Shootout – Karizma ZMR vs Yamaha Fazer
Few years back if you wanted to go touring, you had very few options. Either you would opt for a Hero Honda Karizma or the Royal Enfield Bullet. However with the launch of more players in the market, biking enthusiasts have more options than before. The Yamaha Fazer was launched and was positioned as a touring machine, whereas the Karizma ZMR was an upgrade to the Karizma R with features to better position the bike as a tourers machine. But in reality, which is the bike to choose if you hop from one state to another? We find out in an head on battle between the two motorcycles.
Looks – Both the bikes looks extremely good in person. The Karizma ZMR with its full fairing looks like a sports bike, whereas the Yamaha Fazer with its twin headlamps looks more expensive than it is. However looks can be subjective and when it comes to both these bikes they indeed are. The ZMR is not a looker in pictures but when seen on the road, it looks the part. However most people find the rear slightly thin and the fairing a bit bulky, we don’t and after some time the looks of the ZMR grows over you. The Fazer’s looks don’t need to grow on you as it looks the part since day 1. Almost 70% would say the Fazer looks better than the ZMR, which again is a personal opinion. We like both equally.
Instrumentation – The instrumentation of the Fazer is quite basic. It features a single trip meter and the overall instrumentation is quite small and lacking essential features for touring. The case with the ZMR is completely opposite with the bike scoring high on instrumentation. The Karizma ZMR features one of the best instrument clusters on any Indian bike till date, which has two trip meters (comes handy during touring). It also shows you the real time mileage (which is far from accurate) and the time (another touring essential). The ZMR display also welcomes/bids goodbye you personally on every start/stop with your name but that novelty wears off after a few start ups and you are never bothered about checking the welcome or good bye message.
Ride, Handling & Braking – The Karizma ZMR boasts of GRS suspension which would make most believe that the ZMR is the one which will hardly give you any jerks on long riders. Yes, the ZMR indeed protects you from bad roads but the Fazer rides slightly better and feels more planted on even the bumpiest of roads. The handling of the Fazer is on par with the ZMR and the 140 section rear tyres help the rider to throw the Fazer in any corner, knowing that the Fazer would hold through. The Fazer inspires confidence in the rider, something which the ZMR doesn’t manage to do. On the ZMR, the puny MRFs don’t make you feel planted to the road. When it comes to braking, its the ZMR which boasts of one of the biggest disc brakes at both the front and rear and that makes the ZMR the better bike when you have to step on the brakes. However the MRFs on the ZMR again play the role of a villain by locking up on hard braking and spoiling the overall capability of the fantastic brakes. Our test bike was shod with Michelin M45 (a must upgrade for ZMR owners) and improves the handling and braking by a long shot. However the discs of the ZMR are famous for gathering dust in them which makes irritating noises during braking. The Fazer on the other hand makes no such noise and even though it lacks a disc at the rear, its brakes are almost as good as the Karizma ZMR.
Tyres – Both the bikes feature MRF rubber. While the tyres on both the bikes do a decent job, the tyres on the Karizma tend to loose grip at times. Whereas on the Fazer, the rear MRF is prone to puncture and the test bike was upgraded to Pirelli tyres, because we were tired of 3 punctures in a span of two days. Even the MRF dealer we visited told us that problems with the Fazer’s rear tyre is aplenty and must owners opt for Pirelli (no Michelin in this size).
Features – Comparing the features of both the bikes can be a little unfair considering the ZMR costs almost Rs. 26,000/- more than the Yamaha. However when it comes to touring, some features are essential, which the ZMR has. For starters the ZMRs headlight throw is better than the Fazer’s. No, the ZMR’s headlight illumination is not great but just better than the Fazer, which has only one of the twin headlight bulbs illuminated all the time. If you want the Fazer to use both the headlights, you will have to upgrade to a bigger battery (costs Rs. 4000/-). The other features in the ZMR, which the Fazer lacks include LED tail lights (helpful to let others know about your existence on deserted highways) and chain cover. The Fazer’s side stand is useless and you have to put the bike on the main stand to avoid the risk of the bike falling.
Touring – The ZMR clear outshines the Fazer thanks to its full fairing and PGM-Fi engine. When you ride for long hours, the engine is bound to heat up, but its the Fazer which makes you feel the heat due to lack of a full fairing. In the Karizma ZMR, you never feel the heat of the engine on your legs. More crucially, the ZMR becomes the bike to tour on thanks to its fuel injected Honda motor, which given any weather condition will always start in one crank. In the Fazer though, the bike has a mind of its own when the temperature drops and you have to use clutch and hope for the best for the 150cc motor of the Fazer to come to life. If you take the Fazer to the Himalayas, it can be quite a pain to keep the Fazer going after a halt. The Karizma ZMR though has its computers adjusting the fuel pump according to the weather, where you would be manually doing so on the Fazer by tuning the carburetor. Ergonomics on both the bikes are very good for touring purposes but the Fazer feels slightly more comfortable owing to a better and softer seat. The Karizma has a bigger tank which will make you stop less for fuel, although the Fazer gives a slighly higher mileage (45kmpl vs 40kmpl). The ZMR is even better for touring with a pillion owing to a larger rear seat and more comfortable foot rests.
Service – Remember the TV commercial – Where ever you go, you will find a Maruti service center? Well its quite the same for Hero Honda, which has a pan India reach even in the remotest village. So if you go to Ladakh, you need not worry if you need service as the Hero Honda service station would be some where around. Yamaha though does not have many service centers but which ever they have don’t know how to service the bike properly. When we got the first servicing done of the Fazer, we came back after 10 hours only to find that work on our test bike had not started. After a few requests, our Fazer was given to us but wouldn’t start. The cleaning guys had put water inside the seat due to which water went inside the carb. Now that shows pure unprofessionalism on the part of Yamaha and the dealer was a company dealership, not a franchise. The Yamaha also costed us 3 times more to service compared to the Hero Honda. The use of semi-synthetic engine by Yamaha is the reason for the higher service costs.
Performance – Both the machines have very different engine configuration but none of them feel underpowered in the city. The Fazer’s engine is suited for city riding and the bike feels flawless in the city with ample amount of torque. The ZMR feels over powered in the city with the slightly protruding fairing not inducing much confidence in the rider to zip around town. However once you hit the highways, the Fazer starts to run out of breath after 80kmph. It can very well cruise around at that speed. The ZMR on the other hand has a very crisp throttle response and any speed, any gear it will gather speed with such urgency that you seldom feel your touring. The Karizma ZMR can easily cruise all day at 100kmph speeds with occasional bursts of 120kmph. The bike feels ideal to cruise on our highways with ample power and a relaxed engine at high speeds. You never feel out of power on the ZMR till you reach 120kmph, after which you have to crouch like a tiger to reach the bikes top speed of 130kmph.
Conclusion – The ZMR is a more expensive bike but almost out does the Fazer in every aspect needed for touring. It has not been received well by many due to its questionable looks but the Karizma ZMR is worth each and every penny over the Fazer. It offers you more for what you pay and the fantastic Honda engine never feels stressed even at three digit speeds. Its not only touring but even for normal day to day riding, the Karizma ZMR gets our vote. While we type this, they are a few ZMR owners who have been exploring the beauty of Leh on their bikes and now we don’t doubt why the Karizma is such a favourite for cross country rides.