New Royal Enfield, Continued…
It is interesting to note here that the other home grown brands, Hero, TVS and Bajaj were all building up their technical expertise with their tie ups with Honda, Suzuki and Kawasaki respectively. Bajaj was the last to enter the motorcycle bandwagon, though they have been present in the two wheeler scenario with their much loved Chetak. (Who can forget the Hoodibaaba) Bajaj stunned the market with the Kawasaki Eliminator which would later be rechristened as Bajaj Avenger, But it was the Pulsar brand that made the Bajaj a formidable force. It was loved by enthusiasts, and its budget friendly nature drove thousands of youngsters into Bajaj showrooms in the start of last decade.
Hero is yet to show the same enthusiasm the likes of bajaj and TVS is showing to launch refreshed products. Bajaj has typically launched a new version of their public darlings Pulsar and Discover almost every year, most of the times with serious updates in the engine and cosmetics; Hero has changed the sticker works of their CD line. The much awaited Hastur and HX 250R are still awaited, and we have no idea when they’re coming. TVS, while tuning their racing DNA with the Apache series, has won a regular fan following. Although their design language is not to the liking of everyone, they have always produced reliable motorcycles.
With their latest tie up with BMW, TVS is going to new heights. Their recently teased Apache 310, known in the enthusiasts circle as Akula from day one, is sure to gain them a new crop of followers. Bajaj’s Dominar 400 also is proving to be a hit in the market, even in Australia and Africa.
So how do New Royal Enfield actually fare against them? And who are the real competition?
The two wheeler market of India is fast maturing, as more and more customers are moving towards the middleweight segment. Manufacturers are quick to pick up the trend, and are delivering to the requirement. Honda has successfully integrated well with their CBR series, but they never got accepted as a travellers ride, even though they are highly reliable. (I personally feel Honda Rebel Twins will fit the bill perfectly, and will give the Enfields the fight they deserve. But as of now, Honda has not revealed any plans of that sort) Kawasaki is yet to offer an affordable cruiser; their Intruder 125 is too underpowered to be considered as a true travelling option and to get the market reaction.
Presently, The Dominar 400 is selling well, but not to the expectations of the Bajaj top guns. Although the folks at Bajaj clearly stated that the Dominar is launched to dethrone the Bullet as the national touring machine, the newbie simply couldn’t challenge the old school charm of the RE. The rumoured Avenger 400 can be a serious game changer though. With the tried and tested 400CC mill sourced from the KTM, and the practicality of an everyday cruiser it can challenge the Classic. Himalayan is still the undisputed king of the bad roads, and even though Dominar has successfully demonstrated that it can take some beating, its looks probably won’t give the owners enough confidence to take them off the road. (Hero had a wild card in their hands- the now discontinued Impulse. They should’ve launched it with a more powerful engine probably from the Karizma).The well-executed Mahindra Mojo too isn’t gathering much orders.
With the launch of the 650 twins, Royal Enfield is sure to touch new levels of sales. Both the bikes have maintained the old school charm and have remained true to their DNA. And if as stated by the company sources, they are selling the euro spec units here in India too, there is no doubt that they will be immense value for money. And will sell like hot cakes. The fate of The Continental GT 650 cannot be said, because the 550 version wasn’t exactly a big hit. And the reason was not that the engine was small. I would happily take one Interceptor 650. It looks stunning, is not overwhelmingly powerful, and seems to be practical enough to be an everyday commuter- Not just another weekend ride machine. Apart from that, they could now boast of a diverse portfolio for the international markets. All the line up now lacks is a bobber. If they are willing to learn anything from the Triumph line up, they should launch a bobber based on the same engine and platform. Royal Enfields has always been mod friendly and remained a favourite among customising fans, I don’t think their recent line up has anything left to modify for!! A bit of personalisation here and there, but no all-out mods to the GT and Interceptor. Never!! Himalayans too, I don’t think I have come across much of heavily modified Himalayans. Are you listening, Siddhartha Lal? Give us a mod friendly Bobber and the Royals will rule again. Waiting for the 650 Twins eagerly…
And Now with the news of Patenting of Honda Rebel 300 in India, and that it means a launch in the near future, the situation changes drastically. More on it in the next article..
To be continued..