[Year in Review 2019] Here are the biggest premium motorcycle launches of the year

With the rise in premium motorcycle sales, two-wheeler manufacturers have started introducing products in India within months of their global unveiling.

The year 2019 has been a landmark year for premium motorcycles. Not only have the volumes of sales increased despite the ongoing slowdown in the industry, but the market has also benefitted from increased localisation.

Manufacturers have started assembling their products in India to enjoy a reduced taxation policy, which allows them to sell their products at highly competitive prices. The likes of Honda CB300R and CFMoto 650 NK are living proof of that.

Buying a premium, performance-oriented motorcycle has become relatively easier than before, and is no longer limited only to a privileged few. Not only have prices become more competitive but the availability of easy financing from banks also help customers to own one easily.

Here are some of the biggest premium motorcycle launches of 2019.

Honda CB300R

The Japanese two-wheeler maker began the year with a bang by launching the Honda CB300R. This neo-retro motorcycle, launched in February 2019, is retailed in the country via the CKD (completely knocked down) route, helping them price it competitively.

The single-cylinder motorcycle gets features like an LED headlamp, upside-down front fork, radially mounted front calliper, and digital instrumentation. Besides that, it is shod with an IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) based ABS.

Powering the Honda CB300R is a 286.01cc liquid-cooled engine producing 30.5 PS of power and 27.4 Nm of torque. The motorcycle tips the scales at just 147 kg, making it perfect for using as an everyday machine. It has a ground clearance of 151 mm and a seat height of 800 mm.

However, we would have loved to see a bigger fuel tank than the 10-litre capacity of the present one. Colour options for the CB300R include Candy Chromosphere Red and Matte Axis Grey Metallic. The motorcycle costs Rs 2.42 lakh (ex-showroom, all-India).

CFMoto 650NK

Chinese motorcycle maker CFMoto marked its entry in the Indian two-wheeler market in July 2019. While their range starts from a 300cc motorcycle, the CFMoto 650NK is the one to covet. The edgy design is also assembled in India with the parts being brought from China via the CKD route.

Cycle parts include a conventional telescopic fork up front and an asymmetrically mounted monoshock in the rear. Both of these have been sourced from KYB.

The anchoring department includes twin discs in the front and a single unit in the rear. Besides that, the motorcycle is fitted with all-LED lighting, an underbelly exhaust, and adjustable front brake and clutch levers. Also, the 650NK gets digital instrumentation.

At the heart of the CFMoto 650NK is a 649.3cc parallel twin-cylinder, liquid-cooled mill, which produces 61.54 PS of power and 56 Nm of torque. This makes the street-naked a perfect everyday premium motorcycle. However, the best part of CFMoto 650NK is the extremely competitive price tag of Rs 3.99 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), which is significantly lower than the Rs 6 lakh price of its nearest rival Kawasaki Z650.

The 650NK is retailed in two colour options – Athens Blue-Pearl Black and New Pearl White-Pearl Black.

Indian FTR 1200

The American motorcycle maker is known for its power-packed cruisers, but it also knows how to make a fast flat tracker. Especially, when you take into account its track record in competitive flat track racing on the United States.

Fitted with modern all-LED lighting, 4.3-inch customisable Ride Command LCD touchscreen with Bluetooth connectivity, and cruise control. The suspension system includes upside-down telescopic fork upfront and a monoshock in the rear.

Brakes include dual 320 mm discs in the front and a single 260 mm disc in the rear. It has a ground clearance of 183 mm and a seat height of 853 mm.

At the heart of the FTR 1200 is a 1,203cc V-twin engine, churning out 123 PS of power and 120 Nm of torque. The powertrain is offered with three riding modes – Sport, Standard, and Rain. Each of these alters the throttle response, traction control intervention levels, lean-angle sensitive stability control, ABS, and wheelie control.

At a highly competitive price of Rs 14.99 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), it is one of the more affordable motorcycles in the US-based manufacturer’s line-up.

Kawasaki ZX-6R

One of the last known middleweight supersport motorcycles in the world, the Kawasaki ZX-6R was launched in India in January 2019. The motorcycle has no direct competition in India but fills the void left after the Triumph Daytona 675 was discontinued.

With purpose-built, sharp body panels, and the LED headlamp, the ZX-6R is possibly one of the most striking motorcycles in Kawasaki India’s line-up.

Powering the ZX-6R is a 636cc four-cylinder, liquid-cooled engine, which produces 130 PS of power and 70.8 Nm of torque. A ram-air intake can increase the power output to 136 PS. The suspension system includes 41 mm upside-down fork (separate function, big piston) up front and a bottom link monoshock in the rear. Anchors include dual 310 mm disc up front and a single disc in the rear.

Rider aids in the ZX-6R include features like the KIBS (Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Brake System), KQS (Kawasaki Quick Shifter), and KTRC (Kawasaki Traction Control). Besides that, the lightweight magnesium alloy wheels are shod with Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S22 soft-compound tyres. Both the brake and clutch levers are adjustable now. Also on offer is a slipper clutch.

The Kawasaki ZX-6R is the perfect motorcycle for the track and also has the potential to be a faithful companion on the streets. Introduced as a CKD, the ZX-6R has been priced at Rs 10.49 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).

KTM 790 Duke

The most awaited motorcycle of 2019 was the KTM 790 Duke. Nicknamed ‘the scalpel’, it was launched in India in September. Loaded to the gills, the motorcycle is a significant upgrade over the Duke 390, but still allows riders to enjoy the world of middleweight street naked in a new light.

The LED headlamp console reminds us of the Duke 390 while the orange fuel tank has been chiselled so that riders can lock their feet easily. The upswept exhaust may look nice but will be a hindrance for the pillion rider. The instrumentation is a coloured TFT unit and gets smartphone connectivity via Bluetooth.

KTM has fitted the 790 Duke with a 799cc parallel-twin motor producing 105 PS of power and 87 Nm of torque. The motorcycle is offered with four riding modes, switchable ABS, cornering ABS, wheelie control, and switchable traction control. The suspension system includes 43 mm non-adjustable fork up front and an adjustable monoshock in the rear.

The KTM 790 Duke is retailed in India via the CKD route and carries a price tag of Rs 8.64 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).

(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)