First Rides

2019 Bajaj Dominar UG test ride review

Bajaj’s biggest motorcycle gets an update and it is so much more than a cosmetic job and green paint. Here’s what it is like!

Images by Gaurav Thombre

The Dominar UG is, quite frankly, a facelift to the Dominar as we know it. The ‘UG’ suffix stands for ‘Upgrade’ and is an apt title for the motorcycle if you take in to account the work that has gone into it. The 2019 Bajaj Dominar gets tweaks to the engine to make it more powerful, updates to the chassis, a few cosmetic changes scattered all over the bike and a bright green paint job. It’s a much more comprehensive job than a simple cosmetic update, and it has results to show for it. Does the facelifted Bajaj Dominar pack enough punch to take on its rivals like the KTM 390 Duke, 250 Duke, BMW G310 R and the newly launched Honda CB300R? Here’s our first ride impression of the Dominar UG.

What’s new?

Plenty, but let’s start with the heart of things. The 373cc engine is the same as the older Dominar, but it gets a new cylinder head with DOHC instead of SOHC. This has bumped up the power by a good 5bhp to 39.5bhp. The chassis has been updated as well — new 43mm USD forks up front replace the traditional ones, and the monoshock has been tuned to be a bit softer.

There are a number of other changes if you look closely  — the primary instrument cluster has been updated, the secondary cluster is now an LCD unit with more information like the time, trip read out and gear-shift indicator. The headlamp is now slightly smaller, but houses the same lights and works the same and the rear lamps have new internals to keep things fresh.

“The new double barrel exhaust sounds rather throarty especially at speed”

What else?

There are a few other minor cosmetic changes here and there. Certain things lend a sense of robustness and premium-ness to the Dominar, like the mirror stalks that are now made from cast aluminium and the side stand is made of forged steel. They are sturdy and make the Dominar feel like a more well-finished product. A neat touch is the addition of four straps under the pillion seat to make it easier for a rider to mount some luggage on the bike. The new double barrel exhaust sounds rather throaty especially at speed, and though its aesthetics are debatable, it certainly sounds sweet when you’re on the go.

Is the Dominar UG Fun to ride?

Oh, yes! The updates to the engine are most welcome and transform the way the Dominar performs. It’s properly quick now, and though the updates have given it a 2kg weight penalty, the additional power more than makes up for it. The throttle response is crisp and it climbs up the rev range with much more intent now. The biggest improvement, apart from outright performance, has to be on the refinement front. The older Dominar was notorious for its vibes, but you can tell that they have been contained far better on the UG. They only creep in at the top of the rev range, something that you can avoid entirely with the strong mid-range performance the engine offers. The powerband has shifted slightly higher in the rev range, but the engine remains very tractable and you don’t have to constantly work the gearbox to get the best out of it. It cruises far more relaxed as well, and overtaking is easier with the additional performance. The updates really lend themselves well to the Dominar’s touring intentions, making it far aligned with its raison d’être.

“The older Dominar was notorious for its vibes, but you can tell that they have been contained far better on the UG”

We haven’t got a chance to test the Dominar UG on the V-box, but do have the figures claimed by Bajaj. Acceleration is better — 2.7 seconds to 60kmph (compared to 2.9 sec on the older bike), 7.1 seconds to 100kmph (compared to 7.8 sec) and a top speed of 156kmph (compared to 137kmph).

As for the handling, it remains an enthusiastic but neutral handler like before. It corners very predictably and remains stable — never twitchy, never trying to kill you. It can’t be called sharp, but it isn’t dull by any measure either as it remains composed from turn in, though the corner and the exit. The tweaked rear monoshock is definitely welcome, making bumps on the road less of a problem for your spine. It’s properly stable on the highway too, and the new engine works well with the chassis to cover ground confidently and fast.

“It’s properly useable in the city, and now better suited to its highway and touring intentions”

Can anything be improved?

The brakes didn’t inspire much confidence. The tweaks to the engine means you’re carrying a lot more speed most of the time, but the anchors don’t lend you enough confidence to do so. A sharper bite from the front end would have been far more welcome, and would have made the Dominar package truly complete. Another big grouse is the secondary display — it holds a lot of crucial information like the time, gear position and trip information but its so far out of the rider’s line of sight that it’s actually a hazard if you try to read it on the go. Parts of it aren’t even visible from a neutral riding position, and I found myself leaning back to read the time on occasion.

Verdict

The Dominar UG is what the Dominar should have been in the first place. It’s properly useable in the city, and now better suited to its highway and touring intentions. The additional performance makes it far more capable of coving long distances swiftly, and the tweaks to the chassis mean you can do so in more comfort. Oh, and a little green paint never hurt anybody. Bajaj has been mum about the pricing, but have said that it will be a fair premium over the current Dominar. We expect them to place it somewhere between Rs 1.8-19 lakh (ex-showroom), and that will still allow it to undercut the KTMs, TVS and BMWs. Worth the money at that price? Most certainly. The Dominar is a more complete motorcycle now and provides enough thrills, while being practical all the same.

Technical Specifications of the 2019 Bajaj Dominar UG

Engine: Liquid-cooled, 373cc, 4-valve, DOHC

Power: 39.4bhp @ 8650rpm

Torque: 35bhp @ 7000rpm

Gearbox: 6-speed, 1-down, 5-up

LxWxH: 2156x836x1112mm

Saddle height: 800mm

Kerb weight: 184kg

Fuel tank: 13 litres

Estimated price: Rs 1.8-1.9 lakh (ex-showroom)

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