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Yamaha FZS vs Honda CB Dazzler vs Hero Honda Hunk


That's exactly how the boys at ZigWheels felt when they decided to spend a morning riding around on a trio of the latest "macho" 150cc bikes, says Priyadarshan Bawikar

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's the perfect way to spend a Sunday morning - motorcycles, mates and miles of twisty mountain roads. But this wasn't a Sunday morning. In fact it wasn’t even the weekend. What it was, was a Wednesday, smack dab in the middle of the week. The three bikes before us were the perfect opportunity to play truant for half a day and go gallivanting on the hills that surround Pune. And the bikes in question were none other than the original 'muscle' bike, the Hero Honda Hunk, the internationally styled Yamaha FZ-S and the latest upstart in this 'naked' segment, the Honda CB Unicorn would also serve another purpose of judging which of these muscle-bound motorbikes would be the top trump of their class. Who says work can't be fun as well?

 

Recent times have seen a dichotomy in the 150cc market with one bunch of motorcycles taking the distinctive 'commuter' approach; with conventional styling and a preference for comfort over sharp handling and dynamics, giving them a wider appeal in general. Judging what bike is best among these is a simple matter of choosing practicality over everything else. On the other hand you have bikes like the ones the three of us were taking out for a ride; more aggressively styled, with great dynamics and oodles of grunt to top it off too. Now picking a winner amongst these is a far more difficult task with nearly every aspect of the bike needing careful consideration.

 

So after an early morning coffee on the highway and we were off, Shivaji, our head designer on the Hunk, me on my favourite, the FZ-S and Manoj, our other designer and resident body builder, on the Dazzler. A stop over before hitting the twisty sections followed a quick blast down the arrow straight highways and nary a word was exchanged between the three of us since we had met up in the morning. But with the bikes parked next to the road, under the "Ghat Start" sign, the sun peeking gleefully through a gaggle of dark clouds and highlighting every curve on these three beauties, all three of us could almost exactly anticipate what happened next.

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Say what you like, but I believe that the Dazzler is really the best looking of the lot", said Manoj, pointing to his steed. And funnily enough, Shivaji and I found ourselves nodding in unison. Now I've always liked the way the Yamaha FZ has looked. In fact, you may even catch me making bold statements proclaiming it to be the best looking Indian made motorcycle. But it gets a little difficult to consider its near-twin, the FZ-S in the same regard. For one thing, the new color schemes, especially the ones which are mostly black, do a good job of hiding most of the body details that make the FZ look so good to begin with. Those that do look good, such as the yellow and black one, only seem to do so from certain angles. There is also that 'love-it-or-hate-it' that rests on top of the headlight. Add to it that front number plate mount and the FZ-S quickly starts looking like a beautiful princess wearing a crown… with a toaster jammed in the middle of it. And while that toaster might be mandatory by law, in say Toaster-land, it's really not doing the bike's looks any favours, and in fact earns a strong 'Un-like' in my (face)book. The Hunk doesn't do too well in this department either. While it may not be a looker of the FZ’s caliber, from some angles it really does look brilliant, 'some' being the operative word here. Otherwise it tends to suffer from a 'lets-put-as-many-plastic-bits-on-it-as-an-F1-car' syndrome. And those extremely tall handlebars along with that high mounted headlight is so five years ago. And we are not even getting to the completely analogue console and chrome lined exhaust.

 

The Dazzler on the other hand, as Manoj said, really does look the best of the lot. While it may not have the bulk of the other two, its proportions seem very well balanced. And a large part of this comes from the narrower fuel tank and the monoshock rear suspension coupled with the smaller 17" diameter wheels. Add to that the metallic olive green paintjob, and it really does start looking like a baby Hornet. The Dazzler really does seem that on the styling front, it has the best of all worlds; some chunky bits here and there to give the bike a muscular stance, a slimmer profile so as to not appear intimidating to even those of a conventional nature and extremely proportioned details from start to end. So that was that and we got back on to the bikes and started negotiating the twists and turns of the winding mountainous road that unfurled before us.

 

 

 

 

 

"Catch me if you can", I shouted through my helmet to the others as I opened up the throttle to the stops and briskly accelerated away from them. The FZ has always had great handling characteristics, given its sorted out chassis and those wide, flat handlebars which give a brilliant front end feel and make it easy to quickly steer the bike from corner to corner with the agility of a housefly. While the FZ-S might not be the quickest in a straight line, completing the dash from naught to 60km/h in 5.6 seconds, what the bike does have in its favour is 14Nm of torque, a full 1.2Nm more than the other two. This gives the Yamaha superior in-gear acceleration, which is exactly what one needs on winding roads to achieve quick corner exits for a mad dash to the next corner.

 

The Dazzler is no slouch either. Its revvy 149.1cc engine endows it with a zero to 60km/h time of 4.89 seconds, the quickest of the lot, though not by a large margin. Even on the handling front, it offers a good mix of straight line stability and quick cornering prowess and can almost match the FZ-S in that department. The rear disk brakes too offer good stopping power, but overall brake feel, though decent, can't really match the chunky Yamaha. That being said, it is extremely fun to ride and it was with a heavy heart that we rated the Dazzler slight lower than the FZ-S in terms of performance and handling. But what the hell, somebody has to finish second.

 

 

 

 

 

The Hunk stands a little apart from the other two bikes in the lot. Its 149.2cc mill produces 14.4 PS of power, the highest of the lot. But what really lets the Hunk down is its high kerb weight, a bouldering 146kg, 8kg more than the Dazzler and a full 11kg more than the surprisingly lightest of the lot FZ-S. Factor in the feet forward and raised handlebars posture, and it's easy to see why it has the laziest handling of the lot. In a group of sprinters and tri-athletes, the Hunk really is the lumbering body builder. But the Hunk's strong suite in terms of performance is comfortable high speed cruising all day long, but which does not count for a whole lot when you’re riding in the twisties. So having proven the FZ-S’s mettle on the mountain roads, and with a wonderful mornings worth of ride behind us, it was time to head back to the reality of office where tonnes of work and bad coffee waited for us.

 

 "Why do you guys look so exhausted?" Shivaji asked Manoj and I as we finally pulled our bikes onto their stands in our office parking. He was right. The journey back to town, through heavy city traffic and the sun beating down on our backs certainly seemed to have taken a toll on Manoj and me, while Shivaji was surprisingly perky. But the reason for his perkiness was no real secret. The Hero Honda Hunk which he had ridden all morning is undoubtedly the most comfortable bike of the lot. Not only is the posture extremely relaxing, the seat itself is wide and cushy, allowing the rider to just slump into it without a care in the world. The front set footpegs, though not desirable for cornering, really do keep those stresses off one’s legs while riding. The rear seat of the Hunk is almost as comfortable as the front too, and those gas filled rear shocks go a long way in ensuring pillion comfort.

 

 

 

 

 

But that's not saying that FZ-S and the Dazzler are uncomfortable by any means. It's just that their sportier postures tend to provoke the rider into getting off the seat more often when tackling the bends. So when you factor in a full day’s worth of sport riding, it's quite easy to see how riders on the Yamaha or the Honda might end up feeling more tired. And let’s not even talk about the rear seat of the FZ-S. While it might be perfect for young men who ferry petit young lasses around town, for anyone who is slightly larger sized, the back of the FZ-S is no place to be. The Dazzler on the other hand isn't too bad when it comes to the back seat and while it might be leagues ahead of the FZ-S in that front, Hunk is the clear winner when it comes to all matters of practicality.

 

Overall, it is rather tricky business to pick a winner amongst these three bikes, considering they excel in one aspect or another. The Yamaha FZ-S is undoubtedly the king of cornering and is the most fun to ride. But then again, it is also the most expensive bike here at an ex-showroom (Delhi) price of Rs. 67,000. The Honda CB Unicorn Dazzler looks great, and probably offers a good mix of everything, including its price which is a good four grand cheaper than the FZ-S at Rs. 63,000. The Hero Honda Hunk, priced at Rs. 59,000, might be the least expensive among the group, but one can't help feel it offers a little lesser as well. Of course Hero Honda has very recently fixed that with the new Hunk which comes with a new exhaust, rear disk brakes and even a digital speedometer, along with a few other slight design modifications here and there. So this brings the Hunk back in contention in a big way.

 

So what did the three of us finally agree on? Well, mostly just that skipping a morning of work for a good ride is a lot of fun and something we look forward to doing once again.