It’s a Sunday morning and I’ve loaded the Karizma with a full complement of luggage: tank bag, saddle bags and a pillion. Barely five minutes from home, I approach an intersection and there’s a garbage truck barrelling through, running a red light. Worse, there is road work going on, and the road is slimy from a drizzle. Brake? Swerve? Pray? With a dab on the anchors to shed some momentum and a deft flick to the left, we’re safe.
This is why the Karizma has proved so popular. Every one of us has similar stories to recount of our time with the bike. It has been an unfailing ally, never mind the situation. It has forded Mumbai’s flooded streets over two torrential monsoons without a hiccup. It has never failed to start. It has made it from Goa to Mumbai in eight hours flat. Through it all, the only battle scars have been a couple of punctures and one fused bulb.
The Hero Honda Karizma is a bike which has endeared every one of us who slung a leg over its seat. We’ve all grown to love its looks, although the red wheels did take some getting used to initially. On the move, its sure-footed handling and balance and that torquey motor have won it friends. The brakes have always been spot on, even in panic situations. It’s a quality product which looks and feels expensive, which is no bad thing.
The Karizma’s strengths are many, and you begin to appreciate the little things more and more when you ride it for a period of a few months. Simple things like the in-dash digital clock and vibe-free mirrors are so useful when you are on out long rides.
That’s not to say the Karizma didn’t have some niggles. A major grouse was the headlight. With a poor beam and not much penetration, riding the Karizma at night on the highway was a no-no. The rangy wheelbase made it a handful in the city. The seat could get slightly painful if you spent more than a couple of hours at a stretch in the saddle. And the rear drum brake tended to squeal during the monsoon. Lastly, we wish it sounded a little deeper. The exhaust note was a touch too bland, and masked the intent and capability of this bike.
The Karizma’s fuel-efficiency could vary a lot depending on how it was ridden. During the time it was with us, we’ve seen a low of 26kpl (during continuous first-and-second gear runs during the monsoon) and a high of 40.3kpl when on a sedate ride to Mahabaleshwar and back. By and large though, it has remained around the 32kpl mark, an improvement of nearly 10 percent once it was run in properly.
The Karizma’s 223cc single is a right laugh. Beyond 3000rpm, it just yanks you forward with a linear shove. Whether within the confines of the city or out on the highway, it was so easy to ride fast. Best of all, it could cruise steadily at an indicated 100kph with rider, pillion, and luggage. In real world terms, this is easily the fastest inter-city bike.
After 14 months and 14,200 kilometres, I’m really sad to see it go.