First Ride

2016 Hero Splendor iSmart 110 review, test ride

We get astride Hero MotoCorp’s first-ever completely in-house developed motorcycle, the Splendor iSmart and take it for a quick spin.

DETAILS
  • Make  Hero MotoCorp
  • Model  Splendor
  • Edition  iSmart 110
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photos
The Splendor iSmart 110 wasn’t a wholly unexpected motorcycle, as we had already seen it at the 2016 Auto Expo. What was unexpected, however, was how quickly Hero MotoCorp would take it from motor show to showroom – in just a little over five months. And while it might carry a very familiar name and suffix, what makes this new iSmart special is that it is the first all-new motorcycle to roll out of the Hero’s Centre for Innovation and Technology (CIT) in Jaipur. So, is this the same definition of words “all-new” that the company has been throwing around for years, or do those words carry more gravitas this time around? A brief ride on some isolated Gurgaon roads let us answer that question.
 
Design
 
At first glance, especially if you're looking at the bike in its red-silver, two-tone colour scheme, you're immediately reminded of the 100cc iSmart. But give it a second look and you quickly realise that there are a lot more details here. It's a distinctly larger bike with a more mature design. That being said, the two-tone paint job still is one of the most striking visual features of this bike. It really gives this new iSmart a much more premium look and it looks especially handsome in the blue-black combination. This two-tone theme even carries over on the backs of the mirror, which really is a nice touch and the overall paint finish is top notch. The subtle graphics, which include a large, faint tracing of the letters 'i3S' on the tank along with name and company badges done in a not so in-your-face size, are a classy touch. The taller, more sculpted tank fits well even within the proportions of a frills-free commuter motorcycle, and when you actually get into the saddle, you immediately realise just how comfortable it is to grip with your thighs. There are a lot more really well thought-out design details such as the new, pointier bikini fairing, sharper trapezoidal headlight, new clear lens indicators and even a redesigned split grab rail at the back that doesn't look like a chopped up single piece unit any more. Even the angular tail-lamp unit integrates extremely well into this new design. The new instrument cluster requires special mention. It features two analogue dials for the speedometer and fuel gauge, along with an LCD panel for odo and trip information. The blue accents inside the cluster look quite spiffy and even though it’s not breaking the mould in terms of amount of information available, it manages to look like one of the most premium units in this class of bike. Looking at this new styling as a whole, suddenly, you feel a little let down by the skinny forks and skinny tyres, as they are a strong reminder about which class this new bike plays in as well. But play as it might in this people mover class, the overall fit and finish of the bike is quite remarkable.
 
Ergonomics
 
The Splendor iSmart 110 features a fairly standard upright commuter stance. But as mentioned before, the tank is extremely comfortable to grip with your thighs and it really helps the rider feel one with the bike. Not only that, the seat itself is also quite comfortable and has been made longer to better accommodate pillions. When you get on the bike, it feels fairly substantial for its class, without feeling intimidating in any way.
 
Engine
 
At the heart of this bike is the brand new 110cc air-cooled engine designed and built in-house at Hero MotoCorp. As compared to the company’s bread-and-butter 100cc sloper motor that has plied Indian roads for over three decades, this one’s cylinder has been lifted to a higher angle, though it’s not as upright as the one from Hero’s 125cc bikes. Speaking to Markus Feichtner, head of engine design and development at Hero MotoCorp’s CIT, we were told that the choice to lift the cylinder angle was made to better aid cooling in the monsoon, as the sloper has a tendency get covered with the mud spray from the front wheel. Thanks to friction-busting technologies, as well as optimised flow and combustion, this motor manages to put out 9.5hp at 7500rpm and a healthy 9Nm of torque coming in at 5500rpm. And staying with current regulations, the motor is BS-IV compliant, making it the second bike launched this year in this segment that meets these more stringent emissions norms.
 
Gearbox
 
The four-speed gearbox itself is a pretty slick shifter with adequately spaced out ratios which work well with the motor’s torque spread. And while it does stick to the Splendor’s classic, all-up shift pattern, the lever now gets a nub at the front (instead of the flat pedal like on the standard Splendor), making it easy to shift using just your toe.
 

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Autocar Magazine

Issue: 211 | Autocar India: March 2017

Check out our exclusive drive of the new BMW 5-series in India, and in a Porsche special, the 718 Boxster. There's also a shootout between the new Hyundai Grand i10, Maruti Ignis and the Mahindra...
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