11% more; 10% cheaper!
Yes, I know that the title sounds more like a promotional sticker on a consumer goods’ carton than the title for a motorcycle review. But I can’t help it – in recent times Bajaj is actually churning out more competing products within its own portfolio, than some of the largest FMCG brands like Hindustan Unilever and Godrej do with their soaps and detergents! Coming back to motorcycles, those figures I quoted on top are the cubic capacity and cost advantages that new Discover 150 offers over the bike it’s just replaced – the Discover 135. But does it make any sense? Let’s find out…
There is no hiding the fact that you’ll always find more than one similar looking products within the Bajaj portfolio – be the Platina 100 and 125, the Pulsar 150, 180, 200 etc. – there are enough examples to start a Bajaj-version of the popular ‘Memory’ game. It’s no different with the Discover brand either. The new 150cc offering has the same exteriors as the recently launched Discover 100 DTS-i. The only changes are the ‘150’ badge on the tail cowl, new colour schemes for the graphics, the bar-end weights, the plastic cover on the disc brake and the slightly bigger engine cylinder. Depending on Bajaj’s discretion the bike you buy may be shod with Dunlop, MRF or Eurogrip rubber. While all the three sport a fairly similar groove pattern, the horrendous Eurogrip front tyre sports grooves pointing upwards while the other two brands will have their grooves pointing downwards (refer to the photos for see what I mean).
The Discover’s console isn’t anything radical either. There are no digital readouts like you had on the Discover 135. Furthermore the flat angle of the tell tale lights and the dark glass that covers them, makes them difficult to read when riding with the sun overhead. However, I like the subtle glow of the red and white dials which thankfully don’t hurt the eye like they do on some other bikes. Overall, there is nothing too spectacular about the design of the Discover 150 – but for the target audience which the bike addresses; there are enough design bits that will make them happy – like the LED taillights, flexible mounting for the turn blinkers, alloy wheels as standard etc.
Ride Quality and Handling
I have ridden this bike for approximately 200 kilometers till now – which included a brief highway run and a over 150 kilometers within the city limits – which includes decent concrete roads, winding tar roads and a wee bit of off-roading as well. The Discover 150 like its 100cc sibling comes with a pair of gas-damped shock absorbers. I found these pliant enough for most of the road surfaces I mentioned above. Even my pillion had nothing to complain about when it came to pure shock-absorbing. However, the same can’t be said about the seat. The sponge is a tad too hard for my liking and within 30 kilometers of riding through the slow moving traffic, I was already complaining about butt-ache.
Thanks to the bike’s decent tyre sizes (2.75×17 / 100/90-17 : F/R) and a fairly functional aerodynamic front, the Discover 150 doesn’t wobble easily when riding over 100 km/h on a windy highway stretch. The Eurogrip tyres on our test bike however, aren’t as confidence inspiring as the MRFs Zappers that we have seen on the older Pulsar 150. These tyres offer an unnerving feedback when you decide to have a spirited riding session around the twisties. They perform even worse when it comes to riding on broken roads or wet or dirt surfaces. Though the Discover isn’t a sports commuter, its primary function is that of countryside workhorse – where it will be exposed to all these surfaces on a regular basis. I think its high time Bajaj ends their new found love with the Eurogrip tyres for not just the Discover, but for all its products – else we are going to have a lot of people lining up outside the Bajaj-Allianz insurance offices for their accident claims.
The 150cc engine that powers the new Discover is an evolution of the XCD135’s unit. However, Bajaj has decided to do away with the ‘swirl induction’ part to gain better torque at the cost of a slightly reduced fuel efficiency figure. The 12.75 Nm is well spread across the rev band and is evident right from the word go. What this translates into is better ridability in urban as well as rural environs and lesser gear shifts while trotting through traffic. Another notable improvement is the refinement of the engine. The vibrations levels on the Discover 150 seem to be at an all time low for a Bajaj product. While the bar-end weights play an active role in reducing the vibes from reaching the rider, the pillion seat for some reason conducts too many of them to umm, the pillion. Though the new engine might not be as refined as that of say, a Unicorn, you can clearly see that Bajaj is heading in the right direction. Like the old 135 though, this Discover too makes the 5 gears feel inadequate due to the sheer torque you enjoy even in the top gear. With the brief ride I have had with the Discover 150, the bike has returned me an overall fuel efficiency of 57 kilometers to a litre of petrol.
The Discover 150 seems to have got the formula right especially after the debacle called the Discover 135. It does not have the aggression of the Discover 150 Concept shown at the Auto Expo in 2008 or the digital console of the Discover 135 or the DTS-Si technology of the XCD. Furthermore it looks a tad too simple with the same styling as the Discover 100. Bajaj has hence saved a lot of money, thanks to the smart platform sharing. But what is important here is that they have passed on the cost benefit to the customer – making the Discover 150 DTS-i one of the most value for money motorcycles one can buy in the country today. Its success however is too difficult to predict since the skillfully packaged Discover 135 was a big failure, while the simple Discover 100 is an example of the ‘Discover’ brand’s outright success.