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The Awaited Successor : Hero Karizma R 2014

At a time when the two wheeler market was pretty much reigned over by mediocre 150cc engines, the Hero Honda Karizma came as a breath of fresh air to the power starved motorcycle enthusiasts. It was the first sports bike from an Indian company to come to the Nepali market. Packing an awesome 17 horse power in a 223cc engine, the Karizma addressed all of the riders who had a passion for speed, power and a good looking motorcycle. Yes, it fell on the pricier side of the spectrum, but for people who wanted a fast sporty motorcycle at a reasonable price, the Karizma was the idle machine.

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However, that was 11 years ago. Apart from a few cosmetic upgrades and an added variant with the Karizma ZMR, the beloved motorcycle showed little signs bringing about any major changes. Until now.

FEATURES AND STYLING

In 2003 when Hero Honda unveiled the Karizma stole the hearts of many when it unveiled its robust aerodynamic frame in its bikini fairing. 11 years later, Hero has tried to maintain the core looks of the motorcycle by adding to it some serious modern flair. The new avatar of the Hero Karizma R is long, low and appears to be inspired by Hero’s American partner Erick Buell Racing’s 1190RX.

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The inspiration is more evident from the Karizma R’s muscular front fairing featuring massive vertically stacked twin headlamps which pretty much dominate the front end. The front end also incorporates rectangular indicators, a set of LED DRL (daylight running lights) and a decent looking belly cowl.

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The tail end has also undergone a massive overhaul; however, its narrow fairing is a polar opposite to its very big front face. It now features vertically stacked LED lamps on the narrow out tail piece. The split seats and wider section tires give it a sporty look while maintaining the comfort factor.

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On the cockpit, Hero has kept things pretty much the same with the three-pod cluster which displays the rev meter and odometer and a digital trip meter. The engine kill switch is still missing and the fuel cap comes off which are can be irksome. But the new clip-on handlebars are a great addition both aesthetically and functionally. They are narrow in width and replace the chrome handlebar of the old Karizma. Overall, the new Hero Karizma R looks robust, and it does retain the charisma of its predecessor. However, it only manages to look pretty from a few angles.

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PERFORMANCE

When the Hero Honda Karizma first came into the market, it was what every bike enthusiast was waiting for; an affordable high performance motorcycle that packed enough oomph to give it a sports-bike feel. Yes, the looks were accountable for a major portion of the popularity, the engine was what took everyone’s breath away.

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Now, the new tuned 223 cc engine took the compression of the new engine of 9.1 to 9.6:1. This creates better economy, something the old Karizma was not particularly known for, as well as improved performance. The new engine also dishes out an increased power by 2.2PS and 1Nm. The new output is 20.23PS of the power at 8,000rpm as well as 19.7Nm of torque at 6,500rpm, both at 1000rpm lower than its predecessor. The new engine is substantially punchier than the old model and the increased rear section tyres with clip on handle bars make this motorcycle a pleasure.

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Despite being on the bulkier side, the Hero Karizma R handles very well. Of course it isn’t as nimble as a small commuter but it is calm and assertive in traffic and does not exert any heaviness. Although you can feel the increased wheelbase on turns, cornering is stable and you’ll be looking to lean in to any curve you see, thanks to the clip-ons. Gear shifts are seamless and power delivery is on par.

However, this machine is most fun at the 5000rpm-8000rpm range. Combined with the long gear ratios, the performance of the motorcycle excels when you go for the long highway hauls. The wider power spread means that you need few gear changes to keep the motorcycle on the boil. It is clear that the new Karizma has retained and refined its touring capabilities. You can go crazy on the throttle and get the speedo dial to make haste, but revving it past a certain extent will make your hands go numb. We were just able to go past the 120km mark but getting past the 100km/h mark is child’s play.

Braking does not disappoint and does not skimp on safety, though it could use a little more bite. But it’s still not a point to complain about.

VERDICT

In terms of performance, the new Karizma R does not disappoint the legacy set by its predecessor. It is fast, responsive and an overall fun ride whether in heavy traffic or open highways. The motorcycle exudes a tourey feel and a coast to coast ride through the country on the Karizma R seems like a tempting ordeal.

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There are motorcycles that might be punchier, but there are few in the segment that can over throw the Karizma in terms of touring capabilities. Well… maybe by its predecessor, for the sole reason that the older model has a slightly more hospitable riding position for long rides. But with the refined engine, that too is quite debatable.

Yes, it could have looked better as the Erik Buell inspirations do seem slightly out of place, but the expansive framework has made the motorcycle extremely spacious. This will be gladly welcomed by taller riders.

The new Hero Karizma R isn’t perfect. It has its share of niggles like a missing engine kill switch, tedious pillion seat removal and refitting and flimsy rearview mirror mounts. But once you switch on the ignition and switch into gear, all of that becomes redundant.

The new Hero Karizma R serves as a rejuvenated avatar of its popular forerunner and the refinements bring on a noticeable improvement. It is a highly capable city slicker and a much better tourer.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Engine Type: 4 stroke

Cylinder Layout: single cylinder OHC

Cooling System: air cooled

Displacement: 223 cc

Bore & Stroke: 65.5 x 66.2 mm

Maximum Power: 14.32 KW (19.2 BHP) @ 7500 rpm

Starting Method: Electric/Kick

Transmission: Manual

Final Drive: Chain

Frame Type: Diamond Type

Wheelbase: 1355mm

Height: 1160mm

Ground Clearance: 150mm

Front Suspension: Telescopic Hydraulic Shock Absorbers

Rear Suspension: Rectangular Swing Arm with 5 step Adjustable Gas Reservoir Suspension

Front Tire: 80/100 x 18

Rear Tire: 100/90 x 18

Front Brake: Single 276mm Disc

Rear Brake: Internal expanding shoe type (130 mm)

Kerb Weight: 154 kg

Fuel Tank: 15 litres

PRICING: Rs. 3,20,000

CONTACT:

Nepal General Marketing Pvt. Ltd.

Jyoti Bhawan, Kantipath

Tel. 4225377

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