Text – Mohit Soni; Pictures – Viraj David; Hrishikesh Mandke
Shootout: Yamaha FZ V2 vs Suzuki Gixxer vs Honda CB Trigger vs TVS Apache 160
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 91,900/- (Yamaha FZ FI), Rs. 90,095/- (Honda CB Trigger CBS), Rs. 84,383/- (Suzuki Gixxer), Rs. 80,237/- (TVS Apache 160)
The entry level sporty motorcycle segment relentlessly keeps getting hotter day by day
There was a time when only three 150cc motorcycles were seen on the road and they were from domestic players themselves. In came the individual Japanese companies and some on their own started giving us commuter oriented motorcycles of the same category. Times changed dramatically and we got the fantastic Yamaha FZ-16 that changed the market sentiment completely. Six years down the line and we have something from Honda in its second avatar and from the segment creator itself. The FZ FI, CB Trigger and now finally the offering from Suzuki comes in which was also there in the commuter segment. The Gixxer is very promising on paper and when we rode it and wrote about it we were certainly very impressed and had to put it together with its rivals. So despite the Japanese rivals, we also have the TVS Apache RTR 160 in this shootout. The Bajaj Pulsar 150 has been omitted because it is highly dated and the new model is on its way. Coming back to the TVS, the Apache is the most powerful in its segment and offers more value to the customer than the others but does it still match the rivals it faces? Because sometimes value isn’t everything we need in this already competitive market, where everybody offers sensible value. We find out which is the best out there!
Motor Quest: The CB Trigger is the reworked version of the CB Dazzler which is the sporty version of the CB Unicorn which exists in the market since 2005. The FZ was launched in 2008 and now gets a brand new engine with fuel injection instead of a carburettor. The Apache RTR 160 was launched in 2007 and has been given two upgrades and the new one is heavily refreshed with 10% more aerodynamics and LED lights at the front. The Suzuki Gixxer is brand new for the entire world and has nothing to do with the GS150R.
Styling – To be very honest, all the motorcycles look strikingly well designed but they are short on height and length which does not help them grab attention on the roads as much as the new Apache does. It also falls in the same category of well styled motorcycles but short in terms of length and height but TVS makes up by adding a huge headlight mask at the front with angel eyes, massive aerodynamic bikini fairing, carbon hints, racing stripes and bright colour options. All these motorcycles look purposeful but the Gixxer looks fresh and well designed of the lot with the help of minimal panels everywhere except the massively creased tank, superbike inspired exhaust and well crafted rear design which looks great from any angle.
The FZ undoubtedly looks like the traditional FZ at first glance but the new headlight is not soothing to our eyes anymore while the rest including the exhaust, split seats and fuel tank remain attractive bits. The Gixxer adds a sporty quotient with an LED tail light and so does the Trigger and Apache but the FZ lacks it and it’s clearly not appreciated. The Gixxer and FZ have fat suspension, wheels and tyres to add more scent to their already impressive sporty credentials. The Trigger is the most contemporary of the lot with no sporty credentials but it is not a full fledged commuter either. The Honda is one of the firm’s best attempt in terms of styling a motorcycle for our market. The CB Trigger also has a good front-end design which is better than the rest of the Japanese rivals. The Trigger also has a good looking boxy rocket launcher *ahem* exhaust to boast off and the design certainly looks good to our eyes. However, the Gixxer is the most purposeful and good looking at the same time while the Apache 160 comes next which is followed by the FZ and Trigger, in that order.
Ergonomics – Let’s get some common facts cleared first. All these bikes have comfortable seats for the rider and pillion and cushioning is also right. When it comes to foot peg positioning, the Apache is downright cramped with a low seat height and high set rearset footpegs which feels like an Indian Ducati. Good news is small riders will feel right at home. The Trigger has the commuter setup with front set footpegs and is the roomiest of the lot. Next comes FZ with rearset footpegs just like the Gixxer but the Gixxer has slightly more room (lower pegs than the FZ) to move around, is comfortable and sporty at the same time and gains full 10/10 marks while the FZ gets 9/10. Mirrors on the Gixxer don’t suit big riders but everybody else has very good mirrors, which means that mirrors are not a problem for normal riders. Except the Trigger, every other bike gives you the big bike feel in which the FZ comes first then comes the Gixxer and Apache.
Instrument Cluster and Switchgear – Cluster of all the Japanese bikes here are fully digital with the usual tell-tale lights. The FZ lacks a clock and has single trip meter while the rest have two trip meters and a clock. The FZ and Trigger don’t have solitary turn indicators while the Gixxer and Apache do. The FZ has Eco mode and engine warning light but the Gixxer has both Power and Eco modes. The Suzuki has a RPM shift light and a welcome message which the other three don’t get.
None of them have acceleration recorder, service due indicator and battery indicator like the Apache which gets full marks from us because it also has an analogue tachometer. The Trigger is just out of the competition as of now because of that switchgear which makes you abuse like a local goon. Rest of the bikes have good quality switchgear with all the buttons. In terms of looks and features, the winners are Apache, Gixxer, Trigger and FZ respectively.
Performance – In terms of displacement, the Apache (160) is the king after which comes the Gixxer (155) and then comes the FZ and Trigger (149) with the same displacement. All these motorcycles here have smooth and refined engines. However, the one on the Apache and Trigger vibrate a bit the moment they reach the torque band post which they are pretty much smooth. The FZ and Gixxer have vibe free motors. When it comes to the sound, the Apache is the most sporty of the lot after which comes the insanely throaty Gixxer and then comes the roaring FZ and last but the least throaty sounding being the Honda powerplant. The Apache makes the most power at 15.50 PS after which comes the Gixxer at 14.8 PS, followed by the Trigger at 14 PS with the FZ V2 coming last with 13.1 PS, the Yamaha being the only fuel injected bike here. When it comes to torque, the Gixxer is the leader in the segment with 14 Nm of torque at 6000 RPM when compared to all the three competitors. The FZ and Trigger make 12.8 Nm and 12.5 Nm at 6000 RPM respectively. The Apache generates 13.1 Nm at a ridiculously low 4000 RPM.
Refined, powerful and economical engines on every bike in this test shows the engineering prowess of every manufacturer
When it comes to gearing, the Apache has the tallest gearing of the lot when compared to the Japanese rivals except the CB Trigger. The Apache revs up to almost 11,000 RPM while the Japanese are strictly limited to 10,000 RPM. This one single fact does not describe the gearing difference by the way. The main question is, how do they behave and what character they possess. The Apache has the best power band of the lot with good low-end torque, punchy mid-range and the highest top speed with a good top-end cruising ability too. The Honda engine makes good mid and top-end power but low-end power is only adequate. The Gixxer and FZ have good low and mid-end torque but the FZ lacks the top-end thrust which the Gixxer delivers like the Apache and the Trigger. The Apache does the fastest 0 to 60 km/hr run followed by the Gixxer and then comes the FZ, which as we know triumphs over the Trigger any day but by a small margin. Fuel efficiency wise the city mileage of the Trigger is 50 km/l while the Gixxer and FZ deliver around 48-50 km/l and the Apache 160 returns 46 km/l.
Riding Dynamics – Yamaha, the word is enough to know who wins this department. However it is fighting some serious rivals this time and it is the Gixxer from Suzuki which is here to give it a very tough fight. The Honda does handle well but the commuter riding position with front set footpegs robs it away of sporty credentials that the other bikes offer. To the Trigger’s benefit, it is the easiest way to ride fast on city, highway or twisty roads thanks to forgiving chassis and decent set of tyres in terms of size and compound. The Apache is one of the sportiest motorcycles in its class with the rear twinshock setup but riding them back to back on twisty roads made us realise the flick-ability, composure and stability which the Japanese offer, the Apache clearly lacks. Sure it corners well due to dedicated riding and footpeg position but when you start pushing, the irritating stock tyres completely spoil the mood. Braking is top class on these bikes with good initial bite but the best feel we witnessed was on the Apache, followed by the Gixxer, FZ and Trigger. The Honda is the only bike with class leading CBS braking.
So it narrows down to the Gixxer and FZ. The Gixxer is really good around corners, tyres are great and offer good level of grip with the radial soft compound rubber making the riding experience a lot of fun. The FZ also has a similar setup in terms of suspension and has the same tyres when it comes to compound and size but the slightly dedicated riding position over the Gixxer and ultra wide handle give it a lot of leverage in mid corner and turn-in is much better too. Stability and ride quality on both bikes is excellent and the wee bit of trouble the old FZ had, is gone in the V2 model. What the Gixxer loses at, translates into practicality. Two key aspects where the Gixxer scores high over the FZ is the u-turn radius which is monumentally high on the FZ when compared to the Suzuki and thus the riding position is much more comfortable on the Gixxer thanks to slightly lower mounted pegs than the Yamaha and despite all this, both are capable of giving you the big bike riding position and feel. Overall, the FZ wins this round and keeps its crown but the Gixxer is standing on its toes but can’t quite reach the crown and that is the edge Yamaha has.
Verdict – Things start to change quite loudly now. Let’s start with value. The Trigger comes the cheapest of the lot with the drum variant and the Apache offers more value than the DLX Trigger while offering more power and essentials including a rear disc as standard which Honda offers after charging you Rs. 2000/- more than the TVS. The Gixxer is more expensive than the Trigger but when compared to the FZ FI, it is almost Rs. 8000/- cheaper, that’s a lot of money saved while also getting better performance and more goodies than the FZ. If you can guess by now, the Gixxer is more value (after the Apache) but since the RTR is quite dated mechanically and odd ball in this comparison, the Suzuki wins this shootout but not easily as the Japanese company has worked quite hard to achieve the perfect balance of everything.
Suzuki seems to have worked really hard to achieve this immaculate balance between price, performance, value and epic engineering. The Gixxer tops the charts here but any of the above bikes are not behind as they are just a stone throw away in terms of competitiveness because they were recently refreshed. As you can imagine by now, you can’t go wrong with any of these motorcycles and you need to choose your preference and decide what deserves your beloved garage.
Further Reading –
Suzuki Gixxer Review
Suzuki Gixxer Long Term Review
Yamaha FZ V2 Review
Honda CB Trigger Review
Honda CB Trigger vs Yamaha FZ
Suzuki Gixxer vs Honda CB Unicorn 160 vs Yamaha FZ
Honda CB Unicorn 160 vs Suzuki Gixxer vs Yamaha FZ – Video
Riders: Hrishikesh Mandke, Omkar Jadhav, Saurabh Sutar, Aniket Singam.