Keeway V302 C first ride review: The tall Chinese order
If fancied yourself a compact, belt-driven V-twin cruiser out here in India, you'd have to look at brands like Indian Motorcycle and Harley Davidson, and you'd have to be willing to shed more than Rs 10lkh for that kind of motorcycle. But that was way back when, now Keeway have come out with this the V302 C cruiser, a motorcycle to that's meant to appease your cruiser needs. But is the bike really all that special? We're here to find out.
Now before you get confused by looking at both the Keeway and Benda badges on this bike, let me start off by telling you that the Keeway V302C is basically a rebadged Benda BD300 a bike which is sold in markets abroad but sold out here with some Keeway stickers on. Why so? Well because the guys who own both brands, China's QJ motors thought 'eh, why not'. Yes, a twin-cylinder, belt driven motorcycle in this displacement category is rare and uncommon, and so I this motorcycle's styling.
The V302C looks healthy and muscular, big, yet compact. It really catches your eye this one, alright maybe not so much so in this all black paint model, but you get the drift. When it's standing still, looking at the bike with its bulky teardrop-shaped fuel tank, the wide handlebar with the tiny end mirrors, those cut-short fenders with meaty tyres, the substantially-sized USD fork up front with the oil damped twin shocks at the rear, it all makes this bike look very compact, muscular and neat, well, all that aside from those gaudy looking bunch of wires up front.
It appears put together very nicely too, aside from that small gap between the seat and tank. But that's more down to design rather than assembly. The V302C is like a mix of a bobber style motorcycle, and a shrunken down Harley-Davidson power-cruiser. It doesn't look like any motorcycle of its engine capacity, and it doesn't feel so when you get down to riding it.
Its wheelbase is about 1,420mm which is much shorter than something like the Super Meteor 650 and even something smaller like the Jawa 42 Bobber. Now if you notice there are some pillion footpegs out here behind me, but when it comes to seating area for your pillion it's negligible. Although Keeway have told us that there is an optional seat with a backrest in the pipeline, as it stands, and you had to buy this bike right now, and fancied having a pillion ride along with you, well, that's pretty much out of the question.
Yes this bike does have some design hiccups, but if you're the sort who would probably choose to ride alone, you'd have a good deal of fun with this motorcycle because although it is low, a tad long and has a turning radius that isn't the best, it's so lively and enjoyable in its demeanour. It rides on chunky tyres, and the bike feels nicely balanced with you seated just 690mm off the ground in this centre of it all, so all this allows you to alter course on the bike very nicely. But you will have to watch out for deep ruts and oddly shaped breakers, because the clearance is just 158mm and the base will scrape quite easily.
Feel at the bars is quite neutral when you really want to get going, but the Keeway holds its line with poise around long sweeping bends. Yes the suspension is setup is stiff and you will feel the brunt of practically every bump on the road, but then what else did you expect from a motorcycle of this sort. If you're looking for a cruiser that will be a breeze over bumps and undulations like you're seated on some sort of magic carpet, look elsewhere. But I should say that this definitely isn't the most uncomfortable single-seater cruiser bike out there.
For me the best thing about this bike has to be its 298cc liquid-cooled engine. Now this works very well in tandem with the six-speed gearbox and of course, it is belt driven, and its maximum power of 30PS and max torque which is around 26.5Nm, is spread so well across the band and delivery is butter smooth. The engine is tractable at low speeds in the city and out on the highway, the bike is able to cruise at a 100kmph just under 6,000rpm very nicely, with more power on hand to carry out some overtakes after that.
The motor makes weaving through traffic an absolute breeze. And the harder you rev the nicer this bike feels and sounds. And the good thing about all of this is that the tyres and brakes combo brings this bike to a halt very nicely too.
So the Keeway V302C comes across as a more than decent option in terms of its design, ride and handling, but when you consider its list of features, you will feel shortchanged, especially with its lack of Bluetooth connectivity and rather dull looking instrument console. You do get a sweet-looking LED headlamp up front that does its job well and dual-channel ABS, but it misses out on traction control like the BD300 that's sold in China. It all doesn't justify this bike's steep asking price.
Now there's just one trim variant of the Keeway Cruiser to be had, but you do have the option of three colourways. The cheapest of which is the bike in the grey colour scheme which will set you back by Rs 3.90 lakh (ex-Showroom), then there's the this black variation which will cost you Rs 4 lakh and the most expensive Red coloured bike which will set you back by Rs 4.10lakh. so, altogether not all that cheap in today's motorcycling standards and you can in fact get a lot more motorcycle, a lot more bang for your buck elsewhere in the market. But what this bike brings to the table its stellar looks, good road manners, good fit and finish, the engine, the tractability, belt drive things you will appreciate.
But then there's a certain lack of features, and there's also the question about reliability of Keeway Motorcycles, because in all honesty, we haven't ridden these bikes for a long enough time to test their longevity and durability, so there's a big question mark looming above that. Then you have something like the Super Meteor 650, which gives you a lot more motorcycle for a lot cheaper. In terms of the V302C's pricing, this bike pretty much sits in no man's land, but the biggest setback of this motorcycle has to be its pricing.
Starts Rs 1,94,500