Evo India - - CONTENTS - Ghat ghat

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


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

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