User Review Hero Hunk by Prinoy Phalgunan…
Hey folks… My name is Prinoy Phalgunan and I ride a Hunk! I don’t think there’s a better way to introduce myself to all the bike enthusiasts out there!
How it all started…
To be honest, bikes were not my cup of tea and I’ve been a car aficionado since I was a toddler. We had a family friend who was in his early 20’s and also had few bikes in his possession. He was co-operative and gave me the first taste of biking. At the age of 13, I rode the legendary Yamaha RX100 for the first time.
Few minutes in and I was already in sync with the clutch and gearbox. It did not stop there. RX100 was followed by the famous Hero Honda CBZ (first generation), Yamaha RX135, Bajaj Pulsar 150 (first generation), Kinetic Honda and finally a Suzuki Fiero. Even after riding all these bikes (and a scooter), I never considered myself to be a bike enthusiast or a biker. Quite shocking when I think about it now though!
Anyway, everything took a turn when I started my college phase. The RTR! Yes, the white TVS Apache RTR180 had attracted me so much that, for the first time in my 18 years, I felt the urge to ride and own one! The grunty exhaust note, the chunky and sporty design – all made me go gaga over it. It was then that I thought, if I were to buy a bike in my life, it ought to be the RTR! Read on…
Warning: This post is fairly long. ???
The Ray Of Hope…
Once I got hold of my license, I spoke to my parents about buying ‘The Bike’. But my parents being very traditional and orthodox about anything on two-wheels, gave me the well expected answer, “NO”! And no matter what I did, they just wouldn’t buy me a bike. I thought all my dreams went in vain. It’s only after that did I realise my love and passion for bikes! As months passed by, I felt a change in my parents’ mentality… I started getting positive answers from them which in turn started giving me hopes. And finally one day they said I could buy a bike! Voila… So happy that I forgot to thank them at that moment. Lol ? Instead, shouted out loud like Archimedes and kept sharing the news with all the humans around me. But now I had a problem! Which one?
In Search Of My Partner…
Jobless and dependant on my parents meant that it should be easy on their pockets. Be it the purchasing or the cost of ownership. And from the brief research done on which category to look for, found the 150 cc to be the apt choice as it blurred the line between power and economy. By then, two of my friends had already bought the Apaches. One Apache RTR 160 Hyper Edge and an RTR 180.
This gave me an opportunity to experience the bikes thoroughly and that’s when I realised, this isn’t the one. My back and palms took a severe hit. The seating position was too uncomfortable for me as I’m just 5’7″. The next obvious choice was FZ16/FZ-S from Yamaha. The best looking bike a college student could buy at that time! Macho looks, superb handling (read in reviews) and Japanese refinement (again, read in reviews). But since parents were to pay for my petrol bills, the mileage had to be taken into consideration and everyone using an FZ, gave me mileage figures south of 45 kmpl! Now this was a serious issue for me. So I kept it as a benchmark and started looking for alternatives. The obvious alternatives were new Hero CBZ Xtreme/Hunk, Honda Unicorn/Dazzler and Suzuki GS150R.
Pulsar 150 was never an option because I hated that sound since day one. Pulsar 180 was one model I loved mainly for it’s stance! Fat tyres, muscular tank, addictive power and that super glossy dark black ?! Not to mention about the 220 ‘coz I was a fanboy since it’s inception. But what will I do with all that power? How can I live with a low mileage? All these thoughts led me to sacrifice the power of the 180’s and the 220’s… Unicorn and GS150R were ruled out immediately because I did not like their looks. Looks are certainly subjective and no offense to the owners. These bikes looked too old school for me. Seating position on both Unicorn and GS150R was a little too comfortable; sat like an old man in his splendor! Plus, the Suzuki looked a tad too big for me.
Rode both of them and found them to be as smooth as butter. I didn’t find either of them to be as peppy and agile as the FZ. The low end grunt wasn’t felt much but it compensates with the overall linear performance and good mileage. Neither of them came with a rear disc brake and I personally wanted that in my bike. Ok, I agree, even FZ didn’t come with one. But the looks were enough to justify the omission. Those wide tires and monoshock set up did look good even without a disc! Anyway, bid adieu to the Japs.
FZ vs Hunk
Finally, I was left with the CBZ and Hunk, along with the FZ. Now choosing between Hunk and CBZ wasn’t a tough task. One look at the Hunk and I knew it was it! I loved this bike since it’s introduction in 2007. So the final contenders were Hunk and FZ. Now this was tough. On paper, FZ with fat forks and tyres, mono suspension, all digital display, 13.6 Nm of torque, mass centralisation, low kerb weight looked promising and the best product to go for. But Hunk wasn’t bad either. It looked muscular with those tank extensions, had a rear disc, had more power than the FZ, and seemed to be really comfortable for long rides as per owner reviews. Though Hunk had a 10 kg disadvantage over the FZ and was low on torque output, it had about 14.4 bhp which was much more than what the Yammy had to offer. On road it shows because the Hunk felt peppier and more eager to accelerate as opposed to FZ’s lack luster nature. I know this statement contradicts to what I said earlier but hey, ride all of them back to back and you’ll know what I meant ?.
It was actually quicker and faster than a stock FZ. Test rode both the bikes and obviously FZ was a better handler. Hunk on the other hand had amazing straight line stability at speeds exceeding 100 kmph mark. Maybe it was the weight of the bike. Touched an indicated top speed of 114 kmph and 109 kmph for Hunk and FZ respectively. For my riding style, I found Hunk’s overall mileage to be 52 kmpl compared to FZ’s 46 kmpl. After a considerable amount of researches, it was a head vs heart decision. Of course, head chose Yammy. But since feelings come from our heart, went ahead for the team muscle!
Living with HUNK…
Now that I have a Hunk, and has spent a little more than 4 years over the saddle, I would like to pen down my experience with the machine. Buying it was a hurdle actually. The showroom in Kannur, where I went to book the bike, was nearby and they asked me to wait for at least 45 days for a Blazing Red Hunk with a rear disc. Even then, they couldn’t assure if there’ll be a bike with my specification in that allotment. I knew I had to wait but I did expect and hoped for something good to hear.
Since I was impatient, called up all the Hero showrooms in and out of state. By God’s grace, there was a cancellation of Blazing red Hunk with rear disc in Kasargod showroom which is around 120 kms away from my hometown. My driver rode the bike till home as my mother wouldn’t allow me to even touch it without offering a pooja. Now, that feeling when you own a bike but can’t do anything but just stare at it is… Well, I don’t know what to say. It was ridiculous. But hey, I got the bike anyway! Thanks to parents. So no complaints.
Came home, went to temple, did the pooja, and finally got the keys of my machine in my hands! It was almost 7:00 p.m and was dark enough. Inserted the key, pressed the starter and it not only sparked the engine, but also my mind and soul. The vibrations sent me goosebumps for a considerable amount of time. The digital part light up and tacho sweep was sweet and I always loved it on the Apache. But here, it was somehow a tad more charming I must say!
These were the first moments of ultimate joy and I had this wide grin on my face which according to my mother, was the same one she had when I was born! Hehe ?,. Anyway, went straight home and just stared at ‘My’ bike for sometime. Since my bike wasn’t registered, I didn’t have permission to take it on road. Again, traditional mother at play here. So did few runs in my courtyard itself (it’s huge anyway) until it was registered.
The run-in part was as always the toughest phase. Tried following the best ways possible with inputs from BikeAdvice and certain expert mechanics. Since I was new to this phase of biking, I paid extreme attention not to screw up the engine. After all, it’s this ‘run-in period’ that will decide the future of my bike, isn’t it? Time did pass by in a jiffy and had around 700 kms in my odo by the end of first month which called up for the first servicing. Told the service associate about the engine heating and rough gearbox. My bike used to idle at almost 2k rpm and he said that was normal. Post service, the bike was as expected. Idling was way lower and quieter, gearbox seemed to be a lot smoother, no vibrations on the handle bar… My bike looked and felt beautiful!
Hunk Top Speeds & Mileage
After that my speeds increased to 60 kmph. This came up at around 5000 rpm, the best range to ‘twist n vroom’! As told by many, Honda sourced engines were quite peppy on CBZ and Hunk. Felt powerful in the low and mid range. The gearing felt shorter when compared to other bikes. I was doing a uniform 48 kmph @4000 rpm, another friend on a bike, cruising along with us, was at a speed of 52kmph @~4000 rpm! Since the acceleration was quite good in this bike, the obvious hit was the top speed. The bike never showed anything more than 115 kmph at any point of time. This is after crouching down and even getting into long straights! Well, my weight was also to be considered ‘coz I’m fat! But hey, this was supposed to be a commuter and who would take these bikes to that speeds? A trade off for better acceleration and I am not complaining.
Hunk Fuel Efficiency
Fuel Efficiency had never been a problem for me and it returned 50+ kmpl almost all the time. The mileage had dropped to 42 kmpl once due to some carburetor issue (a loose screw I suppose). But that was rectified soon and now it gives anywhere between 45 and 55 depending on my riding style.
I vary my riding so that my bike can get used to all sort of styles, be it hard acceleration, hitting the top spot quite often, cruising or crawling in traffic. Touring on this bike is not a big deal. It’s comfortable for those long highway trips with only fly in the ointment being the short 5th gear. Maintaining triple digit speeds isn’t difficult but a steady 80-90 kmph is where the bike is at it’s most comfortable range. Being an air-cooled unit, engine heat is an issue but nothing a 10 minute break can’t fix. Long interstate trips, ghat sections, traffics, my bike has seen it all! And it did shine through most of the times.
The skinny MRF’s (100/90) wasn’t high on grip and the ghats proved that Hunk is no R15 around corners. Soft suspension (I have it in its stiffest position), hard compound rubbers and upright seating position encourages more of touring and city rides rather than cornering hard around the bends. Who cares about scraping the knees anyway! Braking is just average despite dual discs. Front brake lacks bite and feels spongy. Comparatively, the rear disc has good bite and is progressive. It does tend to lock up quite soon with the tyres playing spoilsport. Even the set-up is wierd! It uses a Bybre set-up at front and Nissin set-up at the rear. The suspension duties are done by telescopic forks at front and gas charged shocks at the rear. Now the suspension is on softer side even at the last setting. As the bike runs on 18 inch alloys, minor potholes are completely insulted! The touring package completes with the above average 15 litre (approx.) fuel tank, which ensures a range of around 750 kms. My bike has done 15000 kms in a year and every kilometre on this machine was memorable!
Hunk Maintenance and Modifications…
I try to keep my bike in its best form always. A wash every week, regular basic check-ups and servicing has helped me keep my bike in almost showroom condition. The service never costed me more than a few hundred bucks and the spares were always affordable. If I could afford the services with my pocket money, I’m sure anyone could live with it. I’ve had two accidents but both the time, we were safe. A bent crash guard and few scratches were all that I had from those accidents. Build quality of Hero is outstanding and I respect that!
Talking about modifications, like any other adolescent-turned-adult, I too wanted a boost in my bike’s performance. And the first thing that pops up when we think of performance? Air filter! Yes… I had installed K&N performance air filter and up-jetted, which gave me amazing acceleration and top speed! Not to mention the sound ☺️. Highest top speed when ridden alone, in stock, was 115 kmph. But with the changes done, my bike saw a top whack of 120 kmph (indicated). It was not just about the top speed alone but the way the numbers piled up on the speedo that made it one hell of an experience. I was happy with the changes I made. Then I switched to same spec castrol engine oil which made the bike a lot more smoother across the rev range. Since the stock headlights were utter nonsense, I upgraded to a HID projector set up. But had to take it off as it drained the battery quite quickly. I got my rear tyre changed to same spec Dunlop rubber which wasn’t completely soft compounded but still better than the stock MRF’s. Felt it to be stickier in both dry and wet. So that’s about the modifications done on my Hunk.
Hunker has been with me for over 4 years now and has clocked around 35k kms and not for one moment did I regret my choice. It’s such a nice package offering almost everything a college student could ask for under Rs 80k. A bike that offers supreme comfort, great fuel efficiency, usable power on tap, great looks and bullet-proof reliability! Highways become friendlier and cities become naughtier for this machine. Hoping to have thousands of kilometers on this saddle in the coming years…
As the biking proverb goes, “4 wheels move body… But 2 wheels move the soul!”
Ride safe and always wear a helmet and proper riding gear all the time. Take care riders… Ciao 🙂