Hero Karizma XMR first ride review: Jack of all trades

IFRAME SYNC

The Karizma XMR is equal parts new and nostalgia rolled into a completely different package altogether. It’s sportier in looks while boasting several firsts for Hero including liquid-cooling, dual-channel ABS and a trellis frame – all things promising. So, while the original Karizma literally created the segment, this one has some disruption to do. Can the Hero Karizma XMR replicate its predecessor’s success while keeping that lineage intact? Let’s find out.

Also Read : 2023 Hero Karizma XMR 210 launched at 1.73 lakh. Legend returns in new avatar

The Hero Karizma XMR is sharply styled and looks track focussed. The riding posture though is far less dedicated and more accommodating
The Hero Karizma XMR is sharply styled and looks track focussed. The riding posture though is far less dedicated and more accommodating (HT Auto/Sameer Contractor)

Hero Karizma XMR: All-new design

The Hero Karizma XMR looks nothing like the one you remember. It rides nothing like the original either. Both of these are good choices since this one looks up-to-date with the times and rides vastly better. It’s sharply styled with angular lines and a wide front face. The proportions are prompt and while it may not seem as large as the original Karizma, the XMR has a strong road presence of its own. As I said, the proportions work just right and nothing feels out of place or overly done.

That balance in design makes it seem more aggressive than the way it rides. The Karizma XMR isn’t an out-and-out track machine. Get on the saddle and that’s very apparent in the ergonomics of the motorcycle. The raised clip-on handlebars fall right in place, while the footpegs are slightly rear-set. The lower rider triangle is actually quite comfortable with plenty of space to move around.

Hero Karizma XMR: Ergonomics

The 810 mm seat height is accommodating for riders of all sizes but average-sized adults may have to tip-toe on occasion. At 6’2″, I found the ergonomics to be spot-on with enough room to wiggle back further on the seat for a more dedicated riding position. That said, there’s a clear emphasis on more day-to-day riding and touring ability with a slightly relaxed position, something reminiscent of the OG Karizma. The same can’t be said about the pillion seat with the split seat set-up, which is a far cry from the elongated single seat on the predecessor.

The Karizma XMR gets a pliant ride quality that keeps up with most undulations. USD forks though are missed, which would've offered more feedback from the front
The Karizma XMR gets a pliant ride quality that keeps up with most undulations. USD forks though are missed, which would’ve offered more feedback from the front (HT Auto/Sameer Contractor)

Hero Karizma XMR: Ride Quality

The ride quality itself is surprisingly pliant on the Hero Karizma XMR. Despite its aggressive styling, the suspension set-up comprising 37 mm telescopic forks up front and a 6-step adjustable monoshock at the rear has been tuned to balance comfort with agility. For the most part, the ride quality is soft and the rear does get a bit bouncy in the stock setup at low speeds. Let the speeds build up and the suspension settles in well gobbling up most undulations. The end result is a pliant ride for the most part. However, the front tends to bottom out over nasty potholes and you feel most rumble strips getting to you, as we traversed plenty on the Gurgaon-Faridabad highway.

What’s sorely missed is the need for USD front forks on the motorcycle. For what is Hero’s flagship offering, USDs would’ve brought even better stability to the XMR with a more precise feel to the front end. The decision, of course, has to do with costs, which would have escalated further. Considering we’ve already seen how much it benefitted the Xtreme 160R 4V, the Karizma XMR should get the same with the next update.

Also Read : Hero Karizma XMR launched: 5 key facts

The 210 cc motor packs quite the punch with most of the power directed at the top end. The motor is quite tractable too making it comfortable for daily commutes
The 210 cc motor packs quite the punch with most of the power directed at the top end. The motor is quite tractable too making it comfortable for daily commutes (HT Auto/Zummer Photography)

Hero Karizma XMR: Engine Performance

That’s also to do with the brilliant performance that the engine has to offer. Hero says the 210 cc liquid-cooled, single-cylinder motor is all-new from the ground up. They insist on being the first Indian player to indigenously develop liquid cooling without foreign help, à la Bajaj-KTM and TVS-BMW. The end result is dollops of power in the top end of the power band, unlike the original Karizma which was more tuned for low-end torque and a strong mid-range.

The 210 cc liquid-cooled, 4-valve motor produces 25.15 bhp at 9,250 rpm and 20.4 Nm of peak torque at 7,250 rpm. Those figures are identical to the KTM RC 200 with power located mostly at the higher revs. However, unlike the KTM, you need not be consistently in the top-end of the rev band. The engine, as we found, is very tractable and can easily pull from as low as 30 kmph in the fifth gear. That gives it the everyday rideability that most users will be looking out for without necessarily skimping on outright power.

Hero claims a fuel efficiency of 36 kmpl on the Karizma XMR, which should make it comfortable for a range of nearly 400 km on its 11-litre fuel tank
Hero claims a fuel efficiency of 36 kmpl on the Karizma XMR, which should make it comfortable for a range of nearly 400 km on its 11-litre fuel tank

Want to have some fun? You will see power kicking in a little after 7,000 rpm all the way up to 10,000 rpm. The motor gets aural with a nice bassy note from the exhaust as the revs climb. The Karizma pulls and pulls and there’s enough power to hold steady even after 100 kmph. The well-paved and flowing roads of the Gurgaon highway meant we could stretch the bike’s legs hitting up to 130 kmph on one occasion. Hero claims a top speed of 140 kmph. The engine is refined for the most part and a big thumbs up to Hero for that. However, you do get vibrations around the footpegs and handlebar right at the top end. Nothing you can’t live with though. The 6-speed gearbox with short ratios works quite well for city and highway use. The gearbox is sharp and complemented by a slipper and assist clutch.

Hero Karizma XMR: Handling & Braking

The steel trellis frame makes for an agile-handling motorcycle. Show it flowing corners and it will keep you happy and further adds to its touring abilities. High-speed stability is equally excellent and the bike feels at home even at triple-digit numbers. Braking performance comes from a 300 mm front disc and a 230 mm rear disc, which is a big update from the disc-drum brake setup on the original Karizma. Front braking is progressive but misses the sharp bite that an R15 or RC 200 would provide. Considering several budding riders would bring this home, that’s not a bad thing. The addition of dual-channel ABS is a big welcome and does not feel intrusive for the most part.

The Hero Karizma XMR gets a segment-first turn-by-turn navigation and an adjustable visor, both are handy features for long-distance riding
The Hero Karizma XMR gets a segment-first turn-by-turn navigation and an adjustable visor, both are handy features for long-distance riding

Hero Karizma XMR: Features

The Hero Karizma XMR has a host of features that bring a lot of functionality. The LED DRLs are eye-catching and quite similar to the one on the Xoom 110 scooter launched earlier this year. The H-themed styling on the front and rear lights looks premium and is complemented by an LED projector lens headlamp with an auto-dimming function. We briefly sampled the headlamp throw and it seemed par for the course in city conditions. However, we will reserve our judgment for a more detailed review.

The XMR also gets a segment-first adjustable visor with a leeway of 30 mm. The LCD instrument console is new as well and gets turn-by-turn navigation with Bluetooth connectivity. The unit is easy to read for the most part, barring under direct sunlight. Lastly, a USB port is placed right on the handlebar for easier access. Hero also offers a host of accessories on the motorcycle including a tank bag, tail bag, phone holder, anti-glare rearview mirrors, tail tidy, rear splash guard and more.

While the Karizma XMR works well for the most part, there’s plenty of scope for improvement. For starters, the plastic quality isn’t that great for what’s supposed to be Hero’s flagship. The switchgear quality could be better as well with a more tactile feel. Pressing the controls on the left stalk feels vague with the gloves on. We also faced issues with adjusting the visor using the button on the right side of the fairing. The issue seemed like a one-off with the system working fine on certain units. Lastly, the unfinished welds on the exposed sections of the trellis frame give the motorcycle more of a built-to-cost nature.

The Hero Karizma XMR is competitively priced with the introductory pricing undercutting the Yamaha R15 by a good <span class=₹10,000″ src = “https://images.hindustantimes.com/auto/img/static/1x1_img.gif” onclick=”sendGa(this);” title=”The Hero Karizma XMR is competitively priced with the introductory pricing undercutting the Yamaha R15 by a good ₹10,000″ style=”width:auto;” >
The Hero Karizma XMR is competitively priced with the introductory pricing undercutting the Yamaha R15 by a good 10,000

Hero Karizma XMR: Price

The Hero Karizma XMR is priced at an introductory 1.73 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), which makes it an extremely strong value proposition. The price will increase to 1.83 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) once the introductory period is over but there’s no denying that the value proposition is strong even then. At the current price, the XMR comfortably undercuts the Yamaha YZF-R15 V4, which seems to be its primary competition. There’s plenty on offer for a whole 10,000 less, which includes KTM-like power and torque figures without the dedicated riding posture.

The Hero Karizma XMR is far more potent as a motorcycle than its predecessor and brings sheer versatility that will be liked by most younger riders
The Hero Karizma XMR is far more potent as a motorcycle than its predecessor and brings sheer versatility that will be liked by most younger riders

Hero Karizma XMR: Verdict

Does it keep the Karizma lineage intact? It’s evident that Hero wanted to take a different approach with the new Karizma that will appeal to a newer generation of riders. The Karizma certainly wouldn’t have evolved into this and that’s a good thing because the XMR is far more versatile. It wears plenty of hats and feels to be from the same cloth as the TVS Apache RR 310. From a stylish commuter to a sports tourer and a track-day machine, the jack of all trades in a sense and I do believe that’s what most young users will appreciate as well.

First Published Date: 31 Aug 2023, 16:44 PM IST

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