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Old 30th October 2011, 11:11   #1
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Default Bajaj Saffire - Booking, Buying, Owning, Riding and Selling Experience; all in one

I’m penning my experience of buying a scooter exactly eleven years later I bought it. And about the ownership experience and the final sell off that happened a couple of days back. I clocked only less than 10K kms in all these long years, before selling it on 26th.last.

Agreed it is a long post forcing a skip off. But is a story on its own right.

I purchased a Bajaj Saffire scooter in November 2000. What made me go in for this gear less scooter, was that it had a 4stroke engine beneath the cowl. Moreover it was quite beautiful looking.

Come to think of it. Year 2K was when The Kinetic Honda scooter started to fade into oblivion. The beginning of its end. Initially I thought of buying KiHo and was about to hit the deal when I read about Bajaj’s 4 stroke scooter, India’s first, the launch of which was one the cards then, say in another couple of months.

In between I visited a Bajaj dealership at Palarivattom; Jaina Automobiles. Remember, they were the one and only Bajaj dealer in those times. Old timers may be remembering about Jaina. Still before even that period, Jaina Automobiles were the only dealer not in Cochin but for the whole of Kerala.. Those were the times when Vespa or later Bajaj were delivered after six to eight years since booking. These scooters were attracting a a very high premium, and the persons whose bookings got matured were laughing all the way to the bank..
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Coming back to the Saffire. I stepped into Jaina one day. They were not then basking in the past glory. Times have changed and the Kinetic’s Honda has literally pulled the carpet away from Bajaj’s feet. Chetak sales numbers were tumbling. The show room of Jaina wore a deserted look and I enquired at the front office whether they have any knowledge about a scooter named Saffire. I was astounded when the guy answered yes and asked me to follow him. He took me to the by lane adjacent to the show room where he showed me a shabby looking scooter the Saffire,. From my eyes he sensed my desperation and predicament seeing a new about to be launched scooter at that state and stage. The guy told me that this scooter was given to them to ride and test it to destruction; a test mule. Later on, after a month or so, I saw a display vehicle at a festival exhibition during the Onam season..

And when the Saffire was finally launched I was about to buy one when again I came to know that Honda’s 4 stroke scooter is getting set to burst upon the Indian two wheeler scene soon. That made me think again and I decided to wait as it was a Honda. You know Honda is poor man’s Mercedes.

My family went hammer and tongs when they came to know about my decision of the wait and watch kind and mayhem broke loose. They in unison told that I am taking them for rides without buying the scooter. My narration and explanation about Honda technology and the famed engine all fell on their deaf ears. They unanimously termed my action a well engineered ploy of scuttling the scooter purchase.

And that was how I fell head over heels on the Saffire

Finally I bought one, a golden colored Saffire at a cost of Rs 34747 ex-showroom exclusive of Registration, Insurance, and Tax. It had everything as standard fitment. The only item I paid extra was for a pair of handle grips, Cost Rs 7.

Now about the scooter.The engine cranks nicely and settles to a sleepy silent idle. At idle the Saffire is so smooth and is very difficult to notice sitting right atop it, that the engine is running. Puts even engines of costlier cars to shame. Turn the accelerator and the Saffire jumps forward. (All the muscle and the horses disappear afterwards) I forgot to tell, it had a three speed Auto shifting box mated to the 92cc engine.. Not the infinitely variable PIV kind of box of the KiHo or of the Activa. At a speed around 12 Km/Hr the gear shifts to the second and at 24 to the third. It is appreciated that the automatic up and down shifting is butter smooth. This one is developed by a company in Japan specifically for this Bajaj. Bajaj wanted to play the technology card here to compete but sorry to say, failed miserably. The engine is a 92cc one. Why the odd 92cc? Because it is one developed by over boring the engine of Bajaj’s famed M80 and the limitation was that beyond the bore that gave 92cc there would not be any space left for the four cylinder holding down bolts.

Ride it and the first impression would be so positive and love inspiring. It was Jolly good for short rides like the visit to the grocery shop, dropping children at schools, and for similar errands. As a commute to the Railway station or to the nearest Bus stops. But beyond that is a misery. Cruising even moderately longer distances would make one curse the poor Saffire, correction its manufacturers.

It is very difficult to ride the Safire through pot hole ridden or humps infested roads. Whenever you have to suddenly apply brake and then accelerate, the so called innovative auto gearbox is found wanting. Changes would be at its own liking and not as the rider would wish it to be.. This makes the scooter very sluggish to attain speeds in such a scenario. The auto box would drop to first when you reduce speed to negotiate a pot hole or a bump, and then sudden acceleration through the gears is not possible at all because of this sluggish behavior. The front suspension also will add to the woes. But it is OK in the city’s stop and go conditions where its incapability gets camouflaged by slow moving traffic. On smooth traffic free stretches the Saffire can cruise in the third gear comfortably.

The gear box and the front suspension are the culprits, and in fact blows the engine away.

Don’t think of ever taking it to any highways. It would be asking for disaster. You will be hard pressed to be with the flow of traffic and will be the odd man out. The slow responding technology which Bajaj claimed as a marvel would literally take your life away. . Mind you, the Bajaj M80 was a high speed cruiser in its own right and on Kerala roads there were many fish vendors traveling very long distances at very high speeds with heavy loads. The advantage for the M80 was the PIV transmission and the strong suspension & chassis.. This forced Bajaj to introduce PIV transmission in the later Saffires.

The front wheel was mounted on a single arm of the half fork, if it can be termed so. That type of wheel mounting was a Vespa patent which Bajaj carried to the Saffire also.. Later on Bajaj adapted the trusted telescopic twin arms to make the ride more comfortable. Bajaj even offered a switch to this new front suspension set up to customers at an affordable cost

All these did not help Saffire’s cause. The Saffire did not set the roads or the sales chart on fire, never. The brand ambassador in film star Madhavan also was not of any help either. In rode the Honda’s masterstroke the Activa, which blew off the Saffire to smithereens. Bajaj’s Saffire launched with much fanfare has flopped miserably and failed miserably to rekindle the scooter segment afresh. Experiments by Bajaj to upgrade with versions like the Wave in February 2005 and the Kristal with a 109 cc Dtsi engine brought no respite.

The lesser than 95cc engine capacity, makes do with the 15 year life tax payment and initial tax was only for five years and thereupon was in two year slabs.
.
I kept it and rode it occasionally for eleven long years clocking a mere 9K kms and in the process changed the rear tyre and twice Batteries. Getting spares was a major problem.
Once on the road it abruptly stopped and gave me hell of a time. Cranking never rotated anything. The engine to clutch transmission mechanism failed once which was set right by a local mechanic. This local mechanic was a Bajaj trained one and was eager to experiment and learn, which in fact helped me a lot.

My children learned to ride it and that I think is the sole tangible benefit derived from the decade long ownership.

Then a guy named Sali appeared and asked me to sell it to him for use of his daughter. I told him that this is not a Honda and is a Bajaj and that Baja stopped producing it long back and getting spares is very very difficult.

I asked him about his expectation of its price that I would ask for. Pat come his reply. Sir, Rs Ten Thousand. I was astonished and gasped for breath. I explained to him all the nuances of this scooter. I politely told Sali to enquire about Saffire with any known mechanic and come back. I first told unto myself and then to him that god would not forgive me ever if I take Rs 10K for this stuff on two wheels.

And come back he did the next day itself. Sali was in no mood to leave me and the Saffire. He requested me to hand over for Rs 3.5K. I tried my best to dissuade him again from purchasing my Saffire and for that matter, any Saffire. I could have bargained and got slightly more but I never did that and settled the sale. I know of my colleague son who purchased a Saffire for Rs 2K for his engineering college project. But my scooter was in running condition, one tyre and the battery are almost new.

Sali sells lottery tickets and acts as a middleman for purchase of old cars for scrapping for a living in addition to his work as an unskilled contract worker, occasionally. He repeatedly said that this Saffire is not for scrapping but for his daughter..

And on last Wednesday I got all the sale papers signed and handed over the key to Sali, at one tenth of the purchase price.

In spite of the love - hate relationship with the Saffire that night after the scooter was taken away by Sali, I could not get a peaceful sleep.I miss my Saffire baby. Though I did not like it as a scooter I loved it as a possession, my own.

I have one worry. Whether Sali’s daughter would use it, or whether Sali would resell it or ….. I dread that thought…whether Sali would allow it tol be placed on a butchers chopping board. Only days will tell.

I miss you. My dear KL 07 AC 524 Saffire baby..

I know, time is a great healer.

Last edited by rajeev k : 30th October 2011 at 19:13. Reason: Booking, Buying, Owning, Riding and Selling Experience all in one; the Bajaj Saffiire
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Old 30th October 2011, 16:14   #2
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Default Re: Booking, Buying, Owning, Riding and Selling Experience;all in one - Bajaj Saffiir

I do not have any pictures of the Saffire of the initial years and I could not locate any of its photos which I had taken over a period of time. I took some pictures a day before Sali purchased it from me. Here they are, take a look.

Isn't she beautiful?
Bajaj Saffire - Booking, Buying, Owning, Riding and Selling Experience; all in one-2410011-003.jpg
Bajaj Saffire - Booking, Buying, Owning, Riding and Selling Experience; all in one-2410011-004.jpg
Bajaj Saffire - Booking, Buying, Owning, Riding and Selling Experience; all in one-2410011-005.jpg
Bajaj Saffire - Booking, Buying, Owning, Riding and Selling Experience; all in one-2410011-006.jpg
Bajaj Saffire - Booking, Buying, Owning, Riding and Selling Experience; all in one-2410011-007.jpg
Bajaj Saffire - Booking, Buying, Owning, Riding and Selling Experience; all in one-26102011-001.jpg
9324 9n the odo
Bajaj Saffire - Booking, Buying, Owning, Riding and Selling Experience; all in one-26102011-003.jpg

Sali just before riding away in my Saffire baby.Note the RC Book in his pocket.
Bajaj Saffire - Booking, Buying, Owning, Riding and Selling Experience; all in one-26102011-002.jpg
. .

Last edited by rajeev k : 30th October 2011 at 17:00.
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Old 31st October 2011, 14:11   #3
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Default Re: Bajaj Saffire - Booking, Buying, Owning, Riding and Selling Experience; all in on

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the 2-wheeler section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 31st October 2011, 18:23   #4
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Default Re: Bajaj Saffire - Booking, Buying, Owning, Riding and Selling Experience; all in on

Nicely written! I loved the way you put up all the details of the purchase, use, issues and sale. I must say you are one genuine seller, not only did you dissuade Sali from buying the scoot but also let go of the awesome offer which anyone in your place would have jumped for the ''Money''. Kudos to you.
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Old 31st October 2011, 19:43   #5
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Default Re: Bajaj Saffire - Booking, Buying, Owning, Riding and Selling Experience; all in on

for your honesty.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rajeev k View Post
I have one worry. Whether Sali’s daughter would use it, or whether Sali would resell it or ….. I dread that thought…whether Sali would allow it tol be placed on a butchers chopping board. Only days will tell.
You played your part of being a genuine person, I would say leave it at that point . By the way thanks for sharing.
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Old 31st October 2011, 19:44   #6
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Default Re: Bajaj Saffire - Booking, Buying, Owning, Riding and Selling Experience; all in on

Thank you Rajeev for penning down your experience with Saffire

brings back memories of Bajaj saffire in our family

Bajaj Saffire was the first vehicle in our family after i was born , my dad had a yezdi which he bought in 1984 and sold in 1986 as scrap when a private bus crushed it, dad was so afraid of riding after the accident that there were no vehicles in family till 2001 when Dad decided to buy a scooter

Me and bro were rooting for the just launched Activa but dad decided to buy Bajaj Saffire , price was around 36k

A wine red Bajaj Saffire came home on xmas day 2001

92cc 8 bhp with 6 litre tank , these are the facts i remember about saffire now , the wine red colour was looking great

Soon dad got transferred to north of Kerala and guess who is in command

I used to sneak out with scooter to school and tutions and i still remember my first experience of filling petrol for 50rs (cost was 24 per litre)

first 2 years was smooth , soon problems started like cold start and suspension also had some issues

Then a serious issue came up , scooter turning off when slowed down and i remember it was related to gearbox\clutch

After repeated visits to workshop they were not able to sort out issue with gearbox\clutch and we were afraid of taking scooter out in fear of breakdown

Finally in 2005 we exchanged it for a CT100 with 8k as exchange price and CT100 is still happily crunching miles

Wish we had bought Activa at that time ,sadly I donot have any pics of saffire

Last edited by crazybiker46 : 31st October 2011 at 19:48.
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Old 31st October 2011, 20:40   #7
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Default Re: Bajaj Saffire - Booking, Buying, Owning, Riding and Selling Experience; all in on

Thanks GTO, Ripper, Hammerhead, Crazybiker.46. many thanks indeed.
As crazybiker has said I remember the exchange offer by Bajaj with the CT 100. Then I was not interested in a bike and hence did not sell it.
I remember the first one to two years were uneventful except the inherent conceptualizing and design flaws. Then onwards trouble started brewing.

One plus point is that if the tuning and setting are perfect starting with the kicker lever is a breeze. Otherwise it is an energy draining event. The Bajaj trained local mechanic is a master in the art of tuning a Saffire..

I got news that Sali was seen at many places with the Saffire.
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Old 1st November 2011, 21:04   #8
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Default Re: Bajaj Saffire - Booking, Buying, Owning, Riding and Selling Experience; all in on

You are a lucky guy to have a good enough affair with Saffire. Otherwise its a failed model and my sisters Saffire had its engine rebored,block piston changed twice and ultimately had to scrap the vehicle within 3.5 years of its purchase.
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Old 21st November 2012, 23:11   #9
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Default Re: Bajaj Saffire - Booking, Buying, Owning, Riding and Selling Experience; all in on

Sali, later on sold the Saffire to another person and is seen registered in the name of that person from last month which is exactly one year after I sold it to Sali. I had sent copies of all the transfer papers to the RT office but it appears that there was a manipulation by changing it to a third person. Example of the agents and officials working hand in glove.
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