2013 was a mixed bag for the Indian motorcycle industry. Although the year did see a slew of interesting bike launches, sales weren’t at their best. As was the case with the year before, 2013 also saw a brisk growth in the premium motorcycle segment. A lot of new bike launches, along with some much-anticipated product updates await us in 2014. Let us find out what lies in store for us this coming year.
2014 will see Bajaj update its much awaited Pulsar line-up. It is expected that the new line will incorporate styling cues from the current generation 200NS, while being equipped with an all-new set of engines which should feature improved performance and efficiency. The company will also reveal the much-awaited Pulsar 375 and the fully-faired Pulsar 200.
Left to Right: Bajaj Pulsar 200NS*; Bajaj Avenger 220 DTSi*
Although the Avenger 220 DTS-i is a great cruiser, it has been around for nearly a decade in its current avatar. It is understood that Bajaj will unveil a brand new cruiser in 2014, which we believe may be the new-generation Avenger. The new cruiser is expected it to be equipped with a new powertrain, probably a unit that could be derived from KTM’s 373cc single cylinder engine, tuned to suit the bike’s characteristics, for more low-end power and torque. This bike could be priced anywhere between Rs 1.5 lakhs to Rs 2 lakhs.
Hyosung’s third innings in the Indian market is turning out to be quite successful, with the company, along with their Indian partners DSK, selling a healthy number of premium bikes in 2013. While it does have a strong portfolio in the Rs 3 lakh+ price range, Hyosung lacks products below that point, which is where sales are the strongest. To counter this deficit, the company plans to launch two 250cc bikes here. The first one would be the GD 250N naked bike. Unveiled in late 2013 at the EICMA Motor Show in Italy, the GD 250N is Hyosung’s answer to the 200 Duke. The bike will come equipped with a brand new 250cc single cylinder engine that is expected to output close to 28 bhp. The bike seems to be an impressive prospect, and it will be interesting to see how Hyosung will play the price card, considering that is the biggest factor in the success of KTM in India. We can expect it to be priced in the range of 1.3 to 1.6 lakhs.
Left to Right: Hyosung GD250N; Hyosung Aquila GV250
The sub-Rs 3 lakh end of the cruiser segment has been hardly touched by manufacturers, with Royal Enfield being the only contender in the segment. Now, though there will be a new entrant in this segment. Hyosung will unveil the Aquila GV250 cruiser in 2014. This bike, which could be priced under Rs 2.5 lakhs, will be powered by a 250cc V-twin engine, and will compete against the higher-end Royal Enfield bikes, such as the Classic Desert Storm, and the Thunderbird 500. This will be one product that we will be waiting for with bated breath.
As we reported earlier, Ducati has announced that it will enter the Indian two-wheeler space officially. This will see the Indian line-up being updated with the launch of models such as the 1199 Panigale, the 899 Panigale, the 2014 Hypermotard series, the 2014 Monster 1200, and the 848 Streetfighter. All models on sale will be imported into India as completely built units manufactured in Italy, with the exception of the Monster 795, which is assembled in Thailand.
Clockwise from Left: 2014 Ducati 899 Panigale; 2014 Ducati Hypermotard; 2014 Ducati Monster 1200
While Ducati will be competing against established Japanese and European superbike manufacturers, the real threat will come from Triumph, who recently entered the Indian market with four direct competitors, the Street Triple 675, the Speed Triple 1050, the Daytona 675R and the Tiger Explorer. It will be a tough fight for the Italian company, as the four Triumph bikes are priced between Rs 7 lakhs to Rs 18 lakhs, much lower than their respective Ducati rivals.
Harley-Davidson had undoubtedly caused the biggest sensation in the motorcycling world in 2013. The Milwaukee, USA based company had launched its smallest-displacement bikes ever in the Street 750 and the Street 500. 2014 will be the year these two bikes will be launched for sale in India, which is also where they will be manufactured.
Harley-Davidson Street 750:
According to Harley-Davidson, the Street 750 will be launched in the country first, followed by its 500cc sibling later in the year. The two bikes feature the same basic engine architecture, styling and bodywork. Given the company’s popularity in India, the Street 750 & 500 have the potential to become the best-sellers in the premium motorcycle segment in India
2014 will be a big year for Hero MotoCorp. This will be the final year that the company will use technology from Honda Corporation, as their agreement expires at the end of the year. Hero will unveil its 2014 range at the 12th Indian Auto Expo. The new range will feature three new bikes, the Karizma R, Karizma ZMR, and the Splendor iSmart, all of which will incorporate technology developed in-house by Hero, in collaboration with Erik Buell Racing. Also included are the updated Pleasure, HF Deluxe, HF Dawn, Splendor Pro and Super Splendor two-wheelers.
(Clockwise from Left: 2014 Hero Splendor iSmart; 2014 Hero Karizma R; 2014 Hero Karizma ZMR)
Most established two-wheeler manufacturers have entered the booming performance bike segment in India, and come out with considerable success. Not wanting to be left behind, Hero, along with their technical partners Erik Buell Racing, is currently developing a 250cc sport bike, which it will unveil in 2014. This bike will be derived from the EBR-Hero race bike which was showcased by Hero earlier this year. No technical details have been made available yet, although we think this bike will be a serious contender in the segment, considering the involvement of Erik Buell Racing, which has a reputation of building really fast and powerful superbikes.
Honda is fast closing in on the No.1 spot in India. With the launches of the CB Trigger, the Dream Neo and the Activa-I in 2013, the company now have a solid product portfolio comprising of strong contenders in every segment, but to topple Hero, it needs to strengthen its range further.
The Activa has dominated the scooter segment for i have informedover 10 years, and is still going strong. It received a mid-life refresh back in 2009, which updated the styling and the engine. 2014 will see the Activa get a major mechanical upgrade. With rivals such as Yamaha and Suzuki catching up, the best-selling scooter in India may receive a brand-new 125cc engine, in order to keep it fresh and competitive in its segment.
To counter the increased competition in the performance biking segment, Honda is also expected to launch the CBR 300R in the country in 2014. The new bike, sporting a 286-cc 30 bhp single cylinder engine, will replace the CBR 250R. The CBR 300R will be competing against the likes of KTM’s Duke 390 & RC390, the Hyosung GT 250R, and the upcoming Bajaj Pulsar 375. Expect the bike to be priced slightly higher than the CBR 250R, at around Rs 2 lakhs (expected price, ex-showroom)
Left to Right: Honda CBR 300R; Honda Activa*
In the wake of Harley-Davidson’s success in India, Indian Motorcycles, one of America oldest motorcycle manufacturers, is all set to start its operations in the country in 2014. The company only manufactures heavy full-size cruisers, ones that are meant to be ridden down arrow-straight expressways, cossetting riders in comfort. Indian Motorcycles’ three model line-up will come in as completely built units (CBUs), so expect them to be priced in the region of Rs 18 Lakh – Rs 30 lakh, competing directly against the Touring series from Harley-Davidson.
2014 Indian Chief Classic:
KTM, along with their Indian partners Bajaj, are at the forefront of revolutionizing the Indian performance bike scene. It all started with the launch of the 200 Duke and the Pulsar 200NS in 2012, followed by the launch of the 390 Duke in 2013. A combination of high-performance and competitive pricing has made these products a huge success in India.
2014 is going to be no different. KTM has lined up a slew for launches for India in the coming year. The most important launches will be that of the RC200 & RC390 series sport bikes. Based on the 200 and 390 Duke variants, the RC series bikes feature redesigned suspension and styling, incorporating an aerodynamic full-fairing. As with the Dukes, the RC series bikes should also pose good value for money, with prices expected to be in the sub- Rs 2.5 lakh range.
Main Image: KTM RC390; Bottom Left to Right: KTM RC200; KTM 390 Duke; KTM 690 Duke
KTM may also launch the larger Duke 690 in India. This could be launched as a halo product, as a move to bolster the image of KTM as a sport bike manufacturer in India. Also on the cards is a hotter ‘R’ version of the 390 Duke, one that could boast of more power and torque from the 373cc single, along with shorter gearing and track-tuned suspension.
Mahindra had a very good run in 2013, with their Pantero and Centuro motorcycles performing well in their segment. In 2014, Mahindra will enter the performance bike sector with the 300cc Mojo. This segment has seen a huge growth in the recent years, and in order to hold its own in the face of established competitors, Mahindra will need to price the Mojo aggressively. The bike will be pit against the likes of the KTM Duke 390 and 200, and upcoming bikes like the Hyosung GD 250N, and Bajaj’s full-fairing version of the 200 NS, and will be priced in the sub- Rs 1.8 lakh range.
Mahindra may not have a big share of the scooter market, but they do have some competitive products in their range. The company will refresh its scooter line-up in 2014, as they hadn’t seen much in terms of updates in the past year.
Left to Right: Mahindra Mojo; Mahindra Rodeo RZ*
Although Suzuki has a portfolio of excellent products, it has performed well only in the scooter segment. In 2014 though, the company will look to increase its market share in the commuter and performance bike segments. With only one product in the 150cc+ range, Suzuki will launch the Inazuma 250, a performance bike unlike any other launched in India. The Inazuma is essentially a standard naked bike with a powerful heart. The bike will be powered by a 248cc parallel twin-cylinder engine that outputs 26 bhp and 24.4 Nm of torque. It will be interesting to see how Suzuki positions and prices the bike for India. Also expect updates to the company’s sub-125cc line-up as well.
Suzuki Inazuma GW250:
The past year saw Yamaha consolidate its position as a major player in the Indian scooter segment, thanks to the Ray series scooters. We tested the Ray Z earlier this year, and we were impressed. While it didn’t possess any specific strength, it was an all-round package that performed exceedingly well in all aspects.
With the ‘Ray’ twins reinforcing the company’s spot in the mid-range scooter category, Yamaha plans to target the segment leaders, namely the Honda Activa and the Suzuki Access, by launching an all-new 125cc automatic scooter. This scooter will be launched in January 2014. Reports suggest that the new scooter will be positioned as a unisex product, contrary to the Ray scooters, which targeted male and female consumers separately. Considering the performance of the Ray, the new scooter is something the segment leaders will have to be wary about.
With over 30 new bike launches lined up for the year, 2014 is going to be an exciting year for the Indian two-wheeler industry. It will be definitely be interesting to see which ones capture the hearts of the Indian consumers, and which ones fade into the darkness.
Note - Images with names marked with * are used for illustrative purposes only