Before I start writing the review, I would like to share some things with everyone on BikeAdvice. Whoever is buying high powered bikes with a sole objective to run races from 1 traffic signal to the other, always keep one thing in mind. These machines are not just bicycles or your slaves that you can do whatever you want.

The bike is an extension of your own self and if I can remember the dialogue from the movie the Transporter, Jason Statham says, “A man is as good as the car he drives. Take care of the car, and the car will take care of you”. Same holds good in bikes as well. Take care of the bike and the bike will take care of you.

There are some pseudo-bikers who show themselves as avid bikers and when it comes to their own bikes, they are in pathetic states. There are some people who buy bikes just for moving from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’. And there is a special class of bikers, who wake up early morning, just to polish off their Sweetheart ( Read Bike ) and then zoom off to an unknown destination. I love biking and I am proud to say. I belong to the 2nd group.

Now coming to the real story. The Hero Honda Karizma is from the beginning the best available tourer in its class in India. I love the Karizma right from the day it was launched almost 10 odd years back. At that time also, It was way ahead of its time. The todays “Hunto” bike was not even born yet.

From that time, Karizma is setting hearts on fire. That time I was way to small to buy or drive a bike so it always used to be the star of my dreams. Ten came the upgraded version with yellow meters and red shock absorbers. I don’t think it was to everybody’s taste. And finally in 2009 came the Stunner. The Hero Honda Karizma ZMR Boy.

The day I first saw it, I was a dead man that very day. And when it finally arrives at the only Hero Honda showroom in my town, I was the first one to reach showroom to inquire about it. And then came another shocker. Its price which was way beyond my reach. As by then I had stood on my own feet but it was just 3rd month of my job and I did not had enough reserves yet to own the beauty.

It took a lot of requests and almost begging from mom dad who finally agreed to assist me financially. So it was fixed. Out of 1.1 laks, I was to put 45000, Dad another 45000 and remaining was to come from mom. But here too a rider. I have to return Money to them. Who was bothered at that time? The only thing in my mind was the Pearl white ZMR rotating on the pedestal in the showroom.

So finance arranged, I finally went To Hero Honda showroom to get my sweetheart booked as i knew it well that the white ZMR is having waiting of 25 days. When I reached showroom, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the showroom was having an extra ZMR available and they could deliver it to me the next day. WOW… I was here listening to the best person of the world telling me that I am gonna be ZMR owner the next day. Great.

So, Then came the special day. 9th October 2010. The day when my sweety was finally going to be my own only. I still remember that day. When I was getting ready to go to showroom, I was feeling as if today is my marriage and I am getting ready to go in my baraat. On reaching the showroom, I or rather any Karizma fan would have died of pleasure.

There were not 1, not 2, not 3 but 4 White ZMRs being readied for the delivery. My eyes were searching for the salesman who was going to tell which was mine. Then finally when I found that guy, he said, Sir you will have to wait as the staff was busy readying the other bikes. It may take an hour or so for them to start to ready your bike.

 

I swear, if I had a Gun that moment, I would have shot that person. He could have never imagined my condition. If he could, he would have never said me to wait. There I was. Staring at all the Staff and owners and cursing myself for being late. Otherwise my bike would have been ready by then.

Finally they finished readying one bike and then immediately a mechanic came dragging a big bike wrapped in heavy covers and all plastic sheets. When he was coming into the workshop, the salesman just stared at my face and said, sir, yours is here. While dragging it in, the mechanic just brushed the handlebar with another bike.

I felt a sharp pain in my heart. That very moment an instant shout came from my mouth. “Are sambhal ke” The hidden beauty was now being unwrapped of its plastic coverings. And boy, finally when all coverings were gone, there stood an ugly duckling in front of me rather that a beautiful swan.

I was shocked to see it. The bike was looking damn stupid without mirrors, seat, handle bar ends and silencer shield. The salesman could sense that from my expressions and Patted on my back and said, Sir I can understand. Wait for some time while we ready it for you. After that you won’t regret your choice.

Second by second, minute by minute, my anxiousness as well impatience was going beyond my controllable limits. Finally almost 1 hour later, a dirty looking ZMR with all accessories in place was whisked out of the showroom for a pre delivery test ride. I was still wondering whether it is the same bike which had steeled my heart couple of months back.

Finally every test, the bike was transferred into the vehicle washing bay and door was tightly shut. The wait was getting agonizing. I was waiting impatiently for the door to open up and let me see the bike in a neat and clean avatar. The door finally got opened and the mechanic whisked out a shiny, brand new pearl white ZMR.

My goodness. The bike was looking as gorgeous as it was when I saw it for the first time. All my doubts put to rest. This is the best looker in country. You may agree or dis-agree. Because every one is having his or choice. So it’s stupid to curse or say rubbish any bike.

So all formalities said and done, I was finally handed over the bike keys and the papers, which was the best moment of my life till now. On my way back home, me or rather the bike got so much glances and stares that it had started giving me scares. Now to the review part.

Design And Style

Need not to say, ZMR is one among the best looking bike in India if not the best. The big bulbous fairing lends it the unique stance and the full body fairing gives people the wrong notion that ZMR is a sports bike. For heaven sake, Do not call a ZMR as a sports bike. It’s a tourer which is designed for a comfortable stylish and fast ride. So better do not compare ZMR and R15.

If you leave few things aside, the ZMR has got everything new. The integrated headlamp and pilot lamp cluster does look like a scooty to some but the looks gel well with the overall bike. The twin collapsible rear view mirrors look good but I feel that the arm holding mirrors is a bit too long. Had it been about an inch smaller, It would have turned the entire look of the bike.

The bike looks best in only and only pearl white. Reason? It might be the reason that in other colors the ZMR wording is not highlighted as distinctly as in white. Actually if you see it in red color, the ZMR does not look printed at all. Also the white gives it unique and an eye grabbing shade.

The split grab rails too look striking as the single rail is slowly out of trend now. The exhaust is now in black color and is swept upwards in exactly the same angle as is desired. The all new digital console in bright orange display is bright enough that you can read it in all times whether it’s broad day light or night.

The big whole body fairing gives the bike a look of a heavy bike which ZMR definitely is at 160kgs. But it does not feel that much heavy and can be easily steered in all directions. But yes, the people who have driven a normal bike with rotating headlamps do have some problem in beginning as they are used to movement of the whole front part on moving the handle which is not possible in ZMR due to a fixed headlamp.

And one thing more. Everyone says that a fixed headlamp creates problems at night; Please all such people tell me one thing. Did you ever saw the beam of a car dancing to movements of steering wheel? If a fixed headlamp can work perfectly in all other vehicles, what is problem in a bike with a fixed headlamp?

Now to the weak link in entire design. The rear does not fit the ZMR at all. The front is quite wide and the tails is as narrow as a normal bike. This gives the bike some what disproportionate look. The rear tail lamp is good. Every one says Hero Honda is not sporty or race oriented as it does not gives chains without covers and all its bikes are having covered chains.

Now please tell me, what does an open chain has to do with sportiness? An open chain is having a lesser life span than a closed, it is easily dust prone and also burns your pocket with an extra 250RS. In service for the chain cleaning spray. Then what’s the use? ZMR is very good with a closed chain.

Engine And Gearbox

The ZMR supports the engine of the older Karizma which has proven itself as bulletproof in its entire life till now. Now what Hero Honda has done is that they have used same gearbox and engine and added lot of electronic gadge try to it. It now has the famed Honda’s PGM-FI technology along with a number of sensors which work every time and make your ride as smooth as possible.

It gives you roughly 1 Bhp more than the normal Krizma but the way it delivers the power has been transformed completely. The gearbox too is the older one i.e. the 5speed which should have been upgraded to a 6 speed one which would have given ZMR a clear cut edge over its rivals. It may produce same power as a R15 but keep in, mind one thing.

Its a 150cc engine trying to yield same power to that of a 225cc which in turn means that R15 engine will be at stress in its upper limits which is not a good thing for the engine. Coming back to ZMR, Its produces 17.5bhp power which I must admit is a bit less for a 225cc. It should have given at least 20bhp. But still it is sufficient. There is no engine knocking even at low speeds.

The gearbox too has perfectly matched ratios which make gear shifting a less routine affair. Put bike in 3rd or even 4th and it will run around the town easily without a single hiccup.

Overall rating in engine and gearbox – 4.5 / 5

Fuel Efficiency

Here come the biggest surprise. Picture this. A bike with a 225 cc engine, 5 speed box, kerb wt of 160 kg, a broad stance and what you expect? Nothing but a hopelessly fuel guzzling bike? Right? Wrong. The PGM-FI and all the other sensors working in bike help it to achieve a pleasantly surprising mileage.

The Present mileage is as following. In City 40 to 42 Kmpl. In Highway 44 to 46 Kmpl. Which gives it an average mileage of roughly 44 to 45 Kmpl which is nothing but superb.

Ride And Handling

The ZMR has an inverted gas shock absorbers at rear with the GRS technology which I must admit I am not aware of. One thing I know is that they are gas filled shock absorbers and rest detail I don’t know. They make it a comfortable ride and you don’t feel tired even after a long ride. The almost perfect riding position is fully relaxing to back as well as the butt. Not like R15 where back strikes strain after a while.

Now to handling. Who ever says that ZMR looses in handling due to thinner tires. Please see the accompanying pics. I have ridden my ZMR in slush made of melted snow and mud and I am proud to say that not for a moment it gave me any scary thoughts. The tires offer the optimum grip and the bike never feels under tires.

Rating – 5/5 Because a bike which can hold itself in snow, it can hold itself anywhere.

Gadgetry

ZMR has a number of electronic stuff. Starting with the console. The all new digital console is having all required clocks. Speedometer, odometer, 2 trip meters, tachometer, as well as the fuel gauge along with the clock complete the cockpit. A personalize message on switching on and off is a damn unique touch.

The presence of the PGM-FI eradicates the need for choke and it has gone missing. What ever is the climate? Just switch on ignition, push the starter and the engines roars to life without any hue or cry. The oil cooler too plays its part and helps to maintain perfect temperature of the bike. I took my ZMR to manali and beyond manali and I am proud to say, that not even once the bike showed any signs of over heating. Great.

It has some other sensors as well like tilt sensor which senses on its own that bike is about ot tilt and it automatically switches off the ignition. The twin disc brakes both at front and rear give the ZMR a braking advantage but the rear wheel has the tendency to lock up on hard braking. Problems faced till now. No bike is prefect and ZMR too has its shares of flaws.

  • The service being offered presently is not upto the mark. The spares take long time to arrive. My bikes rear view mirror holding nut went loose in 2nd week i.e. in last work of October and it took a complaint at national helpline and 4 long months for the spare nut to arrive. That is ridiculous.
  • The front fairing which gives bike its distinct look has tendency to work itself loose if not maintained properly.
  • The leg guard is missing and hence can not try to squeeze into narrow spaces.
  • The white color gets dirty too soon and hence needs constant care and attention and cleaning.
  • The ZMR cannot be serviced at all Hero Honda dealers coz of its PGM-FI which needs special mechanics.

Positives

  • Best looking bike. Steals glances from almost every corner.
  • Best in class fuel efficiency.
  • Rock steady in all road conditions.
  • Bullet proof engine and gearbox.
  • Hero Honda service network.
  • Proven product.
  • High electronics make ride comfortable and pleasurable.
  • Sharp brakes.
  • Superb handling.
  • Perfect gears making shifting work less often.
  • Just like its said for Mercedes benz, it lends you that :’have Arrive” feeling.
  • Bright speedo makes details readable in all times.
  • Perfect balancing.

Summing it up

Before I sum up the entire review, again back to the beginning part where I mentioned about caring and driving responsibly. I thought it would be right to mention because the day I took ZMR delivery, 4other ZMR’s too were delivered same day. And out of them 3 are back at service stations. Not for their routine service jobs.

But as accident repair. Where due to rash and negligent driving the poor bike has got ripped apart. And 1 bike came right in front of me when I was for my 2nd service. And the idiot had no sense of remorse or regret on his face. Frankly speaking such people don’t deserve to be owning that bike. Its is my sincere request to all and every one.

Drive safe always or rather don’t drive at all. Doest matters what you drive. Be it scoter or a bajaj or a Hero Honda or Yamaha or what ever. ZMR has been my companion for 8 months now and sometimes it surprising me like anything. Next moment makes me feel like tearing my hair away because of its tendency to get dirty too soon and then it seems as if it is saying sheepishly.

What are you staring. Come on get me washed. The high price does makes it out of reach for every one but that does not reduces the superbness of the bike. It makes you cry. It makes you smile. It does everything you expect and does not asks for anything except the occasional trip to petrol pumps and its routine service schedule.

I have already reached rohtang pass on it and hope to traverse the manali leh road on it which I know ZMR will take me without any hiccup. Last but not the least. For every one. Drive safe. Always wear your quality helmets because heads don’t come cheap and you wont get a spare part for your head once its gone. And always remember one thing.

A man is as good as the bike he drives. You take care of your bike, and the bike will take care of you. Drive safe. Take care.

Thanks & Regards,
Manish Sharma

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45 COMMENTS

  1. Nice review… You certainly care for your bike.

    Just one thing. Oil cooling has nothing to do with keeping the engine cool.
    The concept is simple: Your engine is air cooled. The engine oil is also cooled using the air flow around the bike. This helps the oil keep its viscosity when the engine is running at high speeds for long durations of time otherwise the oil becomes too liquid like and loses its lubrication power.

    Nothing to do with keeping the engine cool.

  2. Review straight from heart!! Wish honda comes with a bare bone naked bike like KTM Duke with similar engine as karizma that makes lots of power and torque at lower RPM.

  3. WoW…..Marvelous… I have never seen anyone having such affection for his bike… I too own a White Karizma and I am in Love with it… but the way you love it is incomparable…. You have changed my perception towards my bike……. Manish u Rock!!!

  4. As regards to the chain cover. if the chain breaks and there is no chain cover then it only falls down. whereas in a covered chain it gets jammed and the rear wheel gets locked. you will skid and injure yourself.
    If it has to be used in a race track or a rally circuit you have to remove the chain cover. for your safety.
    Head lights better to upgrade to 55/60.
    You can compare this with fazer as that is also positioned as a tourer.

  5. nice review but zmr is piece of shit hero honda is for uncles brand p220 & r15 bikes r best.’ Hunto’ born first….

  6. Excellent review. Very well written. I must say that you have covered the emotions of a biker at one end and the aspects of the bike on the other.

  7. No need to read your intro. Bcoz the great pictures itself says how much you luv ur bike. All your photographs are simply XELENT.
    But sorry to say tat personaly i never like ZMR’S look.
    Sporty=pulsar220f,r15
    Tourer=fazer
    cruiser=TBTS,avenger

  8. An outsatnding and excellent review, really appreciate the affection with your bike. Hats off for your pictures posted it speaks about sole affection towards your bike. Your comments on safe riding bike tips are truly admirable.
    Enjoy each and every ride on your beauty. Drive Safe !! Reach Safe !! Get going

  9. Listen every one ZMR is nothing in front of pulsar 220. bcz hero honda always make fool of people. Bajaj pulsar 220 cc have 21 Bhp-8500 rpm and Zmr 7.6 Bhp-7000 rpm, Max torque 19 Nm-7000 rpm and ZMR 18.5 Nm-6000 rpm, Pulsar 220 is Oil/Air Cooled engine & ZMR is Liquid Cooled, pulsar 220cc top speed 144Km and ZMR 126, price of pulsar 82000 on road about ZMR 91000 + file charge+insurance etc. and pulsar have DTSi engine and about ZMR ____ nothing !
    So guy why i buy ZMR ???

    So my opinion is pulsar is rocking 180cc/220cc , THE REAL FASTEST INDIAN.
    🙂

    • u should buy zmr because……u can’t get that comfort.that u will..get..in zmr. while riding this bike u will get a true pleasure…of biking..which u will never find in pulsar 220.speed,bhp,torque,is not every thing…main thing is comfort only…….126kph..is enough..

  10. Superb review man! you have changed my heart, now my next bike will be THE Karizma ZMR. Right now I own a HH CBZ (old 2001 model). Thanx again

  11. in this review you describe same feeling of my. Really man when I first saw my pulsar 180 UG4 I feel same…. & last if u r a true rider u will love every bike nt only yours bcz u pay 4 it.

  12. wonderful review…Hats off tour review nd pics posted. If ZMR is wat made u to deliver such a considerably soothing review den Hats off to ur beauty(ZMR)

  13. good review bro i am happy u select a hero honda rather than a bajaj shit .pulsar is a worst machine aftr 15000 km that bike is only good for weekly workshop visit and no quality spare parts and no resale value

  14. Guys Grow uo,
    Every bike is good if you have passion for your bike like your spouse (not girlfriend)….Bikes need your love and affection….if you don’t have, then whether it is ZMR or R15 or P220/180 or RTR or Unicorn, its only a scrap for you.
    Please do not criticize, other bikes…you might not like it, but it might have great love for it. Choice of every one can not be same.

    • pawan!!! Ur words are… Really really awesome!!!!
      “if you have passion for your bike like your spouse (NOT GIRL FRIEND)”
      “you might not like it, but it might HAVE A GREAT LOVE FOR IT”
      Love u maams..

  15. How can u compare ZMR wid R15.., boss they both r diffrnt bikes..,
    zmr is a plastic crap nd nthn else., its jst u saw d byk nd fell in luv wid d looks., its k., bt wat abt d engine. nd all?? its same old karizma R.., wid sm cosmestic changes they termed it as karizma zmr.., a bullshit…, y to waste 1.1 lakh 4 plastic crap., R15 its far bettr in all terms than zmr., while readng how u felt?? so nxt tym nvr say bad thing abt odrs byk., all luv der bike., so jst respect., evry byk is made 4 diffrnt purpose. u cnt blame urs is good odrs are bad., njoy wid ur byk.

  16. hey brother.. i was having a r15 bt even i also think the bike feels stressed whenever revved hard.. whenever i rev it hard at 9000rpm, every part of the bike literally “shivered”, now am having a pulsar 220 fi, it runs with ease even wen it is revved hard

  17. Every bike is special to its owner n i do respect my bike more than every one coz when m in ride he makes me feel out if the world bt never say any bike a scrap coz once u have rided on it n show your happyness to other don ‘t say bad thing like its old now so live its worrong a rider or biker will always love his bike till death an i will love my bike’s till my last breath wid same respect n manner

  18. Hey today i went to hero Honda showroom to book my karizma zmr pgm fi but the dealer told me that the bike gives a mileage of 25 to 30kmpl but here you have claimed that it gives a mileage of 40-42 kmpl is it so? Please tell the exact mileage? Please reply.

  19. one of the best review so far..you really love your bike more than anyone..i am going to get my white baby in this week..thanks for the review and all the images are great..

  20. I’M HAVING Karizma R .And I’m Purchased this bike at june 28 2011 but a small accident on a rainy day so the front left side scoop atseptember but today date is dec bbut still there is no parts available for this bike …..and hero service centres also didn;t gave me a proper answer he is saying only when parts we received tahat day we call u nu,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,very poor relation ship maintained by the hero…………………how to say this servicemaintanence

  21. You deserve this bike as if it’s made for you. I know whatever you wrote here is straight from the heart and the sheer love for your machine and also your concerns for other riders. I too had the same feeling for my bike and guess what today when I start my machine I will look at the machine with a bit more extra love as you said its my own extension. Thanks dude for the wonderful review.

  22. wow, amazing, and nice pics of bikes. I had used ZMR black for 2.5 yrs and run around 45,000km. This machine is best in its class. But the only problem i face is the Hero honda service people. They dont care for your bike. If you dont know about ur bike much they will make fool out of you. So if you wanna ride it for long. Learn about ur bike first. So that those service center guys will not be able to make fool out of you. But now i have changed My ZMR with RE thunderbird twin spark but really i miss my ZMR.

  23. Awsm review manish sharma…!!!! N u knw i luv my white colourd karizma zmr more than my g.f!!!! N 1 more thng fr al guys, pulsar is very common bike , go 4 karizma zmr go for it….. GIRLS LOVE KARIZMA ZMR….. Hahaha

  24. I have been using ZMR for a year now and i find it very comfortable,i had used pulsar 200 before,it’s a good bike especially in terms of speed but it lags in reliability ,you could surely go for a karizma rather than a pulsar and you won’t regret.You can only compare zmr to r15 in terms of their prices coz for the rest of the facts ZMR is way above….and that’s why ZMR is ABOVE ALL.use an r15 and after 50000kms you will see it’s real face whereas zmr is from HERO HONDA’s stable offers true quality which you would enjoy.

  25. Dear Manish,
    First of all, a great review with nice snaps of the bike and the locations. Two, you are a true biker. Hats off. Now, to number crunchers who are hell bent on comparing ZMR with R15/220 etc etc.. Get a grip. Numbers are not everything. R15 is a “sports bike” meant for tearing the tarmac with its handling and explosive engine; while ZMR is a “sports tourer” meant to be fast and comfortable on all most all weather and road conditions(okay dirt tracks can be an exception). Now one of ma friends have an Orange ZMR on which we completed a 200 km trip. Butter smooth engine, crisp acceleration, comfortable seats, admiring glances and great fuel efficiency. 220 is equally good with its powerful engine and looks, but its a little bit old and reliability issues giving a big headache. But and a big but, it all depends on how you look after the bike.

    “If you want to be happy for a day,
    Get drunk;
    If you want to be happy for a year,
    Get married;
    If you want to be happy for a lifetime,
    Ride a Motorcycle.”

  26. Poor English, written by a Novice, R15 caters to a different market (Super Sport) Karizma a tourer and you went on comparing them. Poor review.

  27. Review directly from the heart and brain..(U put a lot of tech stuff there.)…I loved it..earlier i was thinking to buy Avenger..but yestrday my fiance told she doesnt like Avenger..instead she is much facinated after seeing ZMR….Thats why i read few reviews about ZMR…Urs was the best I ever read with awesome pics of the both beauties(ZMR and Himachal Pradesh..The Place i loved most…)….That changed my mind,,,,I will go for ZMR…..THnk u bro…..u Rock…..

  28. dude i too had the same felling when i got my karizma zmr (black)…. in my zmr i beated r15 and pulsar 220…..r15 was the last one to reach finish line

  29. In an website i read this comment “my hero karizma beat p220 and ktm duke.”

    And in another website i read a review in which they wrote “passion x’s top speed is 109, honda twister’s top speed is 102 and HONDA DREAM YUGA’s top speed is 95. And passion x is more relible” How can the reviewer say this when all three bikes have the same engine?

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