Back in 1999, when Hero hadn’t yet got their MotoCorp suffix and were making motorcycles with Honda, they released a motorcycle called the Hero Honda CBZ. Later it was rebadged the Hero Honda CBZ Xtreme with some striking updates. Hero later dropped the CBZ brand altogether, and simply christened the motorcycle ‘Xtreme’. The manufacturer has now introduced a more aggressively styled version called the Xtreme Sports with added grunt.
The Hero Xtreme Sports looks quite smart with its ever-so-slightly tipping forward stance, and sharp styling. On the front is a stub-nosed headlamp, with blue-tinted city lights mounted on either side above the headlamp. The front mudguard has faux air scoops cut out, which add to the sporty image of the motorcycle. Gold-coloured telescopic shock absorbers add a nice touch.
Mounted on top of the headlamp cluster is the completely revised readout panel. A large tachometer is placed on the left side, while a digital speedometer is placed on the right. Above it are the fuel gauge, neutral gear and high beam indicators.
A handy safety addition on the Hero is the side-stand indicator which lights up if the side stand is engaged when the ignition key is set to on. What is interesting is that the headlamp cluster does not have the ignition key at its conventional location, between the handlebars. Instead, it is placed to the right of the headlight, below the handlebar. Clip-on handlebars add to the sporty look of the motorcycle. A standard set of switchgear is mounted on the handlebars, and works quite well.
The tank has angular scoops on either side, which protrude forward till the headlamp cluster when viewed from the side. These make it look yet even leaner than the previous generation, when it still carried the CBZ brand, despite its slightly larger dimensions over the Xtreme. The large, sculpted tank leads to a split seat. The padding on the seats looks thin, and appears to be uncomfortable, but surprisingly our ride confirmed that they were not. The tail section is well designed, with a meaty, ergonomic split grab-rail for the pillion. We rode the motorcycle in Pune, and couldn’t find reason to complain about this.
The engine on the Hero Xtreme Sports remains unchanged. It still uses the 149.2cc, air-cooled, four-stroke engine that mills out a maximum power of 15.6bhp at 8,500rpm, and a maximum of 1.4kgm twisting force at 7,000rpm, slightly more than the other model. Power and torque delivery feels smooth, but there is a noticeable surge once the engine gets spinning at around 6,500rpm. Spin it harder than 8,500-9,000rpm, and the engine protests quite noisily, and harsh vibrations envelop the handlebars. Bridging the engine and the butter-smooth gearbox is a light clutch, which can be used in moderate to heavy traffic with no complaints. All we felt was a silent click, letting us know that the next gear was ready to spin into action.
The Hero Xtreme Sports might have dropped the CBZ badge, but it still retains the characteristic Hero Motocorp ride quality. We had asked the showroom guys to set it to the hardest, to optimise handling when riding through a large bit of the twisty sections in the ghats, and it proved to be a good decision. The front is quite soft, but not too soft to snatch away much of that confident air. The rear too, although set to the hardest, worked quite well to absorb what could have been nasty jolts.
However, there were a few things that we were unhappy with. The position of the ignition key, for example. If you stop the motorcycle on an incline, where you’re supporting it with your right foot, there is no easy way for you to turn off the ignition. Being on the right-hand side, you have to let go of the right brake – and with your right foot tied down to prop up the motorcycle, you lose braking and set off into a roll. Yes, you can try reaching the ignition with your left hand, but that is quite a stretch. The inclusion of an engine-kill switch would have been helpful here. Overall fit and finish of the motorcycle too could have been better.
These minor niggles aside, the Hero Xtreme Sports is impressive as a package though. Our grouses can be filed under classic nitpicking, for this is a smart motorcycle and doesn’t disappoint in any aspect in its role as a premium commuter. With a reliable engine, great design and sporty appeal, this Hero is definitely great value for money.