Even though the Indian two-wheeler space has really taken off in the last decade or so, most of us enthusiasts wish that Indian bike makers would offer a larger variety of motorcycles in the ‘affordable’ category. That being said, there are some rather interesting offerings now available in the country that can be had under Rs 1 lakh. So we’ve compiled a list of the top five bikes you can get today that fit this bill. And even though the definition of ‘best’ can be rather subjective, for this list, the contenders really need to offer something greater than run-of-the-mill to make the cut, be it great bang-for-buck, or just a tonne of personality.
Before we start, we’re going to admit that this ‘under Rs 1 lakh’ title is a bit of a misnomer. For the sake of this list, we’re considering the best five motorcycles which have their ex-showroom (Delhi) prices of about a lakh of rupees, so their actual on-road prices might go a little over.
Honda CB Hornet 160R
Honda has launched its 2018 CB Hornet 160R in India. The styling of the new motorcycle is similar to its predecessor, but it now gets new colour options and restyled graphics. The design highlight is the inclusion of an LED headlight, which makes it the second motorcycle in the 160cc segment (after the Honda X-Blade) to feature it. The all-digital console has been carried forward but now features redesigned housing, and the backlight is now blue instead of amber. However, it misses out on the gear position indicator seen on the X-Blade. Mechanically, the 2018 model is similar to the 2017 bike. Powering it is a 162.7cc, air-cooled motor which develops 14.9hp at 8,500rpm and peak torque of 14.5Nm at 6,500rpm. Transmission duties are handled by a five-speed gearbox. The 2018 CB Hornet 160R also becomes the first motorcycle in its segment to feature ABS as an optional extra. However, the ABS system used on the CB Hornet 160R is a single-channel unit. Honda is selling two versions of the ABS-equipped motorcycle with the DLX model costing Rs 2,500 more than the STD model as it gets a rear disc brake. We recommend getting the top-spec ABS DLX model.
Power: 14.9hp at 8,500rpm
Torque: 14.5Nm at 6,500rpm
Price: Rs 84,675 (STD), Rs 89,175 (CBS), Rs 90,175 (ABS STD), Rs 92,675 (ABS DLX) (all prices, ex-showroom Delhi)
Bajaj Avenger 220
The Bajaj Avenger has been the mainstay of Indian-made cruiser motorcycles ever since it debuted, back in 2005. The bike maker has unveiled the 2018 Avenger 220 line-up. As part of the update, the Cruise and Street now feature LED DRLs, and both get a distinct headlight design. Among other important changes, there's now a digital instrument pod – backlit in blue on the Cruise, with a taller shroud to shield it from direct sunlight; orange on the Street – comprising a speedometer, odometer, two trip meters, fuel bar gauge and service reminder. Also part of the deal are new body graphics, a visor and a new grab rail for the Street; and a sissy bar with a backrest for the Cruise. Both variants will be offered with a new paint scheme – the Street in Matte White and the Cruise in Moon White. Both these bikes remain mechanically unchanged. Mated to a five-speed gearbox, the 220cc, single-cylinder engine produces 19.03hp and 17.5Nm of torque. Even though we'd expected to see it on this update, ABS has still not been introduced.
Power: 19.03hp at 8,400rpm
Torque: 17.5Nm at 7,000rpm
Price: Rs 94,464 (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Also read: Bajaj Avenger review
TVS Apache RTR 200 4V
The TVS Apache has always been an interesting proposition in the Indian bike market, as being the only bike that was developed on the race tracks of Chennai and Coimbatore. The blokes at Hosur have always taken racing seriously and they took this approach to take motorcycles to a whole new level with the Apache RTR 200 4V. As the name suggests, it packs a 197.75cc, single-cylinder, air-and-oil-cooled engine that gets a four-valve head and was derived from the company’s racing efforts. The RTR 200 also features a race-tuned KYB monoshock at the back and gets sticky Pirelli tyres as well as dual-channel ABS as standard (a first for this segment). It’s available in both carburetted and fuel-injected variants, although we’re not considering the Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) version here as its asking price goes beyond the one lakh rupee mark. With its rev-happy motor and razor sharp handling, the RTR 200 is an impressive motorcycle – impressive enough to be crowned the 2017 Bike of the Year here at Autocar India.
As part of the latest update, the RTR gets an A-RT (anti-reverse torque) slipper clutch, new decals and a prominent fly screen (as seen on the ethanol-fuelled concept motorcycle TVS displayed at Auto Expo 2018). Only one of the four variants of the RTR 200 4V is priced below Rs 1 lakh. However, we recommend going for the ABS model that is priced slightly above the Rs 1 lakh mark. Interestingly, it is the only bike in its segment to offer dual-channel ABS.
Power: 20.5hp at 8,500rpm (carburetted version)
Torque: 18.1Nm at 7,000rpm
Price: Rs 95,185 (ex-showroom, Delhi) (carburetted base model)
Also read: TVS Apache RTR 200 review
Bajaj Pulsar 200NS
It’s the second Bajaj bike on this list, but let’s face it… it really had to be here. The Chakan-based two-wheeler giant knows a thing or two about making bikes that offer phenomenal bang for your buck, and the Pulsar 200NS is a prime example of this. After a short hiatus from the market, the 200NS has been brought back as a BS-IV model and it packs the same 199.5cc, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled motor derived from the KTM 200 Duke. Unlike the KTM however, the Pulsar’s motor is fed through a carburettor, but it features Bajaj’s patented triple-sparkplug technology that makes it a lot more efficient, albeit slightly down on power. The Pulsar’s short-stroke motor is quick to rev, making for fast acceleration, and the bike offers a competent handling package that makes it fun to ride in pretty much all conditions, whether it’s the city, the highway or a twisty mountain road. “Power to the people” has been the Pulsar hallmark ever since the brand’s inception, and it’s next to impossible to get as much performance as the Pulsar 200NS in the sub-200cc segment. Even though the ABS variant of the 200NS crosses the Rs 1-lakh barrier, we’d highly recommend spending the extra 11-odd thousand rupees for it.
Power: 23.5hp at 9,500rpm
Torque: 18.3Nm at 8,000rpm
Price: Rs 98,714 / Rs 1.09 lakh (ABS variant) (both prices ex-showroom, Delhi)
Also read: 2017 Bajaj Pulsar 200NS review
Ask most of us here at Autocar India what our favourite sub-Rs 1 lakh bike is and more likely than not, the answer you’ll hear is the Suzuki Gixxer, or its faired sibling, the Gixxer SF. When the original Gixxer was launched back in 2014, most of us dismissed it as a Yamaha FZ16 clone, until we rode it for the first time that is. What this bike delivers is hard to quantify on paper. It’s not the most powerful bike in its segment, nor is the epitome of frugality. But if there’s a bike that makes its case purely on its ‘X factor’, it has to be the Gixxer. One aspect that makes it so easily lovable is just how much fun it is to ride, a lot of which can be attributed to its fantastic handling package. It’s a bike that scores high on practicality as well, with a comfortable saddle and seating position, and a light kerb weight of just 135kg. With recent updates, both bike now feature an optional rear disc brake and a single-channel ABS, while the SF is now additionally equipped with electronic fuel injection. And the Gixxer looks great in both its faired and non-faired guises, especially when you take into consideration their racing-inspired blue livery.
Power: 14.8hp at 8,000rpm
Torque: 14Nm at 6,000rp
Price: Rs 80,929 (Gixxer, rear disc) / Rs 96,386 (Gixxer SF, ABS) (both prices ex-showroom, Delhi)
Also read: 2017 Suzuki Gixxer SF ABS review, test ride