Competition in the 150cc segment is on an all-time high and Hero rides in its most powerful 150c offering yet to take on its rivals. Can brute force help the new Hero Xtreme Sports in delivering the killer punch?
The 150cc segment is a lucrative category for the two-wheeler manufacturers. It has healthier profit margins and good sales figure also for the price these bikes command. Owing to this fact every major player wants to make a mark in this segment but at the same time it is also among the toughest segments to crack. The only new launch to make a mark in the 150cc category is the Suzuki Gixxer. Hero can be credited as the founder for the 150cc market when it launched the CBZ in the late 1990’s and it was a huge leap for Indian motorcycle industry.
But the Manesar based two-wheeler manufacturer hasn’t been able to maintain its clout in the 150cc segment despite the fact that it upgraded it with the CBZ Xtreme Sports in 2011. The Hero CBZ Xtreme did well initially but sales figure dropped with every passing month. To arrest this slide, the largest two-wheeler manufacturer in India rode in the Xtreme. Sharp styling and a bagful of features was its talking point. But despite these factors, the Hero Xtreme failed to make an impression and one of the main reasons was the lack of refinement and enough punch from the powerplant. Hero has taken notice of the above shortcomings and launched the new Xtreme Sports which is labelled as the most powerful 150cc Hero motorcycle. Can the new bike revive its fortune in the 150cc segment? We get you the answer.
Design & Features:
Talking about design, it is hard to convince yourself that the Hero Xtreme Sports is a new motorcycle as the basic design is similar to the Hero Xtreme that we reviewed last year. But look closely and the design differences start to unveil. The headlamp profile is similar to the older bike but it now features a LED pilot lamp that does look good and it sports a sharper smoked windscreen also. The fuel tank is also same but gets tank shrouds to enhance its visual mass. But it disappointing from hence forth. Instead of adopting an all-new design language to make the bike look attractive, Hero designers have added components from the Hero CBZ Xtreme that was launched almost five years back.
The split seats, grab handle, belly pan, exhaust muffler and the instrument console are a straight lift from the older offering. And coming to the instrument console it’s the same unit from the 2011 model which is fine as the semi-digital instrument cluster is easy to read. But since the old console was fixed on the new bike ergonomics has gone for a toss. The keyhole has been positioned on the bikini fairing and to further complicate things it doesn’t have an engine kill switch. So a basic task of shutting the engine at a traffic signal turns taxing and we hope Hero fixes this design flaw. Also the new instrument cluster loses out on features like service indicator, illuminated keyhole and engine immobilizer which are present on the Hero Xtreme.
The new motorcycle also skips the under seat mobile charger socket as seen on its sibling. Talking about build quality, the Switch gear and the hand grips are of good quality. The bike is also well put together with tight and even panel gaps while the paint quality was also impressive. Overall the Hero Xtreme Sports is a disappointing with respect to design and features as being an update we expected it to have better design language and extra list of features.
Engine & Performance:
The biggest talking point about the new Hero Xtreme Sports is its powerplant and was marketed as the ‘Faster than Ever’ owing to the fact it was its most powerful 150cc mill. The 149.2cc, air-cooled single cylinder engine pumps out 15.7PS at 8,500rpm and 13.5Nm at 7,000rpm. This makes it almost 1.5PS more powerful than the Hero Xtreme from which the motor has been sourced. The above power figures also make the new Hero Xtreme Sports among the highest power rated 150cc motorcycle offerings on sale. Talking about performance, acceleration is brisk and the bike picks momentum with eagerness. Among the biggest disappointment that we had with the Hero Xtreme that we tested last year was the lack of refinement. Hero engineers have worked on this aspect and the NVH levels of the Xtreme Sports are much better than its sibling.
Having said that it cannot match the engineering superiority of its Japanese rivals or that of the Bajaj Pulsar AS150. The engine has a good bottom end and mid-range performance which is useful in traffic or while overtaking on the highways but at the apex of its performance the Hero mill feels strained. Clutch action felt sluggish in comparison to modern 150cc motorcycles and it was the same case with the 5-speed gearbox as well and Hero boffins need to address these shortcomings. Also, the bike needs to shed weight as the current 147kg kerb weight acts as a hindrance in harnessing the full potential of the power on tap. Hero hasn’t claimed any mileage figures for the new Xtreme Sports. The bike returned us an overall fuel efficiency figure of 48kmpl which could be easily hiked to around 55kmpl if ridden calmly.
Ride, Handling and Braking:
The new Hero Xtreme Sports rides on telescopic front forks and adjustable gas charged twin shock absorbers at the back. Ride quality of the motorcycle is impressive as it absorbed bumps and undulations effortlessly. The diamond type frame endows the motorcycle with decent handling dynamics. But the bike feels more at home on the streets than around corners. The Hero Xtreme Sports is impressively nimble and agile for a 150cc offering which is useful while riding in traffic clogged roads. We still feel had the bike lost a few extra kilograms the agility quotient would have gone a notch higher. The added weight also makes it difficult to pull out the bike from the parking spot. The bike that we tested was equipped with disc brake on both the wheels. Braking performance of the bike is impressive with good bite and feedback through the levers.
Riding Ergonomics & Pillion Comfort:
Talking about riding dynamics, the Hero Xtreme sports employs a clip-on handle bar and mildly rear-set foot pegs. Initially the riding posture feels a bit odd but after riding few kilometres you get used to it and though a bit front biased it’s comfortable. The broad seat means that the one cannot snugly hold the fuel tank with his thighs. Also the seat height is on the higher side and shorter riders might find the Xtreme Sports a bit too tall for their likening. Pillion comfort is good as the aptly cushioned seat offers ample support while the split grab handle is easy to hold.
In the form of the Hero Xtreme Sports, the country’s largest two-wheeler manufacturer had the task of fixing the flaws associated with the Hero Xtreme. While the addition of power and refinement are welcome and definitely make their presence felt, but then the high kerb weight hampers in exploring the power gain. Styling of the bike is also disappointing owing to the parts being shared with a discontinued model. This mash up of old and new has resulted in flawed ergonomics which is beyond reasoning for a modern motorcycle. What further makes life difficult for the Hero Xtreme Sports is the fact that it lacks the features as seen on the Xtreme while commanding a premium of Rs 1,000.
The new Hero Xtreme Sports has been priced at Rs 72,625 and Rs 75,725 for standard and double disc brake variant respectively (ex-showroom Delhi). One can argue the asking price for the Hero Xtreme Sports is competitive with respect to its rivals. But for a marginal premium the consumer could get hold of a much better engineered motorcycle and that is what we would also suggest. If you still want to stick to the Hero brand, the Hero Xtreme makes better sense than the Xtreme Sports. As apart from being cheaper, it also has better features and the only compromise will be marginal performance drop and refinement.
|Hero Xtreme Sports|
|Engine||149.2cc, single cylinder, air-cooled|
|Power||15.7PS @ 8,500rpm|
|Torque||13.5Nm @ 7,000rpm|
|Clutch type||Wet multi plate|
|Suspension||Front – Telescopic fork
Rear – Gas charged twin hydraulic shock absorber
|Brakes||Front – Disc brake
Rear – Disc brake
|Wheel size||18-inch alloy|
|Tyres||Front – 80/100 R18
Rear – 110/90 R18
|Price (ex-showroom Delhi)||Rs 72,625
Rs 75,725 (disc brake at front and rear)