HERO GLAMOUR 125
Panchgani where we were to ride to, hoping to stretch the Dominar’s legs. But then Murphy worked his charm and all we got on the PuneBengaluru bypass that would take us to our destination was more traffic. Faster moving than the city traffic we had encountered but there were still far too many vehicles than we would have liked. They say there is an upside to every downside in every story and the upside to this packed highway was that it allowed me to experience the bike’s tractability.
Just as Bajaj had promised bossman, the bulk of the grunt from the Dominar’s KTM sourced 373cc mill had been packed towards the bottom and the centre of its rev range. This makes the bike fairly easy to ride at any speed between 40 and 60kmph. Just play around with third and fourth gears, and the throttle. As the roads opened up and the traffic thinned out, we gave the bike some stick, accessing the early triple digits easily. The bike cruises happily between 110-120kmph, at 125kmph with some strain and thereafter the engine feels increasingly strained. We managed to get up to 149 on the all-digital instrument but found it too vibey and quickly climbed back to the happy zone. Although 110-120 is plenty of speed for a motorcycle on our wonderfully predictable roads, a bit more velocity from such a large capacity machine with 34.5bhp and 35Nm of twist force wouldn’t be bad. And then came the second of the two surprises.
Turning off the highway at Wai, we ran into a village fair. Now why a village fair should happen along, nay on, a main road is the subject of a whole new story but bottom line was we wasted a good half hour crawling through less than a kilometre. In these conditions I was mentally prepared to reach Panchgani and go Burnol hunting for my thighs because how could a 373cc engine not heat up in mostlystopped-and-hardly-going traffic? It was one of those inevitable bits of biker life. But fact is, the Dominar engine didn’t heat up! And not just on my bike. Comparing notes at the end of the ride, I realised that Varad More who was riding with me had felt the same. The engine is also more refined than the same unit in the KTM; there is less noise and it isn’t as harsh. Some vibrations do exist but nothing that left us with tingling palms and feet in Panchgani.
Going up the one way Khambatki gave us the first glimpse of just how capable a handler the bike is. Flicking left, right and then left again the Dominar makes it easy. Soon enough you find yourself smiling in your helmet. By the time we’ve tackled the Pasarni on the final climb to the hill station, the bike’s abilities on the switchbacks had us humming in our lids. It is that good! That beefy perimeter frame works beautifully with the stamped steel swingarm and the double spring monoshock to offer so much confidence around turns that you find yourself pushing much harder than you would.
Unfortunately, there’s a converse of every theory and so there’s a downside to every upside too. In this case, the ride quality. A large portion of the credit for that wonderfully nimble-footed character goes to the stiff suspension set up, which also means that the ride on the Dominar over bad roads takes a hit. While the patchy stuff is dealt with decently enough, the bike crashes into potholes and thuds over bumps. At least with a man of my weight (around 80 kilos) and no pillion. The easy solution to this was to simply stand on the pegs and ride through, which is exactly what I did.
At this point I would have gone on to the verdict after having told you all pretty much everything, but there’s one more thing I must mention – the headlamp. By the time we had finished clicking the photos you see on these pages it had turned too dark to see past our noses, so I was a little apprehensive about riding back up the Pasarni by night. You see the glare of headlamps from oncoming traffic bouncing of a helmet visor and a pair of spectacles creates a bit of an issue. The nearly-bright-as-day auto headlamp of the bike however ensures that my ability to see, and therefore ride on, remains unhindered.
On the list of equipment there are a few things that I wouldn’t mind. For instance a more comprehensive trip computer with a fuel range indicator would be welcome. As would a gear indicator be. I would also put some bungee hooks on the tail piece so that I can carry more than just a backpack on a ride. But mostly, those are nitpicky stuff. On the whole, I’m willing to stick my neck out and say that the product may not be perfect but is a great package, be it as a tourer (which is how I would use it) or as a lifestyle proposition (which is how Bajaj would like me to use it).
What changes things completely are the numbers Bajaj have put on the sticker. Given how much the Dominar 400 packs in at that price, I’m willing to shout from the rooftops that you’d be hard pressed to find better value for your hard earned money. L
AT THAT PRICE I’M WILLING TO SHOUT FROM THE ROOFTOPS THAT YOU’D BE HARD PRESSED TO FIND BETTER VALUE
Main: The perimeter frame and the engine are what dominate the bike’s form. Top right: Split instruments are difficult to read on the go. Right: Illumination from the headlamp is brilliant