Hero Honda’s halo product for the last few years, the Karizma, lives up to its reputation as India’s ‘mostest’ bike. Boasting 223cc and 17bhp, and a 70k-plus price tag, it oozes street cred. Our Karizma R is equipped with zany red alloy wheels to complement its black paint scheme, and is a head-turner from a mile. But this bike is about a whole lot more than just its looks.
The R is a big and comfortable bike with well judged ergonomics and a generous seat. While it might appear a bit intimidating to riders of a shorter stature, all apprehensions are laid to rest once on the move. The Karizma is a stable steed, responsive to inputs, and with consistent feedback, ensuring the rider is always in the know of what’s going on. What is astounding though, is its wet-weather ability. The suspension and grippy MRF rubber work in conjunction to deliver a steadyfoot print on Mumbai’s monsoon-ravaged roads like few other Indian bikes can. The electric start is a boon at Mumbai’s hour-long traffic lights, but a handlebar-mounted engine kill switch would augment that nicely.
But the city isn’t its only habitat. The R is a superb long-distance bike as well. It is out on the highways that the bike’s handling and comfortable seating really come to the fore, even with a pillion. The brakes are on the money, and its inherent stability is there to sample when truckers weave into your lane. The R corners well too, and fast-flowing sweepers are a joy on this bike.
While in some quarters the Karizma has been criticised for not being too charismatic when revved hard, I have no such complaints. I love its driveability and torque-laden power delivery, although I will confess to sometimes wishing it revved longer and harder.
It there are any gripes, then it would have to be the headlight. Beam focus and beam penetration are not befitting of a bike in its category, and make you think twice about leaving early in the morning. Also, the incessant rain has led to sticky switches.
While these are minor gripes, Hero Honda would do well to address them, for what the Karizma does achieve, and in a big way, is in putting the fun factor back into riding.