Test Ride Review – FB Mondial HPS 300
Who the heck is FB Mondial and what the heck is the HPS 300? Two questions that will pop up immediately in your curious mind if you haven’t read our interview last month when we caught up with Cesare Galli, CEO, FB Mondial and Ajinkya Firodia, MD, Motoroyale. Here’s a quick summary of who they are, what they’re up to in our country and what’s the big deal about the HPS 300.
FB Mondial is an Italian motorcycle manufacturer, in case you hadn’t guessed it already from its very Italian name. And like most people in the classic motorcycle business, the name has a past. A past that goes back to pre-WW II Italy. 1936 to be precise when the four brothers Giuseppe, Luigi, Carlo and Ettore Boselli established FB Mondial. From then till the 1960s the brand did reasonably well but was eventually closed down even though unlike other Italian motorcycle manufacturers the company was never faced with bankruptcy. In fact, it is the only Italian bike maker with that distinction, something we learned from our conversation with Cesare.
The brand was revived in 2014 and then brought to India by Ajinkya and his Motoroyale in October 2018. While FB Mondial offers five bikes to choose from around the world, in India this is its only offering – the HPS 300.
“They call it a hipster bike and while I don’t know if that’s the right word, I’d have to agree that it’s impossible to slot this motorcycle in some genre”
What’s the FB Mondial HPS 300?
Well, to be entirely honest, the FB Mondial HPS 300 is another interpretation of a classic motorcycle or neo-retro as they are beginning to be called. Of course, the Italian makers of this bike have a very different name for it. They call it a hipster bike and while I don’t know if that’s the right word, I’d have to agree that it’s impossible to slot this motorcycle in some genre. I mean, is the FB Mondial HPS 300 a café racer? Not really. Is it a scrambler? Nope. It’s not even a conventional classic looking naked motorcycle.
What the FB Mondial HPS 300 is however, is incredibly cool. It’s proportions are tiny and the styling is unlike anything I’ve seen before. Hell, it looks less like a mass manufactured bike and more like a garage build with as much appeal as a hot bod in a bikini. The details are absolutely lip smackingly delicious. Those scrambler-ish twin exhausts or the somewhat crouched down café racer like riding posture or the single pod digital clock, they all build up to a visual character that is outstanding.
Unfortunately, the fit and finish of stuff on the FB Mondial HPS 300 leaves a chunk to be desired. The quality of plastics isn’t too hot either. Neither are the ergonomics, truth be told. The bike’s just too tiny to be comfortable and the switchgear doesn’t fall to the fingers easily either. But all these you’ll be willing to put up with if it rides well, right?
From the saddle of the FB Mondial HPS 300
Even though the name suggests a bigger engine, the FB Mondial HPS 300 is actually powered by a 250 single. It’s a liquid cooled unit with DOHC and four valves. It makes a fairly healthy 22.5bhp at 9000rpm and 22Nm at 7000rpm, even though the bike has been detuned for India. Everywhere else it makes 24.8bhp. Blame that on our fuel quality. Transmission is a six-speed ’box. The frame is a tubular steel cradle, which is de rigueur as far as most modern classics are concerned. There are USDs up front and petal discs at the both wheels. Quite frankly, on paper, the FB Mondial HPS 300 won’t give you anything to complain about.
On the go, this motorcycle is extremely characterful. It sounds less like a classic and more like a modern single, which is what the engine really is. It’s also a peaky unit with all its output packed towards the top. So she’ll make you work. None of that low end and bottom end accessible grunt for you. So if you’re wringing the throttle harder than you normally do, you should have a decent amount of fun. Unfortunately, in the city this makes things difficult for you’ll find yourself constantly searching through the gearbox.
“Thankfully, the bike’s dry weight is a low 135kg, which means you don’t really need to hustle it into turns”
Saddle height is a low 785mm and the wheelbase is long at 1370mm. While FB Mondial hasn’t really given out details of the rake, it’s not difficult to see that the forks are raked out. What that equates to is a stable ride on the straight and not too easy dynamics. Thankfully, the bike’s dry weight is a low 135kg, which means you don’t really need to hustle it into turns. It’s all pretty involving but not really the stuff that’ll light your eyes unless you like things with a bit of character in them. The bad part is that while all of this feels very cool and you’ll certainly look cool doing all this, the bike doesn’t really have the poke to make this exciting. What you end up doing is a lot of work without the corresponding thrills because the speed that makes it all thrilling, isn’t really there unless you’re revving the nuts off the motor.
The FB Mondial HPS 300 as a purchase proposition
At Rs 3.37 lakh, ex-showroom, the FB Mondial HPS 300 isn’t exactly cheap. Just a bit more and you’re staring at the incredibly attractive Royal Enfield Twins. So even if the FB Mondial HPS 300 was a perfect machine it would be a hard sell for Motoroyale. The fact that the motorcycles aren’t perfect is only going to make their job harder. Except of course to those whose primary ask from their motorcycle is to look their coolest best.
Technical specifications of the FB Mondial HPS 300
|Price||Rs 3.37 lakh|
|Engine type||249cc, liquid-cooled single cylinder with DOHC & 4 valves|
|Max power||22.5bhp @ 9000rpm|
|Max torque||22Nm @ 7000rpm|
|L x W x H||2016 x 765 x 1060 mm|
|Ground clearance||155 mm|
|Saddle height||785 mm|
|Fuel tank capacity||9 litres|