Bajaj is renowned for developing many derivatives of their motorcycles so it wasn’t surprising to see them jam the Duke 250’s engine under the Dominar’s fuel tank. The Dominar 250 was launched shortly before the lockdown ensued and that prevented us from riding and reviewing the motorcycle. But we finally got a chance to swing our leg over the newest addition to the Bajaj family. Targeted at beginner motorcyclists who want to venture into the world of long-distance performance motorcycling, the Dominar 250 makes a strong case for itself on paper, but how does it fare in real life?
What sets it apart from its bigger sibling?
Visually speaking, the silhouette and overall dimensions have been carried over from the Dominar 400 and only when you see it up close, will you be able to spot the differences. The Dominar 250 comes dressed in canyon red which isn’t available for the Dominar 400.
To price it competitively, Bajaj had to deploy some cost-cutting measures. The reason why we see a slimmer rear tyre, powder-coated alloy wheels instead of diamond cut units, instrument cluster from the previous generation of the Dominar and thinner front forks. It also utilizes a box-section swingarm instead of an aluminium unit found on the Dominar 400.
Engine and performance
It gets the same 248.8 cc DOHC engine which powers the KTM Duke 250 but as we have seen in the previous cases, the engine has been detuned to suit the Dominar’s characteristics. The Dominar 250 is being proposed as a calmer and more touring-friendly motorcycle, compared to its cousin dressed in orange. In this guise, the 248.8 cc mill pumps out 27 PS power and 23.5 Nm of torque. Transmission duties are handled by a 6-speed transmission assisted by a slipper clutch.
The engine is tuned to deliver more linear and sedated performance instead of having the ‘in your face’ attitude. Bajaj positioned the Dominar 400 as a sports tourer and the Dominar 250 follows the same footprints. It is more about long-distance touring and comfortable riding ergonomics rather than outright performance or slaying the corners. The mid-range is strong and you can feel the surge in power as soon as you cross the 3k rpm mark on the tachometer. The rev-limiter kicks in at 10.5k rpm but it is advisable not to take it that high in its rev range because vibrations start creeping in as you climb up the rev range. Mid-range is where the party’s at.
The motorcycle feels quicks though and can comfortably cruise at an indicated 100 kmph in 6th gear at 6,000 rpm and at 86 kmph while the motor ticks at 5,000 clicks. Clutch action is light and the gearbox offers crisp slotting of gears while shifting both ways. Vibrations do creep in, on the handlebars and footpegs while riding in lower gears between 3,000-5,000 rpm and those sensations amplify when you’re gunning for it and revving the motorcycle beyond the 7,500 rpm mark.
The Dominar 400 had excellent braking equipment and that was very much required to anchor the heft it carried around. Given the fact that the Dominar 250 weighs a hefty 180 kg, just 7 kg lesser than its bigger sibling, it too comes with appropriate braking force. The braking department is handled by a 300 mm disc at the front and 230 mm at the rear. Dual-channel ABS is being offered as standard which is a very necessary addition according to the segment standards. Tyres play a very crucial role too and the Dominar 250 doesn’t disappoint in that regard.
The rear gets 130 section rubber while the front makes do with 100 section tyres. The grip levels are sufficient if you are riding in dry conditions but when it starts to pour, that’s when you realize that the grip could have been a little better.
Ride and handling
Like we mentioned earlier, the Dominar 250 isn’t a light motorcycle by any standards and that plays a very crucial role in defining its handling characteristics. It isn’t as agile while dealing with the urban elements and you would feel the weight when you flick it around. But at the same time, it’s target audience looks for something else. It might be not that agile because of its weight and long wheelbase but it shines when it comes to overall stability. It holds its line while negotiating corners and remains stable while munching the highway miles. It tracks straight even during heavy cross and headwinds.
The riding ergonomics are similar to the Dominar 4000 which translates to the fact that the rider wouldn’t mind covering long distances on it, at all. Wide handlebar and slightly rear-set footpegs provide a sporty yet comfortable riding position. The diameter of the front USD forks has come down to 37 mm as compared to the 41 mm forks on the D400. The rear utilizes the same monoshock unit found on the Dominar 400. The bump-absorbing capabilities of the suspension setup shine on our roads and only the sharpest of bumps will get transferred to the rider.
The rear-view mirrors are carried over from the Dominar 400 and look visually appealing while providing a decent view of the things happening behind. The instrument cluster unit is borrowed from the previous-gen Dominar 400 and misses out on the additional information which the new Dominar gets. The switchgear’s quality is decent and following the decade-old Bajaj trend, is a backlit unit. The LED headlamp unit is the same too and should provide decent illumination when the sun goes down. The exhaust note deserves a special mention because the double-barrel unit provides the perfect background score when you are out on the streets.
Fuel economy and pricing
In mixed riding conditions, the Dominar 250 returned a fuel economy of 38 km/l. It is priced at INR 1.6 Lakh and is around 34,000 cheaper than the Dominar 400 and about Rs. 3,000 less than the Gixxer 250. For now, it is the most pocket-friendly 250cc bike you can buy, until the BS6 Yamaha FZ 25 arrives and decides to change that fact.
If you need a budget sport touring motorcycle which looks the part but wouldn’t be too harsh on your pocket, the Dominar 250 is worth a look. It has all the ingredients of being an affordable sports tourer. Sure, spending a few bucks more could get you the Dominar 400 but not everyone wants more power, right? It comes close to being a complete package. It isn’t the fastest motorcycle in its segment and doesn’t aim to be one. What it does aim for, is being an affordable 250cc motorcycle which lets you ride long distance at a good pace and while being comfortable.