Though nearly half of 2021 was once again lost to the second avatar of the pandemic, the big difference was that people went back to buying bikes soon after the lockdowns were eased, and brands responded accordingly. There were many exciting launches. Suzuki launched the new Hayabusa shortly after introducing it globally; Ducati introduced the lustrous V4 range; Royal Enfield reimagined the Classic 350, its bestselling model; while Bajaj gave its aging Pulsar a new lease of life with the new N250 and F250. It was a much-needed shot in the arm for motoring enthusiasts.
There were some unique entries as well, ones that shouted louder with their exuberant dresses than with their ability to walk the ramp. BMW Motorrad experimented with the bombastic 1800cc R18, while Harley-Davidson, the American ‘Hero’, made its presence felt with the Pan America 1250. With manufacturers coming out with all guns blazing this year, the launches were many, making it challenging for us to compartmentalize the new models according to their design. So, we’ll decode it by the CC displaced.
R15, RC200 and the new Pulsars
Yamaha, KTM and Bajaj made bold headlines in this category. The Japanese brand ended the year on a high note, literally and figuratively, with the YZF-R15 V4. The R15s of yore left their mark because of one important reason — the ability to deliver accessible performance in a tight and affordable package. The new R15 V4 confidently builds on that same script. It borrows its design cues from the bigger R-series Yamaha motorcycles, and its upgraded aerodynamics make it more slippery, helping it achieve its nearly 150kph top whack with more ease. Significant upgrades to the chassis include the new USDs up front. Performance, at least on paper, seems largely identical to its predecessors.
Next up, we have the brand-new KTM RC 200. After upgrading the Duke range last year, the Bajaj-owned Austrian manufacturer has rolled out a new design philosophy for the RC range, and it starts with the RC 200. While the outgoing RC 200 was primarily performance-oriented, the new RC 200 is an evolved version. It’s more accommodating and friendly. KTM says the clip-on handlebar has been raised for better comfort over longer distances while the design is more aerodynamic. Notable upgrades include a new bolt-on subframe, an LCD screen borrowed from the 250 Adventure, a larger 320mm front disc brake and switchable ABS at the rear.
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