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Hero Xtreme 160R Road Test Review: The New King Of The 160cc Segment?


Ruffling up feathers in the 160cc naked segment is tough work. Does Hero’s 160R have the muscle?

 

The Hero Xtreme 160R has to be one of the most anticipated motorcycles to be launched in 2020. What’s not to be excited about a new motorcycle from India’s number one motorcycle manufacturer that is looking to better the sharp-handling Suzuki Gixxer, the muscular and practical Yamaha FZ-Fi V3, and be a better all-rounder than the incredible TVS Apache RTR 160 4V? Yes, COVID-19 played spoilsport and delayed the arrival of the new Hero naked, but now that it is here we had to find out how it fares in the hotly contested premium commuter segment. What better way to find out than to put it through a real world test!

The X-Factor
This is a top effort from Hero! From the Xtreme 1.R Concept that was shown off at EICMA 2019 to the actual production version, not a lot has changed in terms of styling cues. As a result, the Xtreme 160R wears a compact and stylish design, which is one of the best in its class.

And it begins with that striking new face, which is fully LED. The headlight bears a close resemblance to the Autobots symbol from the Transformers series. All lighting systems on the bike are LEDs, the only bike in the segment to offer this.

Talking of light, the brief given to the Hero designers was to keep it as light as possible. Hence, you see very few body panels and bolts on the Xtreme. It is really hard to miss the Xtreme’s signature large single plastic panel that starts from ahead of the fuel tank and neatly flows below the rider’s seat. This gives the bike a distinctively muscular look.

The compactness of the design continues with the neat and tidy tail section. You can see how the single-piece seat steps up sharply, to combine sportiness and practicality. The grab handle is integrated into the tail section, giving the Xtreme a clean look. The dark smoke visor on the H-insignia tail light adds to the premiumness of the bike. We would have ideally liked to see either just a large mudguard or a tyre hugger but the presence of both seems a bit odd, especially given that Hero wanted to make it a light motorcycle.

There are small irksome bits that might not make a huge difference in the grand scheme of things but you feel that they should have been present. Take for instance the full-digital console. It is a new negative display LCD unit with all data well laid out and legible in all lighting situations. But Hero has skimped on offering a gear position indicator and range indicator -- features that are commonly found on bikes in this segment and lower. And its size could’ve been larger too.

Then there’s the new switchgear that 90s kids will remember finding on their dad’s Hero Splendor. While the engine-cum-starter switch is modern, the large blank panel of plastic it sits in looks a bit generic and unloved. The switches on the left, especially for the turn indicators, aren’t as nice to touch and feel as its competitors.

Overall, Hero has done a commendable job in building and packaging the Xtreme 160R. There are no inconsistencies when it comes to panel gaps or welds. Paint quality is positively rich, with the lovely metallic gloss grey tank panel complementing the white body panels well. Hero offers the bike in red and blue shades as well but we think it looks best in white.

From the Saddle
Right from the moment you swing a leg over the saddle of the Xtreme 160R, you will notice just how light the bike is. At just a kilo (or a little less) shy of 140kg, the Xtreme is the second-lightest bike in the class; only the FZ-Fi V3 is lighter. Even shorter riders then shouldn’t have a problem while navigating the bike through tight spaces or while parking as you are perched 790mm above the ground and the bike’s mid-section is relatively narrow.

There is a hint of sportiness in the riding stance as you have to lean forward slightly to get to the bars. But the overall experience is quite comfortable, thanks to the neutral footpegs and the large and roomy seat. The foam padding is plush, doing a good job of isolating your bottom well when going over some of our Moon crater-esque city roads.

Speaking of crater-sized potholes, it would be a bit difficult to spot them from a distance at night. Why? Cause the high beam simply fails to fall on the ground and instead lights up the signage, trees and shrubbery in the distance. Thankfully, the low beam lights up the road quite well offering decent spread too.

For the pillion, the seat isn’t too tall to get onto and is quite spacious despite what it looks like. Even the pegs aren’t too high so the pillion won’t be sitting knees-up. Still, you might have to coax someone to sit behind you as your passenger as they will sit right on the edge of the bike. If that doesn’t get them jittery enough, the reach to the integrated grab handles will do the job. Despite my long arms, I had to hunch down to get them to reach the grab handles.

Excitement Or Econo-miser? Why Not Both!
The sound of a 163cc single-cylinder air-cooled engine with a simple two-valve head doesn’t sound too enticing, does it? But Hero claims it is the most powerful bike in the class. Well, Hero is right and wrong.

Powertrain

Engine specs

163cc single-cylinder, air-cooled, two-valve

Power

15.23PS @ 8000rpm

Torque

14Nm @ 6500rpm

Gearbox

5-speed

Hero is right because the Xtreme is the most powerful bike in the segment with a two-valve head. It is also wrong as the four-valve packing Apache RTR 160 4V and Bajaj Pulsar NS 160 have the edge over it. But given that it is a lightweight, would it be able to capitalise on its weight advantage and be the quickest?

Acceleration tests

Hero Xtreme 160R

Suzuki Gixxer*

Yamaha FZ S-Fi V3*

TVS Apache RTR 160 4V*

0-60kmph

5.62 seconds

5.53 seconds

5.97 seconds

5.04 seconds

0-100kmph

20.09 seconds

20.10 seconds

20.10 seconds

15.36 seconds

30-70kmph in 3rd gear

6.90 seconds

6.94 seconds

6.70 seconds

6.87 seconds

40-80kmph in 4th gear

9.17 seconds

9.02 seconds

9.38 seconds

9.02 seconds

*BS4 figures

Take these judgements with a pinch of salt for now as the 160R’s performance is being compared to BS4 rivals. Nonetheless, it is clear that the Xtreme 160R is quick, albeit not as quick as Hero claims. In our VBox 0-60kmph run, it is a tenth slower than the BS4 Suzuki Gixxer but to a hundred, there’s hardly anything separating the two. As for the BS6 Gixxer, that’s heavier and makes less power, so expect the Xtreme to trump that easily. In the in-gear accelerations, the Xtreme is on par with its 160cc rivals, which is a bit of a downer as we hoped the weight advantage would help it be quicker.

Let the verdict of the numbers hang itself on a paper noose because in the real world this engine handles city duties brilliantly. Since all the punch is focused in the mid-range, between 3000rpm and 6000rpm, you don’t really need to make too many gear changes in the city. And that is a good thing as the 5-speeder isn’t the slickest one out there. While we didn’t experience this on our bike, the test bike provided to our sister concern Powerdrift faced a lot of problems with the gearbox refusing to shift down the cogs smoothly, unless you aggressively blipped the throttle and then downshifted. This could be a problem with just that particular bike but even our own test bike could have done with smoother shifts.

City fuel efficiency

55.47kmpl

Highway fuel efficiency

47.48kmpl

Fuel tank capacity

12-litres

While commuting, you can just slot it into fifth and the Xtreme will chug along from speeds as low as 25kmph without bogging down. And since you don’t need to work the gearbox so often, the 163cc mill turns out to be quite a frugal unit.

The lack of top-end performance is felt out on the highway as the Xtreme 160R struggles to get to 100kmph. The performance seems to fade away post 7000rpm and there is very little to extract beyond 8000rpm. If you are a conservative rider, the Xtreme will cruise effortlessly at 80kmph, thus going almost 560km between tankfuls.

One clear highlight of this all-new motor is its refinement. There are hardly any vibrations experienced anywhere on the bike and only when the engine is nearing 8000rpm do you feel a light buzz at the heel plates. Overall, Hero has managed to create an enjoyable and practical performer that is also very refined, and this was its weakest area. Ready for what’s ahead?

Supple and Composed Ride
The 160R has been given suspension that’s meant to tackle India, the real India. Believe it or not, you get a 37mm Showa conventional telescopic fork and a seven-step preload adjustable monoshock. It is great to see Indian manufacturers offering bits from high-end suspension pioneers like Showa in this segment of motorcycles. The Xtreme’s main rival, the RTR 160 4V, has its monoshock sourced from the Japanese component maker.

There is a nice suppleness to the ride, as the units manage to iron out most road undulations with absolute composure. It has the kind of bearing that brings out the geek in me, so please bear with me. The initial compression stroke of the spring is nice and soft allowing it to glide over the small bumps gracefully. But once it compresses further, a layer of firmness creeps in. Which means that the suspension absorbs bigger bumps without wallowing or losing composure. On the other hand, if you were worried that the softly sprung suspension could bottom out, well then you shouldn’t. Simple.

Xtremely Agile
This is the spot this bike marks Xtremely well. Sorry. But, we were blown away by just how light and agile the Xtreme is. Just a light push at the bars and the bike tips into a corner instantly. It has the shortest wheelbase in the class and thanks to the slightly forward set stance you are in firm control when enjoying the twisty bits.

The Xtreme is extremely stable in the bends and one doesn’t need to put in much effort while switching sides. Credit must be given to the 130-section rear radial tyre which has been sourced from MRF. The tyres are quite grippy and rarely do they break traction. So if you want to have fun and are learning the ropes, the Xtreme is a willing and trustworthy companion.

Everyone will appreciate the benefits of the lightness - as it is a boon in the city. You can pretty much zip though slow moving traffic without breaking a sweat. Is it the most agile 160cc naked? While we cannot say for certain without riding it back to back with its class rivals, it does make a compelling case for itself.

Hero offers the Xtreme 160R in two variants. At the rear, you can either opt for a 130mm drum or a 220mm disc brake. The 276mm front petal disc brake is common across both trims and so is the single-channel ABS.

Braking

Hero Xtreme 160R

Suzuki Gixxer

Yamaha FZ S-Fi V3

TVS Apache RTR 160 4V

80-0kmph

38.81m

31.47m

36.44m

41.51m

60-0kmph

22.90m

17.06m

20.48m

22.20m

The combination of adequate brake bite and lever feedback is enough to put the 160R ahead of the Apache RTR 160 4V, which struggles in this department. It does take a bit of time to come to a dead halt, as is evident in the table above. We do not expect much of a change to the braking performance of the BS6 version of the other three bikes as each one of them hasn’t seen any change in braking hardware.

Hero seems to have worked on improving the ABS tune of its bikes. Unlike the XPulse 200 where the system leaves you helpless as a certain undulation knocks off the calibration, you rarely feel the ABS kicking in on the Xtreme.

Paisa Vasool?
At Rs 99,950 for the single disc version and Rs 1,03,500 for this twin disc variant, the Xtreme 160R is one of the most affordable bikes in this class. It makes for a good purchase if you are in a market for a no nonsense daily commuter with slightly sporty intentions. Plus it looks good, is very comfy and handles everything that Indian roads could throw at it with grace.

Is it the new benchmark in this class? We certainly think that Hero has done enough to take on the Gixxers and FZs of the world. So what happens when it goes up against our segment champion: the TVS Apache RTR 160 4V? That question remains up in the air. It makes for an interesting comparison, which we will get to very soon. So stay tuned to ZigWheels.com as we will have this comparo on our site at the earliest.

Hero Xtreme 160RVideo Review

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