All set for a new age in Indian motorcycling? The biggest motorcycle show in the world gave us some serious saving-up goals – here’s what EICMA 2017 had in store for every kind of Indian motoring enthusiast!
Over the years the Indian motorcycling enthusiast has had a growing choice of performance-oriented motorcycles that don’t quite burn a hole in the pocket and now, at EICMA 2017 in Milan, Italy, it seems like the next big revolution has just been shaped. The annual motorcycle show is globally regarded as the Holy Grail for manufacturers to show off new products and upgrades, but this year brought in something very special for India from four very varied manufacturers.
Royal Enfield 650 twins
In recent years, Royal Enfield has been concentrating on going global again and the latest additions to their portfolio are taking the internet by storm. Not only has Royal Enfield shown off their very first modern-day 650cc parallel twin motor, but they’ve also unveiled the two bikes that it will be doing duty in. The Interceptor INT 650 and the Continental GT 650 retain that old-school charm of British motorcycles but pack in modern technology under the retro bodywork. While the Interceptor is a relaxed roadster in its appearance, the Continental GT is a full-blooded café racer. Styling, and the nostalgic implications of their names aside, the 650cc, twin-cylinder, air-cooled engine is also fuel injected and puts down 47bhp and 52Nm with the meat of its potential concentrated towards low-end and mid-range performance – which essential translates to effortless motoring. If you’ve been a Royal Enfield purist for as far as you can remember, these two motorcycles could be something to look forward to upgrading to when they hit the Indian market hopefully some time in 2018. With a price tag expected to be under Rs 4 lakh, the two motorcycles could in fact also interest a bunch of non-RE loyalists as well. The one thing that is certain though, is that the Interceptor INT 650 and the Continental GT 650 could very well prompt other Indian manufacturers to finally take the plunge into the multi-cylinder, mid-capacity motorcycle segment and that’s definitely an exciting proposition!
Hero MotoCorp Xpulse
We’ve been hearing a whole lot about low-capacity on-off road motorcycles in the pipeline for India but their lineage has always raised questions about their affordability. There is definitely a demand for such motorcycles in India – something that was aptly demonstrated by the Royal Enfield Himalayan and even the Hero Impulse earlier. Hero MotoCorp hasn’t been sitting still though, and what they unveiled at EICMA 2017, straight from their spanking new R&D center in Jaipur and with direct inputs from the company’s Rally team that has done wonders in Dakar, is worth sitting up and taking notice of. The Xpulse, turned up in a swanky olive green and white paintjob could very well pick up where the hugely successful Impulse left off for the brand. While the Xpulse is still a concept and details are sketchy, it could very well make it into showrooms in production form late next year. The Xpulse is expected to be powered by a 200cc single cylinder engine, but will come loaded with all the bells and whistles that will truly make this a motorcycle that can be ridden over any kind of terrain you throw at it.
KTM 790 Duke
Ever since their launch, the razor-sharp, track-ready approach of the KTM Duke twins has captured the hearts of hoards of young riders across India and now the Austrian marque is all-set to take it up several notches. What was shown as a prototype in 2016 and nicknamed ‘The Scalpel’ for obvious reasons, is now out in its final production form and the KTM 790 Duke hasn’t changed much during the transition at all. Nestled under the edgy fuel tank is a brand new parallel-twin 799cc, DOHC motor with 105 bhp and 86Nm of torque! Considering the claimed dry weight of under 170kg, that is some mad power-to-weight ratio and the 790 Duke is all set to be quite the entertainer. What’s more? KTM has hinted that the motorcycle could be assembled in India and will make its debut here in 2019. It’s anyone’s guess as far as the price tag is concerned, but if you’ve out-ridden the 390 Duke and are in for an Orange upgrade, start saving up!
While Royal Enfield is moving up the ladder with its 650cc twins, it is likely to face competition for its existing range in India soon. Benelli has been planning a bunch of launches to cater to various types of riders and the Imperiale is the one that will take RE’s Classic 350 head on. Armed with retro styling cues – in fact, at first glance you’d think this was a Royal Enfield anyway, and a 400cc, 19 bhp motor, the Imperiale should be priced around the Rs 2 lakh figure when it is launched sometime in late 2018. Despite the old-school design, there’s a lot of modern-day relevant technology in there – disc brakes front and aft, and dual channel ABS as well!
With choices in the Indian motorcycling scenario on the rise for every kind of enthusiast, it seems manufacturers are finally opening up to the fact that there is a market for more mature, performance oriented machines that you don’t have to break the bank for as a buyer. This seems like just the beginning though – there’s definitely a whole lot more coming our way and it promises to make the next two years quite exciting for everyone who enjoys the thrills of motorcycling.