Over the past decade, motorcycling in India has become enthusiastic with performance motorcycles gaining more importance. On the global scale, two-wheeler manufacturers were exploring new avenues, trying to tempt millenials to get astride something exciting yet manageable. Hence, here are our picks of the top ten two-wheelers that changed our perception about what a motorcycle/scooter could do.
KTM 390 DukeThe KTM 200 Duke might have been the ignitor of the affordable manic performance motorcycle segment in India but it was the 390 Duke that changed our mindset about 300-400cc motorcycles. Not only was it blisteringly quick, it was also super affordable.
In 2017, it received an update that made it a more well-rounded motorcycle that brought in more focus and speed. The 390 Duke has been ruling the roost in this sub-400cc segment for the last seven years and we figure it will continue to do so in the next decade as well.
Aprilia SR 150Honda might claim that the Dio was India’s first moto-scooter but it was nothing more than an Activa with funkier clothes. Aprilia truly brought the European moto-scooter flavour to India with the SR 150.
It rid us of our common notions about scooters being practical and comfortable. But who cares about storage space and comfort when you could be chasing down your mates on 160cc motorcycles on weekend rides. Shame it heads into the next decade bearing a ridiculously high price tag of over Rs 1 lakh. So much for being the affordable Aprilia.
Harley-Davidson Street 750
The Street 750 is quite an important motorcycle for the American manufacturer. It was the first Harley to be made outside the US. And it continues to be the most affordable Harley that one can buy in India.
While the bike lacks the premium feel of its big-bore cousins, the 749cc Revolution X engine is Harley’s most energetic engine yet. The bike’s contributions to making Harley-Davidsons more accessible to the masses was evident as the Street 750 was consistently the highest selling big capacity motorcycle until the Enfield 650s turned up.
Ducati ScramblerThe intention behind the Ducati Scrambler was quite similar to the Harley Street 750 - to make the brand more accessible to the masses.
Powered by the engine from the old Monster 796, the Scrambler was a Ducati that anybody could get comfortable with. Especially in a market like India - the upright stance and high ground clearance were pleasing for the Indian rider. No wonder then that it has been Ducati’s highest selling product for years.
Kawasaki Ninja H2The Ninja ZX-10R’s supercharged twin is nothing short of a phenomenon. The Ninja H2 does not have astronomical output figures (as it has to be road legal, unlike its track-only twin -- the H2R).
But the spec sheet does not tell you the entire story of the bike’s capabilities. It is like a rocket on two-wheels. There is aural delight as well. \
The roar of the inline-four is accompanied by the typical whistling sound of the supercharger, giving you goosebumps every time you open up the taps.
Yamaha NikenYou might call us out on this that the Niken has more than two wheels. However, there is no denying the fact that it is a motorcycle that might change the way we ride in the future.
Derived from the manic MT-09, the Niken offers the same blend of a cross-plane inline-triple delight but with an extra layer of safety with the two front wheels.
Purists might think that the Niken has made motorcycling sissy-proof, removing that layer of caution that one has when riding a motorcycle, especially a big one. But we think it is a cool idea which is extremely beneficial for our Indian roads and would love to have a go on it.
The Ather 450 is the first proper indigenious electric scooter from India. While that in itself cannot be the reason for its inclusion in this list, the 450 changed the way we looked at electric two-wheelers. No longer was electric boring and slow. In fact, the 450 is so well-built that it puts several established two-wheeler manufacturers to shame.
Royal Enfield Interceptor 650
Royal Enfield literally dropped a bomb on the competition with its 650 Twins. Enfield’s first twin-cylinder motorcycle in years has been a revelation of sorts.
The creamy, buttery smooth, parallel-twin engine has a dual nature -- it can go as fast as the 390 Duke or can just cruise along at 110kmph without breaking a sweat.
Scooters and adventure, they do not really mix, do they? Well, somebody forgot to tell that to Honda as the Japanese manufacturer brought the X-ADV adventure scooter. Make no mistake, scooters have been raced in supercross events and rallies but adventure... that’s a whole new genre.
This Africa Twin of scooters has some proper adventure pedigree to it like sidewall-laced spoke rims, long travel suspension, dual-sport tyres, and traction control.
Who would have thought that of all the motorcycle manufacturers in the world, it would be Harley-Davidson who would be the first to go electric with the LiveWire.
The traditional, big-bore, V-twin was replaced with an equally large electric motor. It goes like the wind, putting down its torque without any wheel spin or front-end lift-off antics. The characteristic potato-potato is a sore miss but Harley has tweaked the motor to produce a unique tune of its own.