Hero Xtreme 200R: Three things that we love and three we don't
You've already seen our story on the new Hero Xtreme 200R. It's Hero MotoCorp's entry into the premium market with a completely indigenous product. And our first impressions of the Hero Xtreme 200R suggest that it's a likeable, effervescent motorcycle. It does enter a rather happening space where loads of genuinely good bikes already exist and we are waiting for Hero to accounce the final price - maybe two-three weeks from now - to get a complete sense of how the Xtreme 200R will fit into the market and sit against the TVS Apache RTR 160 4v, 200 4v, Pulsars 150 through 220 and the Honda Trio, the Unicorn, X-Blade and Hornet. And let's not forget the Suzuki Gixxer which upended the segment with its all-round excellence not so many moons ago.
We have already covered the essentials of what the Hero Xtreme 200R feels like to ride around the racetrack, our venue for the introductory media ride. Here is what sticks out as high points and stuff that Hero needs to work on from my perspective
I know it sounds really odd to start writing about a bike ridden solely at the racetrack and pick the quality of the ride as a place to start. But here's the thing. When you sit on the Xtreme 200R, it feels soft and comfy. And I cut the little grassy patch every single time on my way on to the track and that also meant a short section on the kerb (going the wrong way) and one manhole cover.
All of this, the Hero Xtreme 200R seems to swallow whole, allowing very little to reach the rider. That is impressive. You already know that we rather like the Showa-tuned suspension on the TVS Apache RTR160 4v. I believe that the Hero setup should rival or exceed that setup in the real world. Why? Because, see the next point!
Hero has a completely new frame, including their very first 17-inch wheels and monoshocks on the Xtreme 200R. And the setup is rather nice. We were riding only the handling circuit - the north loop, or turns 5 through the last corner of the Buddh International Circuit. Here the 200R impressed.
From literally the first lap, I found the confidence to max the Hero Xtreme 200R and proceeded to reel off satisfyingly quick laps.
What struck me as I looked back on it was that despite having my knee on the ground and the peg feelers also on the ground, the bike felt natural, stable and confident.
When you match that to what promises to be excellent ride quality, you know you have a great handling matching on your hands. Oh and Hero boys, sorry about the peg feelers, I know I wore them down to nubbins. Er, oops.
The Xtreme 200R is a rather nice looking motorcycle from many angles. The no holds barred tank extensions looks great and work really well as places to lock your knee into for corners. The tail piece is sleek but not too sleek which also makes for a surprisingly muscular motorcycle.
So topping the muscles and bulges with that headlight is a little underwhelming. It's like noticing a chap with John Abraham's rippling muscles and then realising he looks just like Sharmaji from next door.
I do wish Hero had matched the extremely youthful styling and bold graphics to a headlight that broke the mild mould that Hero tends to use and put it its place a vastly more aggressive and sinister head lamp.
Instrument cluster feature set
Call us spoilt but this segment is full of bikes that max out their all-digital speedos to the hilt offering every kind of information you can imagine. The Hero's ana-digi unit doesn't show anything but the basics and worse, while the side stand warning is almost invisible in bright sunlight, Hero continues to not kill the engine if you leave neutral when the stand is down.
Still no price!
The Hero Xtreme 200R feels like a long time coming. And we;ve ridden it now and we believe this is solid 160-200c class option too. But Hero is saying that they're 'filling the pipeline' which means the bikes are being sent off to dealerships so that there is supply when bookings open. But three more weeks of waiting for prices and bookings and the deliveries seems like a short process taking a bit too long.
The engineering and design of the Hero Xtreme 200R is rather well-done. It ticks all the boxes and I believe Hero is planning a price surprise that will make it hard to ignore, especially given that it has standard single-channel ABS and all that.
But the issue I have with the Hero Xtreme 200R is that it is, if anything, a bit too normal. I think the company needs a dramatic motorcycle in the premium segment to announce its arrival and declare its intention to be a serious premium segment player. I think the 200R is too within the box to get that conversation going. Naturally, a company as large and as old as Hero has other challenges also - a network that has to learn a new language to talk to a new customer and so on and so forth. But still, my gut says the X-Pulse 200 arriving first off this platform would have perhaps resulted in less volumes but I think it would have gotten more attention and focussed the spotlight on Hero and its premium segment capability more strongly. Then again, the X-Pulse is due before this year is out according to Hero. And they promise that the 200R is just the starting point of a new tune for Hero - press play and hang on tight.
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