Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Sunday, Sep 08, 2002
Industry & Economy - Two/Three Wheelers
Columns - Auto Focus
Cruiser bikes: Speeding ahead
The Kawasaki Eliminator
THE cruiser bike sub-segment (a super-premium segment) is witnessing a fresh round of action, with Yamaha Motor India taking the fight to the streets.
Enticer versus Eliminator: The Indian subsidiary of the Japanese two-wheeler giant, Yamaha, launched the cruiser bike, Enticer, this July and has given it a penetrative, sub-Rs 50,000, price.
The extremely attractive pricing for the Enticer, compared to the over Rs 80,000 price tag of the Kawasaki Eliminator from Bajaj Auto, is tilting the market for the urban cruiser in its favour.
This tilt is despite the fact that the Enticer's 125cc engine is under-powered at just 11 bhp, compared to the 173.9cc Eliminator powertrain's output of 15.2 bhp.
But the Yamaha bike makes up by being almost 15 per cent lighter than its plumper competitor.
With the style-conscious urban two-wheeler rider preferring cruisers to make a statement, and at the same time getting decent fuel efficiency, this sub-segment is now expected to see new entrants, the first of which could be LML. Sources say that the company is mulling the introduction of the Daelim Daystar, the cruiser version offered by LML's technical collaborator, Daelim of Korea.
Dates back to Bullet: The history of cruiser bikes actually dates back to the time when Royal Enfield Motors introduced its Enfield Bullet. However, while the bike's power would have more than matched the current set of cruisers, its design is contemporary. Royal Enfield Motors later introduced the Enfield Lightning, which was designed to match the qualities of cruiser bikes.
Bajaj Auto joined in with the Kawasaki Eliminator early last year. This was one of the first truly cruiser-style bikes to be launched in the country.
The cruising features: Cruiser bikes are different from other motorcycles by design and were originally meant to provide features to enhance comfort levels for the long-distance rider.
Accordingly, cruiser bikes are low slung, have wide rear tyres for better stability and easier cornering.
Emphasising on comfort, the bikes are also designed to give the rider an upright sitting position, rather than the crouching posture most other bikes allow. Cruisers are also meant to offer better handling and riding comfort through better suspension, but are not meant to offer fast pick up, in keeping with their laid-back image.
Jazzing up the bike: Riding this wave of snazzier designs and new age features, such as disc brakes, adjustable suspension, more powerful engines and moulded seats, are the latest wave of premium bikes priced at over Rs 50,000.
While the lower end of this segment priced a shade below the Rs 50,000 level, is populated by the Suzuki Fiero, the Kinetic Boss and the Bajaj Pulsar 150, the upper end is straddled by the Bajaj Pulsar 180 and the Hero Honda CBZ.
Joining the fray in this segment is the Hero Honda Ambition, launched earlier this week.
The Hero Honda Ambition
The Hero Honda Ambition is targeted at customers who seek both higher power and better fuel efficiency in their bike.
The Ambition sports a 133cc engine that develops 11 bhp and is priced at about Rs 45,500, ex-showroom Mumbai.
Fast-growing market: Going by the sales numbers of bikes in this segment, more launches are likely from companies currently not in this segment.
According to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), the cumulative total sales of all motorcycles in the 125cc and above engine size category for April-July 2002 was 1,15,274 units, compared to 75,041 units in the corresponding previous period a whopping jump of 53.62 per cent.
Compared to that, bikes with capacity 75cc and above, but less than 125cc (the most crowded segment and growing consistently for years) reported a growth of 47 per cent.
Though even this is a healthy growth rate, the higher growth in the 125cc plus segment points to enhanced customer preference to such bikes.
That more choice is coming the customers' way is only welcome in such a growing segment.
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