New 2014 Hero Karizma R facelift -Too little, too late?

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Added in: Features
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The Hero Karizma has many firsts to its credits. To start with, it became the first 200cc-plus model from Hero MotoCorp, the world’s largest selling bike maker. More importantly, it also became the first faired bike in Indian performance motorcycle market (The LML Adreno was far from being a performance motorcycle). The Karizma also became the first Hero motorcycle to retail at close to a lakh rupees. For those interested in history lessons, the Hero Karizma launch in India happened in May 2003 and the bike was given a cosmetic upgrade in 2007. The more interesting bit, however, is that the Karizma was quick to become the hot favorite and saw being lapped up by everyone ranging from the proverbial ‘tourers’ to college goers who wished to make a statement, without actually having to become the lead guitarist of the college band. Powered by a slightly detuned version of 223 cc SOHC air-cooled engine from the CRF230 series of enduro/MX/supermoto bikes that are sold in the USA and South American markets, the Karizma also became the obvious choice for budding motocross bike racers/enthusiasts in the country.

However, the launch of the Karizma compelled rivaling bike makers to soon come up with their own iterations of performance motorcycles and while the ZMA managed to keep most of the competition at bay for sometime, bikes like the Pulsar 220 DTSi and the Yamaha R15 eventually managed to make a huge dent in the Karizma’s sales performance. Suddenly there were these bikes. which boasted of power figures of more than 20 bhp, thereby making the ZMA’s 17 bhp look a tad too ordinary. In addition to this, features like clip on handlebars, projector headlamps, mono suspension, fuel injection, liquid cooling, digital speedo console, et al gave the rivals an upper hand over the Karizma, which suddenly looked too ‘vanilla’ in comparison. While the loyalists and fanatics wished for the bike to get a comprehensive set of upgrades, all the motorcycle ever got were cosmetic upgrades in form of red painted alloy wheels and new decals. True, Hero MotoCorp did resort to price cuts for its flagship motorcycle, but the accompanying dip in quality meant that the bike maker continued to earn flak for its reluctance to launch a comprehensive update.

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Finally, in October last year, Hero MotoCorp decided to bring the long awaited 2014 Hero Karizma R facelift. The new 2014 Hero Karizma R facelift launch will happen later this year, with the bike totally replacing the current model. While the 2014 Hero Karizma R facelift is far from being the much anticipated ‘next generation model’, it features enough updates for it to justify the ‘new’ tag. With the advent of the 2014 Hero Karizma R facelift, the bike gets new styling and an updated, more powerful, engine.

While Hero would like to feel that these updates would enable the ZMA to reclaim the throne in its segment, we have our own reasons to be sceptical.

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Talking first about the styling, the new 2014 Karizma is essentially a ‘quarter faired’ version of the new 2014 Karizma ZMR and gets the same front fairing, albeit, minus the lower half. This means the bike benefits from a twin projector headlamp setup along with LED DRLs. The bike also finally gets a split seat setup, split grabrails, slightly revised side panels, a new tail end and a new muffler. While these updates are enough to give the bike a fresh appearance, what might not work for the new ZMA is the fact that unlike the current bike, which still manages to look handsome and athletic, the facelift’s fairing looks a bit too big to gel well with the rest of the body, thereby giving the refreshed bike a slightly ‘front-heavy’ appearance. Also, the tail section, along with its mudguard mounted taillamp, is not as easy on the eye as the current bike’s Honda Unicorn like tailpiece. The speedo console and the fuel tank have been carried over from the current model.

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Coming to the bike’s technical specifications, the updated bike enjoys a max power of 19.2 bhp, which while being considerably more than the current model’s 17 bhp, still fails to match the competition. The updated bike can dismiss 60kmph from zero in just 3.6 secs, which isn’t surprising, especially if you consider that the ZMA has always been applauded for its decent low and mid range performance, and the facelift seems to have built up on this traditional ZMA strength. We expect a sub 13 sec run to 100kmph. Other than this, the bike remains almost similar to the model it would soon replace. The suspension and wheels have been carried over from the earlier model. The bike also gets the same old rear drum brake setup, along with same frame and swing arm. However, the bike does get an O-Ring chain and clip-ons styled handlebar.

New 2014 Hero Karizma R facelift promotional video:

Now, what we wonder is whether the Karizma, bestowed with these handful of changes, would be sufficiently potent to fight its way back to the top of the sales charts in its segment. Considering that most of its immediate rivals enjoy a more powerful engine, along with bits like a rear mono suspension and rear disc brakes, its easy to predict that the new ZMA’s path to glory won’t really be a cake walk. Don’t get us wrong, for we aren’t exactly dismissive of the upcoming model. However, what we aren’t sure about is whether the 2014 Hero Karizma R facelift is an attempt too little, too late by Hero MotoCorp. We do realize that the brand image that the Karizma moniker enjoys, along with trusted mechanicals and the after sales support of Hero MotoCorp, might actually work for the updated ZMA.

What do you feel? Will the refreshed ZMA be a potent rival to the arguably more lethal competition? Do let us know by sharing your views in the comments section below.

Stay tuned to Motoroids for 2014 Hero Karizma R facelift launch and other related details.