TVS Victor 11,000km Final Long Term Report
- Nov 16, 2017
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It is the segment that commands the lion's share among motorcycles. But that's a known fact. Also well known is that Hero is the boss of this, the entry-level motorcycle category. Not that this is stopping other bike makers from launching new products, and in fact, seeing higher numbers. Honda is managing it will the Dream series and Mahindra has struck gold with the Centuro. Bajaj has its Discover range and TVS has the Star.
But, the Star is also the oldest of the lot. So, to bring it up the consideration list among new motorcycle buyers, TVS has now introduced a brand new Star - the Star City+. And, it joins the Star City and the Star Sports in TVS's lineup of entry level motorcycles. It will be the most expensive Star model - though not by much - but it will also be the most premium - both in look and in feel. TVS realises that the new bike buyer in the entry-level segment is looking for a stylish offering. Things like features and a reliable, fuel efficient and smooth engine also rank higher up in their 'must-have' list. Then there are bits like ease of riding and parking and seating comfort that the entry-level motorcycle buyer is not ready to compromise on.
TVS has got the styling bit almost spot on. The Star City+ with its pronounced creases, its clear lines and thoughtful detailing looks more expensive than it is. The paint finish, the quality of plastic, the operability of switches and the overall build quality is impressive too. The Star City+ also has more features than the regular Star City. It gets a partial digital layout for trip and fuel indication. It has an econometer that glows green when ridden sensibly and for economy, and red, when ridden hard; it can prove to be a good tool to extract higher fuel economy figures by using the throttle in accordance with the light.
There's a service indicator as well. Alloy wheels, bar end weights and an alloy rear grab rail make up the remaining features list. The switchgear, with a pass by switch, is comprehensive too. What the City+ lacks are tubeless tyres, a front disc option and LED tail lamps. TVS says it is looking at introducing these missing features, but in the end it would depend on whether the end consumer wants it or not.
The highlight of the new Star City+ though is its seating ergonomics. The seat is large and cushy and should prove comfortable over shorter commutes. The handle grips are soft to the touch and feel premium. Then there's the relation between the seat, handlebar and the footpegs. One sits upright, in typical commuter fashion, but the distance between the handlebar and the seat, and the height of the seat from the footpegs, makes for one of the roomiest, easy to ride and relaxed seating positions in this class of motorcycles. The tank knee recesses are usable too and thanks to the low seat height, the Star City+ is also an easy bike to get on.
Seating comfort, premium styling and features aside, entry-level commuters also demand light controls and a refined engine. On this count, the Star City+ has a light and progressive clutch and a light but crisp throttle response. It's also light to steer, which should make it a breeze to ride in traffic and with its light 109kg kerb weight, parking shouldn't be a hassle either.
As for the engine, it is the same 109.7cc single cylinder air cooled unit you get on the Star City. It makes 8.3PS of max power and a torque of 8.7Nm on the City+. These aren't numbers that will make you sit up and take notice, but in the real world, the Star City+ feels reasonably peppy in the low and mid range. It is also refined and when commuting in the 50-60kmph range in fourth gear, there's hardly vibration or noise to bother the rider. It's only when the engine is revved close to the redline that the engine gets vibey and noisy and one can start feeling the vibes on the handlebar and seat. Also, there's no great performance to be had that high in the rev range and it's best to shift early and ride the engine's near flat torque curve.
TVS claims it has made a lot of improvements over the Star City's engine to get this result. To begin with the friction has been brought down by using moly coated pistons and a roller follower. TVS has also used a high energy coil with a step-less ignition map for more efficient combustion across the rev and load range. Air intake design has been optimised and the air filter itself is of a higher capacity. There's also a silent cam chain for noise reduction.
As for effortless riding, like we mentioned earlier, the Star City+ with its light steering and good seating ergonomics should make for an intuitive and easy bike to manoeuvre through traffic. We say 'should' because we haven't yet ridden it in the city yet. What we can tell you is that the City+ might be a commuter, but it is also happy to change directions and is confident around bends. But, its rear does tend to wallow; something dialling up the preload on the 5-way adjustable rear suspension sorted out in no time. But, it still isn't the sharpest handling bike in its category.
The higher preload setting meanwhile also helps with the ride quality, particularly with a pillion as the Star City+ is now less prone to bottoming out. With just the rider, however, the softer setting works fine. We rode the City+ over some broken and some undulating roads and its ride is one of the most comfortable and least jarring in its class. Its front, even under severe load, doesn't bottom out; something its competition struggles with.
The TVS Star City+ might be a late entrant in its class, but it is a well sorted and well executed entry-level motorcycle. It is stylish; it looks and feels premium; it is comfortable; and it has a refined, less noisy engine. It isn't the best when it comes to features, but it ticks the crucial boxes. Now, the price. The prices in the entry-level motorcycle segment are already very close with the Mahindra Centuro leading the race packing in the best price to features formula. If the Star City+ wants to make its presence felt in the segment it needs to beat the Centuro at its own game. Because if it does, the Star City+ will make a great buy indeed.
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