Auto Expo 2008: Sparx, KBC Helmets

The other news of interest of us, bikers is that helmet maker KBC in here. They're going to have two ranges of helmets. The lower one is called Sparx. Excellent finish, great designs and neat looking visors make up the entry-level range. Vega is set to be the Indian Sparx distributor, so expect the helmets to go on sale very shortly. Blog reader Shadab says he's already spotted the helmet on sale. The company is still looking for a distributor who can handle the KBC line of premium, expensive helmets.

Price ranges are as follows:
Sparx full face and motocross helmets should range from Rs 4400-5500
KBC full face helmets should be Rs 3800-12000
KBC motocross helmets should be Rs 5500-7000
KBC half-face helmets should be Rs 1800-4500

All KBC helmets meet ECE22.05 and US DOT standards, and most full face helmets meet Snell standards as well.

Auto Expo 2008: Bajaj-KTM

KTM 2008 RC8
Perhaps the most interesting meeting at the Auto Expo was this. No, I've no interest in the Tata Nano. I'll say only this, everyone who moves from a motorcycle to the Nano does me a favour (one day, I'll explain that... remind me). Bajaj, as you know already own 20.5 per cent of KTM, and the plan is to move this up to just past 25 per cent, which will make the Indian company the second largest stake holder in the Austrian bike major. KTM is currently the second largest motorcycle maker in Europe, and its core competence has been off-road bikes. However, they began to seriously work the roadbike arena a few years ago, and I must say the progress and success are admirable. KTM also started making quads (ATVs) and also make one car (the CrossBow). KTM also own WP, the suspension company that almost always supplies KTMs. So, what do they have for us? Well, come June, Pro-Biking showrooms will wear Bajaj's blue, Kawasaki's green as well as KTM orange. I loved seeing the KTM Ready to Race adverts on Delhi bus stops. Yamaha aside, this is the bike maker I root for.

KTM 2008 RC8KTM 2008 RC8KTM will launch the Duke 690 and the RC8 in June in India. The 690 will be homologated and assembled here, while the RC8 will not require homologation since it displaced 1200cc. There seems to be no word on whether the RC8 is assembled or CBU'd. If it is the former, expect the R1 competitor to be a fair bit lower in price tag terms. Something that will force the Japanese to also start assembling their big bikes here.

KTM 2008 Duke 690The Duke 690 has a 652cc single cylinder engine making 65 bhp. Which means displacement similar to the F650, but will a big step up in power terms. Being a KTM, expect typically aggressive power delivery, a super-crisp throttle response and total, utter reliability. The big single will play on its torque, actually, rather than power. Peak power is a hefty 67 NM delivered at a middling 5500 rpm. This the European spec, and I don't expect it to change for India by a big margin. Underseat exhaust, upside down forks, trellis frame, Supermoto (690SM) derived WP suspension and all are present. Expect the 690 Duke to be a storming motorcycle that will make a lot of owners very happy. The whole shebang weighs 149 kgs without fuel (but all fluids), which is 6 kgs or so more than the average Indian 150 WITHOUT any fluids in them. What would the cost be? Let me speculate and say, $9500 converts roughly to Rs 4 lakh, plus duties and taxes, hmm.. Rs 6-6.5 lakh.

KTM 2008 Duke 690KTM 2008 RC8The RC8, of course, is KTM's new flagship, which has only just been released. The engine is a 1190cc V-twin making 155 bhp, which is plenty powerful. No one's ridden it yet – but it's a KTM, expect jaw-dropping reviews and ability. No price yet, but again, it should be in the normal superbike price bracket. If the price is in the $12,000 range (normal litre-bike price), then the Indian price could be between Rs 12 lakh (CBU) and Rs 9 lakh (CKD).

The side benefit of this tie-up is that Bajaj, suddenly have a huge source of tech know how that they can tap into. Expect WP suspension, or inspired by WP suspension in next gen bikes and so forth. KTM and Bajaj are also working on a joint set of platforms, starting with a 125-180cc single-based motorcycles as well as a 250-400cc single-based platform. The idea is to create KTM-branded, entry-level machines that the Austrians can use to tap the 125cc motorcycle market (getting huge because of congestion charges in European cities and the ability of car drivers to ride 125cc motorcycle without additional licencing requirements). These platforms should bear fruit in 2010, when they will get launched in India. And be built for export as well.

Finally, Rajiv Bajaj explained why the sportsbike was on everyone's radar as opposed to other formats. His response was simple. The sportsbike is the purest performance motorcycle. In India's case, it's the correct motorcycle to establish what is possible. Once that is done, other formats will follow.

Auto Expo 2008: Honda

Honda Aviator Scooter
Honda Aviator Scooter
Honda Aviator Scooter
Honda Aviator Scooter
Honda Aviator Scooter
Honda Aviator Scooter

The Japanese company showed off three significant products and bunch of promising CBUs. First, the Aviator. The Aviator is Honda's latest scooter, unfortunately, based squarely on the Activa platform, so no new powertrain to compete with all the 125s. Er... oops. Yes, the 102cc engine powers the neat looking Aviator, which claims, falsely, to have the first 12-inch wheels in the country. I think the Blaze already did that. Finally, Honda relent and add telescopic forks and offer an optional disc too. The Aviator still does not offer a front-fuelling option. I, for one, am neither amused, nor enthused.

Moving right along, the CBF race and sports concepts looked very nice. Based on the Unicorn, they were styling exercised aimed to see what you guys think of such styling and bits. I loved the braced swingarm, carbon body panels and stuff, but couldn't swallow the twin shocks. Technically, good suspension tuning is far more important that how the suspension is articulated. But Honda (re-)introduced the monoshock to our country, and seeing the next generation of sporty Unicorns with gas-charged twin shocks will not help Honda's cause. Of course, all of the Japanese companies have both mono- and twin-shock bikes in their worldwide ranges, but that isn't the point. You can't sell a bike for four years harping about the monoshock only to revert to twin shocks a few years later. Someone at Honda needs to realise that Unicorn sales are not a reflection of people liking/not liking the monoshock, its a failure on the value front. So the solution lies in a perceived value correction, not the spring.

Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade
Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade
Honda CBR1000RR FirebladeThe CBUs included the CB600F Hornet, the CBR600RR and the Fireblade. The last one is simpler to deal with, so I'll take that on first. The Fireblade displaces more than 800cc so it could be a direct import. On the other hand, the other two will have to be assembled here, and CKDs look like a great idea on that front. Of the two, the CBR600RR has received some excellent, excellent reviews and I for one, can't wait to ride one. I asked one Honda official about the saree guard and the front number plate requirement. He said that the new rule – European homologation is accepted means that the big bikes won't need saree guards anymore. The front numberplate is an RTO requirement, but shouldn't be too hard to handle, since the Singapore market also requires a front plate and so solutions already exist, ready for transplant.

Honda CB600F Hornet
Honda CB600F Hornet

Auto Expo 2008: Bajaj-Kawasaki

Bajaj Kawasaki Ninja 250R
Bajaj made the Kawasaki announcement at the Auto Expo. CBUs are coming. After spending the last two years categorically denying any interest in the CBU market, Bajaj are taking the first steps. And they weren't completely wrong either. Bajaj will bring CKDs and assemble them at Chakan for Indian sale, which will give them a massive duty advantage. At the Auto Expo, Bajaj showed a number of models that they are considering for Indian launch, including the Ninja 250, ZX-6R, a Vulcan, the ER-6n etc. The official line, again, is that the response is being judged and by June, we should see the results of the crowd reaction. I get the feeling, though, that the we will definitely see the Ninja 250 in June, followed by a second Kawasaki early 2009. Given that most manufacturers are starting with their flagships – near unobtanium – it would make sense for Bajaj, the essence of affordable performance – to offer the Ninja at a realistic price that you and I can afford without a year of dreaming and scrimping on costs. A 30 bhp, Indian-assembled sports 250 twin for Rs 2.5 lakh? I think it might work really well. Of course, the touring crowd will be interested in the simplicity and versatility of the ER-6n, but I have a feeling Indian enthusiasts are yearning for engines wrapped in glossy plastic first, so you're going to have to wait a little bit. Again, Kawasaki officially says big bikes coming June 2008, no word on which models.
Bajaj Kawasaki Ninja 250R
Bajaj Kawasaki Ninja 250R
Bajaj Kawasaki Ninja 250R
Bajaj Kawasaki Ninja 250R

Auto Expo 2008: Bajaj Discover 150, Blade & XCD Sprint

As you have already read, Bajaj showed off three new products that it intends to launch this year. Unfortunately, none supersede the 220. So, while Joseph and team have been working on, reportedly and bloggedly, on larger motors, either Bajaj will surprise us at some point this year, or not.
Bajaj Blade DTSi
Bajaj Blade DTSi

Blade DTSi
This is a rather neat looking scooter, but appearances do not suggest that it is mould-breaking in any visible fashion. It is good looking, very European in the lines and promises good performance. The engine, as you've already read is a four-valve DTSi 125cc. Using a four-valve engine would suggest that the Blade is more powerful than its 125cc scooter competition. Expect a 10 bhp-odd power claim, which should give the scooter a fair bit of performance. Also expect the scooter to manage 10-15 per cent greater fuel economy on average. The wheels are 12-inchers, like the new Honda Aviators, which should bring stability and more handling ability to the package. Bajaj return to the telescopic fork on the scooter (last seen briefly on the Saffire) and there is even a disc brake on the front hub. No idea whether the brake would be standard or not. I'd be thrilled if it were, for the record. The show bike was caged off, so don't know about the storage space. Will buy a beer if you can actually stuff a full-face lid under the seat and then close the seat also. I didn't have the time to spot whether the tyres were tubeless or not, but again, if they were, I'd chase that beer down with another one. But again, will the average scooter buyer be willing to shell out for the goodies? Somehow, I don't think so. No launch dates were specified as far as I can tell, but I think the Blade is the first of the Bajaj launches this year.

Bajaj Discover 150 DTSiBajaj Discover 150 DTSi
This is Bajaj, once more, playing the game it's learnt, offer more products and profit from the slight overlap and consequent cannibalisation. This is good thing, mind you. The Discover chassis grows up a little to host the Pulsar 150 DTSi engine, giving rise to a machine that is clearly a stylistic evolution of the Discover school of design. I'm not convinced about the XCD-ish shape of the tank extensions, but I do appreciate the LED tips that will replace the stalk-type indicators. Similarly, I don't know if the ultra-sleek tail design is a production-ready design or not, but it looks good. In terms of positioning, the Pulsar 150 is likely to evolve into a more serious machine, with a clear sporty intent and therefore, a higher price tag, marginally, of course. According to Rajiv Bajaj, the P150 will become more of a sport-tourer (yes, I know the press release says the exact opposite) of sorts, while the Disco 150 will be the commuter. He also mentioned that other companies had tried to engineer this stratified approach to the 150 commuter/specialist, but he hopes that Bajaj is the company that gets it right first.

Bajaj XCD DTSi Sprint
Bajaj XCD DTSi SprintBajaj XCD Sprint
The XCD also evolves. Many people at the show said, 'ALREADY?' Bajaj is ready with the four-valve engines, and I am a bit surprised that it is the Disco and the XCD that appear to be getting them first. Or maybe, the four-valve Pulsars will debut in June, just ahead of the stonkingly-promising Yamaha YZF-R15. Any way, the 125cc four-valve DTSi engine is likely to hike power output almost to the edge of the 150cc segment, and I, for one, would not be surprised to find a sporty, enthusiastic motor that has loads more character than the civil XCD.

So what happens to the Pulsars? I think, now, finally, a serious, almost ground-up renovation of the Pulsar platform is due, and the silence on the Pulsar front points to the fact that this is, in fact, happening and under wraps. The four-valve DTSi engine should, in theory, allow bigger peak power outputs and turn the Pulsar into a more sporty machine. The stuff that remains to be seen is the rest of it. Will the extra power require only oil-cooling, or liquid-cooling as well? How will it mould the chassis? Will tubeless tyres become standard across the range? Will be get stickier tyres in the bargain (The YZF-R15 seemed to have Indian-made sticky ones, so I've got my fingers crossed)? I have a feeling all of this will happen. And this year. The official line, on the other hand, is that Bajaj has enough on its plate this year. Which, again, I find it hard to disagree with.



Brakes & Tires
Brakes F/R:ABS, vented disc/vented disc
Driveline: Rear Wheel Drive
Tires F-R:255/35 R19 - 295/30 ZR19
Displacement cu in (cc):332 (5439)
Power bhp (kW) at RPM: 617(460) / 6500
Redline at RPM:7000
Torque lb-ft (Nm) at RPM:75(778) / 3250-5000
Type:V8, Supercharged
Exterior Dimensions & Weight
Length × Width × Height in:183.3 × 75.1 × 49.6
Weight lb (kg):3897 (1768)
Acceleration 0-60 mph s: 3.8
Fuel Economy EPA city/highway mpg (l/100 km):13/18 (14.8)
Top Speed mph (km/h):207 (334)




* 6-Speed Manual Transmission With Overdrive and Floor Mounted Shifter


* Power Rack and Pinion Steering
* Tilt Steering Column
* Telescopic Steering Column


* Adaptive Variable Suspension
* Independent Double Wishbone Front Suspension With Coil Springs and Koni(R) Shock Absorbers
* Independent Double Wishbone Rear Suspension With Coil Springs and Koni(R) Shock Absorbers
* Rear Stabilizer Bar


* Battery
* Front Power Outlet
* Drive-By-Wire Control For Throttle
* Navigation Pre-Wiring

Braking & Traction

* 4-Wheel Anti-Lock Brakes
* Brembo(R) Front Power 365-mm X 34-mm Ventilated Disc and Rear Power 335-mm X 32-mm Ventilated Disc Brakes
* Electronic Brake Force Distribution
* Traction Control Controlled By Engine Management
* Vehicle Stability Control System
* Full-Time 4-Wheel Drive
* Front and Rear Limited Slip Differentials


* Front Outboard 3-Point Seatbelts
* Front Side Airbags With Head Protection
* Trunk Anti-Trap Device
* Automatic Safety Rollbar
* Driver Airbag With Dual Stage Deployment
* Passenger Airbag With Dual Stage Deployment
* Rollover Sensor
* Side Guard Door Beams

Anti-Theft & Locks

* Power Door Locks With Automatic Locking

Remote Controls & Remote Releases

* Keyless Entry Operated Via Key Fob
* Remote Decklid Release Located Inside Vehicle


* Front Dual Reclining Bucket Seats
* Front Dual Manual Lumbar Support
* Driver Power Seat
* Leather Seats
* Front Passenger Power Seat


* Dual Door Mounted Storage
* Lockable Glovebox
* Lower Console Storage


* Digital Clock
* Oil Gauge
* Exterior Temperature Gauge
* Tachometer
* Battery Gauge

Interior Lighting

* Interior Load Area Light

Exterior Lighting

* Bi-Xenon High Intensity Discharge Headlights

Entertainment, Communication & Navigation

* Radio Data System
* In-Glass Radio Antenna
* AM/FM Radio With 4 Speakers Total; 6-Disc CD Changer; MP3 Player

Sunroof/Moonroof & Removable/Convertible Top

* Power Soft Convertible Top

Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning

* Automatic Climate Control With Solar Sensor
* Separate Driver/Front Passenger Climate Controls

Interior, Design, Decor & Floor Covering

* Carpet Located In Passenger Cabin and Cargo Area
* Leather Steering Wheel

Wheels & Tires

* Front SBRP235/35ZR19 and Rear SBRP295/30ZR19 Pirelli P Zero Rosso Summer Tires
* Alloy Wheels, Front 19-In. X 8.5-In. and Rear 19-In. X 11-In.

Windows, Mirrors & Wipers

* Tinted Glass
* Glass Rear Window On Convertible
* Dual Body Color Power Folding Power Adjustable Heated Exterior Rearview Mirrors
* Electrochromic Interior Rearview Mirror
* Power Windows
* Rear Window Defroster
* Intermittent Windshield Wipers

Exterior, Design, Paint & Finish

* Front and Rear Body Color Bumpers
* Body Color Retractable Rear Spoiler
* Wind Deflector For Convertibles
* Front Air Dam
* Dual Chrome Exhaust Tips


SUZUKI HAYABUSA HAYABUSA Price/availability: £9,000 approx on the road. Engine/transmission: 1,340cc, liquid-cooled four-cylinder four-stroke with 16 valves; 194bhp at 9,500rpm, 114lb ft of torque at 7,200rpm. Six-speed gearbox, chain final drive. Performance: top speed 185mph (est), average fuel consumption DUCATI KAWASAKI 1200 RX HONDA CBR YAMAHA 1000 R SUZUKI HAYABUSA DUCATI 999 SBS

BMW K1200S 167 mhh (268 km/h)

With enough raw power to shock even the most seasoned adrenaline junky, the K 1200 S hurls you from a dead stop to sixty mph in just 28 seconds. Once you're over the whiplash, you'll keep climbing, topping out at speeds that run neck-and-neck with the fastest production motorcycles in the world. Ducati 1098s 169 mph (271 km/h)

The Ducati 1098 is a 1099 cc L-twin sport bike manufactured by Ducati It was announced on November 8, 2006 for the 2007 model year and replaces the 999. The 1098 makes a manufacturer claimed 160 horsepower, 90.4 ft-lb torque, and weighs 173kg. These figures gives the 1098 the highest torque-to-weight ratio of any production sport bike ever made. Aprilia RSV 1000R Mille 175mph (281 km/h) The RSV Mille and limited-edition RSV Mille Factory are high performance V-twin powered motorcycles made by Aprilia with a 143 HP 998 cc engine built by the Austrian company Rotax For 2006. the RSV Mille Factory won the Maxisport category for Masterbike 2006 and overall Masterbike of the year.

Yamaha V-Max

Mr Max is fitted with an 1800cc V4 that makes about 210 horsepower. Yeah, that’s right, 210bhp – almost 70bhp more than what the first 1984 V-Max had. The V-Max’s all-new 70-degree V4 engine is also likely to feature a sophisticated VTEC system, electronic ride-by-wire and other high-tech bits It won’t be cheap though – the 2009 V-Max is expected to cost more than US$22,000. Yamaha YZF R1 176mph (283 km/h)

The Yamaha YZF-R1 motorcycle, introduced in 1998, was the first significant motorcycle in the true litre class (1,000 cc) "handling arms race" between the Japanese Big Four motorcycle manufacturers (Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha) When introduced, it took the class closer to a true racing motorcycle, and increased the handling capabilities. MV Agusta F4 1000 R 185 mph (299 km/h)

The F4 1000 R was released in 2006 and came with a 174 horsepower (128 kW) engine The F4 1000 R also has upgraded Brembo Monobloc radial brakes, forged black Brembo wheels, a carbon-nitride coated Marzocchi upside down fork and a upgraded Sachs rear shock absorber (compression & rebound damping adjustable in high & low speed range). The F4 1000 R engine does not utilize the TSS system. A 1+1 (Biposto) version is available that adds a pillion for a passenger. In August of 2006 an F4 1000 R was used to set a record for the fastest production class 1000 cc motorcycle of 185 mph (299 km/h) at Bonneville Salt Flats. MTT Turbine Superbike Y2K 227 mph (365 km/h)

MTT Turbine Superbike, also known as Y2K Turbine Superbike, is the world's second wheel driven motorcycle powered by a turbine engine, created by Ted McIntyre of Marine Turbine Technologies Inc Powered by a Rolls Royce Allison 250 series turboshaft engine, producing 238kW (320hp), this motorcycle has a recorded top speed of 227 mph (365 km/h), with a price tag of US$150,000. It is recognized by Guinness World Records as the "Most powerful production motorcycle" and the "Most expensive production motorcycle".Unlike other contemporary motorcycles(such as the Hayabusa), 2001 and later models of MTT Turbine SUPERBIKE do not have the 300 km/h speed limit self-imposed by Japanese manufacturers. Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14 (ZZR1400) 186 mph (300 km/h)

The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14, named Kawasaki ZZR1400 in Europe and Japan, is the flagship model in Kawasaki's sport bike lineup and their most powerful model. The Ninja can accelerate to 100 kilometers per hour (62mph) from a standing start in under 25 seconds, and is capable of completing a standing quarter mile in about 9.83 seconds. Aprilia Tuono R

Aprilia Tuono R, though the Triumph Speed Triple is a very close second. With its mix of aggressive and beautifully proportionate styling, stonking V-twin engine, and high-spec chassis and suspension bits, the Tuono R is one hell of a machine for those who want the ultimate in sportsbike performance, but can’t be bothered with racebike-style fairings and extreme ergonomics. The Tuono R was indeed the best streetfighter in 2006, though it will have some stiff competition from the KTM 990 Superduke R and the BMW HP2 Megamoto in 2007