The Splendor iSmart 110 is Hero’s first ever indigenously built motorcycle, headlined by an all-new engine. Can it continue writing Hero’s success story post an in-house heart transplant? We commute on one to find out…
Break-ups are painful – even when they’re between business partners. And who better to tell you that than Hero MotoCorp? Around 6 years ago, Hero and its then partner Honda (Hero Honda, remember?) decided to part ways. After the joint venture between the two firms dissolved, Hero faced an uphill task since the company – the world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturer at that – had to soldier on without Honda’s proven powertrains. Of course, Honda allowed Hero to use its technology for a few years as part of a business agreement, but what after that?
Ever since the fallout, Hero has been relentlessly working to develop new products on its own. Last year, the manufacturer launched two all-new scooters, which were developed in-house – the Maestro Edge and Duet. However, while the scooter segment in India is growing rapidly, everybody and their grandmother knows that Hero’s strength lies in commuter segment motorcycles. This inevitably meant that if Hero wanted to stay on top, it had to revamp the strongest product in the range. Which, as you may have guessed already, is the Splendor – the company’s bread and butter model for over 20 years now!
Meet the Splendor 110 iSmart – Hero’s first motorcycle that’s been built completely from the ground-up by its very own R&D team. What that means is that is that it’s got a brand new engine and a newly developed chassis. The engine is an air-cooled 109.15cc single-cylinder carbureted mill that develops 9.4bhp at 7,500rpm while a peak-torque of 9Nm kicks in as early as 5,000rpm. It’s now mounted vertically on what Hero claims is an all-new double cradle frame. The benefit of mounting the engine in the vertical position is that it allows for better cooling, while also keeping the centre of gravity low.
Design wise, it looks inoffensive and pleasing. The i3S graphics on the fuel tank remain as is on the 100cc Splendor iSmart, while it also gets a chrome-tip on the muffler, dual-tone mirrors and a new instrument cluster with a digital odo and tripmeter, analogue fuel gauge, speedo, and a side-stand warning indicator. Auto-headlamps and the i3S start-stop tech are also part of the package.
Coming to ride impressions, I rode the bike mainly for commuting – which is what most of Splendor owners do, right? First thing that really impressed me about the new Splendor iSmart is its buttery smooth engine. And then on the move it feels even better since the torque delivery is equally smooth and strong. Pulling from low speeds is effortless and the closely matched ratios allow lively progress even in higher gears. Hero claims the motorcycle can hit 60km/h in 7.45 seconds. I have to say it feels quite sprightly till the 60km/h mark, but post that it’s a bit of a waiting game with the engine feeling somewhat strained.
The 4-speed gearbox with all-up pattern feels a bit notchy – shifts could have been smoother and more precise. The i3S start-stop tech worked flawlessly during the time I rode the motorcycle. Slot the gear lever in ‘N’ between traffic lights, wait for 5-7 seconds, and the system automatically kills the engine. Depress the clutch and the engine springs back to life without a hitch. I cannot comment on fuel-saving or how environment-friendly this thing is, but it sure works like claimed. Also, if you go by Hero’s claims, they say the new motor returns 68km/l in real world conditions.
The ride and handling balance for a motorcycle of this segment is quite good, too. The front telescopic shocks and twin spring-loaded adjustable hydraulic setup at the back actually do their job neatly. I, honestly, was pleasantly surprised in the manner the motorcycle glides over potholes and bad stretches. The nicely padded seat and upright seating position only made my commute even more comfortable. Handling is neutral, which means that slicing through traffic is an easy affair. Braking is one area that needs to be looked into though. Drum brakes on both ends lack outright bite and do not inspire enough confidence, especially during emergency stops.
As a commuter motorcycle, as well as the first indigenous Hero product, the Splendor iSmart 110 excels on all the major fronts. It falters on a few smaller ones, but, personally, I don’t feel any of them are deal breakers. I wholeheartedly believe that, in isolation, it’s one of the better products in the commuter segment. But is it the best? Well, that’s something we’ll have to find out when we ride it back-to-back against the competition, especially the TVS Victor 110. And we plan to do that real soon…
- Splendor iSmart 110
Engine: 109.15cc / Single-Cylinder / Air-Cooled
Transmission: 4-Speed Manual
Power: 9.4bhp @ 7,500rpm
Torque: 9Nm @ 5,000rpm
Price: Rs. 53,330 (Ex-showroom, Delhi)
X-FACTOR: Sprightly engine, supple ride and neutral handling make it a fuss-free and really quite enjoyable commuter.