The hotly contested 150cc commuter motorcycle segment has welcomed a new entrant from the Bajaj stable which is sure to grab people’s attention with its looks and an acute marketing campaign.
Bajaj is a manufacturer who has a long history with playing with the strings of people’s hearts with their extensive marketing campaigns. Be it the ‘Hamara Bajaj’ of yesteryears or the Pulsar Stuntmania adverts of recent years, Bajaj has always shown a knack of capturing people’s minds and turning up the aspirational value of their products. Playing on the same cards, Bajaj has introduced a new commuter motorcycle which has a USP of being made of the same steel as that of the de-commissioned aircraft carrier INS Vikrant. But does the bike really live up to the legacy of its metal? We do a quick spec comparison and find out.
Design – The Bajaj V15 has a unique style of its own with distinct upright stance and many retro-modern elements. The catchy graphics and a pretentious emblem remind you that this is no ordinary commuter motorcycle. The Honda Shine on the other hand has a modern bikini fairing and attractive looking silver elements along with good looking graphics. Meanwhile the Honda Unicorn 150 has started to look old and dated in face of the latest competition and the pedestrian looks of the alloy wheels don’t help matters much either.
Dimensions – While the average commuter motorcycle customer does not care about the length and width of the bike, what he is concerned more about is the saddle height, ground clearance and wheelbase. The Bajaj V15 has the wheelbase of 1315 mm while the Honda Unicorn 150 is the longest at 1324 mm. The Shine at the same time is the shortest at 1266 mm. A longer wheelbase generally transforms into higher stability of the bike. Among the three, the Bajaj V15 has the shortest saddle height, making it one comfortable bike for shorter riders.
The Bajaj V15 has a commendable ground clearance of 165 mm whereas the Honda Shine SP has the lowest ground clearance of just 157 mm. The Honda Unicorn 150 on the other hand rides the highest at a substantial 179 mm of clearance.
Features – All the bikes get the usual set of gauges and meters with the standard array of odometer, trip-meters and fuel indicators. The readings from all the bikes are bright and legible. The only exception here is the old workhorse Honda Unicorn 150 which has an all analogue gauge cluster in these times. All bikes get the usual halogen lamps. All three of the bikes get telescopic front suspension system and only the Honda Unicorn 150 gets a monoshock rear suspension which is the most comfortable one here.
All three bikes get disc brakes in the front and drum brakes at the rear. All of the brakes are just adequate to stop the bike and there is nothing special as these are daily ridden commuter motorcycles built to a cost. But ABS will be available on 125cc bikes from next year.
Powertrain – The Honda CB Shine makes the least amount of power here as it has got a smaller 125cc engine producing 10.5 BHP. The Bajaj V15 and the Honda Unicorn 150 make more power at 12 BHP and 13.14 BHP respectively. But Bajaj says that the V15 has been tuned to produce more power at a lower engine RPM, making it more usable in the city. The Honda Shine SP is the only bike among the trio which gets the archaic 4-speed gearbox whereas the other two come with a proper 5-speed unit.
The lower displacement Honda Shine SP is the lightest at 124 kgs, whereas the Bajaj V15 and Honda Unicorn 150 tip the scales at 135.5 kgs and 146 kgs respectively.
Verdict – The Honda Shine SP is a good looking and reliable mode of transport for the masses which is slightly low on power but has a comfortable ride and no-fuss experience of a Honda ownership. The bigger Honda sibling, the Unicorn 150, on the other hand has a good and smooth engine with an extremely comfortable and modern monoshock rear suspension but old-school styling and a comparatively higher price makes it a bit of an afterthought. The latest kid on the block, the Bajaj V15 has turned out to be a surprise with spot on styling, efficient engine and a good seating position along with the beautiful legacy of INS Vikrant to go with it.