Retaining Karizma-tic charm

Retaining Karizma-tic charm

 Cosmetic changes in a popular motorcycle have been carefully executed for better riding quality.

In 2003, Hero MotoCorp in collaboration with Japanese auto major Honda took the Indian auto market in two-wheeler segment by storm with the Karizma. The bike served the speed pangs of the youth, who were little concerned about the fuel economy. 

The Karizma design was inspired by Honda’s old model VFR 800. The styling, features, and top of all, the performance — 17 bhp at 7000 rpm and 1.87 kgm of torque at 6000 rpm back then was quite enough to give the bike’s rivals a run for their money. The Karizma would become an obvious choice for speed freaks and long-distance bike riders for years after that. And In 2009, the bike underwent cosmetic changes. 

While others have been battling it out for supremacy in the above 200-cc segment, the makers of the Karizma took over a decade to upgrade its performance. 

Cut-throat competition

It seems very hard to digest, though. No doubt, Karizma is among Hero’s most accomplished bikes that survived with minimal upgrades through a decade amid cut-throat competition from domestic and international bike manufactures. 

Eventually, Hero seems to have woken up to the reality that bikes of 180-cc displacement can put out torque performances equal to old versions of Karizma. After 11 years, the makers have reassessed and revived the cult bike in the light of new requirements of the Gen Next bikers. 

Earlier this year, Hero showcased the refined version of Karizma R and ZMR at Auto Expo in Delhi with major cosmetic changes and enhanced performance. Both Karizma variants come with increased delivery of power compared to their earlier versions — Karizma with 19.2 bhp (up from 17 bhp) and ZMR with 20 bhp (up from 17.6 bhp).Does the renewed Karizma R measure up to the competition in its segment? Let's dissect the bike in both the cosmetic and performance departments.

As far as looks go, it has undergone a complete makeover, from head to extended tail lamp. The new version has got the lower clip-on handlebar that gives it a rather sporty riding look, accompanied by generous split seats, ensuring a comfortable ride for rider and passenger. 

The bike boasts of wider tubeless tyres, a first for the Karizma variant. And, they are brilliantly complemented by telescopic hydraulic suspensions that absorb most of the bumps well and ensure a smooth ride. 

Tested customers

A major cosmetic surgery the bike has received is in the headlight. Needless to say, the head-lamp of the old Karizma was crucial in providing “charm” to the bike. And, any modifications to head-lamps run the risk of turning off tried and tested customers. However, Karizma’s makers seem to have pulled it off well. The bike’s newly designed front with dual head light assembly provides a more muscular look to the bike and the work around the head-lamp comes to play in the dark. 

The entire bike-and-body alignment has simply become slicker. Surely, a lot of effort has gone into retaining the charm of the bike and at the same time keeping abreast of current trends. The instrument panel remains intact with addition of a side stand-indicator. 

However, even this time, the makers continue to be defiant in their decision to not add an engine kill switch on the handlebar. 

A new LED tail lamp has been added and works amazingly in favour of elevating the bike’s trendy looks. 

The makeover has not spared even the seat height which has been modified for optimal riding position, irrespective of the rider’s height. Overall, the makeover is aimed at recreating the Karizma rage of 2003 in 2014.  

Now, get down to the real business of performance. The bike’s engine remains the same air-cooled, 4-stroke single cylinder of 223 cc, but enhanced to provide better torque performance in comparison with its predecessors. The new engine produces maximum power of 14.32 Kw at 7500 rpm and 19.35 Nm at 6000 rpm. The bike touches 0-60 kmph in 3.7 seconds. 

The cosmetic changes have been carefully executed for better riding quality. The riding position is comfortable with the lower clip-on handlebar that facilitates navigation of corners with a lot more efficiency and rides down long stretches are definitely more relaxed. The new windshield also contributes to a good ride. The bike boasts of disc brakes in the front and drum brakes in the rear, which works good but the whole brake system of the bike would have been powerful had the makers provided disc brakes in the rear as well. 

Negotiating traffic

The Karizma’s main USP, then and now, is that it is a great ally on the highway. The purpose of this machine is best realised by riders during highway cruising. Rides in the city are also effortless. A sure head-turner. Negotiating traffic was never so fun. The company claims that the new bike is capable of giving 35 kmpl, which is quite impressive for a bike with 223-cc displacement. 

Drawing a comparison between the old Kraizma and new is inevitable. 

While hard core lovers of the Karizma may take time to come to terms with the makeover, they will definitely be blown away by its revived power and thrust.The renewed Karizma R comes with the ex-showroom price tag of Rs 81, 500 and ZMR Rs 102,800 in Bangalore. 

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