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100cc to 110cc Commuter Bike Shootout
Contrary to public opinion, and at the risk of being pelted with stones for being cocky, the fuel price hike does have its upside. Buying decisions have become extremely easy and you no longer have to wonder about whether you want a petrol car or a diesel car, a commuter motorcycle or a track scorching performance machine! It’s a no-brainer really – you get yourself a diesel hatch if you can afford one. Unfortunately for a majority of India’s working class, the choice has always been the same – 100cc bread and butter machines that are not only cheap to buy, but super light on the pocket to run as well and in our ‘over Rs 70 per litre’ times they make a tremendous amount of sense for everyone.
So while Hero MotoCorp always knew this with the Splendor+ and many tried to usurp its throne over the years, we finally have some new blood that actually has the goods to be King of the 100s on paper. But how well can the 110cc Honda Dream Yuga, Suzuki Hayate, and TVS Star City as well as the Bajaj Discover 100 do against the Splendor+ in actual battle where it matters most – out on the streets, against the vagaries of daily commutes in the pursuit of one superior goal – the livelihood of an entire nation?
Design and Practicality
Over the past decade or so there has been one common perception shift in every single aspect of our day-to-day lives – everything around us has to be stylish. That in no way means that practicality has taken a back seat and that is the real challenge that designers face today. The form follows function follows form argument was never as fierce as it is today and even when it comes down to basic point A to point B travel solutions we don’t want to be seen on anything but the most aesthetically pleasing machines we can afford.
The Honda CB Twister is a clear testament to this fact and though that great visual treat of a bike doesn’t feature in this shoot-out, it defines the shift in our times. Of course, the freshness of design also has a lot to do with the age of the product and that simply makes the Hero Splendor+ redundant in this discussion – it might as well just take a back seat and mull over possible design upgrades. All the three older workhorses have one thing in common though – the Splendor+, Discover and Star City are available in any colour as long as it’s black! TVS has done a great job with the graphics though and the bike looks rather attractive.
Honda clearly took a very contemporary approach to the Dream Yuga and it shows in every element of the bike’s design. This is a bike that no one can hate but it won’t be winning any beauty contests either. Universal acceptability is what drives the Dream Yuga’s styling and on the other end of the spectrum is the other newcomer – the Suzuki Hayate. Turned out in bright green, the Hayate mesmerised with its lines. Take a closer look and the details make you really admire this machine even if you’re not really a fan of the machine’s macho brand ambassador! Case in point being the sculpted front mudguard, biking fairing, flowing centre panel, very usable knee recesses, black matte handlebar and of course that mock carbon-fibre finish instrument cluster – all details that are not only visually heart-warming and functional at the same time, but also add that much more crucial pride of ownership to the Hayate’s armoury and clearly giving it top honours as far as styling is concerned. A little way behind were the Discover and the Star City owing to their funky graphics, followed by the Dream Yuga and we’re not even going to mention the Splendor+ – it seriously needs a face-lift!
Of course, there’s no point in just looking pretty – these motorcycles are after all going to be put to work hard and long. While these bikes are instrumental in increasing earning power, they also need to be able to help save up more in terms of fuel costs and that is probably the single most important aspect on which these bikes are judged. Fuel efficiency is one of the biggest deciding factors when it comes to buying a commuter – after all, what can be more satisfying than a motorcycle that takes you to the gas station as few times as possible? But that also means it should have a large enough fuel tank for that true ‘fill it, shut it, forget it’ mantra that Hero Honda defined all those years back.
There are a lot of factors that affect fuel efficiency and engine design is one of the biggest. Combustion chambers that are able to burn every last droplet of petrol entering the cylinder will offer the most efficiency and in that sense Bajaj’s DTS-i technology seems to work as well in the real world as it does in product presentations. Armed with two spark plugs in its cylinder head and five-cog gearbox, the Discover 100 manages to go a whopping 87 kilometres before using up one litre of fuel and that exceeds the second most efficient bike by 14kmpl!
The Dream Yuga’s smart engineering takes it 73km to a litre while the Hero Splendor+ makes it to third place with 70kmpl – a figure that ruled the roost for quite a few years until younger and more advanced engineering finally took the efficiency leadership away from the old workhorse. A special mention here must be made for the Star City though because despite having the lowest efficiency figures in our rigorous tests at 62kmpl, it is also the bike that will take you the longest distance on a full tank of fuel – all thanks to its massive 16-litre tank. That is also where the Splendor+ scores with an 11-litre capacity making its range 770km on a tankful while the other three bikes share an 8-litre capacity. Range, though important and extremely mentally comforting is just an illusion though – after all you’ll be saving a lot more with the Discover 100’s 87kmpl efficiency despite having to stop slightly more often for a tank-up.