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Hero Honda Karizma: Gone, but not forgotten

The Indo-Japanese collaboration’s flagship still remains the biggest bike Hero and Honda manufactured in India together


Gosh, I don’t remember it being so small! The years have of course rose tinted my spectacles but in my mind’s eye, the Karizma was always the big(ish) bike of its time, the one we all wanted but couldn’t afford. I guess it’s down to that half-fairing. Apart from the dustbin fairings done very obviously for aerodynamics, I never really understood the concept of a half fairing – you either have the motorcycle completely faired-in or have no fairing at all – but isn’t it a neat optical illusion tricking your mind into imagining the Karizma being far bigger?

“The Karizma was always the big(ish) bike of its time, the one we all wanted but couldn’t afford”

This particular example holds special significance for the Editor and me. Back when Adil was running Overdrive magazine, he conceptualised the first endurance records ever attempted in the country. Held at the High Speed Track of the VRDE in Ahmednagar, we set out to get our names in the Limca books for the maximum distance and highest average speed set over 24 hours. And the biggest Indian bike was the ideal choice for attempting the records. (No, we didn’t forget the Bullet and no, we didn’t use it for all the obvious reasons).

Adil and I kicked off the first of the two-hour stints – the bossman on this bike, me on the backup. The idea was Adil and his three teammates would go flat out, my team was ordered to stick to the inside line and not exceed 90kmph. If Adil’s bike blew, at least our bikes would still be on track for the records. I never got my name into the record books. The bikes ran like clockwork, so much so that my colleagues on the number 2 bike got fed up of being overtaken every 20 minutes and opened her up when the sun set.

“The bikes ran like clockwork, so much so that my colleagues on the number 2 bike got fed up of being overtaken every 20 minutes and opened her up when the sun set”

It got so crazy that a furious Adil flashed us slow-down pit boards. Riding this bike after all those years brings back memories of its stability when maxed out, the comfort (so much so that Adil did back-to-back stints in the night), the seat that’s long enough to enable a good crouch behind the little fairing (and get the top speed to creep up by 1 or 2kmph) and the smoothness of the motor.

For those 24 hours, the two Karizmas ran non-stop, only pitting every two hours for a fresh rider and more fuel. We
had Hero Honda’s best service guys from Pune with a truckload of spares for any eventuality but the bikes just ran and ran. And that was the thing about not just the Karizma but every Hero Honda – they just ran and ran and ran. The quality and reliability was second to none, as we proved.

“For those 24 hours, the two Karizmas ran non-stop, only pitting every two hours for a fresh rider and more fuel”

Those records were set fifteen years ago and still haven’t been broken. Not that there haven’t been faster bikes, in fact you won’t even need a 150cc bike to out-accelerate this Karizma, but I think Adil has yet to find a perfect accomplice to smash his original records. Maybe Hero or Honda’s new bikes for 2018 will give him fresh ideas?

Read our Yamaha R15 gone, but not forgotten blog here.


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