The last and a rather insignificant link to the original CBZ has now been snapped by Hero with the new Xtreme. The iconic CBZ, launched in 1999, hardly had any competition then and was renowned for its looks and performance. Lack of significant updates against increasing competition stagnated sales, and eventually, it died a slow death in 2005.
The first Xtreme was born in 2006, with the prefix CBZ, (in all likelihood just to create some hype around the launch and probably to push sales). Why you ask? The Xtreme hardly complements the legendary CBZ, sharing nothing but the name. The engine was based on the Honda Unicorn, and sadly not an update of the 156cc. No space for any emotions from Hero, commercial sense and profit would any day outweigh romance.
The Xtreme was one of the best bikes in terms of performance and dynamics. If not for the muddled styling, it would have stomped over the competition. Still, it’s a commercial success and has eaten into the Pulsar/ Unicorn market share, which the CBZ was never quite able to achieve back then.
Let’s give history a rest and take a fresh a look at the new Xtreme. Hero updated the Xtreme quite frequently, and this is probably the biggest change, let’s find out if it has been a worthwhile effort.
Styling, Design and Build
Styling was one of the weaker traits of the 1st generation Xtreme. The issue undoubtedly lay over the headlamp design; the pilot lamp and integrated turn lamp combo was just plain ugly! It has taken over 7 years for Hero to realize this, and provide conventional side mounts for the indicators. Things have changed for the better now, and the new Xtreme is quite a looker. The new headlamp is still flanked by small pilot lamps, more like eyebrows, which is rather acceptable than pleasing.
The rear end begs to differ though. Forget the face; the Xtreme is best viewed from the rear three-quarters. The well-done tank extensions, refreshed side panels, upswept exhaust, and cool alloys enhance its visual appeal. Hero probably should have gone all out and provided the bike a mono- shock. New LED tail lamps and a redesigned mud flap give it a big-bike feel when you approach it from the rear. Overall, there’s nothing revolutionary about the styling; it is conventional, yet distinct.
It’s an extremely well built motorcycle, the Xtreme. All panels and components are well integrated and feel sturdy. Fit and finish was never an issue and it stays that way.
Features and Ergonomics
The instrument console remains an analog- digital combo, but redesigned with blue outlines. Oh, and even the rev counter is outlined with blue. There is even more blue for those who visit dark parking spots often, as the key slot now glows in blue even when the key is removed, to help slot in the key in the dark. Side-stand indicator and immobilizer are worthy new additions. Another noteworthy feature is the side-stand engine cut-off, which switches off the engine if the vehicle is put in gear with the side-stand deployed.
A surprising addition to the Xtreme is a new mobile charging slot, positioned under the rear seat. This is a very useful feature, when considering the increasing mobile penetration and the influx of power-hungry smartphones, which we cannot seem to live without. The usability remains a question though, as the underseat storage is not the most practical solution, and there is a risk of the phone bouncing around under the seat when riding.
The long seat, which stretches a little over the tank, provides a comfortable perch with a sporty intent. Padding is sufficient, and even extended runs can be done in good comfort. Switchgear is ergonomically placed, and as is always the case with Hero motorcycles, the kill switch fails to make an appearance.
Powertrain and Performance
The familiar 149cc mill based on the Honda Unicorn makes the same 14.6 Ps as before (the 15.2 Ps version Xtreme Sports is rumored to make its way later this year). Hero hasn’t meddled with the engine much in this upgrade, which is not a bad thing. It was always a hoot to ride and still is. Power is available almost everywhere in the rev band, though felt best only at higher RPMs.
The superb throttle response and effortless progress we have experienced earlier are retained. The engine on the Xtreme seems more characterful than the engine on the Honda 150s, which seem rather utilitarian in comparison. Though the Pulsar 150 makes more power on paper, the Xtreme feels faster in most situations.
Dynamics and Braking
The Xtreme is definitely the bike with the best dynamics package in Hero lineup and in its class. The conventional telescopic forks and gas charged twin rear shocks provide great confidence when leaned over. Suspension setup is sufficiently soft to absorb bumps, and necessarily stiff for great mid- corner stability. Talk about striking the right balance! The MRF tires are sticky enough and complement rest of the setup very well.
The brake setup provides good stopping force, with no wavering or drifting when stopping hard. Front-end feedback is very good, and gives much needed confidence to squeeze the brakes harder when necessary. While a rear disc is optional, there is no ABS yet, but it would be great if Hero could add it to the bike in the future.
40-45 kmpl is what a litre of petrol in the Xtreme will fetch you in mixed riding environs, which is on par with the benchmarks. This gives the bike a good tank range of around 500 kms.
The Xtreme was and still is the best Hero motorcycle and arguably, the best bike in its class. The earlier low points in the styling have been ironed out, and the whole package now seems very attractive. It’s an excellent commuter with a sporty intent that will keep you smiling every time you swing your leg over it. The lower sticker price makes it an even more compelling buy.
Special thanks to Adyar Motors, Chennai, who provided us the Hero Xtreme for the review
Disclaimer: This review is purely based on a test conducted by ChooseMyBike.in. All views expressed in this review are that of ChooseMyBike.in's, and not of the manufacturer's.
(c) ChooseMyBike.in. All Rights Reserved
|Engine||Air cooled, 4 - stroke single cylinder|
|Power||14.2 bhp @ 8500rpm|
|Torque||12.80 Nm @ 6500 rpm|
|Chassis Type||Tubular double cradle frame|
|Brakes||Front:Disc Dia 240 mm
|Suspension||Front:Telescopic hydraulic type
Rear:Rectuglar swing arm with 5 step adjustab gas reser
|Fuel Tank Capacity||12.1|