The Adventurous future of Indian motorcycles

By Shahwar Hussain | on November 1, 2015

Shahwar predicts an onslaught of adventure bikes, and he hopes that you’re looking forward to them as much as he is...

They’ve taken a long-time coming, but they’re here now. I’m talking about adventure bikes. For years, none of the motorcycle manufacturers thought it was worthwhile to introduce big adventure (or dual-purpose) bikes in India. And I have to admit that they really weren’t too far off the mark either!

Say ‘Big Bikes’ to the general Indian consumer, and the ones that come to mind are of the sports variety – Hayabusa, Gixxer, R1, CBR 1000, etc. Nobody used to think beyond these types of bikes. BMW tested the waters more than a decade ago with the fantastic F650, but it found few takers – mainly due to its price, which at that time seemed astronomical. And so they didn’t really sell, which forced dealers to dispose of their inventory at huge losses. Perhaps the bike was ahead of its time in India.

I have to admit that I’m a little biased towards adventure and dual purpose bikes, and maybe that’s why I think that these bikes make perfect sense in India. The adventure motorcycling scene has seen massive growth in recent times. Riders are travelling across the length and breadth of the country, and always discovering new places to travel to.

And a few manufacturers seem to have gauged that this is one of the segments that’s likely to grow in the near future. The likes of Triumph, Suzuki and Kawasaki have all launched adventure bikes, and the response has been encouraging. Well, at least for Triumph! The Tiger and the Explorer series have sold rather well. There are riders who’ve done RTW tours on these bikes, and so they’re proven entities.

The Suzuki V-Strom and the Kawasaki Versys are bikes that are cut from the same cloth so to speak, but their sales haven’t really picked up as much as their respective manufactures would have liked. Although they’re highly capable and proven machines, the downside is pricing. At 15 lakhs and above, these bikes are priced way beyond the means of the average Indian motorcycle travel enthusiasts.

One can only hope that the reasonable success of the Triumph Tiger will push other manufacturers to launch adventure bikes – albeit with slightly smaller engine capacity and with competitive pricing. The news that Yamaha will launch the Lander 250cc adventure bike is music to many ears. If Yamaha is coming with an adventure bike, can Honda be far behind? They have fantastic adventure bikes, like the CRF and the XR. Suzuki and Kawasaki also have some lovely 250cc, 450cc and 650cc adventure bikes. And one hopes that Hero will pull its socks up and reintroduce the Hero Impulse in a 250cc avatar.

The likes of the Tiger, Explorer, V-Strom and Versys are big capacity and heavy bikes that are not everyone’s cup of tea. A decently priced 450cc adventure bike can make a killing, and Royal Enfield just might beat everyone to it. The launch of the Himalaya is highly awaited, and I’m sure that the many hordes who ride to the Himalayas on Bullets will be rightfully tempted. Yamaha might also make quite an impact if and when they launch the Lander 250. It looks a really capable bike, and Yamaha has a history of making some fantastic dual-purpose motorcycles. And what about the 350cc KTM Adventure? The pictures looked very impressive indeed. These are go-anywhere bikes, and they make perfect sense to a travel junkie.

So, from the looks of it, we might just have a lot to choose from in the coming future. There are many who will disagree with me, but what’s the use of buying an expensive bike like the Hayabusa when you can’t go very far on it? Doesn’t it make much more sense to buy a Tiger instead (the two-wheeled variety) and travel across the country on it? After all, not only will you have the bike to show for it, but also plenty of tales to tell from the back of beyond.

Adventure bikes are here to stay…. and their future certainly looks bright.

Tags: Expert Auto Opinion

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