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10,000 km review of a Bajaj Dominar D400

It just took me minutes to take my decision. It was final. The D 400 was my new set of wheels for next few years. I told the showroom people to prepare the documents asap.

BHPian arunabh2424 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

A long way to the Dominar

How about owning a machine that never runs out of power? What if you don’t have to worry much about its diet? What if you have made an expensive purchase and don’t have to regret about it later? I don’t know what others feel but for all these questions mentioned above, I have the answers lying in my gut. After more than one and a half years of owning the mighty Dominar 400, I don’t think I have made a mistake. Instead I see the D 400 becoming more matured and adaptable, as a child does in its lifetime. With a respectable and worry free 10,500+ kilometres I personally feel the D 400 is the best example of superior engineering which is “Made in India’ .

I will happily confess that the D 400 was one of the impulse purchases of my life. It was just a decision which was made out of sheer frustration. No, you all are guessing it wrong, I wasn’t frustrated with my life or job or family. The reason was not getting something that I needed badly at that time. That too was due to the careless attitude of employees of a reputed brand who are known very well in our country for their presence for more than a hundred years. By now you might be guessing something. Yes, it is none other than the legendary brand, Royal Enfield. Why I was frustrated? That too has a solid reason. I didn’t get my bike delivered for 9 long months. You read it right. It was an Interceptor 650 that I had booked the bike in February 2019. The showroom manager verbally promised me to deliver the bike to me in 60 days. In their booking receipt it was clearly written 120 days. Even after hundreds of follow ups, phone calls and visits, nobody even cared to give me an assurance about something positive. Then came the disaster month May 2019. Super cyclone “Fani” destroyed it all. People, houses, trees, roads, buildings, dreams and nearly everything were in pieces. We had power cut for more than a week. Mobile networks went down. People were struggling for basic things. The State govt was busy cleaning roads, repairing damages and restoring power. I wasn’t worried much about the Interceptor anymore. Now all I needed was a huge machine. I waited few days more for the showrooms to open and lives to normalize. I didn’t want a machine as costly as a Hayabusa but something affordable which would satisfy my thirst for raw power. So, after 15 days electricity was restored in all cyclone affected urban areas. Showrooms began to open. I was too impatient to book something and wait for it anymore.

Going back to March 2019 , I had shortlisted few bikes and visited some dealers. My primary choices were higher CC, power, good engine cooling technology, low height of pillion seat and comfortable riding position. I had shortlisted few bikes, made a note of likes and dislikes mentioned below.

1) TVS Apache RR 310

Likes :

  • Looks wise Ten out of Ten.
  • Equipped with superior tech like Electronic Throttle grip, Electronic Throttle Body, Slipper clutch, Reverse inclined DOHC engine, Liquid cooling and oil cooling both in same mill
  • 33 BHP of power.
  • Michelin pilot sport tyres.
  • Bi-led headlight.

Dislikes :

  • High Price.
  • Zero pillion comfort.
  • Low fuel tank capacity of 11-litres.
  • Expensive spares and maintenance.
  • Don’t know about others but I hated the idling exhaust sound.

2) Yamaha R3

Likes :

  • Double cylinder and 42 BHP power.
  • Sporty exhaust sound.
  • Excellent built quality , fit and finish top notch.
  • Smart riding posture and low rider seat height.
  • Smooth suspension.

Dislikes :

  • Pillion seat too high.
  • Limited colour option.
  • MRF Zapper tyres in a 4 lakh vehicle.
  • High cost of maintenance.
  • No ABS in BS4 Model.

3) Honda CBR 250

Likes :

  • Best in class refined engine I have ever revved.
  • Dual Channel ABS.
  • LED Headlamps.
  • Superb ride quality and handling.
  • No vibration.

Dislikes :

  • Didn’t like the plastic quality.
  • Tail lamp design looks ages old.
  • Dealership takes patience of customers for granted. When I visited then they were ascertain about ordering a bike within stipulated time frame.
  • Unavailability of spare parts.
  • Technical staff will frustrate you with their half baked knowledge.

4) Jawa 42

Likes :

  • Classic looks, superb design, brilliant colour options.
  • Liquid cooled engine with ample power and torque in hand.
  • Best suitable for family rides.
  • Comfortable sitting position for all riding conditions.
  • ABS in single and dual channel options.

Dislikes :

  • Longest waiting period of 6 months. Seemed like I wanted a Rolls Royce instead of a 2 lakh rupee bike. The dealership guys were themselves confused about the exact delivery date.
  • Limited dealership range in a tier 2 city like Bhubaneswar.
  • Complaints about bolts rusting from a few owners.
  • A bit of issue for taller riders due to short seat height.
  • I did a test ride and felt the engine to be stressed in high revs. May be Jawa has solved the issue till now.

5) Interceptor 650

Likes :

  • Engine refinement level at its best. Absolutely no vibration anywhere during idling.
  • Upright riding position a boon for both city and long rides.
  • Dual Channel ABS.
  • Mileage.
  • Value for money.

Dislikes :

  • Just an oil cooler in a three lakh vehicle. That too with a dual cylinder. During my test ride I was unsure about the performance of engine in stop and go traffic as I am living in a city where the outside temperature rises to 45 degree Celsius in summer.
  • Seats are too clumsy.
  • Rider footpegs are in awkward position. They hit your ankle now and then.
  • No alloy wheel option then.
  • Regular Halogen lamps instead of LED’s.

6) Kawasaki Ninja 300

Likes :

  • Dual cylinder liquid cooled, butter smooth engine.
  • Slipper Clutch.
  • Design, graphics top notch. Aerodynamically superb.
  • ABS
  • Affordable if you are a real bike enthusiast.

Dislikes :

  • Pillion comfort is a big no no. Also grab rails are absent. The Indian version has the most ugly grab rail .
  • Dealership issues.
  • Uninteresting Console.
  • Mileage is a concern.
  • High cost of Service.

By this time I was tired of visiting too many dealerships and my dilemma was increasing every single day. I had to land at a conclusion fast. I googled for one last time. All of a sudden I saw the Indian beast. A real black beast ! The Dominar D 400. It looked too good in photos. I face palmed. How could I ignore the beast for so long? Hurriedly I had my lunch and rushed to the dealership. It was around 2 pm and most of the staffs had gone for lunch by then. I looked everywhere in the showroom. The place was full with Platina’s , Pulsars, Avengers, NS and RS 200s. But couldn’t find the D 400. I waited patiently for someone to attend to me. In about 15 mins, a guy dressed in blue came to me. I asked him about the D 400. He told that they had only one piece in stock which is in their stockroom. As the dealership was newly opened they hadn’t ordered more, he clarified. I wasn’t too interested in their stories so I told him to show me the bike. He telephoned someone to bring the bike to the showroom immediately. Asking me to sit and wait, he got busy in some paper works of his own. Half an hour passed. Now I was getting more and more impatient. Got up from chair and approached the sales guy again. He again called up somebody and scolded him in local language for taking so much time. He requested me politely for wait for another 10 mins. So I took my chair again and got busy in my phone. Just after 3-4 mins I heard a distant roar approaching nearer to me. I suddenly looked outside the showroom glass. My god!! There she was. A real roaring beast. I was too eager to wait anymore. I nearly tumbled upon something while rushing through the door. I didn’t care who watched me rushing outside. I just wanted to see her. The other guy probably a technician was inspecting the D 400. Another man was cleaning her with a cloth. But I liked the dust settled on her. It was like icing sugar on a freshly baked cake. I was speechless for sometime. All I wanted was to take her with me immediately. The sales guy explained me in detail about the bike. 373 cc, single cylinder, liquid cooled, 40 PS power, light adaptive LCD display, dual channel abs, LED headlights, turn lights and rear lights and much more. I hardly found any flaws in the first sighting of the D 400. Mileage ? Well who cares when you are crazy for power.

It just took me minutes to take my decision. It was final. The D 400 was my new set of wheels for next few years. I told the showroom people to prepare the documents asap. I planned to take the delivery on my son’s birthday on 24th May i.e 2 days later.

The Delivery Day

I called up the showroom exactly at 10 am. I got to know they were yet to receive the number plate from the RTO. But they also assured that it will be done by 4pm on same day itself. Hence I had to wait for 6 hours more to get my hands on the beast. So I got busy in the preparations for my son’s birthday.

It was nearly 5 pm when I got call from showroom. “ Sir, the bike is ready”. One of the most awaited words of my life. I rushed to the showroom which was only 3 kms away from home. I was handed over the bike’s documents. But the beast was nowhere to be seen. I asked the showroom manager about the bike and the reply was ‘ Sir its downstairs. You can take it.” My goodness, was that a weird way of delivering a premium bike. Professionalism is what Bajaj Dealers should learn. Anyways my happiness was way above to care about such attitude. I went downstairs and saw the service person fixing the number plate. I was already late for my son’s birthday party celebration.

I was handed over the keys and manual book. No cake cutting, no ribbons, and no photographs. Perhaps the worst delivery of a 2 lakh rupee bike anyone can expect.

The First Ride

I grabbed the sleek but strong handlebar of the D 400 and sat on it. It felt huge. The weight of the bike was just crazy. I carefully lifted it up from its side stand. Turned on the ignition. The white LCD display was crystal clear in the bright daylight. I pressed the starter switch & ...just wow!. The single cylinder engine gave the feeling of a twin cylinder. Bidding a good bye to the sales guy I proceeded towards my home. I found the bike too powerful to handle as a first timer. But as the speedometer clocked 40 kmph it felt too light just as a 150 cc. Anyways I had to wait 999 kilometres more in order to test its full capacity. I arrived home and got busy in celebrating my sons birthday.

Day 2

After a sleepless night and dreaming about the beast in open eyes I just couldn’t resist the temptation of staring at it for a longer duration in the first sunlight of the morning. I hurriedly finished my morning to do list and at exactly 8 am started for a ride. I ventured towards Bhubaneswar-Cuttack highway which was a long 20 km stretch. I felt raw power in my wrist while cruising in 50-60 kmph. Not to mention the Engine being a single cylinder did make a considerable noise but after 70 kmph it is refined as butter. One can easily feel the vibration in tank and footpegs while idling. Once the engine is revved to 3000 rpm the vibration disappears.

Usage

I mostly use the bike for City rides. As I am onto b2b business hence I often need to stop in each and every shop in my frequent market visit. I never felt the bike exhausted in any type of ride environment. She never skids in sand and mud. My daily usage pattern is around 20-30 km a day except weekends. I took her for a long ride to Gopalpur situated 165 kms from Bhubaneswar. I had never tested her top speed till then. I think it was all she wanted. Once I found a empty road she had already finished her warm up till then. One twist of throttle and 5 gears up. I reached 134 kmph within few seconds. Apparently I felt high level of mind blast on my chest because of the tiny visor. Still then she managed to go rock steady. I admit , cornering was not so thrilling because of the tires I suppose. May be I was a bit over cautious.

Engine Heat

Even if the D400 is equipped with a large radiator , engine heat is negligibly felt. In the scorching 45 degree celsius heat of Bhubaneswar the radiator fan kicks in often. Also I never felt discomfort in my legs because of the hot air from radiator. It simply vanishes onto other directions.

Fit, Finish and Build Quality

The paint job on the D 400 is praiseworty. No cheap plastics anywhere except the one on the sides of main instrument cluster. Tank plastic feels heavily built and crafted with perfection. So as the logos. No sharp edges anywhere except the rear brake lever.

Handlebar & Switch Gear

The handlebar is placed appropriately for a straight riding position. I didn't feel any pressure on my ankles or shoulders even if I rode her for 110 kms straight without pause. The switch gears seem like that of my old Pulsar 180 but are a bit better. No self cancelling indicators though. Put the switch in parking mode for day ride where only the high beam and tail light will glow along with meter console lights. You cannot use the high, low beam function in this mode.

Instrument Cluster

The primary an secondary console displays all the necessary data as and when needed. No fancy and unnecessary things here. The ABS warning light will glow constantly whenever the ignition is turned on. It goes of after the bike achieves 05 kmph. Fuel gauge is very accurate and when it reaches 2 bars the console will display " Low fuel warning". In one bar "Refuel" option will be displayed. You can also program the console to display Gear position which is a good thing. By default the secondary display has a gear indicator too. But to look onto it you have to shift your eyes from the road which is often a scary thing to do. Not to mention but the display is crystal clear in bright sunlight. It has a adaptive display which adjusts the light according to the outside condition.

Height & Ground Clearance

The saddle height of the bike is ok for people who are more than 5.6 feet. I am 5.11 feet and still I can't rest my foot completely on the ground. The pillion also doesn't struggle much to climb on. But the rear seat is a bit uncomfortable for long rides. In big humps also the bike doesn't scratch its underbelly even when 2 people weighing 90 kgs are on board.

Mirrors

Rearview mirrors on the D400 provide adequate visibility. Mirrors don't vibrate even the engine is revved hard. They are hard to adjust but once done they don't bulge from their places.They also give a premium look to the bike.

Headlamp

The all LED headlights are beautifully crafted. They provide very bright illumination both during day and night in full beam. The spread of the light are both long and wide. They look stunning in the night time.

Engine Performance, Gearshift & Clutch

The torquey engine is an all rounder. Being a single cylinder it doesn't give the refinement of a twin but the performance is something that you won't be unhappy of. No matter in which gear you accelarate , the D400 will never stall. Achieving a 100 kmph is no big deal in normal riding condition. The slipper clutch makes de-accelarating a lot easier and a jerk free gear shift also accompanies. A slight vibration is felt in tank in 2500-3500 RPM which vanishes once the speed reaches 45-50 kmph. However the clutch cable will seek replacement in around 1.5 years. Also while engaging the 1st gear a loud thud is felt and the bike jolts an inch forward. But ultimately one will get used to it.

Fuel Efficiency

Frankly speaking I haven't calculated the mileage till date. But in a tankful of gas the D400 manages 300 kms. I assume the figure is around 22-24 kmph in city.

Suspension

The strong mono suspension handles potholes and humps promptly. Me at around 88 kg didnt find the suspension discomforting me anytime. Also with two people on board the D400 doesn't feel burdened. No bumpy rides in any speeds.

Handling

Being a heavy bike its very easy for a D400 rider to maneuever it through any condtion of traffic. I don't need to step my foot on the ground as most of the time as the bike balances herself. Also in high speeds the bike is very easy to steer thorugh the traffix ahead. Well you need to be careful while starting from standstill with a pillion on board. Most of the time I end up frightening the pillion whenever I put the bike in low gear and try to revv it up again.

Few things which I noticed during my first 1000 kms ride:

  1. Engine is not as refined while idling and there is a continuous fluctuation in RPM.
  2. Burning smell fresh paint will irritate you till first 500 km.
  3. Knocking sound of rocker arm in engine head is common in all Bajaj bikes. Don’t forget to adjust it in the 1st servicing itself.
  4. The bike is heavy. Be careful while parking it in congested places. Also avoid parking it in inclined surfaces. You will end up burning good amount of calories while pulling it backwards.
  5. If you care about mileage then my sincere advice to you all, don’t buy the D 400.
  6. While getting off the bike , be cautious about the rear brake lever. It may injure your leg.
  7. The dual channel ABS combined with 320 mm disc in the front and 230 mm rear will be a great confidence factor for rider. I am addicted to using only front brake most of the time which is not so good thing to do.
  8. Fuel gauge is very accurate. You can have a worry free refuelling.
  9. Pillion seat is too hard and unfit for long distance travel.
  10. Upgrade the handle bars rubber to a better one. I have noticed my palms getting black after riding for sometime when without gloves.

Likes :

  • Big Bike Feel. Gives the rider unmatched confidence about its power & handling.
  • Really a superb design by Team Bajaj. Heads do turn towards the bike while you are stopping in a traffic.
  • Large front forks provide stability in all riding conditions.
  • Slipper clutch and dual channel ABS ensures a smooth ride in any gear.
  • All LED lights bright both during day and night.
  • Value for money.

Dislikes :

  • Weight. Requires lot of leg power while dragging it. Guys ! If you want to own one then go to the gym & focus on Squats.
  • Only two color options i.e Matt black & green for the 2019 model.
  • Low capacity fuel tank of only 13 litres.
  • MRF Tubeless tyres don't suit the overall athestics of bike.
  • Uncomfortable pillion seat.
  • Shortage of technicians having expert knowledge in the D 400.

The maintenance cost(s):

Well, the D 400 isn’t a big elephant to feed. Subtracting the fuel costs it won’t really make a hole in your pocket in the case of Service and Spares. But there are a few things that future D 400 owners may keep in mind in the 10 K kilometre run.

  • The rear disc started making sound during 4500- 5500 kms. I had to replace it in ASS.
  • The clutch cable was replaced at 7500 kms.
  • Not to mention the Rocker arm was adjusted in every servicing. Still the tik tik sound persist till now.
  • The MRF zapper tyres don’t make me feel confident in cornering. But they do their job well in most of the conditions.
  • Please avoid heavy water servicing of wheels. Possibly the discs will start making noise earlier.

Few mod jobs that I have done are :

  • Replaced the traditional leg guards with frame sliders ordered online.
  • Also replaced the factory fitted radiator guard with a custom aluminium one.
  • Fitted a hazard warning indicator relay and a extra switch for occasional highway riding.

Now the time for some pics with captions.

Note : These are recent photographs after completing 10 K kilometres.

The "Roar" comes from the double barrel exhaust, one of its kind.

The single cylinder 373 cc engine is reliable and powerful. Even after continuous revving and achieving 135 kmph top speed in many occasions there is no sign of oil leakage from any part of engine.

The 320 mm disc in the front is the god of braking. I have never lost my confidence in emergency stopping.

The rear brake started giving me problems as early as 5500 kms. Be careful of water accumulation while washing.

The full LED headlight is bright in daylight and super bright at night. The throw is sufficient in both city and highway driving.

The oxygen sensor

Vibration free RVM's. Some force is needed to adjust them though.

The secondary display is different from that of old model Dominar. One will rarely use it.

This portion will accumulate some water and obviously rust. Regular cleaning is required.

The large radiator performs its job well. That's the aftermarket aluminium mesh that I had ordered online.

The fat front USD forks are a winner in handling potholes and humps. They look macho too.

Fuse assembly inside pillion seat.

Different display modes of the digital cluster when the ignition is switched on.

Chain needs regular cleaning, adjustment in every 1000 km and oiling in every 500 kms.

LED indicators and tail lights.

Tyres are good to go for another 10k kilometres. Only one puncture till date.

Compact saree guard without footrest.

Now time for some night shots:

The LED headlights in full power

In low beam

In parking mode

While turning on the ignition, a full system check is performed. Quite satisfying to look onto

Road view in full beam

Road view in low beam

The backlit switchgear

Thank to arunabh2424 again. Check out BHPian comments more insights and information

 
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