The introduction of a 250cc offering at Rs 1.6 lakh surely makes the Dominar family accessible for a larger audience, but does it have the same qualities of the larger Dominar 400? We took it for a spin to find the answer.
The Bajaj Dominar 400, in my opinion, has been one of the most underrated motorcycles on sale in recent times. It has great highway manners, is punchy, and offers better value than most other motorcycles in that price range. In fact, at the time of its debut in 2016, it nailed the value-for-money quotient with its Rs 1.50 lakh price tag for the dual-channel ABS variant. With rising input costs over the years, a substantial update in 2019, and the recent switch to BS-VI norms, the Dominar 400 is now closer to the Rs 2 lakh mark. Although it continues to be as much of a value proposition as it was back then, the current pricing has generated an opportunity for Bajaj to expand the family. And this is where the Dominar 250 comes in. With a price tag of Rs 1.60 lakh, the 250 makes the Dominar family more accessible than before. But does it have the values of its elder sibling? There’s only one way to find out.
Like a lot of other motorcycles on sale today, the Dominar 250 also follows the family design language. However, it does have some distinguishing elements. For instance, its alloy wheels, although have the same design, aren’t diamond cut. A keener eye will notice the slimmer front USD forks, marginally smaller front disc, and the box-type swing arm. And then, of course, there is the badging. Aside from these few bits, the overall silhouette of the quarter-litre offering is identical to the larger 400, and frankly, that’s not a bad thing at all. The Dominar’s biggest asset is its unique stance, which, even after all these years, makes it stand out from the crowd.
In terms of dimensions too, the Dominar 250 is a carbon copy of the 400. From the overall length to the wheelbase and ground clearance, everything is the same. The Dominar 250 has the same upright riding stance that finds a golden mean of comfort and sportiness. Its footpegs are marginally rear-set but not too far back to make things uncomfortable for you. The seat is wide, long, and comfortable for the rider as well as the pillion. Overall, the Dominar 250 feels quite homely, and that’s a great thing.
Before I get into how the Dominar 250 rides. Let’s get the specs out of the way. The quarter-litre Dominar is based on the KTM 250 Duke and makes 26.6bhp and 23.5Nm. To give you a comparison, it makes 3bhp and 0.5Nm less than the 250 Duke, and the Husqvarna 250s. With the BS6 Yamaha FZ25 still not on sale, the only other competitor to the baby Dominar is the Suzuki Gixxer 250, which produces 0.5bhp and 1.3Nm less than the Bajaj.
So, how does it ride? Thumb the starter, and you will be welcomed by a nice bassy tone from the exhaust. A few minutes of riding, and you will notice that the engine is neither very free-revving nor does it have the brute force of the KTM. While the Duke feels like it is perpetually hopped up on a high dose of caffeine, the Dominar presents itself as a more composed machine, one that has a rather welcoming demeanour. The meat of its power is focused in its mid-range, and that is where it really shines. Keep it in the 5 – 7,000rpm mark and progress is quick, if not blistering. There’s decent enough low-end grunt as well, which allows you to stay in higher cogs at low speeds – third at 25km/h and even fourth at about 35km/h. All of this makes it extremely tractable and pleasant to ride in the city. Out on the highway, you can comfortably cruise at speeds of about 100 –110km/h, beyond which, the progress is slow and you start to feel some vibrations too. In fact, the engine doesn’t quite feel as refined as the Suzuki Gixxer 250.
The Dominar 250’s 6-speed transmission worked quite well during our test ride. The shifts were quite precise, and we didn’t experience any false-neutrals like some other Bajaj gearboxes of the yore.
Despite being one of the most affordable offerings in the 250cc space, Bajaj has made no compromises in terms of hardware. Upfront, the Dominar 250 sits on 37mm upside-down forks, which are unique to this model – the 250 Duke as well as the Husqvarnas sit on 43mm USDs. At the back, it has the same monoshock as the Dominar 400. The setup manages to even out the undulations of the road quite well, but you may want to take it easy on larger potholes. The Dominar 250 doesn’t quite set new benchmarks in the handling department, and a lot of it is thanks to its 180kg weight. Although mid-corner bumps don’t quite unsettle the bike, the Dominar isn’t a motorcycle that can lean into a corner at the drop of a hat. That being said, for those who don’t mind the labour, it can be quite fun to ride. You may want to trade the MRFs it comes shod with for something grippier, especially on wet surfaces. Braking performance is impressive, and the ABS isn’t too intrusive either.
Since its debut, the Dominar name has always stood for performance and value. This baby Dominar 250 follows in the same tracks. Is this THE motorcycle to opt for in the 250cc class then? Well, yes and No. The Dominar 250 is good in terms of comfort and tractability. While novice riders upgrading from a 150 will appreciate its easy-going nature, those hungry for all-round performance and handling will be left wanting more.
However, for those seeking value, it hardly gets any better than the Dominar 250. It packs better hardware and features than its rivals, and yet, at Rs 1.60 lakh, it's quite a bargain. But while you are at the Bajaj dealership ready to write that cheque, don’t be surprised if you find yourself swaying towards the larger 400. After all, it offers a better penny-to-power ratio at a minor cost differential.
- Bajaj Dominar 250
Power: 26.6bhp @ 8,500rpm
Torque: 23.5Nm @ 6,500rpm
Price: Rs 1.60 lakh (ex-showroom)
X-Factor: Performs highway and city duties with equal aplomb, all at an affordable price.
• Superior hardware
• Value for money
• Needs better tyres