Words by Aninda Sardar
It had impressed us at standstill when Bajaj Auto granted us, Fast Bikes India, exclusive access to preview its Dominar 400. It looked meaty and ready to be ridden. Frankly, we were mildly disappointed that we could only look at it. But all that has been rectified today with us having ridden the bike all the way from the Bajaj plant in Akurdi to the Maharashtrian hill station of Panchgani, a good 120km. Naturally, we couldn’t wait to get you our first impressions of Bajaj’s latest offering.
Like we had mentioned in our exclusive preview, there are some minor changes between the original CS400 concept and the final product that we rode today, inverted forks to conventional telescopic forks included. But it’s all for a good cause, the cause being making the bike easier on your pocket. Every tidbit that could have lightened your pocket more than necessary has been removed, but without sacrificing on performance. Indeed, the only sacrifice has been in the weight department where the bike has gained some kilos. It tips the scales at over 180 kilos. You’re already thinking one hefty motorcycle, aren’t you? You couldn’t be more wrong than I was when I was told its weight. No, the bike doesn’t feel its weight at all, not when you’re on the move nor when you’re trying to manouevre the bike in the parking lot.
I’ll skip the bit about styling because enough and more has been said about the Dominar’s good looks, in our preview and otherwise. It must have surely caught people’s fancy if 2,500 bookings have already been clocked by the company! On to the riding bit then…
Sure the engine is borrowed from the KTM 390 Duke but it doesn’t feel anything like the Austrian cousin. The output has been tuned (not detuned, as bossman Adil had said in his preview) for a lower output – 35 PS and 35 Nm, but with the vast majority spread towards the bottom and the middle of the rev range. And that equates to easy ride-ability. You don’t find yourself working too hard to keep pace up. Cruising at 110-120 kmph is easily done. The only grouse are the fifth and sixth gears; the ratios seem to be shorter than they could have been, which means the Dominar is somewhat robbed of even longer legs than it has.
The perimeter frame however works brilliantly in conjunction with the stamped steel swing arm and the monoshock to lend excellent handling abilities to the Dominar. Not once did the bike step out of line on the climb up to Panchgani, inspiring the confidence to push a bit harder at each turn. Although, this wonderful handling does come at a cost, ride quality. Yes, you guessed it right. The Dominar has a firm ride that allows it to absorb patches and ruts decently but leaves you jarred when it passes through a pothole or over those concrete joints on flyovers.
The brakes are excellent, offering both bite and progression, and that ABS adds more peace of mind than the sight of cash in the wallet in this age of demonetization. On the whole, a great package in its own right. But that’s as far as the cake goes. The icing however has to be the price. At ₹ 1.5 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) for the ABS equipped bike (₹ 1.36 lakh for non-ABS), there is absolutely nothing that will fetch you as much value as the Dominar 400 will.
For the more detailed review of the Bajaj Dominar 400, stay tuned for the upcoming issue of Fast Bikes India