Motorcyclists in India have never had it this good—from a Rs 60,000 Splendor to a Rs 1.12 crore Superleggera V4, there's something for everybody now who's contemplating to buy a motorcycle. Of course, you can't really buy that V4 because it's been long sold out, but you get the point. Also, the even more powerful Panigale V4 R is available for less than half the Superleggera's price! Naturally, this rosy picture will make you think that every motorcycle manufacturer sells its entire lineup in India, right?
Well, not quite. So while there are a lot of options available, and it looks like we're really spoilt for choice, there are still many motorcycles that we do not get in India. And we're talking about motorcycles that are relevant to the Indian market. Therefore, in this series of stories, we'll pick a manufacturer and the models it should include in its Indian portfolio. We shall start with Honda.
Honda CB 1100
It's downright baffling that the CB 1100 isn't a part of Honda's big bike stable in India. Honda sells the Gold Wing, CBR 1000 RR, CB 1000 R, CBR 650 R, and CB 300 R, in addition to its small capacity motorcycles, in India. But, the beautiful CB 1100 is conspicuous by its absence.
It's a glaring omission by Honda, especially considering the popularity of the Bonneville range of motorcycles in India. In fact, out of the total 13 motorcycles Triumph has on sale in India, nine are modern classics!
Elsewhere, the CB 1100 competes with the Bonneville T120 and BMW's R Nine T. Price-wise too, it slots in between the Bonnie and BMW. If launched here, the CB 1100 would be the only inline-four in the modern classics segment in India (Bonneville and R Nine T are both twin-cylinder motorcycles), other than the absurdly priced Kawasaki Z 900 RS (Rs. 15.70 lakh). The Bonnie T120 is priced at Rs. 9.98 lakh while the BMW R NineT's pricing starts at Rs. 15.55 lakh.
All prices mentioned in this story are ex-showroom, pan-India unless mentioned otherwise.
Honda CBR 250 RR
The demise of the CBR 250 R has left a void, which can only be filled properly with the 250 RR. Unlike the 250 R, which was a single-cylinder motorcycle, the double-R is a parallel twin. Please note that the number of 'R' has nothing to do with the number of cylinders in a motorcycle; we emphasized on "R and RR" for you to easily identify the bikes from their nomenclatures.
The RR's twin-cylinder 250 cc engine makes 38 PS of peak power at 12,500rpm and 23 Nm of peak torque at 11,000rpm. The 2020 model is expected to take the power and torque up by a couple of units. However, even these current figures are on par with the Kawasaki Ninja 300's and Yamaha YZF-R3's. Kawasaki's website lists the Ninja 300 at Rs. 2.98 lakh, whereas the YZF-R3 has gone off Yamaha's website, and should return once it's BS6 ready. The BS4 bike was being sold for around Rs. 3.5 lakh.
Honda CBR 300 R
If Honda cannot bring the CBR 250 RR, then it should at least bring this motorcycle. Honda already sells the CB 300 R (one of Honda's 'Neo-Sports Cafe' models, and not the CB 300 F, which is a 'regular' naked version, the likes of which have been around for decades) at Rs. 2.42 lakh, which shares its engine with the CBR 300 R. The Honda 300s produce 30.5 PS at 8,000rpm, and 27.4 Nm at 6,500rpm. Do note that this engine produces more torque than the 250 RR's.
Honda CB 650 F
For almost every CBR, Honda has a CB-F or a CB-R model or both. Allow us to elaborate. Honda currently sells the CBR 650 R in India. Elsewhere, the company has two naked models as well with the same engine—CB 650 R and CB 650 F. The former is a "Neo Sports Cafe" model, just like the CB 300 R and CB 1000 R, while the latter is a regular naked version, as mentioned earlier.
The CBR 1000 RR also has a CB 1000 R, but no CB 1000 F. The CBR 500 R has a CB 500 F for company, but there's no CB 500 R. Not yet, at least. And we have already discussed that the CBR 300 R has both (CB 300 R and CB 300 F).
With that out of the way, let's get back to the CB 650 F. Simply put, there is a dearth of inline-fours in the naked 600-650cc segment. There's just the Benelli TNT 600i, while everything else has no more than two cylinders each. The CB produces a few more horsepower than the Benelli and is much lighter.
Honda Rebel 300
You must have noticed that Honda doesn't have any cruiser in India (the company classifies the Gold Wing as a tourer). While that may be a good decision as far as its big cruisers are concerned (Indian and Harley dominate here), keeping the Rebel away has been a mistake. One look at it and you wonder whether it's custom-made for India! It has an ultra-low seat height but doesn't come across as timid. It has more than enough presence and looks quite robust—a prerequisite to survive in our conditions.
The same 300cc single, which we have discussed more than once earlier in the story, powers this bike, and it costs the equivalent of Rs. 3.41 lakh (approx.) in the US. At the outset, we think that no one will buy it here at that price. However, considering there are buyers for even the highly overpriced (despite being made in India) BMW G 310 R and G 310 GS, this too should find takers. And if Honda prices it competitively, like it did with the CB 300 R, the Rebel would be a definite hit.
Honda CRF 250 L
Strictly speaking, there are just two motorcycles in India right now in the sub-500cc segment that are "good" off-road. The Hero Xpulse and RE Himalayan are those two bikes. The BMW GS 310 is a pretender in comparison. It's a good bike, but its off-road worthiness is nothing to write home about. The KTM 390 Adventure is better everywhere than the GS 310, but it's eventually a road bike that has been modded to take a bit of off-road abuse. Moreover, the untouched engine doesn't help in off-road conditions either.
Therefore, the Indian market needs at least one motorcycle that's a bit more powerful than both the XPulse and Himalayan and a bit more capable than them off-road. The Honda CRF 250 L fits the description. The price in the US is close to Rs. 4 lakh, but if Honda could price it close to Rs 3 lakh, there will be a good number of takers.
Let us know which bike (from or outside this list) YOU want to be launched in India.