Around a year ago, Hero flew us to the mighty Buddh International Circuit (BIC) to experience a very unlikely motorcycle for that environment. The bike in question was the new Xtreme 200R, and I call it unlikely for the environment because of the humble 18.4hp that its basic 200cc air-cooled engine manages to squeeze out. Obviously, Hero knew something we didn’t, because the ride turned out to be fun on the North side short loop of the F1 circuit where the Xtreme’s tight, responsive and engaging dynamics stood out more than its obvious lack of pace. Keeping with tradition, Hero has just flown us back to the BIC to have another go at riding the Xtreme here, except that this one is called the Xtreme 200S and it’s a very different looking thing to the R.
What’s new then?
Obviously, that would be the design. The Xtreme 200S is not just Hero’s first faired bike in a long time, it’s also the company’s first genuinely attractive and sporty design in ages as well. The big talking point is the new full-LED headlamp, and while it seems to have split opinions online, I’m quite taken by the uniqueness of the design. The relatively slim trapezoidal lamp stretches right across the bottom of the cowl and is flanked by two sharp triangular LEDs on both ends. The lamp is split into two parts, one for low and one for high, and with the high beam on, the full thing lights up to provide cool-looking beam of light. It’s different, will be instantly recognisable and there’s a hint of retro 80s Japanese superbikes in there that I really like. The headlamp is surrounded by black plastic trim, which works in conjunction with the dark tint on the windscreen.
Before we first saw the bike, the big concern was whether Hero got the proportions right, especially after the mess that was the Karizma ZMA and ZMR. Things are executed much more neatly this time around and the fairing doesn’t look too skinny and it’s definitely not too fat. The black treatment for the belly pan helps keep the proportions looking tight, and with the amount of black treatment all over, I think this bike would look smashing in white paint; but for now there are only three colours available, with a black and a brown keeping this almost-Ducati-red shade company.
It’s not just the fairing and headlamp that’s new, the Xtreme 200S also gets the new LCD display from the XPulse twins that offers Bluetooth connectivity and a turn-by-turn navigation assist. Finally, the bike runs the shorter exhaust from the XPulse T, which goes nicer with the design than the longer can from the Xtreme 200R. Beyond this, everything else stays the same, including the flat handlebar, fuel tank, seat, rear-quarter panels and tail-lamp. There’s a lot of feedback saying that clip-on bars would have been nicer, but I don’t mind the looks of the flat handlebar. Instead, I wish Hero went with a sleek set of mirrors installed in the fairing, but the bike continues to use the handlebar mounted mirrors from the Xtreme 200R. Even though you don’t see them in these images, they do jar a little with the overall design.
What stays the same?
Pretty much everything else. The diamond frame is exactly the same as the Xtreme, as is the suspension/brake setup and tyre selection. The 199.6cc, two-valve, air-cooled motor remains in Xtreme tune, and only comes with a carburettor. The power and torque output figures stay at 18.4hp and 17.1Nm and because kerb weight has gone up by just two kg (now 149kg) the Xtreme 200S feels just like the old bike to ride.
That means you’ve got a good spread of low-end torque and good tractability for city riding. At the track, the bike spent most of its time with the throttle wide open in 5th gear without seeing anything above 115kph. On the road, you should manage an indicated top speed of about 120-125kph, given the time and space, but this is clearly not a bike that excels at top-end performance.
Handling continues to be the big charmer, after the design, and the Xtreme 200S has lost none of its naked sibling’s poise, agility and confidence. It turns quickly into corners and smoothly settles into a stable state of lean, with good levels of grip from the MRF tyres. In the sub-Rs 1 lakh space, the Xtreme keeps company with accomplished handlers like the Gixxer, RTR 160 and Pulsar NS160, but it comfortably holds its own, if not outdoing most of these rivals in the dynamics department. Braking is also a positive affair, with good feel at the lever and the right amount of power for a bike like this, and the ABS continues to be a single-channel setup.
The overall package
The Xtreme 200S has been priced at Rs 98,500 (ex-showroom, Delhi), which makes it quite a bit higher than the Xtreme 200R (Rs 90,900). That may seem like quite a lot, but you are getting a full-LED headlamp and a TFT display, both of which the naked bike doesn’t offer. Most of all, you’re getting a striking and handsome design, something that can’t be said about the Xtreme 200R.
This price also puts it bang on par with the likes of the Suzuki Gixxer SF, and in this company, the Hero’s value is impossible to ignore. What Hero has essentially done with this motorcycle is finally give a good platform an attractive set of clothes, and that alone may well make it the bestselling motorcycle in the company’s 200cc line-up.