Hero Karizma XMR 210 first ride review: Worthy of the Karizma name?
The Hero Karizma (Hero-Honda Karizma back when it launched, back in 2003) was the first premium made-in-India sport bike that was available to the Indian public and what a departure it was in terms of design than everything we knew back then. It had a fairing, a wide handle bar and a (big for the time) 223cc engine that blew straight past the Pulsar 180 and go on to sit at the top of the food chain when it came to enthusiast bikes in India. The bike’s popularity just began to skyrocket and before you know it, it achieved cult status. But after that, as the years went by, the newer Karizmas just didn’t have the steam to keep up with the more advanced and refined options that were available in India. Motorcycles like the KTM Dukes, the Yamaha R15s and so on. But now, there’s a new one in town — the Hero Karizma XMR 210. Launched nearly 20 years after the arrival of the original Karizma, this XMR 210 gets a bunch of new features and first for Hero. But the real question is whether or not it is a true blue Karizma.
Hero Karizma XMR 210 design
Design was one of the major attributes to the Karizma’s success. Apart from how it performed, it was the fact that it looked unlike anything else in the market that made it such a popular bike. To that end, Hero has done a good job with the Karizma XMR 210. The company had given it a really sharp and chiselled look and one that lends it a properly modern stance. The headlight has a distinctive look with a stylish LED DRL and projector lamps. All the lighting on the bike are LEDs. Above the headlight, you have a windscreen and what’s interesting is that it is height adjustable. That’s the first time we’re seeing a feature like that this side of ₹5 lakhs. The adjustment mechanism is interesting though. It’s a button on the right side under the handlebar, so adjusting this on the fly is out of the question.
Then there’s the clip-on handlebars which are wide and tall. Behind that, there’s a now larger 11-litre fuel tank and a split seat setup behind it. The seats are just the right amount of firm and plush and should make for a good place for your bum even on longer journeys. The rear end continues the sharp design with a well designed tail light. The fairing uses an ‘aerodynamic’ design as Hero calls it and is filled with cuts and creases but doesn’t feel over done. Elements like the distinct headlight will help people identify this as a Karizma. But the overall silhouette of the bike reminds me quite a bit of the Suzuki Gixxer SF 250. The bike is available in three colours — black, red and of course, the iconic yellow colour.
Overall the bike looks great and has a good stance but one thing I must point out is that the build quality is not the best. In recent times Hero has really upped their game on the build quality front, especially with the Xtreme 160 R 4V, which was very nicely built. But the same can’t be said for the Karizma XMR 210 with plastics not feeling as nice as they should. We can only hope that the build quality improves when customers start getting deliveries of their XMRs.
Hero Karizma XMR 210 engine and performance
On the engine front, Hero has taken big strides and done a bunch of firsts for the company with this bike. The Karizma XMR 210 is powered by a 210cc single-cylinder engine which is liquid-cooled, gets DOHC and has four valves. Not only that, it is also the first Hero to get six gears and a slip and assist clutch. This setup allows Hero to extract 25bhp at 9250rpm and 20.4Nm of torque at 7250rpm. This engine feels unlike anything that you’ve experienced from Hero. It feels like a performance-oriented motorcycle with go to match the show. One of the key highlights of this engine for me was refinement. It stays rather buzz-free for the most part and only when you really wring the throttle and sit at high-revs for a long time do you feel a prominent buzz on the seat and pegs.
In terms of performance the bike feels peppy and adds digits to the speedometer rapidly. Like most performance bikes this too is a rev-happy motorcycle and it is only once you cross the 5500-6000rpm mark that you get properly quick acceleration. In the short time that we rode it for I managed to clock a speedo indicated 125kmph in fifth gear with more than enough acceleration left on tap to maybe add another 20kmph to the speedo. As you would expect, with a peaky engine like this, you won’t get long-stroke engine levels of tractability but at the same time it is still fairly torquey under 5500rpm. You can be as low as 40kmph in the fifth cog and get a smooth roll on, only that the acceleration won’t be as rapid. Although, having to shift gears won’t be a hassle at all owing to a slick gearbox and a light clutch pull.
Hero Karizma XMR 210 chassis, ride and handling
In yet another first for Hero, the Karizma XMR 210 makes use of a split steel trellis frame that is suspended on a 37mm diameter telescopic fork setup and a six-step preload adjustable monoshock at the rear. This setup lends the bike a very planted feel. The chassis feels stiff and my initial impressions suggest that it is a very capable corner carver. I didn’t get to tackle too many corners but in the few that I managed to come across, the XMR 210 felt planted and reassuring. It turns in quickly and holds the line well. The ergonomic setup is also sportier than before with clip-on handlebars that are wide and tall and footpegs that are more rearset. That being said, the riding position while sportier and more aggressive than before isn’t coming at the cost of comfort and should be good for long distance riding as well. The Karizma is a sport-tourer after all and Hero can’t afford to mess with the ‘do-it-all’ formula. At 810mm, the seat height might sound intimidating for shorter riders but in reality it feels very manageable and riders of most sizes shouldn’t find it hard to get comfortable on the bike. Even larger riders have enough space to move around and shouldn’t feel cramped on the XMR 210.
The ride on the XMR 210 is what impressed me the most. It was plush and went over most bumps and undulations in a very pliant manner not unsettling me once. It was only the real sharp bumps and rumble strips that made their annoying presence felt every now and then. For the overall feel that the chassis setup provides, I’m hardly complaining. While the current setup is great, it would have been nice to see USD forks make their way to this bike. Especially considering that even the Xtreme 160R 4V gets them. Braking comes courtesy of a 300mm disc at the front and a 230mm disc at the rear, both fitted with ByBre callipers and dual-channel ABS. As I’ve said with some Hero bikes in the past, the braking setup offers enough braking performance but lacks the initial bite that I would’ve liked. Especially for a bike of this segment. The dual-channel ABS is well calibrated and doesn't seem too intrusive.
Hero Karizma XMR 210 features
The XMR 210 gets a digital instrument cluster that shows all the relevant information you’d need. Information like your trip metre, fuel consumption, distance to empty, fuel economy are available at the press of a button. This cluster is also Bluetooth-enabled and allows you to pair your phone to get call and text notifications and turn-by-turn navigation. Other features include an adjustable visor and Class D LED illumination.
Hero Karizma XMR 210 verdict
The Karizma XMR 210 launched at a ₹1.73 lakh ex-showroom introductory price after which it will cost ₹1.83 lakh. At this price Hero has undercut our expectations for what the Karizma XMR 210 would be priced at by a fair margin. It genuinely seems like a good VFM proposition. But is it worthy of the Karizma name? Answering that is not as simple as a straightforward yes or no. Don’t get me wrong, I am not discrediting the original Karizma’s capability or performance. It was a great bike which is why it got the success that it did, deservedly so. But back when it launched in 2003, there was really no competition for it in terms of a bike that offered the same kind of performance - and there wasn't one for a while. The same does not hold true for the XMR 210 today. The market is filled with multiple competent offerings which provide a range of performance and features catering to different styles of riders. The XMR 210 finds itself in one of the most competitive segments, where the buyer is price conscious and wants every last penny's worth. To that end, the Karizma does offer everything that Karizma stands for and is quite a capable, well kitted out machine, one that is definitely worth the asking price. In terms of rivals because of how it is priced and the performance it has on tap, it goes up against bikes like the Yamaha R15 V4, Suzuki’s Gixxer SF 250, the KTM RC 200 and even the Bajaj Pulsar F250. The Karizma XMR 210 does a bit of everything and strikes a balance between all in terms of the kit it has on offer. But whether or not it becomes the default choice like its predecessor is something that remains to be seen. Time for a mega comparo then!