Few things can compare with watching the open road ahead, a clear sky and the right hand clutching the throttle of your motorbike. The sense of freedom, joy of watching the world pass by is unparalleled and one that everyone must experience.
Over the last 15 years, the Indian automotive market has changed significantly thanks to better infrastructure, the buying capacity of consumers increasing and a wide-range of automobiles available in the market. India also offers excellent roads and gorgeous landscapes to traverse across be it the mountainous regions of Leh and Ladakh, the coastline that stretches from Goa to Kerala or the narrow roads all across the Nilgiris.
These picturesque roads need the perfect touring bike. So, which are the best touring bikes for your next ride across India? We list the five best touring bikes under Rs. 2 lakhs:
1. Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 (Rs 1,90,872 ex-showroom, Mumbai)
Touring on motorcycles in India is synonymous with one brand - Royal Enfield. The Royal Enfield Bullets were the best (and one of two or three) touring bikes available in the Indian market, but RE fans got another option to choose from when the Thunderbird was launched in 2002.
The latest version of the Thunderbird, launched earlier this year, is a significant upgrade on the previous versions. The 500cc bike gets fuel injection, a digital display, and a projector and LED headlights. The bike has ample torque to get power on tap while overtaking fellow motorists, a comfortable seat and riding position, and ample space to store your luggage.
The Thunderbird is, though, costlier than its competition, does not offer ABS as even an option - which is important when panic braking, and the engine isn’t as refined as the other bikes in its segment.
2. Bajaj Dominar 400 ABS (Rs 1,62,073 ex-showroom, Mumbai)
When Bajaj launched the Dominar last year, it was directly pitted against the Royal Enfield as their advertisements made no bones about it. And the Indian company delivered a bike that is significantly better, on paper, than the Enfields.
Derived from the KTM Duke 390, the Dominar’s 400cc, liquid-cooled engine produces 35 PS of power through a slick 6-speed gearbox which has ample power to chug hundreds of kilometres a day. The bike’s perimeter frame chassis offers confidence to the rider to lean into tight and twisty corners, while the front and rear brakes as well as ABS makes stopping a breeze. The LED headlamps offer great throw and illuminates the road brightly.
The one downside to the Dominar compared to its competition is its fuel tank which holds just 13 litres of fuel, which means that you will have to make more stops to refuel on your journey.
3. Mahindra Mojo XT300 (Rs 1,83,010 ex-showroom, Mumbai)
Mahindra are known widely for making rugged, go-anywhere, butch cars, but their premium motorbike is anything but that. The Mahindra Mojo XT300 is a unique looking motorbike that is meant to be kept on the road rather than off it like its car siblings.
The Mojo’s biggest plus point is its butter-smooth engine and gearbox which will make you want to be seated in the Mahindra’s comfortable seats all-day long! The Mahindra bike is the perfect tourer - relaxed riding position, refined engine and gearbox and a great suspension and tyre combination.
What goes against the Mojo is its power-to-price equation as it produces just 26 bhp and is costlier than the Dominar, does not offer ABS as even an option, while its service network isn’t as wide as its competition.
4. Royal Enfield Himalayan (Rs. 1,67,996 ex-showroom, Mumbai)
The launch of the Royal Enfield Himalayan was a new step in the Indian bike manufacturer’s history. The Himalayan is possibly RE’s first purpose-built off-roader, which uses a new 411cc engine. Developed in the UK and India, the bike’s single-cylinder engine produces just 24.5 bhp, but has 32 Nm of torque, which is what is required when off-roading.
The bike has front and rear disc brakes, on and off-road tyres which can do the duty on tarmac as well as gravel, a tall windscreen to keep the gravel, dirt or bugs off your face, and a digital speedo with a compass integrated in it. The Himalayan is a capable machine off the road and can do light to medium off-roading, but may not be the most comfortable place to sit on while on the road and doing hundreds of kilometres in a day as the bike tends to vibrate a little more than the competition. But if you’re looking for a bike that can go anywhere, there is no other bike like the Himalayan in its price range!
5. Honda CBR 250R ABS (Rs. 1,95,327 ex-showroom, Mumbai)
The Honda CBR 250R is the odd one in this pack. It may not be the fastest, cheapest or do many things (like the Himalayan), but it can do a few things very well. It has the tried-and-tested 249.6 cc engine producing 25.7 bhp, and is smooth, reliable and efficient. Unlike other sport bikes in this segment (KTM RC200, or the costlier TVS Apache RR 300), the 250R offers a comfortable riding position which is a perfect place to sit in for miles and miles.
The 6-speed gearbox is a breeze to operate and shifts smoothly, while the dual-channel ABS makes the bike stop on command. The bike has a digital speedometer, LED headlamps, and an angular windscreen to make the journey a comfortable and safe one. The CBR is priced on the higher side and may be older than the rest of the bikes in this list, but if you’re looking for a fully-faired, sporty motorbike that is comfortable for touring, this is the bike for you!