and damages but they failed to notice & were very reluctant. They have ignored my information. But I believe this is the fact in all bikes. All bikes perhaps have some minor scratch issues when brought from the showroom.
HOW I WOULD EXPOUND MY HERO X-TREME’S FEATURES:
An excellent design. Hunk may seem more muscular than the X-Treme, but it is the X-Treme which has an edge over the hunk, with big digital screen, key hole shutter and high comfort split seats. You cannot find unwanted free spaces between the engine and frame, petrol tank and air filter box. Astra gold colored front shock absorbers are really attractive. Though a set of vibration dampers are not indeed mandatory, they add to the aesthetics. Rear LEDs are very bright and powerful, they have been covered with an overall glass casing. Silencer length, diameter and angle of inclination are all perfectly balanced for aesthetic appearance and efficient back pressure, for a better torque delivery. Edge of the silencer is covered with another metal plate, which prevents rusting, (I think so) and provides better contrast with the black color of the bike.
The integrated front indicators were really a curse for the previous variant, now it fits better with the current one. The rear indicators are also of integrated type they contribute of the width of the pillion seat, hence more comfort. Not foot pegs of rider as well as pillion are provided with aluminium base and with lever locking facility. You can hear a “tick” sound when you retract the pegs, both rider and pillion. I would recommend going for a Teflon coating since it protects painted parts and plastic. My bike felt smooth and soft when touched, after a Teflon session. It costed Rs.356/- inclusive of taxes. Teflon coating provided at Mohana motors, Velachery, Chennai offers 1 year warranty and free Teflon re-coating after six months. Avoid soap, shampoo and wax based cleaning products on a Teflon coated bike, says the Teflon warranty card.
COMFORT & SUSPENSION
Hero bikes are always known for their comfort. But, there are some inconveniences as well. The knee bending postures does not correctly place my toes on to rear brake pedal and makes me bend my ankle more. Who cares?! I don’t consider it a great issue because it is a minor inconvenience. You cannot find these issues in GS-150R. Otherwise, rider and pillion comfort are to the extent possible with a set of split and widened seats. It is indeed a boon for my butt. I did not feel any vibrations.
I would define the word “vibration” that a vibration which makes me feel concerned of it. Repeating it, all air cooled engines produce vibrations, in case of a liquid cooled engine, the liquid jacket would absorb all the vibrations hence R15 owners don’t report vibrations. In my case, it is all negligible. As stated earlier, front and rear suspension is great and easily absorbs pot holes.
Is it a 150 kg bike?! I will not accept. Because it handles like a baby when you get on board. You will not feel any excess weight during ride. Even in slow moving traffic, with a pillion on board, I did not feel uncomfortable. It feels indeed lighter than my Discover. The diamond frame being an excellent and reputed design, makes the bike sturdy and ready for all conditions. Weight is perfectly balanced. No Indian bike could be balanced as the R15 is.
But I don’t need such a balancing and I am not going to burn the tracks. But it stays equal with its commuting adversaries. No issues. Tyres, are just 100/90-18” at rear and 80/100-18” at front, but are tubeless and brand MRF, feels planted better to the road because of weight. But please don’t handle it like the RTRs at corners, wet roads and muddy surfaces.
ENGINE, GEAR BOX & PERFORMANCE
14.2 BHP is perfect for a 150CC, 150kg bike. Crispy pick-up. But within 3000 rpm and with a pillion, throttle response is quite low. Pleasant engine and exhaust note. This is my experience upto the first service, since I did hardly cross 40 kmph and 3500 RPM during the break-in. Engine and gearbox looks quite small. But that’s one of Honda’s characteristics. Gear shifting was notchy and hard during upto around 200 km.
I experienced even false neutrals 3 or 4 times. Certainly, almost all bikes are prone to false neutrals when gear shifting is done at higher gears and lower speeds. I don’t remember at which speed and gear I experienced false neutrals but I believe it to be temporary, at least does not deserve much concern. After crossing 200 km, gear shifting became quite smooth and smoothness is progressing everyday. I believe I would have butter smooth gearing after the first service. Clutch is absolutely smooth. I could keep the clutch engaged for a quite long time, whereas it took pain using my Discover’s clutch within seconds. I just love the exhaust note of my X-Treme since it sounds (to some extent) like that of an K&N air filter fitted bike.
I don’t know how many of you would trust me. Many X-treme riders has reported only 44-48kmpl. As I said already, I was ready to go with this mileage, because I believed 45 kmpl would be the genuine number for a 150 kg, 150 CC, 14.2 BHP & 12.8 Nm engine. I worried whether or not it would run atleast 40 kmpl before the first service. But surprisingly, my steed ran a whopping 56.5 kmpl, tested reserve to reserve basis! It was not even a continuous drive. Ran about 20 km solo on day one, 18 km solo the next day and 18.5 km the third day with pillion when the main fill turned to reserve again.
This applies when it was within the first 500 km, i.e., before the first service. I know very well why I got this number. I did shift gears at 3500 rpm and maintained speed within 40 kmph and I did never cross and did hardly touch 45 kmph. I did hardly engage clutch except for gear shifting and during slow traffic. Some users report that a bike’s mileage decline after the first service and many report it to incline after the first service. But I believe the latter, since the piston and cylinder wall generates more friction during the break-in period. More the friction, less the mileage & less the performance. Anyway, for me, even 45 kmpl is OK.
QUALITY, RELIABILITY AND DURABILITY
Do you want me add words in this section? Anyway, Stands on a par with Honda, Yamaha & Suzuki. It will not make me grieve (“Will not” and not “does not” because it has not run more). This is the major reason why did not want to land on the Bajaj products and even feared the TVS products to some extent (though TVS may be far more better than Bajaj). I landed on Hero because of the bitter experiences on reliability issues with the previous Bajaj Discover.
It has only the toe shifter and lacks the heel part. It looks aesthetically good, but in motion, it is a minor inconvenience. But no problem, gear shifting is butter smooth and I got accustomed to it very soon. Lacks an engine kill switch. So I have to use the ignition switch more often. LCD brightness is not on par, it is dim during nights.
Speedometer is not an issue, but is the tripmeter. I have to stare it a bit to have the clear numbers. So is it for the digital clock. Has just a single powerless decent horn. It does not suffice the bike’s power and appearance. It is low than that of my Discover. The greatest horn provided is in the old pulsars. Press the button and you will find way for a car.
Has a key shutter. No one can use even a duplicate key (or any other material) to open the lock. We need the back side of the key, (a rhomboidal plastic head) to open the shutter. A laudable safety measure.
AFTER SALES SERVICE, SPARES & NETWORK
Hero is reputed for its service network. Hero stands first in service network and spare availability. Though I have not experienced servicing more, I have visited a Hero service center (Mohana motors, Velachery, Chennai) where I watched the manners of service personnel, the way they listen to faults and the records they maintain. It’s all fine.
Despite of some small drawbacks (paint chipping, ankle posture etc.,) my wife and I are completely satisfied J. Offers premium comfort, optimum performance, great looks and reliability. Two thumbs up!
AT LAST, SOME KIND ADVICE!
Because of frequent review hunting, looking & contemplating when I would grab my dream machine, my mind was obsessed with anxiety due to which I lost my sleep for some days. It is my loving and sincere advice for people seeking a bike, not to embrace anxiety. Persistent anxiety is not good for mind and builds stress on heart. KILL ANXIETY BEFORE IT KILLS YOU! Please wear helmet and always ride safe & defensively (since lot of head injuries occur because of a missing helmet) and have it in mind some loving hearts are awaiting you at home.
HAVE A GOOD TIME!
DISCLAIMER & STATEMENT OF REPROACH:
The whole review is solely based on my experience. It is not meant to demean or underrate a particular brand of two wheeler. This review has been created to guide people who consider 150CC bikes and especially Hero X-Treme. If any of the statements did hurt anyone’s sentiments or admirations please pardon.
At the same time, I reproach ads, posters and all other media which is used by a particular brand to mock other brands in a tongue-in-cheek manner which certainly deteriorates their reputations.