Racing DNA Unleashed

Posted: May 9, 2010 in Automobile

It is well past 6 years since I stepped into my adulthood and only now I’ve had the privilege of having a bike of my own. Though I do use my dad’s Bajaj CT-100 to commute, it was high time that I bought my own bike and that is how my quest to own a 150cc bike began.

Initially I wasn’t really serious about  going into the 150cc segment for various reasons like mileage, cost, etc. Scouting through various automobile posts on forums and blogs helped me decide on few bikes (but I never knew that most of them would be so expensive!) Of course, few friends also pitched in with their thoughts. Finally, short listed on 4 bikes after getting to know that I could push my budget a bit more(Yay!) They were Honda Unicorn, Hero Honda Hunk, Suzuki GS-150R and TVS Apache.

Being more of a Honda fan, I checked out in-depth reviews about Unicorn. It is undoubtedly one of the best commuter bikes on Indian roads, but I decided to give this a miss. Read on to find out.

Going through the specifications of each bike (and reviews) of the afore mentioned bikes got me more confused! Each bike has its own strengths and weaknesses and there is no way to tell that one bike is THE bike to own in this segment. So, decided to go in for a test ride to check out the real deal.

On a bright Monday morning, I head off to Rajajinagar 4th block where there are showrooms for all the bikes on one stretch of the road. So, it is a one-stop-shop for test riding those 2 wheelers.

TVS Apache RTR-160 Refresh

First stop, Bridgestone Agencies, the official TVS dealer. I’m along with my colleague and he introduces me to the showroom executive who knows Mr. Manager, i.e., my colleague quite well 🙂 We come straight to the point and I ask for a test ride. Since I was checking out the Apache Refresh with dual disc brakes, I turned down the offer of riding the one with single disc brake.  The showroom exec tried to convince me telling me that it is only a matter of disc brake and the rest of the specs are the same. Hey! If I don’t get to feel the disc brake, this just might be the deal breaker. He agreed at once to give me a TR of an Apache Refresh. The first thing which you notice about the bike when you start it, is the sweet mild rumble of the exhaust. It is definitely music to the ears. I hop on the bike and off I go!

First to second gear. Easy switch, but not a smooth one. The gearbox is notchy and the bike having a design of toe-shift gears, with the 1-down, 4-up pattern, it is a tad bit hard to shift. I’m riding in a narrow straight street which is crowded and being a typical Bangalore road is pock marked with potholes everywhere. I reach the end of the road a bit slowly than I would ride my bike and really need to feel what the bike has to give back. While riding back I decide to get a wee bit rough and use the horn liberally and manage to dodge people, 6-feet deep potholes and other motorists with ease with good speed! Managing to do this at 45-50kmph was something considering the condition which was given. The bike is like putty in your hands and gives you complete control. I’m really amazed by the handling, acceleration and the feel of the bike in general. The rear disc brake is not as responsive as I had imagined. I am later educated, that in case the rear brakes were set to be as sharp as the front, I would be tail sliding off the road, considering the pathetic TVS tires this machine has. One more ride please-that’s what my left brain says-but I my right brain says that there are other bikes to test ride too. We tell the showroom exec that we will be back in the afternoon to make the payment(lies!) and we hop into the Bajaj showroom.

Bajaj Pulsar 150cc (huh!?)

First of, I HATE Pulsars but decided to check out the new gen Pulsars for all the hype around it. After test riding this machine, I still hate the Pulsar. Acceleration-OK,  gear shift-smooth, braking-good, top speed-couldn’t reach and the annoying whining of the engine was a turn off. This is a very short test drive and I’m feeling wanting for more, but I hate Pulsars anyway and it is not on my list. So, what the heck! I give this a clean miss. Time to meet the Suzuki!

Suzuki GS-150R

The Suzuki showroom is very crowded, but we are made to feel important by the exec. He gave us the full specs of the GS-150R and immediately arranged for the test ride. Before I could head off to the bike, the exec offers a helmet to test ride. Suzuki, you earn brownie points here. It is always good to know that safety is considered first, though you manufacture the world’s fastest legal road bike. Hats off! The GS-150R is one of the best bikes available out there and can be easily compared with the Unicorn. Everything about this bike is butter smooth! Pick up, gear shift(really need to mention again that the gear shift is super smooth!) and the sound of the bike. It is also very comfortable and I’m able to zoom past traffic with ease. Then comes the curves. This is where the bike falls behind. Though the overall handling is good, it doesn’t fare too well on the curves.Mighty impressed with the bike, I consider this bike as a primary option and head of to the Honda showroom.

Honda Unicorn

Again, it’s the crowd, but what  a different feel you get here. No showroom exec is bothered to attend to you. Most are simply moving around like zombies. Since I’m pretty much covered with the specs of the Unicorn, I directly ask for the price, delivery date and test ride. A waiting period of one month was enough for me to turned off, as if the snob reply of the exec was not enough. Didn’t bother test riding this since I’ve had the opportunity to ride my friend’s Unicorn numerous times. You lost a customer here, Honda. Churning out great bikes off the assembly lines ain’t enough. Attend to your potential customers too! I later read on other forum(s) that Planet Honda has pathetic customer care. Sigh!

Somehow I didn’t feel like trying out the Hunk and had decided on Apache when we suddenly spot the  Yamaha showroom. W00t!

Yamaha FZ-16/S

Though I’m a Honda fan, I’ve also like Yamaha for their legendary RX series. Too bad I couldn’t own them when they were in production. Just for fun, decided to test ride the Fz-16. Man oh man!! What a WONDERFUL bike this is!! Killer macho look combined with the awesome technology and handling of the bike makes me wanna buy this right away! Oh wait. Look at the price! 78k on-road. Sorry baby, I again can’t own you 😥

So, I finally settle for the Apache RTR-160 Refresh. The main reason I went for this bike, though the Suzuki GS-150 is good is because of its handling, speed and the gizmos you get for the price you pay. Also, like the Tata Safari Dicor ad, I don’t want to regret later feeling “I always wanted to own a fast sporty bike”. Decided to go for the black color for 2 reasons. 1) Grey was not available immediately :p 2)My neighbour, cousin and almost everyone on the road either has a grey or a yellow RTR.

Payment done the next day, I”m waiting for the delivery tomorrow. Oh yeah!! Vrrooommm….!!!! 😀

  1. Shravan Kumar says:


    A very well written blog and lots of good things to say abt me also. I thank you once again for having kept the confidence in me and going for something that i suggested. Wishing u a lot of happy KMS inur RTR Refresh. Truly RACING DNA UNLEASHED 🙂

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