Sportsbikes in the 300-400cc capacity range have seen a resurgence in recent years ever since the KTM RC 390 hit the market in India, as well as globally. While there have been various bike manufacturers vying to dethrone KTM, including the TVS Apache RR 310, the stellar performance to price ratio the KTM RC390 offers remains to be beaten. However, the competitors don't seem to seize if our list below is anything to go by. Meanwhile, the launch of the Royal Enfield Himalayan had also spawned the entry-level adventure bike category in India. And looking at how many models are lined up for 2018 in this segment, we can safely say that it is going to be year full of mini-adventures.
Here are the premium sportsbikes and entry-level adventure bikes we expect to see in 2018:
The Ninja 400 has replaced the ageing Ninja 300 globally and will be showcased at the 2018 Auto Expo. It uses a 399cc parallel-twin motor producing 45.6PS and 38Nm, significantly higher than the Ninja 300's 39PS. The bike is also 6kg lighter and when launched, will take on the KTM RC390, Yamaha YZF-R3 and Benelli 302R. Styling is inspired by the bigger Ninjas and the 400 also looks more premium than the 300. Pricing should be around the 4 lakh rupee mark.
KTM's RC series of fully-faired sportsbikes are next in line to get comprehensive updates after the Dukes. KTM is also likely to launch a brand-new RC250 using the 250 Duke's powertrain. The new RC200 and RC390 will come with heavily revised versions of the existing engines and will be a lot better in terms of refinement and response. We also expect significant changes to the chassis and cycle parts for a sharper focus on handling, not to mention, a sharper, edgier design theme. Pricing should be slightly higher than the current versions.
The launch of the BS IV compliant R3 has been long overdue. Its Euro IV version was launched internationally last year and we expect Yamaha to relaunch the bike here soon. The bike BS IV version will be identical to the BS III version with no mechanical changes, though Yamaha could offer more colour options. The 321cc, liquid-cooled parallel-twin engine will continue to offer 42PS and 30Nm, and Yamaha is sure to equip the bike with ABS this time. Expect the bike to cost around Rs 3.5 lakh.
The Pulsar AS series only elicited a lukewarm response, but Bajaj is reportedly working on a more focused entry-level adventure tourer that could be called the Kratos 400. It will use the Dominar 400's engine and gearbox along with longer travel suspension and a more comfortable riding position. We expect higher equipment levels than the Dominar given the positioning, and when launched the bike could be cost just under Rs 2 lakh.
Benelli is expected to finally launch the TRK 502 in India this year. The bike looks like a hardcore ADV and uses the same 499cc parallel-twin as the Leoncino, producing 50PS and 45Nm, making it ideal for our country. Benelli could launch two variants a softer, road-biased version along with a more hardcore version for riding off tarmac. We expect it to be priced between Rs 5 lakh to 6 lakh.
The G 310 GS is BMW Motorrad's smallest adventure tourer and will be launched towards the end of 2018. Styling is reminiscent of the bigger bikes from the GS family. However, the G 310 GS will not be a hardcore adventure tourer and will be more road biased. Its powertrain is the same as the G 310 R which is the reverse inclined, 313cc, liquid-cooled single producing 34PS and 28Nm, mated to a six-speed gearbox. Expect BMW to offer its range of adventure specific accessories for the bike. Pricing should be just under Rs 3 lakh.
Hero showcased the Xpulse at the 2017 EICMA as a replacement to the Impulse. The Xpulse concept will also be showcased at the 2018 Auto Expo though the bike will be launched only later this year. The bike portrays a sharper focus on adventure touring and should be a more capable off-roader given its ground clearance and knobbly tyres. There is no confirmation on the powertrain but we expect it to be powered by the Xtreme 200's engine, producing around 18-20PS. Pricing will be under Rs 1.5 lakh.