In conversation with Markus Braunsperger
Sirish: Is the XPulse an all new motorcycle or is it based on the Impulse?
Markus: It’s just a concept bike. It’s our understanding of the amalgamation between the bike’s on and off road capabilities. The Impulse is still my favourite bike from Hero MotoCorp. It’s got very good capabilities on/off toad, has an excellent riding posture and so on. We also had a few learning Ds such as it’s talk saddle height which is not suited for most of the Indian riders. I have ridden the Impulse through Himalayas and it rode on for over 10 days without breaking down while my friends, who were riding Royal Enfields were facing issues. We also understood that adding a 21-inch wheel make the stability better both, on/off road so the engineering team was very clear. We want robustness and reliability.
S: What about the engine?
M: Its a 200cc engine, not used on any of of our production bikes so far. It’s actually based on the Achiever’s engine and is an improvement of the same unit. And the additional 65cc does not deliver lot of power but the torque, and the that’s the fun part. The fun is always in the way the torque is delivered. And this is what you want in this segment: Starting first at the traffic lights.
S: Are the motorsport riders involvement in the development of the bike?
M: They have been involved in assessing it. The assessment needs to be based on extreme conditions as well and so they have been involved. The company wants to move from commuters to something credible. So we take their feedback and ask if we are on the right track, all the time.
S: How important is motorsport for Hero?
M: Personally, it’s vital for us I believe. We want to grow in both national and international markets. We are doing great in a few segments but we want to be better everywhere else too. These opportunities will change our perception of a commuter brand. There is more riding than going from point A to point B, on low cost and reliability. That is easy for us. But getting people to say that we are an adventure brand would make people say, “Oh my god! Wow.” This is why I think motorsport is vital. It’s also our long term goal and hence we are trying to groom new talent. And as I have experienced India in the last year, is a off road country.
M: Riding around The Himalayas has been great and now I’m exploring Rajasthan. And these areas have vast areas to explore.
S: Is the XPulse as easy to ride as the Impulse?
M: Being easy to ride is all about weigh distribution and ergonomics. The min focus was to get the geometry right. Even if it is 2-5 kg heavier than earlier, it won’t matter if it’s been perfectly calibrated. And there’s also a mono shock now. Actually this bike needs to be like a Swiss knife.
S: Were you inspired by the Himalayan?
M: I would say, in terms of simplicity of design, yes. This bike needs to be indestructible. If it falls on one side, you should be able to continue. I think there’s still some improvement possible. We are making it for mass mobility and is possibly only in the 150cc plus premium segment.
S: The XPulse looks more matured, in terms of design than the Impulse. Your thoughts?
M: In India, enduro or off road bike are not well known. People who ask ask what this is have no knowledge about off road motorcycles. Tuning it Down will make the people think this has go anywhere capabilities, is easy to handle and is indestructible, and yet not outdated when it comes to design. We will have ABS in the future, we will upgrade the engine to meet emission norms and we already have LED lights on the bike, so yes.