Small-capacity motorcycles, and by that we mean usually the ones under 300cc, absolutely rule the roost in the Indian market. But as many bikes of this sort as we get in the country, there are still quite a few of them that are available in South East Asia and even Europe which are simply not available here.
Some of these are really interesting motorcycles, which would feel right at home in the Indian market. Yet, bike makers here have made the choice of keeping them away from us for a multitude of reasons. So, while we aren't going to dwell on exactly why this is so, we thought it might be fun to see what we're missing out and pick five of our favourite small-capacity bikes that we would love to be able to buy in India.
DISCLAIMER: Manufacturers have absolutely no plans to launch any of the bikes from our list in India, and that seems unlikely to change anytime soon. Although, we think it would be absolutely brilliant if they did launch them.
Suzuki V-Strom 250
Honestly, we were conflicted between this and the Suzuki GSX-250R as both share the same 248cc parallel-twin motor (from the Inazuma). However, as much as we love the GSX-250R's scaled down sportsbike looks, this 25hp motor just doesn't cut the mustard for sporty thrills. So, we think this powerplant is best suited to the V-Strom 250's adventure-touring orientation. It has a peak torque figure of 23.4Nm, however Suzuki claims that the motor has been optimised for better low and mid-range torque – exactly what one expects from an adventure tourer. However, this V-Strom has been made with tarmac use in mind. It sports 17" cast-alloy wheels at both ends shod with road-going tyres. It's not superlight either, boasting a kerb weight of 188kg. But the emphasis on comfortable two-up touring is clear and the company claims a range of nearly 500km from its 17-litre fuel tank. To top things off, the rider's seat height is an accessibly low 800mm, and the bike gets wide handlebars along with a tall flyshield. Suzuki also offers pannier and tail box options for the V-Strom 250. Disc brakes at both ends along with ABS are offered as standard. With this small adventure bike scene in India about to hot up with the addition of the BMW G 310 GS and the KTM 390 Adventure to the trend started by the Royal Enfield Himalayan, the V-Strom 250 might just be a great addition. Just don't hold your breath for it though!
Power: 25hp at 8,000rpm
Torque: 23.40Nm at 6,500rpm
Price: TBA (in Europe)
If the standard single-cylinder Honda CBR250R is like a smaller version of the sport touring VFR1200, then the new CBR250RR is akin to a scaled down full-fat CBR1000RR Fireblade superbike. This 250RR is powered by a 249.7cc, eight-valve liquid-cooled parallel-twin motor, which, thanks to its very short-stroke nature, makes 38.7hp of peak power that comes in at a sky-high 12,500rpm. The motor is quite high-tech too, as it gets a ride-by-wire throttle and even features three riding modes (Comfort, Sport and Sport+) which change the bike's power delivery characteristics. The 250RR is built around a trellis-type frame and sports some high-end suspension components such as upside-down forks at the front and a linked monoshock at the back connected to an aluminium swingarm. That, combined with a kerb weight of just 168kg (for the ABS-equipped model), it's clear from the get-go that this is a motorcycle that was designed with handling in mind. It's quite a striking looking thing as well, although the sleek, stacked LED headlight and DRL design is a bit polarising. But the rest of the sharp, sculpted form of the bike is undoubtedly very attractive. Honestly, we think this would be a great competitor to the likes of the KTM RC390 and we'd love to pit these two bikes head-to-head on a racetrack. Unfortunately, HMSI doesn't seem interested in giving us that chance.
Power: 38.7hp at 12,500rpm
Torque: 23.3Nm at 11,000rpm
Price: IDR 68.9 million (approx. Rs 3.35 lakh)
Yamaha V-Ixion R
The superlative Yamaha YZF-R15 started life as a South East Asian naked motorcycle called the Yamaha V-Ixion. Recently though, Yamaha unveiled a new V-Ixion built on the underpinnings of the R15 V3.0 in Indonesia. Called the V-Ixion R, it gets the same new 155.1cc, liquid-cooled engine that powers the R15 V3.0. This motor features Variable Valve Actuation (VVA) technology which has allowed Yamaha to extract 19.3hp of peak power from it. The engine is mated to a six-speed transmission which also features a slipper clutch. It sports the same perimeter frame as the new R15 with conventional telescopic forks at the front and a linked monoshock at the back. There's a 90-section tubeless tyre at the front while the rear gets 130-section rubber. With a kerb weight of just 131kg, we expect that it offers the same nimble handling that makes the R15 such a great bike to ride. It also gets a host of modern touches such as an all-LCD instrument cluster, USB charger as well as an LED headlight and taillight. Of course, the fact that this 150cc machine would cost as much as the Yamaha FZ25 if launched in India means that we're unlikely to ever see it here. But we can always hope.
Power: 19.3hp at 10,000rpm
Torque: 14.7Nm at 8,500rpm
Price: IDR 29.5 million (approx. Rs 1.43 lakh)
The Grom is Honda's 'monkey-bike' that has won quite a bit of fan following in Thailand, Europe and even the US. Its 124.9cc, single-cylinder air-cooled fuel-injected motor, along with its four-speed manual gearbox comes from the Honda Wave, a popular step-through in South East Asia. This motor makes 9.8hp of maximum power and 10.9Nm of maximum torque. And much like a conventional motorcycle, you have a chain driving the rear wheel. The Grom's motor might be from the Wave, but its steel mono-backbone frame is a completely different affair from the step-through's underbone chassis. It gets a motorcycle-like single-tube spine chassis with 31mm inverted forks at the front and a box section swingarm with a monoshock at the back. On the whole, the Grom weighs in at a fairly light 101.7kg. It gets 12-inch wheels at both ends, with chunky tyres at both ends (120/70-12 at the front and 130/70-12 at the back). Stopping duties are handled by 220mm front disc with a two-piston caliper and a 190mm disc with a single-piston caliper at the back. When you look at the pricing of the Grom in the country where it's manufactured, Thailand, when converted to Indian currency it costs about Rs 1.30 lakh – rather pricey for such a niche product! So, you can forget about this quirky, adorable little bike coming to India.
Power: 9.8hp at 7,000rpm
Torque: 10.9 Nm at 5,500rpm
Price: THB 68,900 (approx. Rs 1.30 lakh)
Aprilia Tuono 125
After all these Japanese motorcycles designed for South East Asia, we turn our attention to a properly European bike – the Aprilia Tuono 125. Clearly, it takes its visual inspiration from its (much) larger sibling, the Tuono V4 1100, but it packs a 124cc, liquid-cooled single-cylinder mill that we first saw on the Aprilia RS4 125. Power and torque figures for this motor stand at 15hp and 11Nm, respectively, which is nothing to scoff at really from such a small engine. What's interesting is that this little motorcycle actually features Aprilia's Quick Shift system for its six-speed transmission, which allows clutchless upshifts. It is built around a beefy aluminium twin-spar frame and also gets a chunky aluminium swingarm, while suspension duties are handled by upside-down forks at the front and a monoshock at the back. The brakes feature discs at both ends with ABS offered as standard. And this little Tuono also features some high-tech kit in the form of a multifunction display that can be connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth and which can be controlled by handlebar-mounted controls. It also has a lap timer that stores data for the last 20 laps. This Tuono 125 is a proper, scaled-down version of a high-end Italian sport naked motorcycle, and as such, demands big money (comparatively). As much as we would love to get our hands on this bike in India, the odds of that actually happening are slim to none.
Power: 15hp at 10,500rpm
Torque: 11Nm at 8,250rpm
Price: EUR 4,600 (approx. Rs 3.30 lakh)