There was a time when any bike engineered and designed in India was either a 100cc or 150cc commuter or a Royal Enfield. For a bike that packed a punch, you had to look to the Japanese or Italian bike makers to come to the rescue. But as Dylan said – ‘The Times they are a changin’, and boy have they changed for the motorcycle industry in India. India is now one of the biggest markets in the world for motorcycles and almost every bike maker in the world is keen to launch their latest model in the country. But more importantly, a number of home-grown bike makers from India are now giving their foreign counterparts a serious run for their money, and we say it’s about damn time.
In the early days of the bike scene in India, it was a rat race among the manufacturers to make the most affordable bikes with highest mileages as that was the primary requirement for the market. But as the country developed and the spending power of its citizens increased, Indian bikes slowly started getting more powerful and consequently more expensive. Bajaj was at the forefront of this evolution with their Pulsar range as they ramped up their engines from 150cc to 180cc and then to 200cc and finally stopped at 220cc. TVS also entered the foray with their Apache series with 160cc and 180cc variants. But the progress halted at the 200cc mark and for anything bigger, bikers had to opt for a Honda, Kawasaki or Yamaha and more recently – KTM.
But hope springs eternal and the first Indian company to break this barrier, surprisingly, was Mahindra with its 300cc, 28hp Mojo. Royal Enfield also recently launched its adventurer – The Himalayan and it’s good to see them branching out from their typical sort of bike (Continental GT exempted). Following in their wake, the soon to be launched Bajaj Pulsar CS 400 and Hero HXR-250 promise a bright future for the Indian bike enthusiast.
Even the new BMW G310R (which is scheduled for a mid 2016 launch) was designed, engineered and manufactured entirely in India as a result of a long-term collaboration between TVS and BMW. The G310R is going to be exported to Europe and other parts of Asia and will hopefully kick-off the trend of other foreign bike giants moving their production base to India. Meanwhile we hope the Indian manufacturers won’t take too long to keep producing more bikes that puts us on the global map of biking. If the Hero XF3R and TVS Akula 310 concepts unveiled at Auto Expo 2016 are anything to go by, it might just happen sooner than we hoped.
This article is brought to you by Wheelstreet – India’s first bike rental platform.