Motorcycles that shaped a generation, we’ve all had them. Thirty-plus years ago, Indian enthusiasts had their motorcycling lives forged by smokey, excitable two-strokes that began to arrive from Japan in the mid-eighties. Fast forward to the late ‘90s/early 2000s and bikes like the Hero Honda CBZ and Bajaj Pulsar taught lakhs of young Indians that everyday machines could also be cool, desirable and sporty. The decade that followed saw a thriving superbike grey import scene, which abruptly ended at around the same time as India started to get her very first legally imported big bikes.
This was a scene that may have been enjoyed by a precious few, but it inspired millions of young aspiring motorcyclists, myself included. Sure, most of us couldn’t even think of owning a superbike back then, but then Yamaha launched India’s first scaled-down supersport in 2008 and suddenly the dream could be realised – the R15 was the first motorcycle I owned.
Do you see the pattern? All these motorcycles were designed to thrill with speed and they all requested good roads (and predictable road users) in the bargain. The irony is immense, but that was what we had, so this is where we went.
But I think there may finally be a new way, one that goes down an excitingly broken road. It’s something that crept into my mind after riding the new BS6 Xpulse 200; why last year’s BS4 bike didn’t do it for me is explained in our Xpulse long term intro. What the Xpulse offers is unique and proper, yet easier off-road capability than the Himalayan or 390 Adventure, while also being a great everyday commuter. But the kicker is that it is priced on par with some premium 160cc machines, and that opens the doors to literally millions of people. More importantly, it’s affordable enough to be bought as a weekend plaything by folks who already own a sportbike or even a big ADV, a trend I’m already seeing all over. Hero’s amazingly priced Rally Kit only sweetens the deal.
Take it from someone who’s been a sportsbike guy his whole life, riding off-road is addictive, and one good experience is all it takes to get hooked. Off-road fun is available as soon as you break free from the city, whereas a trackday weekend costs me a 3,000km round trip, tens of thousands of rupees and six days in total. Best of all, riding off-road is a much slower and, generally, safer activity. Oh, and the riding gear costs far less too.
Sure, the Xpulse will probably never rival the sales numbers of some of Hero’s other products, and its level of performance is something you will outgrow. But the seed will be sown, it will certainly inspire more people to enjoy a new sort of riding, one that’s far more conducive in our country. Let’s not forget, ADV riding is exploding in popularity overseas and that’s sure to have an effect on us as well.
I’m excited to see how this bike and others like it will shape India’s enthusiast riding scene over the next five years.