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Old 6th November 2016, 21:36   #1
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Default Bajaj V15 - Ownership Review

I finally went and bought the Bajaj V15. I was lucky to get delivery on Friday 28th October, (Dhanteras) evening.

I have crossed 1000 km on the bike, and here is my review.

What's Wow?

1. The looks. Looks like nothing else on the road. Looks macho. Looks like a cruiser. Looks fast. Grabs eyeballs.
2. Ride quality. Good seating, good suspension, easy to handle, and takes curves well.
3. Comfortable seating for rider and pillion. (This was a primary reason why I bought this bike)
4. Acceleration. The bike surges forward eagerly.
5. The exhaust note
6. Huge fuel tank.
7. Very powerful headlamp.

What's Blah?

1. Vibrations. Very bad vibes in the first 500 km. Much better after 800 kms, but still not good enough.
2. Slow top speed. (this could be because the vibes don't really give you the confidence to push the engine.)
3. No tachometer. A tacho would have made gear shifting and cruising more precise and would have improved speed and FE.
4. Notchy gearbox that grumbles

First impression:

My first experience with the bike was in March or April, when the bikes were available for demos and TRs in the showrooms. My Bajaj XCD was getting old and sounding rougher within a couple of months of a service. Mounting maintenance costs were just around the corner. I was thinking of getting a new bike. The "Vikrant steel" angle got my attention, but I could see through what was a clever marketing gimmick. But what’s the harm in checking out the bike? The bike looked impressive. Great styling, confused about what it wanted to be, but on paper, it would make a good commuter. However, the TR itself went badly(Jai Bajaj, Adyar) what with the salesman saying "Please wait Sir, I'll get the bike in ten minutes" and me walking off in a huff after a fruitless hour-long wait. When it did happen, I was underwhelmed. In the slow congested traffic on the service lane outside the dealership, I was struggling for gears and it felt like the bike needed a lot of throttle input to get it moving. Nice growling and thumpy exhaust note though. I decided it was not worth it.

Cut to mid-June, and my bike (XCD125) goes for service and the dude says I have done what I could but next time we need to look at opening up the engine. I knew my bike, which had covered 40k km and a few more was not that bad, but it was the beginning of the "need constant care" phase. So by October, I checked out other options. I wanted a commuter that would take me to office and back- 20 km every day. it would also be nice to have the potential for long distance (say 200 km) trips once in a while. And it must be comfortable for my wife to ride pillion. The 150cc capacity seemed like a good spot to go shopping. However, most offerings in the 150cc range just didn’t cut it. The Pulsars and the Yamahas were bad with the FE and the pillion seat. The Gixxer and the Hornet did not seem to have comfortable pillion seats either. The Shine scored well, but the dealer told me there was some waiting period. I walked into the Hero showroom, saw a range of bikes from one end to another all looking just as boring as each other, and walked out.*

Last edited by GTO : 26th January 2017 at 16:28. Reason: Taking live :). Thanks for sharing!
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Old 6th November 2016, 21:40   #2
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Finally, went back to another Bajaj showroom (Khivraj Bajaj, Anna Salai). And this time, the price blew me off first. At 73k on road, it was about 15k cheaper than the others. Took a TR, this time a longer one on a longer, less congested road, and it felt good. The same good sound, comfortable seating, good road presence. The salesman who was sitting pillion told me to stop on the side, shift to third gear, and then start again. It worked. I was sold. In the meanwhile, I had done a lot of Googling for reviews of the bike. Strangely, apart from the Steel-from-Vikrant bromide in the initial launch days and two quick tests in some auto mags, I could find nothing describing this bike in any level of detail. But then, the magazines did not seem to list any faults I couldn't live without.*

After the usual scrambling for the right colour bike with the right tyres and the possibility of getting the bike on a ďgood dayĒ, I managed to get the bike on Dhanteras day.

Here's my bike right after I got home
Bajaj V15 - Ownership Review-my-bajaj-v15.jpg

My observations two days after I got the bike:

So far, I have ridden the bike about 80 km- Showroom to office to home; home to temple and back on Saturday; and a 20 km long ride on the ECR on Sunday with my wife riding pillion.*

On the first two days, the bike felt really rough, with the engine groaning at 40 kmph. I attribute it to a new engine not yet domesticated. I have a problem with the gears; this one is an all-up type, while my first bike was an all down type. Now changing gear requires a conscious, calculated effort. Even then, the downshifts from 4th to 3rd and then to 2nd are noisy, with the selector making loud ka-thud noises and the gears meshing all too suddenly with a jerk. Also, the clutch needs to be pulled in fully. I think (and hope) itís all because the bike and I are not used to each other, and that familiarity will smoothen out gear changes.

The bike does deliver on the cruising in high gears in the city bit. When starting from standstill, it demands to be upshifted pretty quickly, before reaching 5th and then quietening down. Since itís a brand new engine I have not ridden above 45, but the bike is very poised at that speed in 5th gear. I can slow down to about 30 still holding that gear, and can accelerate back to 45 without much trouble. Slowing down a bit for corners or junctions needs no gear change now- just ease off the throttle for a few moments. If I have to stop or get to the mid 10s or 20s, I need to downshift. Fifth to 4th happens without any protest, but 4th to 3rd comes with a jerk and a mighty crash from the gear selectors and a jerk forward as the gears suddenly adjust to the engineís higher revs. The same drama repeats when downshifting from 3rd to 2nd. Holding in the clutch fully tones down the drama a bit, but does not completely eliminate it.

The engine:

A new engine is expected to have its edges rough and to scream and growl as its put through the paces. This one does all that. It puts out a healthy, purposeful vibe when started, and the exhaust throws out a bass-y thum-thum. The bike seems to have the soul of a cruiser. Start rolling and the bike doesnít disappoint. The clutch has to be pulled in all the way for first to fall in, and the machine leaps forward. It starts grumbling for an upshift soon. First to second to third is quick and relatively smooth. By now, the bike is in the low 30s. In 4th gear, the engine settles down and gets down to the business of pushing the horses. By 40, its revving noise suggests that it needs a gear up again. And thus in fifth, the bike feels most comfortable. The vibes settle in, though quite a bit does transmit to the rest of the bike. But by 45, the engine is grumbling like a union leader threatening to go on strike if their bonuses are not paid. This much and no further; this is exploitation, it seems to cry. (Maybe the bikeís spirit animal is an 80ís union leader). I relent, negotiate, and settle for not increasing the speed. Hopefully, as the engine smoothens outÖ.

The bike maintains a straight line easily, turns well, and leaning into the turn is effortless. The turning radius is small enough to take sharp U turns without having to go too wide. The brakes are adequate and stop with confidence. I had apprehensions about whether the disc in the front would cause the front to dive, but it hasnít happened so far. The tyres are the new MRF Zapper Kurve tubeless and their grip is good enough to brake and take corners without worry.

Bumps are well absorbed, and potholes donít jar the bike. I rode over potholes, manhole covers, catís eyes in a row, and all were taken care of smoothly. The damping is good and silent, and the harshness doesnít transmit to the rest of the bike. My wife also agrees that the suspension is much better on this one. The first time she saw the bike, it still had the cowl on the rear seat on. Where was she to sit, she wondered. I played along and told her the cowl was actually very comfortable to sit on. Poor thing believed me, wondering why I was subjecting her to this. Incidentally, the cowl is removed and shoved up on the loft, where it seems destined to stay forever. She got on and remarked that the bike was easy to get on to. However, after a 20 km ride on the ECR, she said she kept slipping backwards on the seat and getting wedged between the seat and the grab rail. Its then that I also noticed the significant gap there, that could cause some discomfort, especially for larger people. Ideally, the seat could have been extended that few mm more to form an unbroken seating surface till the grab rail.

As for my, I like the commanding cruiser style riding position. I do have to lean a bit forward though, especially when making turns. Still have to find the exact position and posture which I can maintain for long. I guess itís a question of getting used to an unfamiliar machine.

The switches and other bits are good quality and feel like long lasting gear. The handlebar grips, though, seem like sticky rubber. Iím not sure how long they will last in Chennaiís summers. But the other bits and panels seem well built, solid, and fit without any gaps or loose ends. The footpegs, saree guard etc are well built, well painted and gel in nicely with the overall design.

There are a few other small niggles though. Itís a long-held Indian tradition to stuff a rag cloth in the space between the speedo console and the visor cowl. This rag comes handy for wiping the rain and dust and bird guano off the bike after it has been standing for a while. This bike does not have that space. And it has no other space anywhere else either. So Iíll have to open the side panel, pull the wire that unlocks the seat and then stow the cloth in the space there. Cumbersome.

The riding position feels cruiser like, back straight and hands fully extended. The tank looms huge in front of you and you feel like you are riding a big machine. The instrument console has a basic speedo and tell-tale lights. The fuel gauge is a smart piece of work. It consists of a vertical array of LED strips on the right of the console. If there is sufficient fuel, the arrays glow green, indicating the level of fuel. When it drops to reserve levels, they glow red. The other lights are to indicate the battery, hi-low beam, turn indicators and neutral. A tachometer is sorely missed. For a bike that is designed to offer high torque at low speeds, this is a glaring omission.
Bajaj V15 - Ownership Review-v15-ins-console.jpg

Last edited by GTO : 26th January 2017 at 16:24. Reason: Merging :)
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Old 21st January 2017, 22:22   #3
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One and a half months and 700 km later:

So what's there to like about the bike?

Functionally, its less expensive compared to most of the competition, easy to ride, seats two people with comfort, torquey, probably best-in-class headlamp, and good fuel efficiency.

It looks like a cruiser, seats somewhat like one, has a good exhaust note, and catches people's eye. I've seen many give the bike a long look when in traffic. At least four of them asked me what make and brand this bike was. So if you want to feel like a celebrity, this bike helps you somewhat.

What's not to like?

Not good for someone in a tearing hurry to get everywhere (like I usually am).
The vibrations are bad. The first five hundred kilometers are the worst.
Messy gear shift.
One more useless piece of plastic will be added to your attic/garage/loft. I doubt kabadiwalas buy ďfiberĒ
No space to stuff a handy rag.

I have used the bike for about 700 km now. Office commute and a few rides all within the city. First service done. And on November 8th, my tank was almost empty (I wanted to keep it mostly empty when it went for service). Demonetization was announced, and I rode to the petrol pump to get rid of at least one 1000 rupee note. And the HUGE tank drank up one thousand rupees worth of petrol. Thatís about 15 odd liters almost to the very rim. That was when there was about 200 km on the odo. So far, the fuel gauge still shows all eight bars glowing bright green.

After the first 300 km or so, the vibrations lessened, but still persist. The gear shifts happen with lesser protest. After the first service, the bike smoothened a lot. It goes up to the 50 kmph mark with lesser trouble now. But at that speed, the vibrations become really bad and strangely abate close to the 60 kmph mark. Gear shifting required is lesser, but city traffic is all about having to slow down, for street junctions, turning vehicles, narrow gaps, jaywalkersÖ and then shooting forward when the road opens up for the next 300 meters. Thatís when you run into a disadvantage. Most of the cruising happens in fifth gear, and then suddenly you have to slow down. You come to third; but the gear shift puts in a bit of resistance coming from 4th to third. And then, when you need to race forward, third is not down enough. So one more downshift required. It sort of negates the whole advantage of having such a torquey drivetrain. However, like a heavy duty diesel engine, the torque at idling is high enough to take the bike forward at about 3-4 kmph if you put it in first gear and let it idle.

City driving is not all crawling from one traffic light to another. Often, there are stretches where the traffic thins out and it is possible to go at 80-90 kmph for about a kilometre. These stretches are where you can gain on the bulk of the traffic and reach your destination a few minutes faster. The V 15, however, seems out of depth here. The engine is still new and I donít push it beyond 60, but it does not seem like it would like to speed things up.

The morning cold start requires the choke, and the bike splutters a bit for the first few minutes. It has occasionally spluttered like there was no fuel. I did mention this to the service advisor during servicing, but he seems to think thatís ok.

The other eye catching feature is the headlamp. The shape reminds me of a Jockey brief, but thatís just me. Its very bright and the low beam itself seems as bright as the high beam in other bikes. The high beam rivals a carís headlights in throw and brightness. (apparently big brother Dominar gets even brighter, so says the ads). The Bajaj logo glows blue all the time. At first, I would keep mistaking it for the hi-beam indicator when riding and would constantly check that switch. Now I have gotten used to it.
And to deal with the rag and the bungee cord and other random small things , I got a saddle bag of the kind they fix on the Thunderbirdís rear seatís backrest. It covers the tail lamp a bit, but it works.
Bajaj V15 - Ownership Review-fuel-tank-riders-pov.jpg

The fuel gauge finally went to two green lines, and at exactly 1001 km they turned red. I filled i Rs 500 worth of petrol at about 1026 km, and all the eight bars glowed green. So all eight bars glowing green means the tank is at least half full.

The lights.
Notice how the Bajaj logo glows brighter than the hi-beam indicator.
Both side indicator lights glow at once.
And the eight green bars of the fuel indicator.
Bajaj V15 - Ownership Review-v15-console-lights.jpg

I bought the rear saddlebag on an e-commerce site. Good quality bags cost a few grand, and usually come with RE branding. This was the only one available without RE badging, and cost about Rs 600 or so. But as you can see, quality is not so great. I'd suggest going for better quality, even if it costs more.
Bajaj V15 - Ownership Review-v15-saddle-bag-rear.jpg

The big fat meaty looking exhaust. Bad picture quality is my fault. Can't blame Bajaj for that.
Bajaj V15 - Ownership Review-img_20170125_215825630.jpg

Last edited by GTO : 26th January 2017 at 16:25. Reason: Merging :)
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Old 26th January 2017, 16:27   #4
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Motorcycle Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 26th January 2017, 19:37   #5
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Congrats for your new ride. V15 absolutely look smashing in red and thanks for the review. Good to see the reviews of all kind of bikes in Team-Bhp. Wishing you lot of happy miles with the new bike.

I saw one white colour bike in my area and its really felt solid and strong. As a owner of a old Bajaj bike (Discover 135), I can vouch for the build quality from Bajaj stable. Also this V series is much stronger than the old bikes.

Some more pictures would have done justice to the review.
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Old 26th January 2017, 19:54   #6
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Sachin - Many congratulations for the upgrade to new Bike.
And, many thanks for the review- been there and I know it takes lot of effort compiling the ownership review.

I was chatting with one of my colleagues who also has same colour V15 as yours and has done around 5K KMs on the odo. He was very happy and satisfied with his bike and had no negatives to share.

Please get the servicing done as per suggested intervals - and bike will keep you happy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sachinnair View Post
I bought the rear saddlebag on an e-commerce site.
Don't mind- not only does it look eye-sore, but, more importantly it affects the visibility of the tail-lamps - and that is a big safety hazard.
I would STRONGLY advise you to remove it for your safety.

Wish you happy miles on your bike.
Ride Safe Stay Safe!

Last edited by daretodream : 26th January 2017 at 19:56.
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Old 26th January 2017, 22:35   #7
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Hey Congrats for your new ride..!!

V15 is something marvellous piece of design. It fulfills the need of cruiser bike as well as not-so-heavy on pockets.

My neighbour has also bought V15 lately & I have tried my hands on it. One Word for it - Superb, given the price point.
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Old 26th January 2017, 23:06   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daretodream View Post
Sachin - Many congratulations for the upgrade to new Bike.
And, many thanks for the review- been there and I know it takes lot of effort compiling the ownership review.
Thanks. And you are welcome. I started the review as a frustrated rant, actually. Then as the bike began to improve, I kept adding to the original file. Finally, on completing 1000km, I began the thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by daretodream View Post
I was chatting with one of my colleagues who also has same colour V15 as yours and has done around 5K KMs on the odo. He was very happy and satisfied with his bike and had no negatives to share.

Please get the servicing done as per suggested intervals - and bike will keep you happy.
Good for him, then. The bike does seem to be improving gradually. And I stick to the manufacturer's service schedule and ASCs for all my vehicles. And I make sure my Mom and Dad get their vehicles serviced too.


Quote:
Originally Posted by daretodream View Post
Don't mind- not only does it look eye-sore, but, more importantly it affects the visibility of the tail-lamps - and that is a big safety hazard.
I would STRONGLY advise you to remove it for your safety.
I agree on both points. It looks ugly. I plan to replace it. It used to sight higher up, but the straps have loosend and it has slid down.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EPMV View Post
Congrats for your new ride. V15 absolutely look smashing in red and thanks for the review. Good to see the reviews of all kind of bikes in Team-Bhp. Wishing you lot of happy miles with the new bike.

I saw one white colour bike in my area and its really felt solid and strong. As a owner of a old Bajaj bike (Discover 135), I can vouch for the build quality from Bajaj stable. Also this V series is much stronger than the old bikes.

Some more pictures would have done justice to the review.
Thanks.

I agree some more pics would have made the review better (mods also had suggested the same). But then, I am a bit lazy, have no camera or photography skills, and have been making do with my mobile. The net in general, and even TBHP has good pictures of the bike. So I stuck to shooting only the most functional aspects that really needed pictures.

Last edited by ampere : 26th January 2017 at 23:42. Reason: Back to back posts merged
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Old 27th January 2017, 01:23   #9
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Hey Sachin!
Nice buy and congrats on the same. Have envied quite a lot of people riding around town on the "V", but have not yet been able to get one for myself. Hope to get one soon!

Nice choice of color and hope it keeps you great company over the years.

Does the Vikrant metal make its presence felt in any way or is it just plain marketing gimmick? I liked the TVC featuring a very senior Navy guy (apologies for the bad memory, don't recollect his name).

Thanks for the review.

PS: Nice touch, getting an Audi keyring for the "V"
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Old 27th January 2017, 06:57   #10
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My hearty congratulations sachinnair on acquiring your new Bajaj V15! A crisp review, comic at many parts , which I thorougly enjoyed reading. Congrats again !!

Quote:
Originally Posted by sachinnair View Post
Even then, the downshifts from 4th to 3rd and then to 2nd are noisy, with the selector making loud ka-thud noises and the gears meshing all too suddenly with a jerk. Also, the clutch needs to be pulled in fully. I think (and hope) itís all because the bike and I are not used to each other, and that familiarity will smoothen out gear changes.

If I have to stop or get to the mid 10s or 20s, I need to downshift. Fifth to 4th happens without any protest, but 4th to 3rd comes with a jerk and a mighty crash from the gear selectors and a jerk forward as the gears suddenly adjust to the engineís higher revs. The same drama repeats when downshifting from 3rd to 2nd. Holding in the clutch fully tones down the drama a bit, but does not completely eliminate it.
Do you follow the practice of 'rev-matching' while down shifting ?That is blipping the throttle to increase the engine RPM to match with that of the speed of the drive shaft.

Rev-matching will increase your clutch life and result in less strain on the transmission components.Smooth shifting without any jerk can be achieved by mastering rev-matching.

Visit http://m.wikihow.com/Match-Rev-Downshift-a-Motorcycle for pictorial explanation.
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Old 27th January 2017, 17:27   #11
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Congratulations Sachin for the wonderful review. I do own an Avenger 220 and I must admit that the gear box is not the best in the world from Bajaj. It does the job but is not best part of the bike.

However most of the vibrations should smoothen out as the bike adds few more kilometers.

One thing you mentioned about the cold start which requires a choke, does it still happen? This might be a spark plug issue.

All my bikes were never serviced in the service center and cannot vouch for you service center quality. If you do have a trusted mechanic then the costs do come down significantly.
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Old 29th January 2017, 11:16   #12
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@ Sachinnair: Did you try rev-matching sir ? Did it help in smooth down-shifting ? Kindly give feedback.
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Old 29th January 2017, 20:11   #13
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Congrats on your new bike ! I love the red one !

I owned a Bajaj Pulsar 150 and did 66000 kms before selling it. Must tell you it was a great experience, never had any major issues. Here are a few things that you can do about the gear shift. But keep in mind that this bike's gears are going to be clunky and there is nothing we can do about it. They are not as firm as Yamaha.

1. After the free service coupons are exhausted, switch to a better oil (like Motul 5100). Bajaj OEM oil are not that good. You will a lot of difference in gear shifts.

2. The 150 dtsi engine is great at mid-range so no point revving it hard. Shift at the right rpms and the gears will slot in properly

3. Gear shifts will gradually improve as you cross 10000 km. My bike's gears were the smoothest when I sold it at 66k km

Wishing you happy mile munching, and always wear a helmet, pillion included !
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Old 30th January 2017, 14:18   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BLACKBLADE View Post
@ Sachinnair: Did you try rev-matching sir ? Did it help in smooth down-shifting ? Kindly give feedback.
Yes I did. Always have been doing that.

The problem seems to be in the selector mechanism. It seems like the selectors are reluctant to move, and then suddenly get moving. The sound is not of gears grinding together before meshing or anything. The Ka-dhum sound feels like heavy levers falling in place.

The sound has reduced quite a bit after the 800 km mark. Overall shifting is smoother now. Man and machine have got used to each other I think.

Another weird thing is the neutral gear. When i downshift to neutral, especially after I have stopped the bike, it takes about half a second from pushing the lever down to the bike going into neutral and the green N lighting up.

PS: Sorry for the late response.
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Old 30th January 2017, 14:28   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SujAce View Post
Hey Sachin!
Nice buy and congrats on the same. Have envied quite a lot of people riding around town on the "V", but have not yet been able to get one for myself. Hope to get one soon!

Nice choice of color and hope it keeps you great company over the years.

Does the Vikrant metal make its presence felt in any way or is it just plain marketing gimmick? I liked the TVC featuring a very senior Navy guy (apologies for the bad memory, don't recollect his name).

Thanks for the review.

PS: Nice touch, getting an Audi keyring for the "V"
Thanks a lot.

The Vikrant metal bromide is pure marketing gimmick. There is precious little marine grade steel (if there is such a steel) can actually do for a motorcycle's performance. At best, it can be a bit more resistant to rust. But then, even the best of ships rust; they keep painting them multiple times with special paints to keep them ship shape. Also, how much of the Vikrant's steel is there in each bike? No idea.

And the key ring has been my bike key ring since 2007. I bought it for my XCD 125. The dealership had given me one of those generic faux leather keyrings.
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