When we think of the Indian commuter motorcycle space, more often than not we draw up a picture of tiny engines moving skinny tires on a frame made with a heartless design. And while it’s still true that most all small capacity motorcycles in India still have seriously bland design cues, there are now two new products within the commuter segment that are combining practicality with attractive design.
Honda Motorcycles and Suzuki Motorcycles are two such bike manufacturers that are paying attention to the changing demands of the Indian consumers. Focusing on the smaller 110cc commuter segment, both the Japanese giants have come out with very attractive products – Suzuki brought in the Hayate, while Honda brought in an old solider with a new uniform, the Dream Yuga.
The Dream Yuga traces its roots way back to 1949 when Honda launched the Dream D, and now after 60 years the tradition of Honda continues with the Dream Yuga which has been specially designed for the Indian market. The Dream Yuga is powered by a highly fuel efficient 109cc single-cylinder four-stroke engine. It is the same engine found in the CB Twister with some minor adjustments. The Dream Yuga has maximum power of 8.5bhp and has a claimed fuel economy of 72kmpl. On the design front the bike looks good for a commuter motorcycle as it keeps in tune with the times. It has got tubeless tyres on 6-spoke wheels, an aerodynamic front cowling surrounding the headlamp, a stylish body coloured grab rail and decent graphics along the body and fuel tank. Other features of the Dream Yuga include a viscous air filter and a long suspension stroke of 120mm for a smooth ride. The seating position is also very comfortable on the Dream Yuga. There is a very long seat that is padded well and the handlebars and foot pegs are placed very nicely to offer the rider with a comfortable riding position. The overall ride quality is also superb on the Honda Dream Yuga. The bikes acceleration is decent and it handles incredibly well because of its suspension and body design, and also because it is very light. The engine is very refined and offers an incredibly smooth ride. Putting all these factors into play the Dream Yuga rides extremely well, looks very good and offers an attractive looking motorbike. Add to that the Dream Yuga comes in both self start and kick start and starts at a price of just Rs. 44,642 ex-showroom Delhi. Everything looks good, but it would have been better if there were disc brakes, as the drum brakes are not the best on the Dream Yuga. But the point here is that the Dream Yuga is a fantastic commuter bike that will appeal to everyone because of its looks.
Suzuki are not far off from Honda when it comes to the design approach on their newest offering either. The Suzuki Hayate also falls into the 110cc category and is powered by an all new 112.8cc single-cylinder four-stroke engine. While its engine capacity is slightly larger that the Dream Yuga it has a power output of 8.3bhp which is just a bit lower than the Honda. However, when you ride the Suzuki Hayate it offers the same acceleration but the Honda engine seems to be a bit more refined. The Hayate comes with a 4-speed transmission with an all-down format, while the Honda comes in a 4-speed all-up format. The all-down format in the Hayate takes some time to get used to since most other bikes feature a one down-three up pattern. Nonetheless, the gear shifts in the Hayate are very smooth and the clutch is light, and I did prefer it over Honda’s transmission. The Suzuki Hayate also looks very good and comes with an attractive cowling on the headlamp, a decent looking exhaust and some attractive graphics along with good looking 5-spoke wheels. The design of the instrument cluster is also very modern and trendy, unlike the Honda which is more traditional in its looks. The Suzuki Hayate also provides excellent ride quality, the seating position is nice and the engine is smooth. The fuel efficiency could have been better as it provides about 55kmpl. It handles well on all road conditions but we liked the suspension setup and the swingarm in the Dream Yuga better. On both bikes the suspension can be easily adjusted to suit the riders needs. The Suzuki Hayate also comes with both self-start and kick-start and it is being offered with a starting price of Rs 38,300 ex-showroom Delhi for the kick-start version.
Both Honda and Suzuki have done a great job with these bikes, and while they are attractive looking thanks to their modernistic approach to commuter bike design, they also handle and ride very well and are practical. Along with another Japanese bike manufacturer, Yamaha, which also has been offering attractive looking entry level motorcycles, these bike manufacturers are assisting the development of commuter motorbikes in India from being bland common looking machines to more diverse and stylish vehicles.