KTM arrived in the country three years ago thanks to Bajaj Auto and it's been a dream run. For the brand as well as for Indian motorcycle enthusiasts. The response to KTM's typically sharp and uncompromising motorcycles has been very warm and the RC 390 opens a completely new playing field for the Indian enthusiast.
The RC 390 uses the same 43.5PS engine from the 390 Duke - last year's Bike Of The Year - to create an effective, confident sportsbike. There is a lot of commonality between the Duke and the RC to be sure, which while creating a terrific price advantage for the RC, also ensures that the riding experience is different on both. The OVERDRIVE jury unanimously voted the KTM as their top pick of the amazing crop of 2014's motorcycle. The KTM RC 390 is our Bike Of The Year 2015 and this makes it the third year in a row that a KTM has won India's top motorcycle award.
Our jury for the two-wheeler categories consisted of motorcycle racer, Sarath Kumar; OVERDRIVE executive editor Shubhabrata Marmar; OVERDRIVE road test editor Halley Prabhakar; British Nutritions' Bharath Reddy, and Siddarth Trivellore, responsible for the California Superbike School India - all of whom were formidable judges of anything two-wheeled that runs on a motor.
Thanks to the number of scooters that entered our market this year, we didn't have to scrap the Scooter Of The Year category. In fact this time around, there were too many contenders including the TVS Scooty Zest, Jupiter, Activa 125, Activa i, Alpha, Let's and Gusto. The Zest just proceeded to decimate all the competition and became our Scooter Of The Year. It brings to the table excellent quality, outsized performance, a sense of enthusiasm that belies its girl-scooter tag and it is also one of the most affordable scooters in this competition.
But unlike scooters, performance motorcycles aren't about utility, economy or price. They're about sharp focus, exquisite response and accuracy and outsize fun and thrills. India's sole 600cc-class supersport motorcycle matched that description quite closely which was why it is no surprise that the Triumph Daytona 675R was the unanimous choice for the Performance Bike Of The Year. Meanwhile, the Indian Chief won the award for the Import Bike Of The Year. Rightly so for it was outstanding on every front and amongst the best motorcycles OVERDRIVE tested in the category.
Our viewers, though, picked the affable Gixxer which is the current favourite of the motorcycle buying populace as the Viewer's Choice Bike Of The Year. It offered more performance, more ability, more fun and more equipment than every single one of its peers. We weren't surprised to see it score superbly well in the jury round as well. Speaking of surprises, we expect everyone would be surprised to see a Mahindra win the Viewer's Choice Scooter Of The Year We aren't. The Gusto proved to be an able contender in almost all the parameters that it was judged on. Height adjustable seat and a refined new engine ensured that this little Mahindra won the hearts of many a scooter buyer.
The Engine Of The Year award went to the liquid-cooled 749cc sixty degree V-twin that powers the Street 750. The engine's refinement as well as amazing performance is special and its rideability in our conditions makes Harley's most affordable motorcycle a pleasure to pilot on our roads. This was also a key factor that led to the jury declaring Harley-Davidson as the Two-Wheeler Manufacturer Of The Year. Over the last five years in the Indian market, their range has aimed at offering the maximum choice to Indian enthusiasts. They have also worked hard at lowering the prices so that accessibility has always been increasing - case in point, the award winning engine that's made here in India.
This year, Harley-Davidson not only extended their domination of the big bike market in India, but they have also added a new feather in their cap by manufacturing for India and for export, their first motorcycle outside the United States. Another sign that the American manufacturer understands the Indian market better than its competitors. We're sure there's still room for healthy competition in the market and subsequently, happier two-wheeler users.
Want to know what contenders the RC 390 was pitted against for the 2015 OVERDRIVE CNBC TV18 Bike Of The Year award The OVERDRIVE jury walks you through them
Read all about the CNBC TV18 OVERDRIVE award winners in the other categories: