Chennai-based motorcycle manufacturer Royal Enfield has been in the market since 1901. Bike enthusiasts in India do not just love, but often base their whole life around it.
The company too has recognised this love from its customers and has positioned its products not as mere motorcycles but as a lifestyle. Its stellar rise has been the case study of many management school classes.
From selling a mere 50,000 units annually in 2010 to over 50,000 units monthly this year, Royal Enfield has come back from the brink of closure to become a leading player in the middleweight motorcycle segment.
While the ongoing slowdown in the Indian automotive market has crippled several manufacturers, Royal Enfield has expanded to several global markets to safeguard itself from the domestic slump. Also, the introduction of the more premium and powerful 650 twins have been generating good revenue, both in the domestic as well as international markets.
One reason why the manufacturer has been able to achieve this is because of the utter lack of competition. For the longest time, Royal Enfield has been enjoying a monopoly in the neo-retro motorcycle segment. But, the market has evolved considerably, with several players introducing similar products.
Here are five motorcycles that can give Royal Enfield a run for its money:
Benelli Imperiale 400
The Benelli Imperiale 400 is a humble-looking motorcycle, which is squarely at the Royal Enfield Classic range. It traces its origins to the Benelli-MotoBi range from the 1950s. The motorcycle gets a single round headlamp, a retro-styled teardrop-shaped fuel tank, split seats, and a fine balance between chrome and black. Relaxed ergonomics of the motorcycle allow the rider to travel comfortably for hours.
Powering the Benelli Imperiale 400 is 373.5cc air-cooled, single-cylinder engine. Coupled to a five-speed gearbox, the fuel-injected powertrain produces 20.4 PS of power and 28 Nm of torque. In comparison, the 346cc engine of the Royal Enfield Classic 350 produces 20.07 PS of power and 28 Nm of torque.
Anchors for the Imperiale 400 include a 300 mm disc with a two-piston calliper in the front and a 240 mm unit in the rear with a single-piston calliper. The motorcycle is shod with a 19-inch wheel in the front and an 18-inch unit in the rear with spokes instead of alloys. The latter gets a 130-section tyre profile.
Suspension duties are administered by a 41 mm conventional telescopic fork up front and dual springs in the rear. Also, the instrumentation is a twin-pod unit with a tiny LCD screen. The 12-litre fuel tank gets handy tank grips.
The Benelli Imperiale is priced at Rs 1.69 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) and can be booked for Rs 4,000.
The Kawasaki W800 has been a long time coming. In fact, if we had a penny for every time launch rumours surfaced, we would have been millionaires. While the price tag of Rs 7.99 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) may seem steep, the green monsters from Japan have tremendous brand appeal, a pinch of premium, and dollops of reliability.
This retro-styled roadster is powered by a unique 773cc parallel twin mill with vertically inclined cylinder layout with a 360-degree firing order. Yes, you read that right. An auditory bonanza is guaranteed. It would be quite safe to say that the Kawasaki W800 is the best sounding retro-styled machine on sale.
The air-cooled, SOHC, fuel injected engine in the W800 can produce 52 PS of power and 62.9 Nm of torque. Transmission duties are overseen by a five-speed gearbox. The Kawasaki W800 features a truly classic design with a circular LED headlamp, and round fuel tank.
Also, the raised handlebar will allow a comfortable ride while the twin-pod analogue instrumentation with a digital readout adds to the retro charm. Also, the bike is fitted with an assist and slipper clutch.
Besides that, the W800 uses standard telescopic fork up front and twin springs in the rear. Brakes include single 320 discs up front and a 270 mm unit in the rear. Positioned as a premium alternative to the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650, the Kawasaki W800 weighs just 224 kg and has a 770 mm seat height.
It is not every day that Honda 2Wheelers India introduces a premium product. But when it does, it manages to attract everyone’s eyeballs. The Honda CB300R is just that. Styled exactly like the CB125R and CB650R, the new CB300R gets a two-tone scheme. The motorcycle gets a rounded LED headlamp, chiselled fuel tank, stylish tank extensions, and alloy wheels to match the neo-retro appeal.
Unlike the previous two motorcycles in the list, the CB300R goes old school with tons of modern features. The powertrain is a 286.01cc liquid-cooled, fuel-injected engine, which is essentially a re-bored version of the 250cc mill from the CBR250R. Coupled to a six-speed gearbox, the engine produces 30.45 PS of power and 27.4 Nm of torque.
The suspension system includes an upside-down set up in the front and a monoshock in the rear. Brakes include a 296 mm petal disc in the front with Nissin calliper and a 220 mm petal unit in the rear. Besides that, the motorcycle is shod with an IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) based dual-channel ABS. Also, the CB300R weighs just 147 kg and has a small 10 litre fuel tank.
In terms of pricing, the Honda CB300R has a starting price of Rs 2.41 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).
Triumph Street Twin
Styled exactly like the classics sold in the 60s, the Street Twin is and a delight to look at. It is the most affordable Triumph badged product you can buy. But, at Rs 7.45 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the Street Twin is still expensive.
The engine is a 900cc liquid-cooled with a 270-degree crank angle and produces 65 PS of power and 80 Nm of torque. The gearbox is a five-speed unit. Also, the engine gets a ride by wire, slipper clutch, switchable traction control, and two riding modes (Road and Rain).
The brakes include a 310 mm disc with four-piston Brembo calliper in the front and a 220 mm disc in the rear with two-piston Nissin calliper. The suspension setup has a 41 mm conventional fork up front and twin springs in the rear, both sourced from KYB.
Husqvarna Vitpilen 401
KTM-owned Husqvarna Motorcycles is all set to enter the Indian market early next month with deliveries beginning in January or February 2020. The first model to launch will be the Husqvarna Vitpilen 401. Designed by Kiska, the motorcycle is a work of art.
The result is a progressive looking machine, which brings together retro love with modern technology.
The bike has a 373cc single-cylinder, liquid-cooled, DOHC mill sourced from the KTM Duke 390. In its present tune, it produces 43.5 PS of power and 37 Nm of torque. The six-speed gearbox is assisted by a slipper clutch.
Besides that, the motorcycle tips the scales at just 148 kg (without fuel). However, the high 835 mm seat height may not go down too well with shorter riders.
The Husqvarna Vitpilen 401 is suspended on upside down 43 mm fork in the front and a monoshock in the rear with adjustable preload. Both of these are sourced from KTM owned WP Suspension. The front wheel gets a huge 320 mm disc brake while the rear gets a 230 mm unit. Expect this Royal Enfield competitor to carry a sticker price below Rs 3 lakh.
Lifestyle product or not, Royal Enfield sure has serious competition now. Will it emerge victorious? Only time will tell.
(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)
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