The Hero Glamour was not the easiest motorcycle on the eyes when it was launched. Between the bright colours and the odd lines, it was at best unique. But that did not stop the Hero Glamour from steadily climbing in popularity. Today, the Hero Glamour has de-throned the Honda CB Shine as the top-selling 125 in the country. This is important because as Hero never tires of pointing out, the 125cc segment has remained the fastest growing class of motorcycles in the recent past.
It turns out, the 125cc commuter class is also extremely critical because it is a globally accepted displacement for commuter motorcycles. Indeed, Hero launched the Glamour to the world in far, far away Argentina. Why so far? Well, Hero was entering the Argentina market and revealing the Glamour there made for a bigger entrance as well as underlined Hero's global ambitions. As the company says, it wants to be in 50 markets by 2020 and have at least 10 per cent of its volumes come from markets other than India. The Glamour is an important cog in this machine.
As much as the older Glamour was unconventional, Hero didn't entirely abandon the design, if for no other reason then for continuity. Developed at the Hero CIT in Jaipur, the Glamour keeps some of the basic lines in place while cleaning up the proportions and bringing the styling up to the minute. The garish stickering has been pared back to just bright and extroverted.
The effect is that the Glamour doesn't look outstanding but it clearly descended from the previous Glamour and yet it looks fresh and modern. Hero paid extra attention to the headlight fairing and the tail light designs and it shows. Both the triangular but curvaceous front beam and the detailed and sleek tail light look neat. The tail light also throws into relief the surprinsingly sculpted tail piece. The tank and the side panel are relatively restrained and commuter sensibility-friendly but the effect is fresh and premium.
Another flourish are the instruments which host a big analogue speedo flanked by tell-tale lights and a digital display that has the odo, trip and fuel guage. I wish Hero had included a clock, it is always useful.
The appeal of the Hero Glamour is more than skin-deep. After decades of re-stickered motorcycles with their former partner, the Indian company is on the march. The new 124.7cc engine is a case in point.
The engine is all-new and is based on the bottom-end of the 110cc engine from the new Splendor. The rest is all-new. Hero's tune meets BSIV and brings to the motorcycle 27 per cent more power at 11.4PS at 7,500rpm. Torque is up a similar amount at 11Nm, which peaks at 6,500rpm. Hero will offer both carburettor-ed and fuel-injected Glamours for sale. The company says the latter account for more than 10 per cent of sales despite the price difference even today. The Glamour FI uses a new closed-loop system and Hero admits the deployment of the system also allows them a strategic advantage when the BSIV (Euro V) emissions kick in in 2020 - almost all displacement engines will move to fuel injection to meet those norms, it is widely expected.
The engine is a good one. We rode the new Glamour at a private racetrack about an hour outside the Argentinian capital and it proved to be a sensible little engine. The torque spread allowed you to be lazy with gear changes - a good sign for riding in traffic - while the engine remains pretty smooth if vocal at high revs and nearing the 100kmph mark. It scores well on refinement and rideability and promises 60 and 62kmpl (carburettor and fuel injection respectively). That's a job well done.
In riding feel, we were riding brand-new motorcycles with less than a 100km on their dials. But vibration was a non-issue and the engines felt mechanically composed. The fuel injected engine produced a smoother torque curve. The minor step up in power made the carburettor version feel a smidge punchier but the feel is similar on both models.
The frame for the Glamour is also all new. Hero introduces it new single-downtube cradle frame on this motorcycle. The frame is 1.3kg lighter and a big reason why the new Glamour is about 3kg lighter than the old model. As per the segment, the bike gets basic telescopic forks and preload adjustable twin rear shock absorbers. And a 240mm front disc brake handles braking.
I am surprised how effective the Glamour is. It isn't a motorcycle that needs to do more than handle adequately. But it proves to be fun. Countless laps of the track at varying pace shows a confident, neutral motorcycle with supportive MRF tyres. Pushing hard will grind the pegs but the Glamour can be leaned and leaned on pretty hard in the corners. Suffice it to say, that I was physically pulled off the motorcycle and stuffed into the bus that finally took us back into the city.
Ride quality is harder to comment on given the smooth racetrack. But the refinement of the suspension promises good to excellent absorption. The Glamour isn't too soft in feel and I think it will handle our roads rather well.
Braking, similarly, is good. The initial bite is strong but not too sharp and the force build up is steady and predictable. Friendlier and feedback-ier brakes do exist in the class but these will do.
The Hero Glamour proves to be a persuasive 125cc motorcycle. The engine has refinement, performance and the promise of refinement, this much is clear. The dynamics are surprisingly capable and I rather enjoyed riding the wee motorcycle at a racetrack which is a huge surprise. The design is neat enough and Hero has ensured that basic hygiene - like a choke on the handlebar is taken care of. We wait to test it but this seems like a sorted, well-made motorcycle.
Hero says the price will be competitive without offering any further detail. It expects to start despatching the motorcycle to dealers by the end of February so the launch should be in March or thereabouts. Stay tuned for the road test once we get to ride the bike back home.