Hero has introduced start/stop tech in its popular Splendor and has called it the Splendor iSmart. But, has this given the Splendor a new lease on life? We rode it to find out
Meet the new Splendor. It's called the Splendor iSmart. Okay, it isn't exactly new - the iSmart uses the same cycle parts that have been on Splendors for years. It borrows the styling from the Splendor NXG, which again has been in the market for over half a decade. And, the engine, well, it is essentially the same 97.2cc sloper unit which has been powering Hero's range of entry-level motorcycles for like, ever. But, there's one big difference. The Splendor iSmart uses start/stop tech. Yes, the same tech that has now become de rigueur in cars in Europe as they try and achieve lower CO2 emissions and higher fuel economy. The i3S tech on the Splendor iSmart is supposed to do the same. And, it is supposed to function in the same manner as well. i3S, by the way, stands for idle Start Stop System.
Stop at a signal, pull in the clutch, and the bike shuts off. Let go of the clutch lever, and the bike fires up again. On the Splendor iSmart though, things are slightly more tedious. Come to a signal, and only after shifting to neutral and letting the clutch lever go, does the motorcycle switch off. Pull in the clutch lever, and it fires up. So, the idea is right, but the execution, not as spot on as we would have liked. What this prohibits, is turning off of the motorcycle in stop and go traffic. And, all said and done, no one really shifts to neutral in bumper to bumper traffic. And given that, bumper to bumper traffic is what city commuting - at least in larger cities - is all about, the iSmart loses its significance somewhat.
So, is the iSmart more fuel efficient then? If you stay in a city like Noida for instance which is marked by traffic lights every other kilometre, there should be a notable increase in fuel economy. In a city like Mumbai however, wherein signals - at least on the main roads - are few and far between, and it is all one long, endless crawl, not so much. Otherwise, the Splendor iSmart is like any other Hero entry-level motorcycle. It has an upright and comfortable seating position with a high-set handlebar and neutrally positioned footpegs; a large and soft seat; and light controls - be it the clutch or the throttle operation. The iSmart like the rest of the Hero range is light too. It only weighs 110kg and given the weight is well distributed across the length of the motorcycle, the iSmart is easy to manoeuvre as well.
Now we did say that the iSmart borrows its cycle parts from the regular Splendor, and it does, but there are a few differences. For starters, it has a longer swingarm and with it, the wheelbase is slightly longer. It also uses grippier, tubeless tyres from MRF. But, the likeable change is the use of foldable, alloy rider footrests, and bar-end weights. In terms of styling and features, the two-tone paint job is new, as are the split grab rails at the rear. The iSmart also gets colourful switchgear. The instrumentation meanwhile, though not digital, does get a trip meter and side stand indication.
The Hero Splendor iSmart might use the same 97.2cc engine that has been in service for decades now, but it makes slightly more power in the Splendor iSmart. The power output is a claimed 7.8PS. The torque rating is slightly higher too. But, in the real world, it's near impossible to tell the difference. What we can tell you is that the iSmart might not be very quick, but it is a refined motorcycle. And even if you sit at its top speed (which is easy to do), all you can feel are mild vibrations and hear the slightly stressed engine over the wind noise. But nothing that will leave you buzzing or bugged even after a few hours of riding. The gearbox is a four-speed unit like on other Splendors and the gear shift quality is crisp and precise.
The Hero Splendor iSmart costs Rs 47,250 ex-showroom in Delhi. It is more expensive than the likes of the Honda Dream series and the Bajaj Discover 100M. Given how price sensitive the entry-level motorcycle class is in the country, the higher price does put the Splendor iSmart at a disadvantage of sorts. But, consider the extra features, the fuel saving tech and the feel-good elements like a nice paint job, alloy footrests, bar-end weights, and split grab rails, and the iSmart looks like a good deal. Its proven mechanicals and Hero's huge after sales network only sweetens the deal.