Building a brand around its products has always been the ethos at Bajaj Auto as can be seen from the legacy of the Pulsar which has carved out a niche for itself in the Indian motorcycle space amassing a sizable number of followers over the last decade and firmly gripping over 40 per cent market share in the 150cc and above class of motorcycles sold in the country.
That said, the gains don’t simply end at the Pulsar marque. The trickle-down effect has benefited other products from Bajaj Auto’s model range as well, especially the Discover series which has eventually consumed the Pulsar genes seeping into its structure from time to time without losing its econo-centric mindset but instead using it for shaping of the Discover brand, a moniker now synonymous with value-for-money notwithstanding what echelon of the Indian motorcycling spectrum it plies in.
And the strongest support to this argument came last year in September when the Discover 100 DTS-Si surpassed the Hero MotoCorp's blue-eyed boy, the Splendor, to bag the honour of world's largest selling motorcycle, with sales totalling to 1.22 lakh against Splendor's 1.21 lakh in that month. However, the Chakan-based bike-maker sees it only as job half done and is now looking forward to build on the Discover brand’s existing eminence to raise the bar higher by the means of empowering the everyday commuter with technology and style. Offer the average Joe something which he should have been handed eons ago.
Welcome then the next generation Discover 100T (T standing for Tourer), a commuter offering in the 100cc space borrowing new-age technology and styling from its recently launched elder sibling, the Discover 125 ST (Sports Tourer). It has been a common practice adopted successfully by motorcycle companies the world over to develop new technologies for their flagships and then employing them across the lower model range to bring the market up to speed one step at a time.
Sadly, most Indian two-wheeler makers have missed this important detail of bringing their offerings up to speed with the modern-day tech in the volume segment and the result is we are still stuck on archaic sloper mills with 2-valve heads and more such equipment which has been scrapped by the world long back.
With the new Discover 100T, Bajaj Auto does more than just offer another feature-rich premium commuter but a top-spec machine which excels in every department important to the end user and looks good while achieving all of it with conviction, however without really burning a hole in the pocket. Borrowing design cues directly from the Discover 125ST, it is easy to notice the family resemblance between the two Discover siblings but the key is that it helps in presenting the younger one with the bulk and form of the elder sibling. And boy does it look good!
The neatly carved bikini fairing upfront houses twin parking lights and a large headlight which runs on DC for uninterrupted throw of light even at lower speeds. Incorporation of clear lens indicators is in line with the classy and trendy look of the motorcycle while the tinted windscreen above the headlight looks uber cool in its curvy aggressive form and does a brilliant job of keeping the wind blast at bay. The fuel tank design, akin to the 125ST, looks chunky and sizable to go with the motorcycle’s overall poise hiding the real size of the motorcycle but handing it a solid big bike feel.
The knee recesses on the fuel tank are accurately designed to accommodate tall and short riders alike while the slight dip in the rider’s seat teamed up with the raised handlebars (which get bar-end weights for vibe-free riding) and feet forward positioning of the foot pegs, makes for a commuter-friendly ergonomic geometry. The fully analogue console upfront is basic but sophisticated in its design and houses a speedometer, fuel gauge and the tell-tale lights.
The centre panels are finished in silver to give the bike a two-tone paint scheme gelling neatly with the subtle and sophisticated graphics while the tail panels stretch till the end holding the contemporary tail light in place. Fashionable and fancy, the grab rail finished in silver paint compliments the styling but is a bit of a stretch to reach, especially when placing the bike on the main stand.
Visually, the bike looks more like it belongs to a segment higher than a mere 100cc commuter. With its sizably large proportions, an aggressive bikini fairing and gorgeously crafted 17-inch ten-spoke alloy wheels. A big and much-needed change that was long overdue in this space.
But it is what lies beneath the gloss and glaze of the Discover 100T that will set it apart from the current crop of minimalistic commuters that have been hounding our roads for decades now. The heart of the matter – indigenously developed next generation engines from Bajaj Auto which hold the power to pave the path towards the Indian maker churning out world class level of motorcycles in the years to come.
And as seen on the Pulsar 200NS and then followed up on to the Discover 125ST, the smallest of the Discover now gets the new advanced 4-valve air-cooled DTSi single cylinder engine with corrugated fins (for better cooling) but with reduced engine capacity to 102cc.
Traditionally associated with performance-oriented higher revving engines, the 4-valve head is known for its peaky nature and lack of grunt in lower revs. But running a long stroke arrangement with a bore into stroke configuration of 47mm x 58.8mm has allowed Bajaj Auto to counter this trait since long stroke engines make more torque which in case of the Discover 100T has been put to use at lower engine speeds, thus giving it the ability to pull right from 20km/h in fifth gear devoid of any knocking or hiccups and not compromising its in-town drivability - a key factor in decision making for the commuter class of motorcycles. Of course the ingenious twin sparkplug DTSi tech from Bajaj Auto whips up support to the cause of torque and seamless power furthermore while keeping the critical emissions in check.
What probably has never been contested in this class till date is the performance aspect of these work horses. A facet completely ignored and neglected since the inception of this class back in the mid-eighties. The ‘Fill-it, Shut-it, Forget-it!’ brigade has always promoted fun in functionality than the sheer pleasure that motorcycles bring with them in any guise. Why should any of the commuter be left devoid of this simple joy is the question that Bajaj Auto has asked with Discover 100T.
A challenge accepted by the newest Discover which is endowed with class-leading power figures that can face up to a segment higher rivals in the 125cc class and give them a good run for their money while at it. Churning out 10.2PS of power at 9,000rpm and 9.2Nm of torque available low down at 6,500rpm, the charm lies in how the power and torque is laid out making the riding experience astride the Discover a delightful one.
Mated to a 5-speed transmission with all-up shift pattern, power is always handy and easily accessible without having to go through the gearbox to find the drive for snappy overtakes while the fifth cog really helps when one decides to go highway hauling.
And while Bajaj Auto claims that the Discover 100T can reach a top speed of 100km/h (we shall soon test the motorcycle and find out how fast it is), which is a respectable figure for a 102cc engine, the important detail is the refinement that it boasts with the small motor running devoid of any vibes or harshness even when given the stick. A trait which is instantly noticeable the moment one takes the Discover 100T for a spin.
That brings us to the bike’s road manners and stability. Employing almost identical underpinning as the Discover 125ST, it has endowed the Discover 100T with some weight gain resulting in a kerb weight of 121kg. While many will contest its weight being a bit of an issue for a 100cc commuter, with most of its rivals weighing atleast a whole 10kg lighter, benefits of the bulk are seen in the stability, especially from wind-buffeting on the highway – a common problem faced by the riders on our Indian highways. And while power-to-weight ratio is another aspect that might be affected by the weight, the Discover makes enough horsepower to still get the best in-class power-to-weight ratio of 84.3 PS/Tonne!
But swing a leg over the machine and the extra weight disappears altogether with the Discover feeling incredibly nimble and easy to ride. The semi-double cradle frame is borrowed from the Discover 125ST’s parts bin and sees minor amendments to the sub-frame in order to accommodate the twin rear gas-charged Nitrox suspension and to make for a lower and less sporty rear-end stance suitable for pillions to easily get on and off the motorcycle.
There are 30mm dia telescopic forks employed on the front to take care of the damping and they do a fantastic job at soaking in the road undulations while the rear suspension too has been tuned for comfort but not at the cost of the overall handling of the bike allowing the spirited riders to freely enjoy the excitement that comes complimentary with every motorcycle. Big or small.
And small it might be in its form but the Discover 100T has big ambitions to bring the conservative 100cc buyer upto speed with modern day technologies while delivering on all counts that matter to the end user living in this country. And which is where our grouse with the Discover resides – lack of disc brake even as optional equipment on the motorcycle.
Currently employing OE-fitted 130mm dia drum brakes on both ends that provide sufficient bite under braking, a disc brake would have been the ultimate icing on the cake on this Ultimate 100 from Bajaj Auto. However, a rather impressive development is the level of grip available on the Eurogrip tyres, which now offer better feedback and feel than the ones we have tested on some of the other motorcycles previously.
Available in only one variant at Rs. 50,500 (ex-showroom, Delhi) and electric start as standard feature, with the Discover 100T Bajaj Auto has made a bold statement stepping onto the toes of well-heeled rivals as well as potent new entrants at the same time by distinguishing itself with the Discover brand as it heralds change in a segment which has been allergic to innovation and originality since its inception.