I will be honest with this one! Hero MotoCorp motorcycles haven’t impressed me. Well, apart from the first-gen CBZ and the Impulse, nothing else in the portfolio stands out. I have had the ZMR long term vehicle and it left me with tingly fingers. Things were falling apart from the motorcycle. No wonder, Hero pulled the plug on it soon. In the 2016 Auto Expo, the new Hero Xtreme 200R was unveiled right in front of my eyes. It looked more or less like the refreshed Xtreme that Hero had on sale then. To top it, Hero announced that the bike goes on sale in two years. Wow! Now it is finally here and I got a chance to spend 3-4 days with it. Here is what I think will be the likeable bits and not-so likeable parts of the 2018 Hero Xtreme 200R.
Hero Xtreme 200R styling
Personally, I feel Hero has played it safe. How many Hero Xtremes have you seen on the road? Apart from the 2007-08 editions, I haven’t seen much myself. The new design has not been so widely accepted. At least in Maharashtra. However, when you glance at the Hero Xtreme 200R, you feel that this one has a much better visual appeal. The LED eyebrow lights are visible in the sun and look good too. The headlight (yellow light bulb) as well as the parts surrounding it are new. Hero is using MRF range of tyres for the Xtreme 200. These work really well and grip levels are generally high too.
The tank, shrouds as well as the graphics are all-new. So is the seat with a small backrest for the rider. The pillion unit is decently comfortable though there ins’t much room to move around. This could be a bit of a bother on long rides. As is the case with new Hero motorcycles, all the cycle parts are done in black too. The tail section of the Xtreme 200R looks exactly like the one in the smaller Xtreme 150 or 160. While many of us journos may think it is a design fail, I beg to differ. Since not many units of the now defunct Xtreme 150 were sold, this design still is a novelty. The tail pipe too has been kept simple.
Overall, a workable design but Hero could have done much more considering it is an all-new motorcycle.
Features of the Hero Xtreme 200R
ABS is a novelty for Hero motorcycles at present, let alone single channel. The Xtreme 200R is the first Hero motorcycle to get ABS and we’ve seen that the upcoming XPulse too will have it. The semi-digital instrument cluster is borrowed from the Xtreme Sport and features a blue backlight. It features a clock, odometer, service due indicator, twin tripmeter as well as a digital fuel gauge. Hero has a side stand indicator too. In terms of switchgear, you get an integrated pass light with the upper-dipper switch. Under harsh sunlight, it was hard to understand if the ABS warning as well as other tell tale lights were on or not. The speedo as well as fuel gauge though are readable. The tail light is a LED unit while the blinkers are clear lens units.
Hero Xtreme 200R engine and transmission
Hero is using a new engine in the Xtreme 200R. This one makes 18.4PS of power and 17Nm of torque. The engine is paired to a 5-speed manual. The clutch action is very light and the gearshifts are positive too. This being said, I badly missed a sixth gear. Since the engine has a close ratio gearbox, the unit loses steam very quickly. Acceleration is strong in the bottom as well as mid-range. However, towards the top end things tend to fizzle out pretty quickly. Imagine hitting a ton on a 200cc motorcycle close to the engine’s red line. That being said, the engine is super smooth and things stay vibe free till 100kmph. Beyond which when you push, there are small vibrations through the handle bars and tank. The top speed we registered was 114kmph.
This engine gives you the typical Honda feeling. It will take a bit to warm up on a cold day. This reminds me that the position of the choke is a sore point in the overall design and it seems like an after thought. What remains with you as a rider is the unstressed manner in which the engine makes its power and ability to chug along at a lower gear in traffic with a pillion. The intake sound too is addictive and from underneath the helmet I wished the motorcycle moved as rapidly as the exhaust note suggested.
In terms of fuel efficiency, the Hero Xtreme 200R proved to be extremely (pun unintended) frugal. The Hero Xtreme 200R mileage in the city was 46kmpl while that on the highway was 52kmpl. These numbers are in the 150-160cc territory.
Ride and handling of the Hero Xtreme 200R
The Xtreme 200R uses a new chassis which has been developed at Hero’s CIT facility in Jaipur. This is also one of the only production Hero motorcycles to have a monoshock rear suspension. Of course, the front has got telescopic forks. The set up leans towards a softer feel. The motorcycle absorbs bumps with an ease and poise. Even with a full load, things stay pretty sorted and there is no bottoming out of the suspension either. Remember, I do my suspension test with a 124kg pillion. How much worse can it get? In terms of flickability in traffic, the Hero Xtreme 200R is good enough for single point turns. It also inspires confidence while tackling high speed turns. Straight line stability too is good.
The riding position isn’t sporty either. In fact, for tall people like me, it seems more of a commuter position. I use the front brake most of the time. In this case, the rear unit too is a disc. The front feels strong enough and feeback from the lever is good as well. However, it was noticed that repeated high speed brake attempts result in brake fade. The mirrors of the motorcycle too offer decent vision. These also stay in place at high speeds.
Hero Xtreme 200R verdict
Unlike the Karizma twins before it, the Xtreme 200R is quite well built. Nothing fell off or rattled during the course of the test. If you’re buying one, be prepared to carry the vehicle papers on your person every time. Simply, cos the underseat storage cannot accommodate them papers.
There is a single variant of the Xtreme 200 on sale. It is the fully loaded one too. The Hero Xtreme 200R price in Mumbai is Rs 89,900, ex-showroom. At this price, it gives a tough fight to the Bajaj Pulsar NS 160 and the Apache RTR 180. The Hero is likeable for someone who is upgrading from a 150cc machine. It is refined, can carry a bit more speed than the average 150cc motorcycle and has one of the best handling package in the business. However, it isn’t a motorcycle for the enthusiast. It doesn’t have the top speed or the rush to go head on with the much more powerful Pulsar NS 200. Highly recommended if you want a calm 200cc machine with good mileage. For pure performance look elsewhere.
Things we like about the Hero Xtreme 200R
Refined engine, comfortable riding position, good fuel efficiency
Things we don’t like about the Hero Xtreme 200R
Plain Jane styling, the meters could have been executed better
Trivia: It took Hero two long years to get the Xtreme 200R into production. After the ZMR debacle, the company wanted to ensure its quality is up to the mark plus vibrations was something which the engineers were told, to ensure stays minimum.