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Old 13th February 2017, 17:19   #16
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Default Re: Except the Bullet, why is there no other retro-naked affordable bike in India?

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Originally Posted by rakesh_r View Post
The Bullet has lost its charm it once had. Not because of the UCE engines but because of a certain clan of buyers. Nowadays any tom dick and harry buys an RE fit it with one of those dalda dabbas/pune/punjabi/Indori/red rooster silencers and ride it in a rash manner. Because of this, the police are more eager to flag down a Bullet rider. I do own a Dessert storm, but always wanted to buy a Machismo 500.
If they were simply adding a loud exhaust and remaining there then I don't see any problem. But then that isn't the case.

They will add all sorts of accessories which are not only useless but also outright risky for other road users. Case in point - Bright LED lights. These lights offer hardly any throw but they are angled in such a manner that it invariably blinds the on coming traffic. Then there are the side guards which are huge and many a times the rider forgets the width and simply rams them into another car / bike (personal experience speaking here). Then there is the horn which can give a train engine a run for its money. And yes the endless rods which carry flags, some of which have looked like spears to me.

However the BIGGEST accessory that most bullet riders fit is - EGO. And boy its a BIG one. Most feel they own the road so other mortals on 2 wheels should simply move and make way for them. If you are the unlucky soul (which a lot many times I am) behind whom a Bull is standing be sure to twist those mirrors, wear ear mufflers and move a zillion miles away, else the gentleman on the bike will be sure to use the Biggest accessory that he has.

And oh I missed mentioning that the Biggest accessory get multiplied a gazillion times if the rider is a woman in a group.

Let me clarify that I am not a RE hater. What I despise is the attitude that most start wearing as soon as they are on it. It's some what similar to buying an iPhone. Most have no idea why they are spending so much but then iPhone is an iPhone! And ironically the BIGGEST accessory for both remains the same.
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Old 13th February 2017, 17:43   #17
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Default Re: Except the Bullet, why is there no other retro-naked affordable bike in India?

Well the answer to this question is really a simple one. RE has had its manufacturing base here in India since the mid 1950's. Before that it was imported from Great Britain besides other marques like Ariel, BSA, AJS, Matchless, Triumph, Norton, Velocette, etc. While the other brands diminished due to Japanese onslaught RE thrived in India due to domestic protection to local manufacturers and also the Indian Govt. being its biggest customer.

Then came Jawa CZ to India and formed a collaboration with an Indian company which was named Ideal Jawa. They had a 250cc two stroke single cylinder Yezdi on offer which was lapped up by the Indian junta due to lack of options during those days. This was not to be until the venerable geared scooters arrived in the forms of API Lamby, Bajaj Chetak, Vijai Super, etc. These geared scooters heavily dented the motorcycle market which were considered fuel guzzlers and not very convenient to take an entire family on a two wheeler. Come 1980's and the Japanese were knocking on Indian two wheelers doors too like they did in UK in the late 1960's and early 1970's. We got the very powerful and near racing pedigree bike the mighty Yamaha RD350 which Yamaha made in collaboration with Escorts Group India. Then came the smaller displacement two strokes like RX100, 135, and so on.

100cc 4 stroke brigade were at our gates which knocked out these fuel guzzling motorcycles out of the market. Masses loved the 100cc 4 stroke bikes from Hero Honda namely CD100 which brought a revolution in commuter motorcycle segment. This was promptly followed by Kawasaki Bajaj, TVS Suzuki, etc. Now during this onslaught the RD350 was already dead and the Ideal Jawa Yezdi 250 was struggling. Finally emissions norm and sad sales buried the Jawa Yezdi production in the 1990's.

RE Bullet was still alive as Indian Govt. was its biggest customer. Besides this RE Bullet was a four stroke from the beginning so it soldiered on and by this time was the only larger displacement bike left in the Indian market. Many people associated it with status symbol of bikes which kept the company afloat. Come mid 1990's and there was a death knell for RE due to the same lacunae in the Indian companies with regards to lack to R&D and focus on future products.

Enter Eicher Group led by young Siddharth Lal a Bullet aficionado himself. He saw the potential of the Bullet in a market filled with 100cc motorcycles and scooters. He decided to create a niche brand and improvise the production techniques and revamp the brand with some new motorcycles. Even though initially it was just a cosmetic job it worked. There was the 350cc CI Machismo followed by CI Electra with CDI and 5 speed transmission with gears on the left side. Then came in the AVL Machismo and Tbird which went onto breathe life into RE. Then came the UCE and the rest is history.

There was virtually no competition for Bullets in terms of price and availability since the 1950's till date.(barring Yezdi 250 and Yamaha RD 350 which did manage to dent its sales but they both died eventually)

The Japanese big 4 were happy during the mid 80's and early 90's and are still happy selling their commuters here in India. They do have some very good retro classic motorcycles of their own but are somewhat indifferent to that segment in India due to good sales from their commuters. Resurrected British brands like Triumph and Norton are too expensive to afford here in India. American Harley and Indian too are very expensive to buy. Besides none of the British and American bikes mentioned above comes in lower displacement engines than 500cc.

Moral/Result: RE Bullet stills chugs on like it did before and will do so in the near future.
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Old 19th February 2017, 08:09   #18
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Default Re: Except the Bullet, why is there no other retro-naked affordable bike in India?

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Middle aged guys? Well...may be; with lesser reflex & taking out time to ride, yes...

...so for a super niche segment of middle aged guys who're getting back to motorcycling with lesser reflexes

Oh dear guys, when you hit 40 your reflexes are gone and you are not able to ride anything faster than an Enfield!

Here is "the Morecambe missile" John McGuinness taking the Isle of Man Senior TT lap record to 132.7mph in 2015 when he was 43 years old - imagine how fast he could go if he wasn't middle aged!




Back to the topic in hand...

When it comes to other markets, they do have these retro bikes. AJS is another classic British bike brand now made overseas (China) but shipped back to the UK for PDI and sold in the European market. They recently launched this rather handsome 125cc cafe racer called the AJS Cadwell:

Except the Bullet, why is there no other retro-naked affordable bike in India?-ajscadwell.jpg

Apparently a 400cc Kawasaki engined version is on the way soon.

This is another handsome 125cc model called the AJS Daytona with a parallel twin motor that I suspect they licensed from Honda:

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They have made a similar 320cc bike in the past. 125cc tends to be the chosen capacity as this doesn't require a special bike license in most of Europe, just a car license or a basic training certificate, but Chinese makers are coming with the cheap stuff too as might be expected. This is the Sinnis Retrostar 250:

Except the Bullet, why is there no other retro-naked affordable bike in India?-11.jpg

Its pretty basic with an old 21bhp Suzuki carb fed single cylinder. Imported to the UK it's 1.87 lacs on the road, so an Indian maker in the domestic market could knock it out a lot cheaper still.

If an Indian brand like Hero built the higher quality versions of these bikes with 150/250/400 options, they would have to be priced above the plastic commuter bikes they make, what would the market reaction be? What about if they knocked out a cheap basic model like the Sinnis?

There are plenty of decent engines already out there for smaller bikes. Honda make a 14.5bhp V-twin 125cc engine used in other markets and the 32bhp 250cc V-twin found in the VTR250, which is a cool little bike I really like very reminiscent of the Ducati Monster:

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Yamaha have been knocking out an air cooled long stroke 250cc V twin cruiser for the last 28 years that is sold in various markets, the other Japanese manufacturers have a variety of similar options:

Except the Bullet, why is there no other retro-naked affordable bike in India?-maxresdefault1.jpg

Does India have buyers who would actually buy these bikes, or is the reality that if Indian buyers could afford a well made twin cylinder 250cc retro, they would mainly actually rather buy a plastic clad larger capacity single cylinder bike like the Dominar for less? Could the cheaper Sinnis type bike make any inroads into sales of basic 200cc singles?

Since the Japanese have these bikes already at their disposal and the Chinese are already making both bargain basement and better quality bikes in this vein already, I'd have to conclude that the Indian makers are either missing a trick or believe there isn't a market to exploit?

It's an interesting question and one I have pondered before.
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Old 20th February 2017, 11:16   #19
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Default Re: Except the Bullet, why is there no other retro-naked affordable bike in India?

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There are plenty of decent engines already out there for smaller bikes. Honda make a 14.5bhp V-twin 125cc engine used in other markets and the 32bhp 250cc V-twin found in the VTR250, which is a cool little bike I really like very reminiscent of the Ducati Monster:

Yamaha have been knocking out an air cooled long stroke 250cc V twin cruiser for the last 28 years that is sold in various markets, the other Japanese manufacturers have a variety of similar options.

Since the Japanese have these bikes already at their disposal and the Chinese are already making both bargain basement and better quality bikes in this vein already, I'd have to conclude that the Indian makers are either missing a trick or believe there isn't a market to exploit?

It's an interesting question and one I have pondered before.
Rob mate we Indian riders have been scratching our heads for long as to why the Big 4 Japanese motorcycle companies are so lethargic and risk averse to a huge market like India when it comes to their performance bikes, retro classic, small cruisers, etc. you name it.

I believe they have gone into a protective shell whereby they are happy with selling us their commuters in huge numbers. They do offer a couple of bikes like Honda's CBR 250(single cylinder), Yamaha R3(twin cylinder), Kawasaki Ninja 250/300(twin cylinder). All these bikes come with sporty fairing and are not very cheap in INR (barring CBR 250 which is made and assembled here) as they are not assembled here but are brought from their Thailand plant.

Last edited by navin_v8 : 20th February 2017 at 11:17.
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Old 20th February 2017, 14:57   #20
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Default Re: Except the Bullet, why is there no other retro-naked affordable bike in India?

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Originally Posted by navin_v8 View Post
I believe they have gone into a protective shell whereby they are happy with selling us their commuters in huge numbers. They do offer a couple of bikes like Honda's CBR 250(single cylinder), Yamaha R3(twin cylinder), Kawasaki Ninja 250/300(twin cylinder). All these bikes come with sporty fairing and are not very cheap in INR (barring CBR 250 which is made and assembled here) as they are not assembled here but are brought from their Thailand plant.
Perhaps looking to the other Asian markets gives some clues to their attitude...

Thailand has more than double the GDP per capita of India but is still very much a place where motorcycling is a common means of transport - it certainly has the weather for it. I suspect there are proportionally even more bikes on the roads in some parts of Thailand than some parts of India, and Thailand has the second most dangerous roads in the world as a result. However, practically every bike is a Thai built Honda 110cc step-through or full auto 125cc scooter. There is a small market for bigger bikes and you do see a handful of them, but mainly just those two styles - the Honda Super Cub & similar style bikes are absolutely ubiquitous in South East Asia.

In India you seem less keen on the classic Super Cub style semi auto step-through and more interested in conventional geared bikes, albeit with unconventional shift patterns as I found on the Hero Passion, which I seem to remember was N12345 instead of 1N2345 and had a rocker mechanism to avoid the use of toes which I christened "the flip-flop shift"

The Japanese manufacturers have all put 'premium' 125-300 models into the other Asian markets before and got very little traction with them, and what they have sold tends to be more of the sportier style like the baby Ninja to young guys seeking thrills.

It comes down to whether India is really any different. I suspect that it might be, but you are stuck in a catch-22. Indian manufacturers seem to respond to a market with cheap alternatives, rather than create it. The Japanese makers are unable to import small retro/cruiser bikes and sell them at a competetive price, and are too unsure that a market would exist to invest in building them locally.

Given the way India buys Enfields and has responded to Harley Davidson I think there are market opportunities going begging for whoever is brave enough to leap first.

Last edited by Rob UK : 20th February 2017 at 15:11.
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Old 20th February 2017, 16:11   #21
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Default Re: Except the Bullet, why is there no other retro-naked affordable bike in India?

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Oh dear guys, when you hit 40 your reflexes are gone and you are not able to ride anything faster than an Enfield!
I don't know about UK, in here, we've totally different traffic laws all on paper & entirely different on road. So what worked in 20s will not work in 40s & not work in 60s. But its an universal truth the reflexes come down as one ages unless supported by Watson!!!

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Originally Posted by Rob UK View Post
Here is "the Morecambe missile" John McGuinness taking the Isle of Man Senior TT lap record to 132.7mph in 2015 when he was 43 years old - imagine how fast he could go if he wasn't middle aged!
There's only one John Mcguinness? If given an opportunity & neither you or I were his age or even less would be able to do it? Bet neither John wouldn't even ride as much as any typical Indian would do on an Indian road Cannot compare stalwarts to common man!!

Getting back to the point, each country is different, each market is different & so are the laws & people's need. Every manufacturer do their homework before venturing out as what sells & what doesn't & what needs to be sold to stay in business. But again, thanks to Redditch to have started a plant much before they could go bankrupt, otherwise Royal Enfield would've been one of those extinct species by now.

IMHO, the Japs have really mastered the art of making quality, reliable, affordable & good/sufficient engineered automobiles than the rest of the world & their entry into India in early 80s certainly has a great advantage in getting to know what sells in India better. But again, who knows, the taste of customer's can change over time & what might be selling hot cake today may not be the case in few years & we might even see manufacturers catering to the market (like G310R) needs & may be the retro could get back in future.

Last edited by aargee : 20th February 2017 at 16:24.
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Old 20th February 2017, 17:38   #22
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Default Re: Except the Bullet, why is there no other retro-naked affordable bike in India?

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Originally Posted by aargee View Post
I don't know about UK, in here, we've totally different traffic laws all on paper & entirely different on road. So what worked in 20s will not work in 40s & not work in 60s. But its an universal truth the reflexes come down as one ages unless supported by Watson!!!
.

Riding powerful bikes well on the road has very little to do with ultra-fast reflexes. Ability to read the road, hazard perception and learned skills such as avoiding target fixation are much more important - and most of all, to stay alive requires restraint.

I have ridden in India (and other places) as well as the UK. Indian riding is not hard once you understand what to expect of other Indian road users. The ability to process what is going on, perceive impending risks, and forsee the actions of others seconds before they put you at risk is far more important than a milliseconds faster reaction time once you have decided a risk is present.
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Old 20th February 2017, 19:23   #23
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Default Re: Except the Bullet, why is there no other retro-naked affordable bike in India?

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Originally Posted by Rob UK View Post
Riding powerful bikes well on the road has very little to do with ultra-fast reflexes


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Originally Posted by Rob UK View Post
Ability to read the road, hazard perception and learned skills such as avoiding target fixation are much more important - and most of all, to stay alive requires restraint
That is correct, don't deny

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Originally Posted by Rob UK View Post
Indian riding is not hard...milliseconds faster reaction time once you have decided a risk is present.
Thank you for sharing your knowledge & enlightening us about Indian roads!

Last edited by aargee : 20th February 2017 at 19:34.
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Old 20th February 2017, 19:43   #24
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The question is - why other manufacturers are not attempting to create a rival (retro streetbike) to the Bullet in the same price band?


How many have been able to replace

1. Splendor

2. Pulsar 150

3. Activa

4. Suzuki Alto

5. Suzuki Swift

6. LIC (non auto example)

5. Colgate (non auto)

7. Dettol (non auto)

Some of the Above mentioned might be the "BEST" in its category.. some will NOT.

Try altering the public "PERCEPTION".. Best of luck.


P.S: According to me if a brand has ruled unchallenged for around 10 yrs, ideal Business Sense would be to avoid Direct Confrontation/Competition from that brand.

Not impossible but history has proven that one might lose hunderds of crores in the process

Last edited by payeng : 20th February 2017 at 19:50.
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Old 21st February 2017, 13:08   #25
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Default Re: Except the Bullet, why is there no other retro-naked affordable bike in India?

There's probably one more reason to bite the Bullet, at least, that's the only reason I bought a new one in 2007. It's because at that time, I couldn't find any other new bike that could haul a rider and pillion with saddle bags, a tank bag and another small bag on a carrier fixed behind the pillion up the route between Srinagar and Leh for under a lakh (the TB cost 70k in '07). i guess the situation is pretty much the same today. Is there a new bike I can buy that will do this for under 2L? I'm not a Bullet fanboy, am seriously asking, I'll buy it for my next Ladakh trip. And I don't want a faired bike, so the CBR250 is not a viable alternative for me. The Mojo? I chatted with a guy who was doing Ladakh on the Mojo with a pillion and they had good things to say about it. A 250-300cc Impulse would be kickass, but it's non-existant and I'm not enough of a gearhead to put one together. So, I guess that still leaves only the REs. Or am I just unaware of some new bike?

The TB I have did Ladakh again last year (and back to Bangalore) without any issues whatsoever, despite being 10 years old. I hate the attitude RE displays towards its customers (and personally, I think it's madness to spend money on a bike and THEN do free publicity for the bike brand by defending it or praising it on the Web; and that goes for ANY bike brand, not just RE), but if the bike fits a purpose and does it reasonably well, and there is no alternative at a similar price, then that's probably one reason why it continues to sell.

Last edited by am1m : 21st February 2017 at 13:21.
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Old 21st February 2017, 13:34   #26
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There's probably one more reason to bite the Bullet, at least, that's the only reason I bought a new one in 2007. It's because at that time, I couldn't find any other new bike that could haul a rider and pillion with saddle bags, a tank bag and another small bag on a carrier fixed behind the pillion up the route between Srinagar and Leh for under a lakh (the TB cost 70k in '07). i guess the situation is pretty much the same today.

Is there a new bike I can buy that will do this for under 2L? I'm not a Bullet fanboy, am seriously asking, I'll buy it for my next Ladakh trip.
The RE Himalayan actually has been designed with what you have quoted.

By the way the Himalayan is just managing 800-900 units per month currently

The only reason why RE had the Luxury/Audacity to design something like the Himalayan was because public demand for the "Classic" went through the roof; which in turn gave it breathing space and lots of money to try "Adventurous" things.

Mark my words, even RE will have a hard time replicating the commercial success of the "Classic"..

Last edited by payeng : 21st February 2017 at 13:36.
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Old 18th March 2017, 14:12   #27
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Default Re: Except the Bullet, why is there no other retro-naked affordable bike in India?

Honda's future CEO has revealed that they are developing a motorcycle directly targeted at Royal Enfield. A reliable, affordable retro naked will be a huge success in India imho.

Link

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Noriaki Abe, president and CEO of Asian Honda Motor Co. Ltd has revealed in an interview that Honda will be developing a global middleweight motorcycle directly targeted at Royal Enfield. Abe, who currently heads Honda motorcycles in Asia, will take over as the CEO of Honda’s global motorcycle business from April 1, 2017.
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Old 19th March 2017, 15:18   #28
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Perhaps Honda is finally waking up and hearing the exhaust roars from our Indian soil.

What could work for them is the Rs. 2-4L pricing range (if they ever get around to it, that is).

Models could purely be along the lines of the cruisers like the Honda Rebel (400cc/500cc) or the sports tourers like the CX-02 concept. More options for tourers that don't have any dependability or bone-rattle issues always welcome.

But I'm thinking that they really, really should be looking at something thats Clean, Mean and Naked... Like the Honda CB1100 in an 400cc or 500cc avatar. Why? Because of the huge untapped potential in our country for bikes that are neutral in stance and ride posture. Affordable yet fast enough to smile through the highway miles. And with a visor attachment provision please.

It'll fit right in with the other pricier nakeds - the Bonnevilles, the Street series from HD. All this only if they can nail it with the pricing vs. VFM strategy like Bajaj did with the Dominar (though the sub-2L Rs. pricing would be unrealistic for Honda). They'll need to get that right if they're thinking of taking any bites out the mid-segment pie.

It's been great decade so far with more and more bikers deciding to happily plonk down Rs. 2-4L in the mid-segment. This is evident by the success of the smaller bikes from the Benelli stable or the huge interest in the 2017 Duke 390.

There's lots of room still left for Honda to make us happy. Should they? Yes, of course. But will they?
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