Critics wasted little time to frown at Hero when they parted with longstanding Japanese partner and global heavyweight, Honda. Hero stood their ground to become Hero MotoCorp in 2011, as Honda went their own way, confident they were on firm enough footing not to need an Indian partner. It’s been a hard fought battle since, as the giants clashed for the coveted prize of market supremacy.
Hero’s new Chairman, Pawan Munjal has shown quiet, yet steely resolve as he steers his company towards independent R&D capability. Losing Honda hasn’t affected Hero’s solid footing with consistently robust motorcycle sales, and the products not suffering any loss of quality or performance. Hero has however lost ground on one key front; the fast growing scooter market where they’ve had a limited presence.
In step the Maestro Edge and Duet, Hero’s first completely in-house developed models. Are the Maestro Edge and Duet able enough to take on the might of well entrenched rivals? Our test ride has your answers.
The Maestro Edge and Duet scooters are pleasantly styled, and well proportioned. Where the Edge is a sportier variant of the existing Maestro, and makes a sharper, more masculine looking scooter, the Duet is a more conservative Hero, with relatively rounder, softer lines. Both look contemporary, and come with modern touches including LED tail lights. The Maestro Edge looks muscular and stylish seen from ahead, with a nicely sculpted, sporty looking front mudguard. The Duet meanwhile comes with a more shapely, really distinctive rear. Just above their tail-lights, both scooters provide rear fuel-filler pods, opened with a twist of their ignition-keys, allowing for filling-up without getting off at petrol pumps.
Likewise, the Maestro Edge and Duet under-seat bays are unlocked via the ignition.
Both new Hero scooters provide an up-market feel, and are feature packed. The instruments bays are easy to read, with smaller digital displays and prominently set speedometers. Fuel gauges are available on both the Maestro Edge and Duet. Palm grips and levers are top-quality and nice to the touch, with a rear brake lock clamp in place to anchor the scooters when stationary on cambered surfaces. While the Duet has good quality switchgear, the Maestro Edge offers more premium switches that feel really swell. Pass lights are in place, operated by pressing the high and low beam toggle button. Although the Duet mirrors aren’t ideally shaped, and don’t adjust or stay in place as readily as we’d have liked, the Maestro Edge comes with well shaped, totally hassle free mirrors.
In addition to their under-seat bays, the Maestro Edge and Duet provide the option of adding lockable storage bins in front, although keep in mind fitting these does hamper leg space. Bag hooks are smartly placed around both Hero’s flat foot-wells. Under their seats, both scoots come with illuminated bays that pack in USB 3.0 ports, as can be used to charge cell phones.
The Maestro Edge provides smarter textured seat fabric, and an attractive silencer that’s rare on Indian scooters. Similarly, it holds an ‘edge’ with smarter alloy rims. Both new Hero scoots come with alloy pillion footrests. Little knobs located at the seat pivot region can be used to clamp your helmet in place when parked, only accessible after the seat opens.
There’s good attention-to-detail on the Maestro Edge and Duet, with a build-to-last, good quality feel apparent during our test ride session. The Duet comes with a metal body, this adding a few kilos of flab over the Maestro Edge.
New engines, familiar refinement
Both scooters share a new, four-stroke, air-cooled engine platform that’s in-house Hero developed. Button-started, it’s a 110.9cc, CVT transmission equipped powerplant that outputs 8.31bhp at 8,000rpm, with peak torque 0.85kgm, these figures echoing the industry standard. As expected, the Maestro Edge and Duet are carburettor-fed, and conveniently button started.
The Maestro Edge and Duet engines show Hero hasn’t lost out in any way on refinement, despite parting with Honda technology. There’s nothing lacking on the Maestro Edge, or Duet, in terms of engine smoothness, or performance.
Light action throttles deliver responsive acceleration the instant you get away from a standing start, with smooth, peppy enough acceleration available at the wrist and a vibe free nature accompanied by pleasantly soft exhaust notes. The CVT systems are well-tuned, with both the Maestro Edge and Duet effortlessly capable of cruising speeds in the region of 65kph. While we didn’t have the opportunity to test this, Hero claims top speeds of 85kph, which seem easily attainable.
To sit on, the Maestro Edge and Duet are comfortable with upright riding positions on well-padded, nicely shaped seats. There’s telescopic front suspension on both, and 10 inch rims, the Maestro Edge deploying a 12 incher in front for easier maneuverability. At the rear, both scooters use their engines as swingarms, linked to a monoshock.
Handling is nice and light, scooter typical, with the Maestro Edge and Duet going round corners confidently. Likewise, the suspension works well, offering good ride quality when passing over all surfaces, without excessive bounce or firmness.
The Maestro Edge and Duet come with MRF tyres, these offering confidence inspiring grip throughout our test ride. Hero’s also offering the added safety of combined braking with both scooters, and this worked well, intervening to automatically dial in some extra front brake force, when pressing only the rear brake lever. The brakes themselves are drums, front and rear, and work with reassuring feel at the levers.
A heroes welcome
Although we’d have liked to see the Maestro Edge roll the extra mile, to offer a more potent—perhaps 125cc engine—and perhaps a front disc brake as well to take on Honda’s Activa 125, it’s clear Hero MotoCorp means serious business and has hit a sweet-spot with their first, totally ‘make-in-India’ qualified scoots.
Both nice looking, top-quality and practical scooters check all boxes, and come with the bonus of generous equipment for their class. While the Duet is some months from reaching dealerships, Hero MotoCorp will have the Maestro Edge on sale from October 13, in two variants, a more basic LX well priced at Rs 49,500 and the full spec VX for Rs 50,700 (both prices ex-showroom, Delhi).
A no-compromise, thoroughly engineered approach coupled with Hero’s extensive know how of this market shows through, in the Maestro Edge and Duet delivering just what India needs from a 110cc scooter. You’d do well to pick up either of these new heroes.
|Hero Duet||Hero Maestro Edge|
|Engine||110.9cc, single-cylinder, four-stroke ||110.9cc, single-cylinder, four-stroke|
|Front suspension||Telescopic forks||Telescopic forks|
|Rear suspension||Spring suspension||Spring suspension|
|Wheel||Pressed steel||5-spoke alloy|
|Rim size (f-r)||10 inches||12-10 inches|
|Tyre size (f-r)||90/100 x 10 - 90/100 x 10 inches||90/90 x 12 - 90/100 x 10 inches|