Shootout: Bajaj Dominar 400 vs RE Classic 500
Shootout No. 211
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 2,20,495/- (Bajaj Dominar 400), Rs. 2,32,020/- (RE Classic 500)
Touring capabilities with ease of riding? Both these bikes are made to go places
Mid-capacity touring motorcycles are often the favourite spot for Indian enthusiasts. Royal Enfield has been catering to them for quite a long time with the Classic series of motorcycles. Bajaj, being one of the top Indian manufacturers quickly responded to the market needs with the Dominar 400. While the Royal Enfield stays pretty much the same despite the new paint scheme and limited editions, Bajaj has just updated the Dominar 400 for 2019 making it more appealing. So, we put these two motorcycles on a quick shootout to find out which comes out as a more capable friendly tourer.
Motor Quest: Bajaj launched the Dominar 400 back in 2017. The motorcycle found itself in appraisals for being an extremely capable package although there were few niggles that Bajaj tried to solve continuously over the years. Now for 2019, Bajaj has updated the Dominar 400 with all the necessary equipment. The Royal Enfield Classic 500 was first introduced in the year 2009. Since then, the Classic series of motorcycles has been timely revised with new paint schemes and limited editions.
Styling - Both the motorcycles follow completely different approaches when it comes to design. The Dominar 400 is equipped with well-proportioned body panels, muscular tank, angular sculpts and a beautiful LED headlamp set-up. The design is further complimented with striking new auroral paint schemes along with the black diamond cut type alloys. The Dominar also gets a black treatment on the foot-peg brackets and the engine casing to aid for a more premium feel. Bajaj has also worked on small details like the new cast aluminium mirror bracket to make the bike look fresh. The double barrel type exhaust is also new making the bike look fresh all over.
Royal Enfield Classic stays retro while the Bajaj Dominar looks sharp and fresh
The Classic 500 on the other hand, continues to wear a traditional Royal Enfield design. A little too less for some, but this is what keeps the Royal Enfield unique. The Classic 500 over here, gets an extensive black treatment all over it to make it look premium. To an extent so, that Royal Enfield had to sell it under the name Stealth Black. All the bits are metal and round, there are no rough edges on the Royal Enfield. It does have a retro charm but there is no denying the fact that the Dominar 400 looks modern and has more road presence.
Instrument Cluster and Switchgear - The instrument cluster on the Dominar 400 continues to use two displays but both have been revised. The primary display now shows current and average fuel efficiency information along with the tell-tale lights in addition to a digital speedometer, tachometer and a fuel indicator. The primary console is quite easy to read. However, the secondary display located on the tank integrates a gear position indicator, a clock and two trip meters. The toggle buttons for both the displays are placed on the tank, around the secondary panel. On the go, it is quite difficult to have a check on the secondary console.
The instrument cluster on the Royal Enfield Classic 500 has remained the same over the years. It carries an analogue speedometer with an odometer and that's about it. The Royal Enfield misses out on basic information like trip details, fuel indicator, tachometer, clock and much more. The cluster is just too basic that once it had an amp meter which is now used as a tell-tale light unit containing low-fuel level indicator and an engine warning light. So, the Dominar 400 easily trumps the Royal Enfield in this regard by offering not just more but with the necessary modern touch.
Ergonomics - Both the motorcycles offer an upright riding posture, but the Royal Enfield has more front-set footpegs resulting in slightly more comfortable ergonomics. The Dominar 400 has raised handlebars with centre set footpegs making it sportier despite being equally comfortable. The fuel tank on the Dominar 400 is sculpted which helps in gripping the bike better while the Royal Enfield’s tank has to do with tank pads on either side. The seat on the Dominar 400 could have been well padded to offer more comfort. The seat height on both the motorcycles is identical at 800 mm. Talking about pillion comfort, both the motorcycles offer a useable pillion seat while the one on the Royal Enfield can be removed. Mirrors on the Dominar offer better visibility than the one on the Royal Enfield which seem worthless due to the vibrations. Overall, the Dominar 400 feels more composed.
Performance - If we talk about the power figures, the Dominar was already powerful earlier and now it has gotten even more powerful. The 373.2cc mill now produces 40 PS of power while the 499cc engine on the Classic produces a shy over 27.5 PS. But the Royal Enfield has more torque at 41.3 Nm while the Bajaj produces the same 35 Nm at a slightly higher RPM. The extra torque keeps the Classic happy to tour while the extra power on tap makes the Dominar faster off the line and can cruise at a higher speed too. The low-end of the Classic is better but the mid-range and the top-end are just so much better on the Dominar. The Dominar also has an advantage with the 6-speed gearbox while the Classic makes do with a 5-speed unit. The Dominar being liquid-cooled has another positive up its sleeve while the Classic is air-cooled and less complicated.
The bassy exhaust note from the Dominar sounds nice while the Classic has the signature Royal Enfield thump
The clutch on the Classic is slightly heavy while the gear shifts aren't as smooth. The Dominar does duty with a slipper clutch giving it better shifts. Classic being slightly low on power returns better fuel efficiency at 29 km/l. The Dominar returns about 27 km/l and has a smaller tank which means the range on the Classic is slightly better. While the vibrations on the Classic 500 start from get-go, the Dominar does not vibrate that much as the vibrations kick-in only in the top end. The exhaust note is now bassy on the Bajaj but the Royal Enfield still has a better thump. Overall, the Dominar revs higher and rides faster while the Classic has a calmer side to it.
Riding Dynamics - The dynamics of both the motorcycles are very different as the Dominar uses a perimeter frame while the Classic comes with a single downtube type frame. The frame on the Royal Enfield is rigid but the Dominar weighs less and stays more flickable. The total weight difference is only 10 kgs but putting the Dominar around corners is an easier task, yet the Royal Enfield has better straight-line stability. Although the seat height is the same, the Royal Enfield has a lower set of handlebars making it more prone to wind blast. But the level of comfort on the Classic is much better than the Dominar. The riding triangle is also on the comfortable side. The suspension setup on the Dominar is slightly on the stiffer side as compared to the Classic but the USD and monoshock setup makes it more feedback rich.
The Dominar is sharp and flickable while the Classic is practical and comfortable
Both the bikes have disc brakes at the front as well as the rear. The Classic, however, here does not have ABS. Braking feedback from the Dominar is way better but it is not a switchable unit. While the Dominar gets 17-inch alloy wheels with MRF rubber, the Classic also gets MRF but the front wheel is a 19-incher while the rear is an 18-inch spoke wheel. Tyres on the Royal Enfield are also thinner but provide enough grip while the tyres on the Bajaj are wider but more suited to road riding. Dominar also has an advantage with a higher ground clearance than the Classic making it more suitable for Indian road conditions. However, the Royal Enfield Classic fares to be more comfortable and practical.
Verdict – The Bajaj Dominar 400 when compared to the Royal Enfield Classic 500 seems value for money. All the bikes that come in this category have lost the VFM tag but the Dominar stays pretty close. It now offers more power, has a fresh look and feels up to date. However, the Classic 500 has that retro charm and the ruggedness of a Royal Enfield. But as the pricing has shot up, the Classic with ABS costs close to Rs. 2.5 lakhs which is not far away from the 650 twins. The Bajaj Dominar 400 has been made more touring friendly and with all the enhancements that this facelift gets, our pick out of these two motorcycles would be the Dominar.