At 916,365 units and a year-on-year growth of 5%, the motorcycle segment was one of the better-performing ones in the Indian automobile market in the first month of CY2021.
Some brands and products remain popular buys for their specific attributes and it’s no surprise that the commuter motorcycles rule the roost here. Fuel-sippers will see continued demand in the months to come, given the sky-high prices of petrol.
These best-selling Top 10 motorcycles cumulatively (762,145) account for 83% of total motorcycles in January 2021. And in the first 10 months of FY2021, which saw total industry sales of 81,15,517, these best-sellers maintained the same ratio of 83% at 67,56,308 units. Here’s looking at them a little closer.
No. 1 – Hero Splendor
January 2021: 225,382 units
April 2020-January 2021: 1,932,736
Hero MotoCorp, the world’s largest two-wheeler OEM, derives its power of numbers from the Splendor, which is easily the world’s highest-selling motorcycle and two-wheeler. In January 2021, the company clocked 225,382 units, taking its 10-month tally in the ongoing FY2021 to 1,932,736 units – just 67,264 short of the two-million mark.
One of India’s first BS VI-compliant two-wheelers, the Splendor range comprises three models – the Splendor Plus, Splendor iSmart and the Super Splendor. The Splendor Plus continues to be the most affordable with a starting price of Rs 59,600. The Super Splendor is the most expensive, starting at Rs 67,300. The Splendor iSmart is priced at Rs 67,100.
The Splendor uses a new engine – a 113.2cc, single-cylinder, fuel-injected unit which develops 9.1hp at 7,500rpm and 9.89Nm torque at 5,500rpm. India’s best-selling bike, which features Hero’s i3s start-stop technology, uses a 240mm front disc and 130mm rear drum brake as standard.
What’s driving demand for the Splendor range is the uptick from rural India which has seen a good kharif season. The coming months, which will see farmers increase their transport operations, demand for fuel-sipping commuter bikes will only grow.
No. 2 – Hero HF Deluxe
January 2021: 134,860 units
April 2020-January 2021: 1,390,458 units
The HF Deluxe has for long been the second best-selling motorcycle and it sold 134,860 units last month. Exactly a year ago, Hero MotoCorp launched the BS VI HF Deluxe and priced the base variant at Rs 55,925 and the i3S variant at Rs 57,250 (both prices, ex-showroom, Delhi).
The updated HF Deluxe features a fuel-injected 100cc single-cylinder engine, which develops 7.94hp and 8.05Nm; Hero claims the new engine is 9 percent more fuel efficient and better performance, with 6 percent faster acceleration. The new HF Deluxe also features Hero’s i3S (idle start-stop system).
No. 3 – Honda CB Shine
January 2021: 116,222 units
April 2020-January 2021: 754,288 units
This Honda on two wheels is shining on the sales front. Usually at the fourth rank, it has moved up one spot with sales of 116,222 units, going ahead of the Bajaj Pulsar by 18,642 units.
The CB Shine was among India’s first bikes to get the BS VI treatment. The same 124.73cc, air-cooled, single cylinder engine has been upgraded to BS VI-spec, which has seen the power figure rise from 10.31hp 10.88hp. While the hike in power is marginal, the BS VI CB Shine features electronic fuel injection which translates into crisp and smooth throttle response. The engine is paired to a five-speed transmission.
No. 4 – Bajaj Pulsar
January 2021: 97,580 units
April 2020-January 2021: 778,525 units
The sporty Bajaj Pulsar range rides in at No. 4 position with 97,580 units in January and a cumulative 778,525 units in 10 months. It is understood that sales would have been stronger but for an adverse impact on production from the slowed-down supply chain for semiconductors, which has also affected Bajaj Auto.
The sporty Pulsar family is all of nine variants strong – Pulsar 125, Pulsar 150, 150 Neon, 150 Twin Disc, Pulsar 180F, Pulsar 220, NS160, NS200, and RS200. In October 2020, the company rolled out the refreshed Pulsar NS and RS series. The Pulsar NS 200 and NS 160, which get new all-white alloy wheels, are available in four new colour schemes: Burnt Red (Matte Finish), Metallic Pearl White, Pewter Grey and Plasma Satin Blue. While the Pulsar NS 200 costs Rs 131,219, the Pulsar NS 160 is priced at Rs 108,589 (ex-showroom-New Delhi).
In a bid to give a new charge to Pulsar sales, the company has on February 23, launched the new 2021 Pulsar 180 at Rs 107,904, thereby expanding the line-up of the most popular entry-sport motorcycle brand in India. Bajaj Auto is targeting the new Pulsar 180 at “a fast-growing segment of customers who seek premium quality, cutting-edge international style and world-class performance.” Currently, 20% of the sports biking segment is accounted for, by the 180-200cc motorcycles and new Pulsar 180 will target consumers looking for a sports vehicle offering the best in technology and performance, cementing its leadership in this segment in India that has been unchallenged for the last 20 years.
No. 5 – Hero Passion
January 2021: 43,162 units
April 2020-January 2021: 422,574 units
The Hero MotoCorp motorcycle stable has some longstanding products that continue to sell in the local market. The Passion is one such product. The Passion with the updated BS VI 113cc engine, from the Splendor iSmart, develops 9.15hp and 9.9Nm of torque.
In January 2021, this fuel-sipping commuter motorcycle sold 43,162 units and clocked 422,574 units for the first 10 months of the fiscal, compared to 26,905 units and 449,530 units a year ago respectively. Given the Covid-induced loss of sales and the dampened economy, this can be called a good show for the Passion, which clearly is not going out of fashion any time soon.
No. 6 – Royal Enfield Classic 350
January 2021: 40,872 units
April 2020-January 2021: 293,421 units
Old can often be gold and the Royal Enfield Classic 350 is proof of that. The classic thumper, with sales of 40,872 units in January, is seeing a return of demand (January 2020: 40,834). And with sales of 293,421 units in the first 10 months of FY2021, this machine continues to ride high on heavy metal aficionados’ charts.
In BS VI form, the Classic 350 gets a fuel-injection system that develops 19.8hp and 28 Nm of torque. With prices starting at Rs 178,000, the new Classic is about Rs 11,000 more expensive than it was in BS IV spec.
The Classic 350 is Royal Enfield’s most popular motorcycle – of the company’s total sales of 448,151 motorcycles in the April 2020-January 2021 period, the Classic 350 accounts for 65 percent.
No. 7 – TVS Apache
January 2021: 28,456 units
April 2020-January 2021: 260,747 units
TVS Motor Co’s flagship motorcycle and premium bike brand Apache rides in at seventh position. In January, the Apache range comprising five models – Apache RTR 160, RTR 180, RTR 160 4V and RTR 200 4V – clocked 28,456 units – which is marginally down on numbers from August 2020.
On October 12, total Apache sales rode past the four million unit sale milestone globally. This premium brand was launched in 2005, which makes it the ride from zero to 4,000,000 units has taken 15 years. Interestingly, the last million or 10 lakh unit unit sales have come in just two years. The TVS Apache crossed the three-million-sales milestone on September 10, 2018.
No. 8 – Bajaj Platina
January 2021: 27,131 units
April 2020-January 2021: 336,396 units
The continued charge of the Hero commuter motorcycles has impacted demand for the Bajaj Platina, which with 27,131 units takes eighth position in the Top 10 rankings. Its 10-month tally is 336,396 units, down 64% on year-ago figures (April 2019-January 2020: 336,396)
In early July, Bajaj has added a new ES (Electric Start) Disc Brake variant to the Platina 100’s line-up, taking the total number of variants to three. Powering the Platina 100 is a BS VI-compliant 102cc, single-cylinder engine with peak output figures of 7.9hp and 8.34Nm. This engine is mated to a 4-speed gearbox.
No. 9 – Honda Unicorn PRM
January 2021: 25,799 units
April 2020-January 2021: 183,997 units
The second Honda bike in this Top 10 chart is the Unicorn with 25,799 units and 183,997 units in 10 months. Exactly a year ago, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India launched the BS VI model. The Unicorn was Honda’s first motorcycle in India, and this new one was styled to look like the outgoing CB Unicorn that is one of the manufacturer’s most popular models. Powering the bike is the 162.71cc, single-cylinder engine from the Unicorn 160.
No. 10 – Hero Glamour
January 2021: 22,681 units
April 2020-January 2021: 403,166 units
Is the Hero Glamour losing its glamour with buyers or are the lower numbers an aberration? Once a regular at No. 5 or so, it is now at the bottom. In January, the bike sold 22,681 units (January 2020: 40,318) and 403,166 units over 10 months (April 2019-January 2020: 554,158), which is a sharp 72% decline year on year.
The Glamour faces stiff competition in the form of some popular motorcycles like the Honda SP 125 and the Bajaj Pulsar 125 and is clearly feeling the heat. While it displaces an identical 124.7cc, the single-cylinder engine powering the new Glamour is new but gets a 5-speed gearbox.
Having felt the heat of the Covid-induced loss of sales in the first eight months of the fiscal, OEMs had begun to see improved numbers in November and December but January 2021 proved to be a reality check.
Nonetheless, most OEMs are producing all they can, hoping that the need for social distancing will give a fillip to motorcycle sales. Scooter sales, in comparison, continue to be flat what with a fair portion of urban India still in WFH mode. Nonetheless, with soaring prices of petrol, likely to hit the Rs 100 a litre mark in many metros, demand should grow for fuel-sipping commuter motorcycles, which help s-t-r-e-t-c-h every litre of expensive fuel to the maximum.