Back in July last year, Mahindra 2 Wheelers inaugurated a state-of-the-art Research and Development centre in Pune consisting a team of about 175 young engineers led by the feisty PS Ashok, who has been handling the automotive R&D for Mahindra & Mahindra and has the Maxximo and Gio automobiles to his credit. The decision to establish its own R&D centre for Mahindra 2 Wheelers came after the Stallio didn’t quite stir up the segment for Mahindra.
Not the one to be bogged down, Mahindra 2 Wheelers has taken the right initiative and set up its own development house instead of roping in another movie star to endorse its products, a step that shall present the company with incredible advantages in the coming years as can be seen from the very first result of the new R&D department, the Mahindra Pantero – a 110cc motorcycle plying in the volume segment.
Design & Styling:
At first glance, many would simply discount it for a rebadged Mahindra Stallio, but delve deeper into the underpinnings of the motorcycle and it is clear that barring the cosmetic similarities, the Pantero is a brand-new product built from the ground up by the Indian bike-maker. On the outside, the Pantero takes the basic design of body panels and fuel tank from the Stallio with the large front bikini fairing housing LED pilot lamps (three on each side) and the headlight.
Having scrapped the Stallio project in totality, the R&D division at Mahindra 2 Wheelers has made sure to not only iron out the glitches that came to fore on the previous model but also gone a step ahead and bettered it in every department crucial to the commuter segment. For instance, the fuel tank although still a bit narrow, like on the Stallio, is now aided by a longer (774mm, longest-in-class), flatter and a bit wider seat, making for a comfortable riding stance.
Couple that to the feet-forward placing of the rider foot pegs, and the ergonomic geometry is dead right for city commutes. A closer look and it is telling that the overall built quality and finish on the Pantero is not just better than what we saw on the Stallio but on par with the current competition in the 110cc class of motorcycles.
The paint quality is well finished and there are no shoddy panel gaps or dodgy weld spots visible on the outside. The full digital display console upfront comprises a tachometer, speedometer, fuel meter and tell-tale lights. While the console is up to the task, the switchgear quality on the chrome-laden bars could be improved to gel with the overall finish of the Pantero.
The indigenously developed 4-stroke, 110cc, air-cooled, SOHC sloper mill is mated to an all-new 4-speed transmission with an all-up shift pattern. The 8.6PS of power let out at 7,500rpm and 8.5Nm of torque available low down from 5,500rpm is transferred to the rear wheel via a final chain drive.
The basic engine architecture like the bore x stroke is identical to the Stallio, but it now boasts of MCI-5 engine tech, which stands for Micro Chip Ignited 5 Curve setup that aids in improving low-end torque and overall efficiency of the 110cc engine. Benefits of which are visible in the way the motorcycle lugs effortlessly from 15km/h all the way up to 70km/h in fourth gear.
While Mahindra claims an ARAI fuel efficiency figure of 79.4kmpl, we shall soon let our test find out what the bike is capable of. But in the short ride that we had, the motor felt peppy and much refined in its new guise though at higher revs the engine does feel a bit loud when compared to rivals and there is scope for improvement in reducing the overall noise and harshness from the motor.
Looking after the dynamics of the Pantero is an all-new double cradle frame which is 1.87kg lighter while offering improved rigidity and revised mounting points for the engine. Unlike the two-point mounting seen on the Stallio, the engine is fixed into the new frame on a three-point mounting on the Pantero for a more robust holding.
Telescopic suspension ake care of damping upfront while coil spring adjustable twin shock absorbers do the duty on the rear. Set up brilliantly to take over bumpy roads without upsetting the balance and handling of the motorcycle, the suspension components offer a plush ride without compromising the Pantero’s road manners.
Fairly well-drawn wheelbase of 1265mm endows the Pantero with good stability but the employment of an archaic tubular swingarm instead of a box section unit, which is a norm on today’s motorcycles, is a bit disappointing. The 130mm brakes too could be bettered as under emergency braking they feel like they can use some more bite in them. The MRF Nylogrip tyres on the neatly designed 18-inch five-spoke wheels offer excellent grip levels and play a vital role in the Pantero’s handling dynamics.
To sum it up, the Mahindra Pantero is not just a meek update to the Stallio but an all-new motorcycle on the inside from the Indian bike-maker. While the usual drill is to change the clothing while carrying forward the existing skeleton, Mahindra 2 Wheelers has done the exact opposite by maintaining the same exterior make up to keep costs low while building an all-new motorcycle underneath the bodywork resulting in a product that is that is on par with its rivals. Less frills, more substance seems to be the mantra for Mahindra 2 Wheelers and we are in accord with this principle.
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