Sunday, October 16, 2011

Choose your ride

TVS Apache RTR. Photo: S. Subramanium

The Indian motorcycle market has been growing some time now. The increasing population and number of motorcycle users in India are contributing to the Indian motorcycle scene.

One of the most important reasons also is the large number of youngsters who want to ride rather than drive. Most of them choose motorcycles on the basis of looks, performance, mileage and use.

Here we intend to do a quick comparison of Hero CBZ Xtreme, Honda Unicorn, Suzuki GS150, TVS Apache RTR 160 and Yamaha R15 on the basis of the criteria that will help you in deciding on a motorcycle.


We could say that looks are important, especially for people in the age group of 18 to 25. All the motorcycles in question are equally good when it comes to looks, but we need to distinguish between them.

The Hero CBZ XTreme, is a pretty muscular bike, the latest model comes with a sporty head dome and as we move on, the air scoops give it a bulky look and the sporty split seat and split grab rails make it more applealing compared to the older version of the CBZ Xtreme or the initial CBZ.

Coming to the Honda Unicorn, is one of a kind motorcycle loved by persons who are more into a pretty classy but stylish class. The strange head dome and a simple, yet muscular tank and a normal tail design with classic grab rails, stand out.

The Suzuki GS150, is again a bike which is a class apart in its style, though this bike is not popular. Though not many people recognise it, the looks do attract a good group of riders who want a classy look with a modern touch. The head dome is pretty massive and gives a heavy look to the bike and moving towards the body, the tank makes it look attractive and goes to end on a classic Indian bike note.

The TVS Apache RTR series is more of a rider's motorcycle. Commonly known as RTR, it still follows the old Apache 150's original style of head dome shape and pretty much retains the old looks, but the overall change with the air scoops, clip on handles and split grab rails give it a very sporty look.

A class different from the other motorcycles in comparison is this Yamaha R15 series. The R15 is one of the first Indian bikes to be manufactured similar to the looks of a SBK motorcycle, to be more specific as replica of the Yamaha R1. This motorcycle scores more on the style factor with the youngsters due to the its SBK replica design with the fairing and a delta box chasis design. The other bikes in comparison have an old design frame chassis.


Performance means a motorcycle with a pretty good engine capacity with good power, of course, trying to be powerful than the person next to him.

When we compare all these bikes, one common factor which stands out in all is the engine capacity, which is pretty much the same in all of them and belong to the same category of 150cc, except for the TVS Apache RTR which has a 160cc engine capacity. All the engines are the four stroke engines with the latest environment compliance.

All of the motorcycles are a 5-speed gearbox setup, except for the Suzuki GS150 and Yamaha R15 which come mated on with a 6-speed gearbox. All the motorcycles in comparison are an air-cooled setup with the exception of the Yamaha R15 with its liquid cooled setup.

The power of each of the motorcycle has differed greatly with the technology and engineering put into it. The CBZ produces about 12.5bhp, the Unicorn about 13.3bhp, the GS150 produces about 13.8bhp, RTR about 15.8bhp and the highest here is the R15 topping at 17bhp. All of them produce this power only at the peak of an average of 8000 rpm.

All of them come with a pair of rear shock absorbers which is more of the classic design, but of these, we have the exceptions as well, the Honda Unicorn and Yamaha R15 come with a Mono-shock absorber setup for the rear.

When coming to the brakes, they all come with a standard disc brake system for the front and drum system for the rear. The TVS Apache RTR comes with an optional rear disc brake system and the Yamaha R15 comes with the standard setup of disc brakes for the rear as well.


With rising petrol prices, everyone nowadays looks for a good or at least a pretty decent mileage. The fact — less the engine capacity and speed of the vehicle, more is the mileage; more the capacity of the engine and higher the speed of the vehicle, less the mileage — is more or less history.

Nowadays, companies are building more efficient engines which can produce better mileage even on a powerful engine and speed.

Nowadays people are easy going on a motorcycle which can deliver them good power and a decent mileage of at least about 50kmpl. These motorcycles give about 50 kmpl when compared the average:

Hero CBZ Xtreme — 45 kmpl to 52 kmpl

Honda Unicorn gives — 48 kmpl to 53 kmpl

Suzuki GS150 — 45 kmpl to 53 kmpl

TVS Apache RTR — 46 kmpl to 51 kmpl

Yamaha R15 delivers — 43 kmpl to 48 kmpl

All these values may differ with respect to rider's riding styles and traffic and terrain pattern. Yet it all comes back to say, a proper riding style, speed, terrain and traffic pattern can ensure a decent mileage.


We shall compare these vehicles with regard to city use or highway use only.

The motorcycles in comparison are all city and highway compatible, but making a clear cut between them will be the seating ergonomics which support and the power and mileage.

We could say that the Hero CBZ Xtreme is a pretty good motorcycle for city use with respect to the power it produces and the mileage it can deliver, the seating ergonomics for this good for city use.

Honda Unicorn and TVS Apache RTR, both these motorcycles are decent for city and highway application. The decent mileage range, pickup with the seating ergonomics and top end power, will deliver tireless travel. Though many of us have heard about the vibrations which develop on RTR, have now been reduced which now gives it a good highway status with free revving engine which can build up power as it moves on. With the Unicorn, the seating ergonomics and the shock systems are very clearly defined providing the best experience for a rider who uses it in city traffic or on the highway.

We could classify the Suzuki GS150 and the Yamaha R15 to be only highway-use due to some of their attractive features. As the motorcycles come with a 6-speed transmission, they help maintain constant top speeds and deliver better mileage on highways. The R15 setup with a liquid cooling system is ideal for long distance rides as the temperature of the engine and components could stay cooled for a longer time than the traditional air cooled engines. The seating ergonomics of both the engines advantageous for long rides — the GS150 has a high raised relaxed seating and the R15 with a SBK inspired fairing setup for better aerodynamics and a very relaxed lay over tank design which gives a decent setup for the biker to ride without any strains.

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