Text – Mohit Soni; Pictures – Om Vaikul
2014 Hero Splendor iSmart Review
Bike Tested: 2014 Hero Splendor iSmart
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 60,745/
The Splendor iSmart is equipped with a fuel saving technology that was luxury until now.
As we all know Hero MotoCorp is getting really aggressive post its break-up with Honda. October 2013 was the time when Hero said they were going to launch fifteen new products into the market in the year 2014 and six of them are performance oriented. As we all know, the new Karizma, HX250R and Xtreme are on their way. Hero has decided to start its launches with the segment they are strongest, the commuter segment. Loads of Splendor and Passion models are on their way but the first one to come is the Splendor iSmart. A motorcycle equipped with a start-stop system, which is a first for a production bike in the world. We were the first to ride the Hero Splendor iSmart and gave you a brief impression of how the system works. We at MotorBeam consider reviewing the Hero Splendor as a privilege because it is rare that the brand “Splendor” gets re-launched in today’s time.
Motor Quest: The Hero Splendor is a motorcycle which was launched in 1994. It has been in the market for 20 years, achieving phenomenal success. The motorcycle has been considered a comfortable and fuel efficient motorcycle over the years, living up to expectations.
Styling – The Splendor was the contemporary looking motorcycle as always but the iSmart here looks flashy with the help of swoopy, edgy side panels and a dominating front headlight cowl. The split grab rails are a segment first and so is the extremely flashy dual-tone paint job. The new addition to the motorcycle are rim stickers on the wheels which are usually found on bikes of a higher segment. The design looks good overall but it is the exhaust design which is extremely dated and the shiny gloss black heat shield does not manage to uplift the image either.
Instrument Cluster and Switch Gear – A complete analog instrument cluster inspired from the NXG variant makes its way to the Splendor iSmart. However the difference is that it has side stand warning and i3S lights which glow on start up. The faux carbon fibre finish below the key slot and vents on top of the cluster make the cockpit look snazzy compared to any other bike in the stable. The usual tell-tale lights such as high beam and fuel gauge are here. The solitary indicators are not expected on a bike which costs significantly more than usual. What it has is the analog trip meter which is quite a neat feature for mileage conscious people out there. Switchgear is top notch and so are the palm grips which are quite unique (deserve a special mention) and are extremely comfortable for your palms.
Ergonomics – The seating position of the Splendor iSmart is upright and the foot pegs are front set. The narrow yet wide handlebar gives the rider confidence for easy manoeuvring in tight spots. The rear view mirrors give an excellent view of what is behind. The seat cushioning is excellent and is wide and long too, offering comfort to the pillion and the rider for long journeys.
Performance – Powering the Splendor iSmart is the famous 97.2cc engine. The under-square mill produces 7.8 BHP of power at 7500 RPM and 8.04 Nm of torque at 4500 RPM. The engine is smooth and refined but being a Honda motor, the minuscule vibrations start as soon as the torque band begins which is roughly between 3000 to 5000 RPM. No vibrations when you reach the redline though. The mill has very good low and mid-end punch and pulls strongly with power trailing off after maxing out at 95 km/hr. The gearing is on the taller side and gives linear/stress free driveability in the city. The gearbox is a 4-speed unit and is smooth and precise. We expected a 5-speed gearbox on a motorcycle which concentrates so heavily on high km/l numbers.
Start the engine and the motor will idle for 30 seconds and then turn off even if it’s not in neutral (if the rider has depressed the clutch for 30 seconds), the Hero Splendor iSmart has been programmed to do so. If you keep the start-stop switch ‘on’ then the i3S (Idle Stop-Start) system works. You have the liberty to keep this system on or off like any other start-stop system. The system comes into action when you are riding. Come to a stop and put your bike into neutral and after 5 seconds the engine shuts off. If you change the gear to neutral while the bike is in motion, it will still stop. So it is sure that it’s not based on speed but the gear positioning which determines this action.
However, later on, you do not need to thumb start the conventional way. Just depress the clutch and the starter motor brings the engine back to life. As you might have understood, it’s the idling that stops and so does the engine. However, it stops in middle of the cycle and does not stop where the cycle usually finishes. The cycle where the piston/crank stops is pre-determined too. To maintain reliability, this is also a step that has been taken. Overall, all of this is done to bring the engine back to life in a easier way and to get a flawless restart. The end result is the iSmart returns an increase in mileage by 2-3 km/l compared to the standard Splendor.
Dynamics – Armed with a tough double-cradle frame and stiff suspension on both ends, the Splendor iSmart rides and handles well. The right balance of handling and manoeuvrability has been achieved which has always been the case with commuter motorcycles. The short wheelbase and compact dimensions aid in quick change of direction while also offering excellent ride quality. The Splendor iSmart feels very planted at high speeds and takes sweepers with confidence. Braking is not so good at the front with the lack of a disc brake. Rear brakes are more prominently used in these bikes and they perform very well. Tyres are good and they give good confidence while riding enthusiastically.
Verdict – The Splendor is a proven product and it is because of this strong brand image that Hero enjoys, it has become very hard for competition to break into this segment. The Splendor iSmart has an edge over its competition in almost every aspect. Sure there was the technology issue which is sorted by a world’s first start-stop system integrated into this motorcycle. However, it still lacks the punch offered by new 100cc bikes which are entering the market with a better performance and fuel efficiency combination. The fuel efficiency is excellent in the iSmart but while competition offers more power with same mileage figures, the new age commuter will definitely prefer the latter. However if you prefer reliability over anything else and just want to treat your motorcycle as a work horse, there isn’t a substitute in the market which can match the world’s top selling motorcycle, yet.
If reliability and fuel efficiency are your primary concerns and this motorcycle fits in your budget, just go ahead and get the Splendor iSmart because there is no substitute to Hero MotoCorp’s wide dealership network and fuss free ownership experience.
* Refreshed look
* Value for money
* Bomb proof reliability
What’s Not So Cool
* No disc brake
Hero Splendor iSmart Specifications
* Engine: 97.2cc, SOHC, 2-valve, 4-stroke, air-cooled
* Power: 7.8 BHP @ 7500 RPM
* Torque: 8.04 Nm @ 4500 RPM
* Transmission: 4-speed manual
* Top Speed: 95 km/hr
* Fuel Consumption: 60 km/l (City), 65 km/l (Highway)
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Frame Type: Semi-double cradle
* Suspension: Telescopic forks (Front), Hydraulic dual sided (Rear)
* Tyres: 2.75/18 (Front), 3.00/18 (Rear)
* Brakes: 130 mm drum (Front), 110 mm drum (Rear)
Hero Splendor iSmart Dimensions
* Length x Width x Height: 1965 mm x 770 mm x 1095 mm
* Wheelbase: 1235 mm
* Ground Clearance: 160 mm
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 8.7-litres
* Kerb weight: 110 kgs