Indian bikers were subjected to 100 cc bikes, until Hero Honda launched the CBZ in 1999. At that time, there was nothing in India which was as powerful on 2-wheels as the CBZ. This bike will go into history for starting the bike revolution in India, which was later (in 2001) taken over by Bajaj with the launch of the Pulsar twins. The Hero Honda CBZ was way ahead of other bikes at that time, but Bajaj Auto had already started work on the Pulsar before the launch of the CBZ. The Hero Honda CBZ is no more what it used to be, with the company changing both its own name and the name of the product. Known as the Hero MotoCorp Xtreme today, the CBZ which was launched more than a decade ago, no longer creates that attraction in its new avatar.
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What was so special about the CBZ then. It was the first 150cc motorcycle and had classic Honda CB styling. It was powered by a 156.8 cc, single-cylinder, air-cooled, SOHC engine which was fed by a Keihin slide type carburettor. The over-square engine complied with Euro 1 norms (there was no Bharat 1 norms, it only came with Bharat II). The Hero Honda CBZ was the first 4-stroke bike in India to feature a 5-speed gearbox. With a weight of 138 kgs, the CBZ would sprint to 60 km/hr in 5 seconds and hit a speedometer indicated 125 km/hr (true speed of 113 km/hr). Braking duties were taking care by a 240 mm Nissin front disc and 130 mm rear drum. The fuel tank would hold 12.5-litres of petrol, giving the CBZ a range of almost 600 kms. The CBZ features telescopic hydraulic forks at the front and swing arm with dual hydraulic damper and 5-step adjustment at the rear.
I remember the early days of the Hero Honda CBZ. I was returning in my school jeep (which was doing 80 km/hr) and two CBZ bikes zipped past the Jeep. This happened on Palm Beach Road in Navi Mumbai. With this speed and tagline which read Super Sprint, I immediately became a big fan of the CBZ and started searching for it on the roads all the time.
Till 2004, Hero Honda sold the CBZ unchanged and in that very year they launched the CBZ Star, which received new graphics and a change in the carburettor (from the sliding type carburettor to a conventional CV carburettor). The change in carburettor was done to increase the mileage of the bike, but led to the loss of the original CBZ’s USP – its fantastic pick up. Most of the parts of the CBZ were imported, which resulted in increase in the cost of the bike. The Pulsar 150 was at least 20% cheaper and sales of the CBZ started to decline. Hero Honda eventually discontinued the CBZ in September 2005. After two years, the CBZ Xtreme was launched, which was an entire new bike, with a new 149 cc engine. After that, the CBZ mania was over and the no longer did the CBZ command as much love and respect as the original model.