Every time a new Karizma goes on sale, the bodywork and styling change dramatically but the engine is hardly upgraded. The 223cc motor in the current 2014 model is the same unit that was used in the very first Karizma introduced more than a decade back with slightly more power. Many smaller capacity motorcycles now produce as much or more power but there are still quite a few takers who prefer the Hero motorcycle. Fortpoint Hero, the largest Hero motorcycles dealer in Mumbai, have decided to tweak the new Karizma R for extra performance.
The chaps at Fortpoint realised that a lot of existing customers got their bikes modified elsewhere and were not satisfied with the results. This is when they started Fortpoint Racing, a division dedicated to making Hero motorcycles quicker and more fun to ride. The first motorcycle to roll out from this new Hero tuner in town is the Karizma R. The stock carbureted version now produces 19.5PS of max power and does 0 to 100kmph in 13.25 seconds, not so impressive when compared to its rivals.
Kevin and Kundan, who are veterans at Fortpoint, worked on the new 2014-updated model. After a lot of trials, they finalised on an upgrade package that features both cosmetic and mechanical changes.
The styling is similar to the stock bike, since it is an all-new design. However, a new custom dual-tone paint scheme differentiates the Fortpoint Racing edition to the regular Karizma R. The other add-on part is the custom free-flow exhaust, the unit is lighter and more compact compared to the stock exhaust, apart from adding power it also improves styling. Look closer and you'll notice the missing kick-start lever, saree guard, main-stand and rear foot rests, this helps in shedding about 4kg and as a result the power to weight ratio is increased. The stock bar-end weights are replaced with lighter yet functional ones. In fact, the entire package aims at reducing the motorcycle's kerb weight and at the same time adds more power using simple bolt-on modifications.
Apart from the free-flow exhaust, other bolt-on parts include an aftermarket CDI, NGK Iridium spark plug, larger carburettor main jet and a smaller front sprocket. The performance CDI improves the ignition curve and pushes the rev limiter further while the Iridium spark plug offers a more stable spark and helps improve throttle response. The larger main jet lets in more fuel into the combustion chamber for added power, it usually takes a lot of trial and error in finding the right jet size for an optimum tune. The tuners at Fortpoint have increased the jet size slightly, based on the various modifications while a smaller front sprocket alters the gearing for better acceleration. The Karizma is known for a soft suspension setup, so this motorcycle features a slightly stiffer front thanks to the use of higher-grade fork oil while the rear suspension has been set to the stiffest preload setting. This set-up definitely helps in reducing the pitching and wallowing at higher speeds.
We rode the stock and modified bike back to back and did notice a difference though the free-flow exhaust does make it sound a lot quicker. Throttle response is sharper while the rev limiter cuts off at 10,000rpm, a full 1,000rpm higher than the stock bike, the engine however does feel a lot more strained near the limit. As a result, top speed is identical to the stock bike's despite using a smaller front sprocket. Launch the bike in first gear and it leaps ahead with more eagerness, we tested both the bikes and found an improvement in both acceleration and roll-on figures. As mentioned earlier, the stock bike like all the earlier Karizmas reaches 100kmph from standstill in 13.25 seconds, the Fortpoint Racing Karizma does the same in 11.35 seconds! Shaving almost 2 seconds off without working on the engine's internals is quite a feat. And if you are the type who likes the Karizma motor for its refinement, there's good news, at cruising speeds the engine is as calm, so you can still take her touring if you wish. The throaty exhaust is also not that loud that it would be a strain on the ears over long distances.
One can opt for certain mods only or go in for the entire package. Fortpoint Hero also offers insurance while warranty surprisingly is not void. The package costs Rs 15,000 without the dual-tone paint, which if opted for, brings the total cost up to Rs 22,500. The Fortpoint Racing Karizma R then costs as much as the premium ZMR, but then it still is a quicker bike (by almost two seconds). But if you still prefer the ZMR, then we suggest you wait a bit longer, there is a quicker version rolling out of Fortpoint Racing very soon.