Honda

Honda

BAJAJ DOMINAR: THE NOCTURNAL BEAST

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For the average motorcycle enthusiast in Nepal and India, Bajaj has been the best thing that could have happened to the industry. Whether it is the Pulsar, Avenger, NS, RS, or AS, Bajaj has paved ways for the common man’s motorcycling dreams. They’ve boldly stepped into new segments and they are back to their trailblazing ways with what is their most premium offering yet: the Bajaj Dominar.

Bajaj teased the world with the CS 400 in the 2014 Indian Auto Expo. The reveal of the concept motorcycle sent shockwaves through the industry and left us all in anticipation of the biggest, baddest Bajaj. Now, there are bigger machines with fancier badges that would churn just as much excitement amongst audiences, but the fact that this was Bajaj highlighted one crucial factor: Value for Money.

The wait has finally come to an end with the launch of the Dominar. What now prowls the streets is a beast that is a powerful amalgamation of a cruiser and a naked sports bike.

STYLING AND FEATURES

There is a brutish menace to the Dominar’s presence that thankfully holds a lot of similarities to the CS 400 concept. It also holds a resemblance to the Ducati Diavel, which really isn’t a bad thing at all. It gets chiseled naked sport like design integrated into a cruiser like stance and a stare that will be the first thing you notice.

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The LED headlights are striking, to say the least. There are four levels of adjustability to these headlamps that is operated via two separate switches. The one on the right offers an always-on setting that keeps it on a high beam to make the bike more visible in the day. Slide the switch left for a night mode that drops the beam to a lower output that won’t blind oncoming traffic. And on the left grip is a standard high and low beam switch that turns on a separate LED cluster in the headlamp.bajajdominartestdrivenepal15

The headlamps alone are designed to be burly and muscular and that sets the stage for the rest of the Dominar’s stature. Bajaj claims that the headlamp meets European standards, which makes the bike visible from a distance of approximately 1.5 km.

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The large sculpted fuel tank gets purposeful swooping angles where your knees can fit in properly. Surprisingly, the apparently massive tank only holds 13 liters of fuel, which might hamper the touring capabilities of the Dominar. A noticeable addition on the fuel tank is an additional instrument cluster, much in Ducati Diavel style.

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There is another instrument cluster that is conventionally placed between the handlebars. The well-lit console displays the rev counter, speedometer, clock, fuel gauge and two trip meters. The one on the tank is slim and houses warning lights like ABS, side-stand down, battery, and check engine. No gear indicator though.

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Split seats are relatively flat and simple. Move onto the rear and you will notice that there is more inspiration taken from the Diavel that is reflected in the dual led tail lamps. The exhaust is stubby and not the most stylish element on the Dominar. But the belly pan, tank extensions, radiator shrouds and the stylish 10-spoke alloy wheels add to the bike’s muscular look. Overall, the fit and finish quality are top notch, ensuring that the premium feel of the Dominar is not compromised.

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ERGONOMICS

Bajaj took it upon them to promise cruising comfort and sporty performance in a single motorcycle. And they have delivered. It has a flat wide handlebar and a low saddle height.

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The instrument cluster is easily readable, even the slim backlit display ahead of the fuel filler cap; except that this is slightly obstructed when you wear a full faced helmet. The foot pegs are well placed for both a relaxing highway cruise or an aggressive ride through tarmac. Engine heat is well dispersed.

RIDE AND HANDLING

At the heart of the beast is the same 373.2cc block from the KTM 390 Duke and RC. However, it doesn’t feel as frantic as the feisty KTMs and the exhaust note also differs from the KTMs. Other differences in the Dominar’s engine is that it gets Bajaj’s triple spark plug layout with an SOHC four-valve setup that brings the benefit of lower cost and better bottom-end torque. Also, just so you know, the Dominar is no slouch.

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It churns out 34.5BHP@8000RPM and 35Nm@5000RPM of smooth linear power delivered through a slick 6-speed gearbox. Twist the throttle and the Dominar will sprint off the line, rev further and it will soldier on with vigor. Power surge might not be ballistic but there is plenty to get a smile on your face. Reaching triple digits is accomplished in a jiffy, and the gearbox uses a slipper clutch to ensure control and pleasure while downshifting in a hurry. As powerful as it is, there are considerable vibrations once you reach and exceed the 4000rpm mark.

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In spite of being on the heavier side of the spectrum the Dominar carves corners in a way that belies its size. It is stable when you pick up speed on straights and just as pliable on the twists and turns. The suspension is stiff which is terrible for our roads filled with potholes, but that is what makes it so stable on smooth tarmac. However, it should be noted that the turning radius is very small on the Dominar.Stopping duties are undertaken by the best in class disc brakes, the front gets a 320mm disc and a the rear gets a 230mm disc. While braking hard, if the front wheel locks up, one loses the ability to maneuver the bike safely. Whereas if the rear wheel locks up, the stability of the bike is compromised. The Dominar has either situation covered.

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It is equipped with dual-channel ABS, which means both the front and rear brakes are monitored and controlled separately (instead of a single system). Both wheels have their own sensors and the system controls the braking on each wheel individually. While the Dominar has been getting some criticism on its braking, we felt it was very good at bringing the bike to a stop; even at higher speeds. But you might need to get used to the feel of the rear brakes.

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VERDICT

Bajaj got things right with the Dominar. It lives up to its reputation – it is a motorcycle that is as calm as you want it to be and has the potential to be as brutal as you’d ask. And despite its massive size and power, it is rideable in city traffic too.We could nitpick on things like suspension, turning radius, and the vibrations but the aggressive pricing set by Bajaj really justifies what the Dominar offers. There is finally a premium motorcycle that provides a big bike feel and that too at an affordable price.

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However, Bajaj are entering a new motorcycle segment and how people will ultimately react is yet to be seen. But they have ticked all the right boxes and chances are the Dominar will be another feather in Bajaj’s cap.

For full specifications and pricing, click here

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