Bajaj has updated its flagship motorcycle to take on the increasing competition in the 250cc-400cc segment.
The Indian automotive space has really heated up when it comes to the number of products offered to customers. Every major bike maker is now operating in India, but more importantly, we are finally seeing a lot more enthusiast motorcycles that are affordable and available to the masses. Within the 250cc to 400cc space, there are now 15 motorcycles that you can choose from. The Bajaj Dominar has always been one of the more popular choices in this segment as it was one of the pioneers in this space. Since it was launched, the competition has really heated up though, and now Bajaj has re-introduced the Dominar in a more attractive package to keep it in tune with the times.
The first Dominar looked good no doubt, but the little changes that have now been added make the new Dominar look even better. The bike still gets the muscular and compact power cruiser design on the perimeter frame, however, what really stood out on our test bike was the new green colour that seems to be borrowed over from Kawasaki. There is no other company, other than Bajaj's Japanese partner, who use this unmistakeable green paint job, and it looks very good on the Dominar as well.
The other changes include an upside-down 43mm front fork that adds some muscle and strength to the bike's character, and there is now a dual exhaust setup instead of the single. Another change has been made to the headlight, which is now more compact. The new Dominar looks much like the original concept that was showcased at the 2014 Auto Expo. The bike looks as good as ever and that’s one of the plus-points of the new Dominar. It still gets the massive 320mm single-disc at the front and it still gets the chunky 17-inch allow wheels. The instrument cluster is digital and the secondary info unit on the fuel tank is now also LCD. To add a little extra touch, there is now a decal on the fuel tank.
While the older version of the Dominar did seem like it was a little underpowered, especially since it was using the same engine as the KTM Duke 390, the new Dominar 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 it had previously. Power has also been bumped up by 5bhp to 40bhp at 8,650rpm now. Torque remains the same at 35Nm but now peaks at 7,000rpm. The Triple-Spark tech is still used as well.
The new engine definitely feels more powerful. Although 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 have to say that the power delivery is very good and enjoyable. However, the problem though is that the more fun you try to have with it the more fuel you burn and the new LCD display unit was informing me that my fuel average was about 16km/l. On the highway, it was about 20km/l. But that’s because I really was holding the throttle open all the time.
Overall refinement has been slightly improved as well but not much as some people might still say the engine is rough, but I didn’t find it to be a problem in the older Dominar either. However, there has been some noticeable reduction in the vibes.
The focus point for the new Dominar for me has to be the way the bike 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 is a lot more feedback as well. The front wheel stays well-planted and changing direction quickly is easy. On the hills we rode on the bike felt very stable and nimble. Attacking sharp corners and flipping the bike side to side was really fun. The rear suspension is the same as before and Bajaj told us they have made it softer, but I couldn’t make out the difference.
When we did take the bike on the rough stuff it still feels a little too stiff, especially at the rear. But, then again this is a power cruiser and not a trail rider. Still, if you do decide to take it off-road once in a while it is decent. 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 will 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 a fuss.
Does it stack up?
Yes, it does indeed, especially at this price point. Bajaj has not yet announced the price, but it will surely be well under Rs 2 lakh. When you compare it to the competition, as an overall package the Dominar is one of the best bikes in this segment. The Dominar is great for city riding and even better for touring. Anyone can ride it, and it’s also important to mention that the Dominar is a global product and is available in so many countries all across the globe. The quality is pretty good, its design is versatile and practical and it now packs quite a punch as well. Maybe it’s true what Bajaj says. This could be the ‘world’s favourite Indian.’