PHOENIX: fē’nĭks/`fi:nɪks/”fi:nIks: (meaning) an emblem of immortality or of reborn idealism or hope.
Before you think we’re starting an Online Greek Thesaurus at Motoroids, as the above definition might lead you to believe – we couldn’t help but cite this reference that we feel fits the Chennai based two-wheeler manufacturer – the TVS Motor Company. Their sales charts of late have recorded diminishing figures due to lack of new launches. Trying to regain the lost glory of the Victor days, TVS have revealed their new card and no prizes for guessing as to why the name. But will the Phoenix be able to rise and renew TVS fortunes in the already crowded executive-commuter market. Let’s find out.
STYLING, DESIGN AND FEATURES
When it comes to India, the saying “Jo dikhta hai, wahi bikta hai” stands true. The Phoenix immediately scores points when it comes to the adage. It is seriously a good looking motorcycle. Glance from any corner and it’ll please your eye. Though one may be lured to think that its only the graphics screaming the bike’s displacement figures on the tank that lend it her cosmetic appeal, it’s rather the sum total of the proportions and graphics which together lend an aura of attractiveness to the bike.
The paint quality, the matt finishing and the smart use of contrasting shades at places ensure a definite second look even from a distance. The Phoenix doesn’t disappoint on looks from close quarters either. An aggressive styled headlight, sharply styled large turn indicators, well-chromed detachable fuel cap, wedge shaped mirrors, quality ergonomic switchgear and grips – all reek of the attention TVS has put behind the Phoenix. The deep luster finish is a delight and some features though not groundbreaking are still a welcome addition. And we’re not complaining on the meek horn- even premium bikes today are no different.
The console (reminds us of the 200NS) is nice to look especially at night, where the amber-backlight welcomes you with a self check. It may look a little dull during the day to some though. Low battery indicator, fuel gauge, service reminder, a tripmeter / odometer that can be switched at the press of a button and a digital speedometer conclude the dashboard family. The assumed engine-kill switch turned out to be the control for hazard blinkers (before anyone says it’s the first, we’d say the LML Freedom had it 10 years back), the LED pilot lamps though not very bright impart an aggressive look to the motorcycle. A small mention- the pass switch only flashes the low beam, which means you won’t be able to flash at the vehicle ahead in case of a pass over request during dark hours.
Sliding further down, the retention of quality is evident on the forks, the 6 spoked alloys, drilled petal disc rotor and even the caliper looks so well finished. The engine, exhaust, crash guards all coated in black carry forward the quality decorum apparent at every inch on the Phoenix. The multi-reflector tail light gives a bright indicator of the bike utilizing its brakes.
The seat foam has to be one of the plushest we’ve found on any motorcycle and the dual textured seat cover offers a perforated non-slipping surface for the pillion. The pillion seat was put to test under hard braking and it performed extremely well with the alloy grab-rails providing that extra convenience to keep the co-rider anchored to the rear.
If we have to nit-pick the negatives of the motorcycle, the first would be the electric starter noise which sounds very unlike TVS. And second the depth and spread of the lights during night riding was at best average.
As labeled on the exhaust shield, the Ecothrust engine is a 124.5cc single cylinder breathing through a constant vacuum (CV) carburetor and a paper-type air filter pumps a max of 10.9 bhp @ 8000 rpm and 10.8 nm of torque at a low 6000 rpm. Aided by an all-up 4 speed close ratio gearbox, the Phoenix provides enough grunt to tackle a metro city’s traffic drudgery even when riding two up with no lags in acceleration between gear shifts. The engine feels refined, but starts to make its efforts audible when going north of 60 kph. Though not translating into any disturbances (read vibes) even when pushed to the extreme with the digital mark speedo flickering around the 104 kph mark, the close ratio gearbox was evident and we felt that the Phoenix sorely needed a taller fifth gear. In fact even while riding at 60 kph in top gear, we felt as if we’re riding in the third gear. It feels best when ridden between 50 – 60 kph and the short-geared nature of the box aids in puttering around in traffic as low as 25 kph to strangling it at the top end. We shouldn’t be complaining though as it’s aimed more at economy than performance. The gearbox was slick and resulted in positive shifts with light moves on the shifter that provides for both toe and heel operations.
RIDE QUALITY, HANDLING & BRAKING
We gleefully repeat that the plush treatment of the well padded seat and the riding position is extremely comfortable. Can’t call it a recess, but the curvature of the tank, to some extent, supports only the average heighted rider. Tall riders would be finding their knees and thighs over the edges of the fuel tank. The bike was test ridden for 300 kilometers and at no point of time did the Phoenix cause any discomfort. The telescopic front suspension felt similar to most econo-misers in the market. It was, however, the rear suspension that took the cake on comfort. The rear shocks have been labeled “Series Spring” and we can vouch they’re not a marketing gimmick. It’s a fusion of two differently rated coil springs placed one above the other with a soft lower and a stiff upper spring. The suspension works, and it works beautifully- be it swallowing undulations while riding solo or two up. The rebound is not jerky as you would find on other motorcycles and a simple but brilliant idea of two springs has been put to work in great harmony. Well done TVS!
The Phoenix is a surprise package when it comes to handling. It was never our intention to push it around too much, but we found ourselves leaning it till the rear tyre sent signals of running out of contact patch. We found the 2.75 x 17 front tyre to be comparatively more composed than the 90/90 x 17 rear while riding the motorcycle to its limits. We assume a slightly wider tyre at the rear would have placed a better case. Nonetheless we were amazed at the grip levels provided by the tyres considering that TVS branded tyres have always been at the receiving end when it comes to road bite. Also the bike doesn’t wallow around on bumpy corners and preserves tranquility throughout unless you are pushing beyond its limit.
Braking is another positive highlight of the package. The 240mm front petal disc though not snappy provides gradual and seamless braking at any given speed. The 130mm drums at the rear complement the front amply well. The Phoenix wasn’t supposed to be meted out with such antics, but we couldn’t resist getting our tails up at times- thanks to the grippy rubber and composed braking nature of the motorcycle.
Going right to the start of the review and thinking on the mythical implication of the word “PHOENIX”, we cannot help but think whether this machine would allot resurrection to its manufacturer to rightfully seize its bygone days of glory? Having experienced it for a good duration of time, we wouldn’t have any doubts as to why not. TVS deserves a good pat on their shoulders to have pulled out an extremely worthy motorcycle that’s hard to be overlooked in the current scenario and would render a choice making affair an even tougher job. A well put together motorcycle which feels comfortable and gives that sense of longevity – a very important aspect for the buyer of this segment. Its extremely frugal on drinking- though we couldn’t make an accurate measure of the efficiency numbers- with 300 kms of riding and the the fuel capacity well above the halfway mark hints at figures close to 60 kpl in everyday riding conditions. Considering the occasional battering it underwent, we expect the numbers to improve under sane riding conditions.
In the present age, where a success of a product depends on the scope of its marketing- TVS have a winner on their hands and we wish the Phoenix is marketed as well as it’s engineered. Assuming that TVS lays the perfect strip for the bird to take off, we’re convinced that Phoenix will go great heights and grab the accolades back that TVS had misplaced after the Victor’s departure.
Bore (mm) x Stroke (mm): 57 x 48.8
Compression ratio: 9.4:1.0
Max Power: 10.9 bhp @ 8000 rpm
Max Torque: 10.8 nm @ 6000 rpm
Clutch Type: Wet- multi plate
Transmission: 4 Speed Constant Mesh
Front: Telescopic Oil Damped
Rear: Twin 5 step adjustable hydraulic shocks with series spring
Front: 240mm hydraulic petal disc
Rear: 130mm internally expanding drum
Front: 2.75 x 17
Rear: 90/90 x 17
Capacity: 12 litres (including reserve)
Reserve: 2 litres
Ignition System: DC Digital TCI
Battery: 12v 5AH
Headlamp: 12v 35/35W
Tail lamp: 12v 5/21W
Horn: 12v DC
Overall length: 1985mm
Overall height: 1065mm
Overall width: 740mm
Kerb weight: 116 kgs (disc brake version)
Ground clearance: 165mm
EX-SHOWROOM PRICES (Disc/Drum)
Delhi: Rs.52,000/ Rs.49,990.
Chennai: Rs.53,000/ Rs.51,000