Bajaj has updated its flagship motorcycle to take on the increasing competition in the 250cc to 400cc segment.
The Indian automotive space has become increasingly competitive in recent times, in terms of both the number of products as well as the manufacturers offering them. Every major bike maker is now operating in India, and, consequently, we’re finally witnessing a massive surge in the number of affordable enthusiast motorcycles that are available to the masses. In the 250cc to 400cc segment, there are now 15 motorcycles that you can choose from. One of the most popular models in this segment is the Bajaj Dominar, which, incidentally, also happens to be one of the pioneers of this space. But things have changed a lot since it was first launched, and the competition has certainly gotten a lot more fierce. So, Bajaj has tweaked the Bajaj Dominar 400 to ensure that it stays competitive and in tune with the times.
The first Dominar looked good, no doubt, but the little changes that the new Dominar 400 has undergone make it look even better. The bike still has a muscular and compact power cruiser design on a perimeter frame – a great combination of aggression and elegance. However, what really stood out on our test bike was the new green colour that seems to be borrowed from Kawasaki. There’s no other manufacturer, other than Bajaj’s Japanese partner, that uses this unmistakeably unique green paint job. Needless to say, it looks amazing on the Bajaj Dominar 400.
The green paint aside, the other changes include an upside-down 43mm front fork that adds some muscle and strength to the bike’s character, and a dual exhaust setup instead of the earlier single one. The headlight has also undergone some changes, and has now become more compact.
The new Dominar 400 looks more or less like the original concept that was showcased at the 2014 Auto Expo. It continues to have the massive 320mm single-disc at the front, along with the chunky 17-inch alloy wheels. The instrument cluster is digital, and the secondary info unit on the fuel tank is now also LCD. And to add that little extra style, there’s now also a decal on the fuel tank.
While the older version of the Dominar did seem a little underpowered, especially since it had the same engine as the KTM Duke 390, the new Dominar 400 gets a tweaked version of the engine that generates more power. The 373cc single-cylinder, liquid cooled unit now gets dual overhead cams, instead of the single cam that it previously had. Power has also been bumped up by 5bhp to a total of 40bhp at 8,650rpm. Torque remains the same at 35Nm, however, it now peaks at 7,000rpm. The ‘Triple-Spark’ tech is still used as well.
The new engine definitely feels more powerful. Although the initial acceleration feels more or less the same, you can really feel the difference in the mid-range and at the top end of the revs. Cruising on the highway is now more enjoyable, as you can draw out a lot more from the engine. The new dual-exhaust also sounds much better now.
After riding the bike for a couple of hours and pushing it hard, I must say that the power delivery is very good and enjoyable. However, the problem is that the more fun you try to have with it, the more fuel you burn. During my time with the bike, the new LCD display unit was constantly informing me that the fuel average was about 16km/l. On the highway, it was about 20km/l. But then I really was holding the throttle open all the time.
In terms of overall refinement, the new bike has improved slightly but not much – some folks still may find the engine a bit rough. Frankly, though, not me. In fact, I didn’t even find it to be a problem in the older Dominar. On a positive note, there has been some noticeable reduction in the vibes over the course of this makeover.
One of the biggest highlights of the new Bajaj Dominar 400, for me at least, is the way it handles now. The new 43mm USD forks really have done wonders to the way the bike performs. The steering feels a lot more responsive, and there’s a lot more feedback as well. The front wheel stays planted, and changing direction quickly is easy. During our ride in the hills, the bike felt very stable and nimble. Flipping the bike side-to-side, while attacking sharp corners, was really fun. The rear suspension is the same as before. According to Bajaj, it’s now softer than before, but, honestly, I couldn’t tell the difference.
When we did take the bike on the rough stuff, it felt a little too stiff – especially the rear. But, then again, it’s a power cruiser and not a trail rider. Still, it’s decent enough to be taken off-road once in a while. And, thanks to the tall handlebar, you can stand-up comfortably.
I also really like the seating position of the bike. It’s a cross between a tourer and an aggressive naked bike, and it’ll suit almost anyone’s riding style. The seat could be a little softer, but even with the current cushioning, you can ride all day without any major discomfort.
How does it stack up against the competition?
Well, quite well actually – especially at this price point! Bajaj has not yet announced the price, but it’ll almost certainly be well under `2 lakh. When you compare it to the competition, as an overall package, the Dominar 400 is one of the best bikes in this segment. It’s great for city riding and even better for touring. Anyone can ride it! It’s a global product, and is available in several countries across the globe. With good quality, a versatile and practical design, and an engine that now packs quite a punch, the new Dominar could very well be what Bajaj claims it is – the ‘world’s favourite Indian!’
- Bajaj Dominar 400
Engine: 373cc / Single-Cylinder / DOHC
Power: 40bhp @ 8,650rpm
Torque: 35Nm @ 7,000rpm
Price: ₹ 1.8 lakh (Ex-showroom)
X-Factor: An affordable power cruiser that’s comfortable for long trips and fun to ride.