Hero re-enters premium midsize bike segment with XPulse
Dr Markus Braunsperger, CTO, Hero MotoCorp shares his views on the premium motorcycle segment and how the scooter market is witnessing new trends.
Picking up from where the Impulse left, Hero MotoCorp unveiled another all-terrain motorcycle called the XPulse, first at EICMA Show in November 2017 and last week at the Auto Expo 2018. The move is a bid to tap the rising popularity of premium bikes with long touring capabilities.
At first glance, the 200cc all-terrain bike seems a sequel to the now-defunct Hero Impulse. Speaking to Autocar Professional, Dr. Markus Braunsperger, chief technology officer, Hero MotoCorp, explained, “This will be the year of premium. Hero is re-entering and conquering the premium segment of India, starting with the Hero Xtreme 200R, our sporty roadster, and now with the XPulse, which is an adventure premium motorcycle. There is no other competition in this price range as well as the whole package that we offer.”
Being a fan of the Impulse brand himself, Dr Braunsperger has acknowledged all the drawbacks of the Impulse and has come up with the XPulse that is really maneuverable, easy to handle and with a universally accessible seat height of 825mm that easily exudes confidence that the Impulse lacked.
The XPulse is powered by a 200cc engine with an option for a fuel-injected variant as well. With 18.4bhp and 17.1Nm of torque, the XPulse has been the premium all-terrain bike that touring enthusiasts had been waiting for in the 200cc segment, stated Dr. Braunsperger. Looking at the present hype surrounding the touring segment such as the Royal Enfield and Triumph, he is convinced that the Indian market is ready to accept the new sports tourer.
While catering to fans of the Hero Impulse, who have a taste for off-roading, the XPulse also comes with long suspension travel and grippier tyres. It is also well suited for regular city rides as well as the occasional highway outing, for which the XPulse is equipped with a windshield and luggage racks.
Dr Braunsperger also hinted at a possible revival of the Karizma. He said, “We have to do it right and to do it right, we really have to focus and do it the right way. We need to concentrate on what is really right because the segment has moved on and we need to talk about performance, about what the style of the bike would be, and this has to be different. So, we really have to explore to get the right ingredient.”
Speaking on the launch of the 125cc scooters (Duet 125 and Maestro 125) at the Auto Expo 2018, Dr Braunsperger is not just looking forward to a simple engine upgradation with a few stripes and decals, but a definite story for new products with a proper DNA and a family position. The OEM will look forward to receiving feedback for the recently introduced features such as the idle start-stop technology (i3s) in scooters. This technology detects a standstill and shuts off the engine after 2 seconds; to move again, the rider needs to just wring the throttle and the engine starts-up in a quarter of a second.
Returning to the XPulse, Dr Braunsperger hints at a possibility of a 300cc version, but not before having the right approach and hence he justifies the company's decision to enter the rally racing through which they have tested their developments through some of the toughest conditions in the world.
“Key focus areas are to now get the premium right, to explore further technologies and to enhance our model range to any direction that makes sense,” concluded Dr Braunsperger.
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