Despite Rs 4 Lakh budget I still can’t buy a motorcycle in India, here’s why

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The Indian motorcycle market is brimming with options today. Every engine capacity class you venture into, there are so many options that it would break your brain. From the exciting new 125 class to the middleweight, Indian motorcycle companies alongside foreign counterparts are in a very cutthroat competition for customer’s wallets. Despite a myriad of options, I am still as far away from choosing a motorcycle as I was when I started the search a year ago.

Why is that the case though? Am I too picky? Am I too big of a miser to spend good money on the good stuff? Well, that is for you to find out if such is the case.

The search for a new motorcycle started in 2023 when I was done with 45 minutes of Bangalore Metro travel and wanted something that could get me to the office on regular days but also on some weekend getaways when needed. 

My ask was clear; I wanted a motorcycle under 4 lakh on road that I could tour on but also wouldn’t burn me up in the Bangalore traffic. Sad to say however my search for the ideal motorcycle still continues as all of the current offerings have some major flaws in them. 

I will go one by one about every one of the offerings in the category and shed light on the issues that they come with. 

Royal Enfield Classic 350

classic 350

This was the first motorcycle that piqued my interest. Now pretty refined, the Classic 350 is a laid-back thumper that is ideal for city commutes with its good torque and decent suspension. With an on-road price of around Rs 2.50 lakh in Bangalore, the Classic 350 could have been ideal for my use case as it checks a lot of boxes. However, there are some cons that I cannot get around. 

Disadvantages of Classic 350

For starters, the engine lacks the top-end punch. As we can all see, the Indian road conditions are improving day by day quite monumentally. Today, major cities are connected with world-class roads and even the national highways have upped their game when it comes to quality and infra. 

This is where Classic 350 falls behind. With its 350cc single-cylinder engine, the Classic 350 is quite good to ride in cities however on the highways it runs out of gas pretty soon. At around 90kmph there is no more grunt left for the engine to offer and you’d just have to sit on those speeds while getting overtaken by all sorts of vehicles from the right. Due to this reason, I had to give the Classic 350 a pass. 

Also read: Five reasons why Classic 350 is better than Speed 400X and Harley X440

Royal Enfield Meteor 350

The Meteor 350 has the same engine and the same reliability that comes with the new-gen Royal Enfields. It is also a good-looking motorcycle in classic Royal Enfield fashion. However, it suffers from the same issues that the Classic 350 has to bear and some more. 

Disadvantages of Meteor 350

First off, the seating position. I am not comfortable with my backbone bearing most of the stress while riding long distances. Given Meteor’s riding position, all the stress is born by the backbone as your feet are quite forward with no support from them. Add to that the stiff suspension at the back and the Meteor 350 becomes a very unpleasant motorcycle to ride on long rides due to this. 

Even in the cities like Bangalore which don’t have good quality roads, the Meteor 350 suffers and lets the rider suffer all the joints and undulation on the road. The speedbreakers which are aplenty in Bangalore make Meteor 350 a painful motorcycle to ride. 

Honda Highness 350 / 350 RS

Honda’s Highness line of motorcycles has truly shown the Indian motorcycle market how a big capacity engine can be smoothed with good engineering. The Highness is truly a vibration-free motorcycle that you can only understand if you ride it. 

Not just the engine but all the other parts of the motorcycle also scream quality and are a far cry from rattles often found in Indian motorcycles. For city usage, the Highness are truly up there with the best. However, Highness 350 also suffers from some disadvantages. 

Disadvantages of Honda Highness 350

The engine in the Highness 350 suffers from a lack of torque. Most of the 30NM of torque is available after 3000 rpm which induces a rubber band effect while accelerating. If you’re in higher gear and pin the throttle at max, you won’t accelerate. This is all fine when you’re in the city and the traffic moves slowly but when you want to overtake other vehicles the low torque figure just lets you down. This is the main reason I had to look past the Honda Highness. 

Bajaj Dominar 400

Bajaj Dominar 400
Bajaj Dominar 400

I attended the Bajaj Dominar launch event way back in 2016 when it was hailed as Bajaj’s answer to the Royal Enfield Classic 350. Those ‘Haathi mat paalo’ ads are still afresh in my memory from yesteryears. 

The Dominar 400 however hasn’t lived up to the hype as others have left it behind in their dust. 

Disadvantages of Bajaj Dominar 400

The biggest disadvantage of Dominar 400 is Bajaj itself. Despite making motorcycles for decades, Bajaj still cannot figure out a way to up the quality. At first, Bajaj motorcycles would appear very good both in terms of equipment, power, and quality. However, a few years down the line quality issues come to the foray. 

I owned a Bajaj Pulsar NS 200 from 2012 to 2018 and despite giving me good thrills it was laden with issues in the later stages of its life. The Dominar 400 also suffers from the same issues as every other Bajaj motorcycle. 

With an on-road price of Rs 3.05 lakh, it’s also a bit expensive for what it offers. 

Jawa 350 / Scrambler / Roadster

Royal Enfield vs Jawa
Royal Enfield vs Jawa

The Jawa 350 was an honest attempt at dethroning the Classic 350 by the company. It brought back the old charm of the Jawa motorcycles from the 80s and tried to marry it with modern tech. 

Disadvantages of Jawa 350

Jawa however made a huge blunder with the new motorcycle and is now having to pay for it. The new Gen Jawa motorcycle suffers from a lot of quality issues, the biggest of which is rusting. You see any Jawa on the road and you could make out a rusted exhaust, mudguard, chassis etc. 

Also read: If you love old Royal Enfield, get a Jawa

No new Jawa’s are spared when it comes to rust. The new-gen engines in the Jawa 350 produce decent power but are very rattly and unrefined making them not good for long-term usage. 

KTM 390 Adventure

The KTM 390 Adventure is a superb motorcycle for what it offers. With a peach on an engine, high-quality suspension, and a myriad of tech, the 390 Adventure is all someone could need in India. It’s however not perfect. 

Also read: KTM embraces ‘chhapri’ image, debuts crazier Duke 390, Duke 250, Duke 125

Disadvantages of KTM 390 Adventure

For starters, the 390 Adventure is very highly priced for what is essentially a single-cylinder 390cc motorcycle. Priced at an eye-watering Rs 4.43 lakh on road in Bangalore, it’s more than 50 thousand costlier than the twin-cylinder Royal Enfield Interceptor 650. It is also similarly priced as Royal Enfield Meteor 650 which again comes with a far superior engine. 

Spending close to 5 lakh rupees on a 390cc single-cylinder engine cannot be justified by many and such was the case with me as well. 

BMW G310 GS

Probably the best suspension out of any of these motorcycles bar the Royal Enfield Himalayan 450, the GS 310 is a good first attempt by the German giants at luring Indian customers. When it comes to looks, the 310 GS is certainly one of the best in the segment. 

However, it suffers from a basic level problem that cannot be justified at this price point.

Disadvantages of BMW G310 GS

The biggest letdown of the 310 GS is its engine. Produced in collaboration with TVS, the 313cc engine runs out of gas pretty soon. Despite having the potential to do a lot, the 310GS is let down massively by the underpowered engine. 

Moreover, the motorcycle is also very highly priced which doesn’t make a lot of sense in the Indian motorcycling context. In Bangalore for example, the BMW G310 GS is priced at Rs 4.12 lakh which is absurd for a 300cc motorcycle in India. 

Royal Enfield Himalayan

Himalayan 450 issues problems
Himalayan 450 issues problems

The second-generation Himalayan turned up to be exactly the kind of motorcycle I was looking for. With a world-class SHOWA suspension, a liquid-cooled high-revving engine, and a host of other features, the Himalayan 450 was an ideal motorcycle for me. 

The suspension is the best in class which could just glide through bad Bangalore roads. And when needed it could very easily take on the national highways of India. I was all set to bring a Himalayan into my garage however a single test ride changed all that. 

Disadvantages of Himalayan 450

The biggest disadvantage of the Royal Enfield Himalayan is also its advantage. Trying to get a move on, Royal Enfield produced an all-new 452 cc engine for the Himalayan. It was a huge upgrade on the first gen Himalayan as it produced 40hp, up from 24 from the previous one. 

Also read: Who is Itchy Boots, the first to ride Royal Enfield Himalayan

The addition of liquid cooling meant it could rev higher and remain cooler. While all that turned out to be fine, the engine is facing a huge drawback and that is vibration. Given it’s a big capacity single cylinder it has a lot of vibrations. Those vibrations travel through the chassis and get to the rider’s hands, leg, and bottom. 

Due to this, Himalayan fails to perform its intended purpose of munching miles. Given it’s the first iteration of the new engine chances are that it will get better as engineers figure out a way to smoothen the engine. Right now however I have decided to steer clear of all the rattling and vibrations that Royal Enfield Himalayan comes with. 

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