Comparison: Bajaj Avenger 180 Street vs Suzuki Intruder 150
The Bajaj Avenger has been around for close to two decades and over the years it has carved quite a niche for itself. After all, it brought the quintessential cruiser stance, style and attitude at a price that didn't need one to break the bank. With no competition to face, the Avenger had the market all to itself, continuing to sell in strong numbers, especially post the 2015 face lift. Suzuki India, in 2017 decided to crash Bajaj's cruiser party by introducing the Intruder 150, a cruiser based on the stellar, Gixxer 150 platform. Sensing the potential that the Japanese motorcycle has to make inroads into a segment it dominates, Bajaj discontinued the Avenger 150 and instead plonked the Pulsar 180's engine into the entry-level 2018 Avenger. Will it still manage to hold its own against the Suzuki? Let's find out.
Design, build and finish
The Avenger's design is nearly two decades old, but the raft of styling updates to the 2018 model has ensured that the bike does not look dated. The new colours, decals, oblong shaped headlamp with DRLs and a tiny fly screen that sits above it adds a fresh appeal to the Avenger Street 180. In addition, the contrasting, black alloys and black rear fender does add a dash of sportiness. The Avenger sticks to the traditional cruiser motorcycle design and this familiarity is also what helps with regards to acceptability. That said, the Avenger will go unnoticed in the sea of motorcycles and if blending in is your thing, the Avenger should suit you well
The Suzuki Intruder on the other hand attracts attention wherever it goes. At first sight, it's odd-proportions leave you gobsmacked. The expansive body panels, unusually large headlight housing and beaky tail-piece makes the Intruder look quite substantial, as if it were a motorcycle with a big capacity engine. The Suzuki surely has a lot of street presence but there's no denying that the relatively spindly looking alloys and tyres (similar to the Gixxer's) look out of place. I, however, have to admit that after spending two days testing the Intruder, the styling did grow on me and I believe those who prefer standing out from the crowd will take to the Intruder's distinct styling.
Parked next to each other you also notice that the Intruder is the motorcycle with the better build and finish. The plastic panels are neatly integrated, the paint quality is superior and the switchgear looks and feels premium; areas where the Bajaj falls behind by quite a margin.
Think cruisers and what comes to mind is a relaxed riding posture with legs outstretched and hands holding on to a wide handlebar. The Suzuki clearly subscribes to this school of thought and its riding position feels quite natural. The scooped seat is quite roomy and has the right amount of foam padding.
The Avenger's seat is almost as wide as the Intruder's but it's a tad too soft. What also compounds the problem is the relatively rear set pegs that are also placed higher than usual, resulting in a position that has you sitting on top of the motorcycle rather than in it. Over a long distance, the Intruder's perch is much more comfortable.
Engine and performance
The Avenger clearly has the displacement advantage here. There's a difference of close to 20cc and about one PS between the two. The Bajaj's 180cc mill produces 15.5 PS at 8,500rpm and 13.7Nm at 6,500rpm. The Intruder's fuel injected motor displaces 154.9cc and churns out 14.8PS at 8,000rpm and 14Nm at 6,000rpm. So, while the Intruder's peak power is lower, it arrives earlier. What I really like about the Intruder's engine is the sense of urgency with which the power comes in. It's quicker to rev to the redline and acceleration is quite linear as well.
The Bajaj's engine, however, feels like it has more grunt and the acceleration figures corroborate the same. While there's barely any difference in acceleration times from 0-60kmph, the Avenger is over two seconds faster in the sprint up to 100kmph.
That said, where the Suzuki scores over the Bajaj is engine refinement. The difference is not a lot but it's the finer bits like better engine mounts and damping material that elevates the pleasure of riding the Intruder.
Where the vibrations in the bars and footpegs in Avenger, while cruising at 80-90kmph will annoy you after a while, the Intruder continues to coast peacefully with barely any vibrations in the bars and none at the pegs. Even at its top speed, the Intruder sounds composed and happy unlike the Avenger that gets a bit vocal at the top.
Both motors have sufficient mid range grunt that makes riding these bikes through city traffic, a breeze.
The Intruder returns 48.5kmpl (Avenger 44.6kmpl) in the city and 52.6kmpl ( Avenger 47.8kmpl) on the highway.
Ride and Handling:
Both motorcycles have excellent ride quality and do a pretty good job of absorbing bumps and potholes. When it comes to handling though, the Avenger and Intruder differ slightly.
The Avenger has a longer wheelbase (by 75mm) and also feels a bit front heavy. So while it takes a bit more effort to turn it into a corner, the Avenger is quite stable and sure-footed all the way to the exit. The only problem is the footpegs that ground easily and the stock Eurogrip rubber that's good but not in the same league as the MRFs that the Intruder comes shod with.
With a shorter wheelbase, lighter front end, quicker steering, stickier rubber, the Intruder is one happy corner carver. The Gixxer's underpinnings really shine here and I was amazed by the corner speeds that the Intruder is capable of carrying.
The brakes on both motorcycles are pretty good but the Intruder comes with a rear disc brake and single-channel ABS as standard. This goes a long way in boosting confidence while braking which explains why the Intruder is quicker at shedding speed and coming to a halt from 60 kmph as well as 80 kmph. The Intruder also feels a lot more stable under hard braking, thanks to the fatter front forks and wider, 100/8017 tyre
At just over Rs 1 lakh (on Road Mumbai) the Bajaj Avenger 180 Street offers incredible value. It's is the quicker motorcycle of the two and rides and handles very well. It's is also the safer choice when it comes to styling. Which brings us to the Intruder. While it's styling is outlandish, I believe it is a subjective topic and that can be left to one's individual tastes.
But as a motorcycle, the Suzuki is clearly the better of the two. It's quality is remarkably good, the ride is pliant and the handling is involving. For Rs 26,000 more (Rs 20,000 for carb variant) the Intruder brings a lot to the table in the form of a digital meter, rear disc and more importantly, ABS. I think it is definitely worth the stretch.