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Ever since the Karizma was discontinued, the fans had been expecting Hero to launch a proper entry-level performance motorcycle. The 249cc, liquid-cooled, HX250R concept showcased at the 2014 Auto Expo showed promise, but never saw the light of day. Last year, Hero launched the Xtreme 200R but despite the 199cc motor, it barely managed a stab at its segment. And now there’s a faired version of what could be a replacement to the Karizma. But is the Hero Xtreme 200S really worthy of stepping into the shoes of the legendary Karizma or is it just an Xtreme 200R with a fairing stuck on? To answer the question, Hero brought us back to the Buddh International Circuit, the venue of last year’s launch of the Xtreme 200R. So let’s find out.
Mostly, yes. It shares the 2-valve, air-cooled, SOHC motor with the Xtreme 200R making an identical 18bhp and 17.1Nm. The 37mm forks and the monoshock have been carried over as well. Even the swingarm is the same and so is the diamond frame. What is new, then, is the fairing and a Bluetooth-enabled LCD cluster (allows navigation and call alerts) and that’s about it. The sales pitch clearly suggests that it’s a performance commuter and thus Hero has neither added clip-ons nor have they tinkered with the foot peg position. What you are essentially spending the extra bucks on, then, is the fairing and the cluster. No changes equates to similar kerb weight as well, and at 149.5kg, the S is heavier than the R by a trifling 1.5kg.
Of course not. Aatish has been living with the Xtreme 200R for a while now. And he is extremely happy with its tractability as well as ride quality. And, for obvious reasons, the S isn’t quite different. A full-fledged Formula 1 test track is not the best place to road test a commuter. But Hero did let us loose on the track for just about three laps. We had compared all the nakeds with cubic capacities ranging between 200-250cc a while ago and the Xtreme R 200 was among the best out there when it comes to handling. The S too, like most of the other Hero badged motorcycles, is a great handler and is extremely predictable through corners.
The chassis is not a chatterbox but it isn’t expected to be, especially on a commuter. The engine disappoints on a racetrack for obvious reasons and left the tacho needle hitting the limiter in almost every corner. Hero has altered the final drive on the S for optimal top-end performance and that shows. The S could hit 105kmph in fourth, while the R simply refuses to go past 100. What is also impressive is the brake setup. The ABS is not very intrusive and the Xtreme 200S stops with no drama whatsoever.
The Xtreme 200S is essentially a R with a fairing. If you were looking for a Karizma replacement, I’d like to inform you that you’ll be left disappointed. But if you are looking for a good-looking faired motorcycle, of which there aren’t many especially in this budget range, then the S makes for a great option. But if you can live without the fairing, I see no point in shelling the extra 8,000 bucks. No other manufacturer offers a 200cc motorcycle at under Rs 1 lakh anyway.