After having had a fairly lacklustre couple of years, the motorcycle industry is hitting back with some very attractive machines. This includes everything from entry-level standard offerings from Royal Enfield to ultra-exotic, limited edition machines from Ducati.
While electric performance is yet to make its mark on the motorcycle industry, largely due to the lopsided power-range-weight balance, the industry seems pretty gung-ho about two-wheeler sales bringing more premium and middle-weight performance to the market than ever before.
With skyrocketing fuel prices, the question remains: do mid-level performance motorcycles serve as more fun and economical alternative to budget cars or will they prove to be an indulgence that’s wholly avoided by the consumer?
The return of the Yezdi Roadking is one of the highlights of the year’s automotive calendar. The Roadking, an icon of the 80s, is making a comeback under the Classic Legends banner (the same guys who brought you Jawa Motorcycles) While Yezdi will operate as a separate brand, with separate retail outlets, it will continue to share powertrain components with Jawa. Unlike any offering by Jawa, indeed unlike the original Roadking, the new one arrives as an ADV bike.
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Spy shots of the upcoming ADV have already broken cover, and we can see a Royal Enfield Himalayan-rivalling form, with long-travel suspension, raised seating, and a 334cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder motor from the Jawa range of motorcycles.
With its launch expected on the 13th of January, the Yezdi Roadking goes up against a rising tide of ADV bikes that are increasingly preferred by riders for their practicality quotient. These include bikes like the RE Himalayan, the KTM 390 Adventure, and the Hero XPulse. The Roadking will in all likelihood be available in two trims, with a scrambler edition likely to show up later in the year. The ADV is expected to be priced around the Rs 1.6 lakh mark. Regardless of the outcome, these brands are feeling optimistic.
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2. Royal Enfield
After having refurbished its 350cc range of motorcycles with the re-introduction of the Classic 350 and the Meteor, RE is set to focus on its 650cc powertrain once again. First introduced with the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 and the Continental GT650, the air-cooled, parallel-twin motor is going to return strapped to a bobber form, on the upcoming Royal Enfield Shotgun. The Shotgun, whose concept form broke cover in the fall of 2021 will find a cruiser sibling in the Super Meteor, also expected to be launched in 2022.
That’s not all. In what is expected to be Royal Enfield’s strongest year in recent times. Apart from two additions to its 650cc range, the brand will also be introducing a scrambler version of the Himalayan, dubbed the Scram 411. It’s expected to be the first of their 6 launches of the year, with the remaining three including two entry-level neo-retro standards (with an estimated Rs 1.3 lakh price tag) dubbed the J1C1 and the J1C2. As far as 2022 is concerned, there’s a Royal Enfield motorcycle for all manner of customers.
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Brace yourself Ducati fans because the Italian performance bike manufacturer is bringing in some heavy artillery in the form of not one, not two but 11 new motorcycles. The brand intends to kick things off with a couple of special edition motorcycles like the Scrambler 1100 Tribute Pro and the Panigale V2 Troy Bayliss Edition. But these niche products, aimed at the Ducati purist will give away to products with the more broad-spectrum appeal. Like the Ducati Desert X.
The Desert X, once again, caters to a growing need for adventure-tourer bikes which are clearly more suited to India’s ever-altering terrain and battered road-works than hardcore sportsbikes. With a decidedly retro, twin round headlamp fairing and a 21-inch front wheel, the Desert X will tap into the popular retro design trend along with rider preference for off-road capable machines. The DesertX gets long-travel suspension and a 937cc Testastretta V-twin engine (found in the Multistrada V2 and Monster models) With special off-road tyres, spoke wheels and an 874mm seat height, the DesertX is the most off-road capable Ducati in existence.
Track riders needn’t fret though because along with the Desert X comes the MY2022 Panigale V4SP and the Multistrada V4 S, which provides a sort of middle-ground as an ADV-sports bike hybrid. Then there’s the return of the Ducati Streetfighter, this time with a V2 engine. The iconic super-naked, launched in 2009, birthed a special category of road-friendly litre bikes with their fairings removed.
While supernakeds have existed in the past, they came to be collectively known as streetfighters thanks to the success of this machine. While the V4 version was launched in 2021, the V2 version makes for a relatively cheaper and manageable motorcycle. In addition to this Ducati will also be launching the Streetfighter V4 SP, the Scrambler 800 Urban Motard, Multistrada V4 Pikes Peak edition, and the XDiavel Poltrona Frau. 2022 is set for total Ducati dominance.
Another Italian motorcycle marque (now China-owned) that’s bringing in some precious mid-level performance is Benelli. Sitting in the Rs 6-8 lakh bracket is the Benelli Leoncino 800 which will come with both road and off-road friendly iterations. Along with this, there’s the similarly priced Benelli 752 S – a compact, middle-weight street bike with a parallel-twin engine making a solid 84bhp of peak power. And finally, Benelli will also be launching an updated version of the popular TNT600i, featuring an in-line four engine, early this year.
5. Ultraviolet F77
The only electric highlight in the motorcycle space is the home-grown Ultraviolet F77. While several international motorcycle brands have burnt their fingers with electric motorcycles, the burgeoning electric two-wheeler space, and infrastructure in India, holds some promise for electric motorcycles, particularly when they look as good as the Ultraviolet F77. Expected to be priced between Rs 3 to 3.5 lakh mark, the F77’s 33.3 bhp power levels put it on par with most entry-level performance bikes. It’s 450 Nm of peak torque (motor) however, is a different matter.
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Despite this, the F77 manages a 0-100 in roughly 7 seconds and gets a 4.2 kWh battery which promises a range of roughly 130-150km. While the performance figures do not exceed those of the Ola S1 Pro by a considerable margin, the F77 will make for one of the first entry-level performance bikes in the country, to be battery powered. Its success in the market could pave the way for several e-motorcycles in the future.