It needs to be reminded that it was Hero who spearheaded the performance biking revolution in India. More than a decade ago, the biking scene here was far from enthusiast-friendly. Hero came bursting in with not one, but two products that caught the attention of riders countrywide, who were yearning for bikes that were fun-to-ride. One of them was the Karizma, the biggest and most powerful bike to be launched in India after the Yamaha RD 350.
Cut to 2009. The Karizma gets a new variant, the ZMR that employed fuel-injection rather than a carburettor. This made it a lot smoother, but it made only a smidgen more power than the R. Still, its imposing stance, large full-faring, and graphics that mimicked a certain Japanese superbike named after a type of falcon ensures it caught the imagination of the youth. Earlier this year, Hero updated the Karizma ZMR, giving the bike a much-needed makeover and a boost in power. Does this make the ZMR more desirable than before? We take a ride and find out!
Design & Build Quality
A design icon is something that the new Karizma ZMR will never be, although it does look much better than the previous generation model. The bike's design derives inspiration from EBR superbikes, which explain the stacked projector headlights and the minimalistic tail section. The full fairing seems disproportionately bulkier compared to the rear, and it's design isn't to everyone's taste, but it does its function quite well, so that really doesn't matter.
Fit and finish levels on the Karizma ZMR were quite commendable. It isn't the best we've come across on Indian bikes, but it is clear that Hero has paid a lot of attention to quality this time.
The Karizma ZMR offers a comfortable riding posture that can rival a Royal Enfield. You've got tall clip-on bars, slightly rear-set foot pegs and a large seat. You sit upright, and you get a lot of space to shift around, which makes it conducive for touring long distances comfortably.
Engine & Performance
The new ZMR employs the same 223cc air-cooled fuel-injected unit as its predecessor. One major qualm that we had about the previous gen. bike was that it output only 17-odd horses, which made it feel underpowered. Not anymore though, as in its latest avatar, the new engine produces 20bhp, which helps it accelerate with renewed vigour. It may not by fast out right, but it sure is quick. Even with the power bump, the engine, a unit that was originally developed by Honda, still retains its trademark smoothness.
A 5-speed gearbox, same as before, handles the transmission duties. It's got a set of well-spaced ratios that allow the ZMR to get off the line quickly, and cruise relaxedly at highway speeds,
Handling & Ride quality
Ride quality has always been one of the ZMR's hallmarks. The gas-charged dampers at the rear combine with conventional telescopic forks up front to provide a ride that soaks up surface undulations quite well.
The Karizma ZMR's longish wheelbase detracts agility, so you can't flick it in and out of gaps like say, a KTM Duke 200, but then, it offers good stability when cruising or taking sweeping corners at high speed.
A 276mm disc at the front, and a 240mm disc at the rear take care of the braking duties on the Karizma ZMR. They do their job very effectively when called upon, helping the bike decelerate quickly without much fuss or drama.
The bike comes fitted with LED day-light running lights, LED brake lights and indicators, a side-stand indicator, and a fully-digital multifunction display that shows a plethora of information, including a welcome message, and real-time fuel-consumption.
If you are looking for an inexpensive sport tourer, your search ends here. The new Hero Karizma ZMR is priced well at Rs 98,400 (ex-showroom, Delhi). Just look past the styling, and you'll find a good bike that has all the right ingredients to help to conquer mile after mile in relative comfort. It can cope with the daily grind too, but it feels truly in its element when it's out cruising in the open road.
|Engine||Air cooled, 4 - stroke single cylinder|
|Power||20 bhp @ 8000rpm|
|Torque||19.7 Nm @ 6500 rpm|
|Chassis Type||Diamond Frame|
|Brakes||Front:Disc, Dia 276 mm
Rear:Disc, Dia 240 mm
|Suspension||Front:Telescopic hydraulic shock absorbers
Rear:Swing arm with 5 step adjustable IGRS system
|Fuel Tank Capacity||15.3|