As 2019 draws to a close, we take a look at the some of the most significant motorcycle launches of the year. These are the motorcycles which made a significant impact in the Indian two-wheeler market. From being all-round great products, as well as garnering good consumer response, some of these bikes make it to the winners' list, purely on the basis of merit. That is not to say however, that the products in the losers' list are all bad products. Market reception and success of a product depends on several factors, including price, demand, competition, attributes and merit.
Positioning, pricing, segment and even the genre all play important roles in making or breaking a product. In the losers' list are five motorcycles which failed in evincing both consumer and critics' interest. Despite being very good products in their own right, these bikes failed to make a lasting impression in the market. In fact, as products, some of them are excellent, but the market reception has been lukewarm, and that's the sole reason these bikes end up in the losers' list of 2019.
Winners of 2019:
1. Hero XPulse 200
The Hero XPulse 200 has been a long time coming, from being first showcased at the EICMA 2017 show in Milan, Italy, and then again at the Auto Expo 2018. But when it was eventually launched in 2019, it made no pretensions that it's a one of its kind motorcycle. You can call it an entry-level adventure bike, but it's more of a dual-sport bike, than a real ADV. Lightweight, unintimidating, and with very good off-road capability, the Hero XPulse will probably go down in history as one of the bikes which will make Indian riders begin exploring off-road riding. And at a price which will not bust your bank account, it's very good value as a second, or third bike to explore the nearest trails with!
2. Indian FTR 1200
When Indian Motorcycle launched the new Indian FTR 1200, it was a definite shift in product strategy. Known for making heavyweight all-American cruisers and baggers, the FTR 1200 is Indian Motorcycle's homage to the FTR 750 Flat Track racing bike, and it's definitely a looker. Combining the design of a muscular roadster and a stripped back scrambler, it's not just looks which makes the Indian FTR 1200 so special. Exceptional fit and finish, top-notch components, and a level of performance from the 1,203 cc v-twin which is immediately likeable, it's not difficult to understand why the Indian FTR 1200 makes it to our list of winners.
Also Read: Indian FTR 1200 First Ride Review
3. KTM 790 Duke
KTM India took its own sweet time to launch its acclaimed middleweight performance naked, the KTM 790 Duke, in India. And once it's been launched, and after we got to sample it briefly, it's easy to understand why the 790 Duke deserves the nickname KTM's marketing folks have given it - The Scalpel! Compact, lightweight and versatile, with sharp handling which gives the rider the added confidence to push it around a twisty road, or track, the KTM 790 Duke makes for this year's contention as possibly "all the bike you need" and that is why it is a definite winner in our books!
Also Read: KTM 790 Duke First Ride Review
4. Suzuki Gixxer SF 250
The Suzuki Gixxer SF 250 marks Suzuki Motorcycle India's comeback into the 250 cc motorcycle segment. With an all-new design language, with sharp and sporty bodywork, yet with practical ergonomics, the Gixxer SF 250 offers a brilliant blend of everyday practicality, smooth performance and effortless highway cruising. A refined engine, excellent road manners, and sporty design which is quite likable, there is little to find fault with the Suzuki Gixxer SF 250. And to top it all, it comes with a price tag which is under ₹ 2 lakh to make it very good value for money. All solid reasons to make the Gixxer SF 250 make it to our list of winners.
Also Read: Suzuki Gixxer SF 250 First Ride Review
5. Yamaha MT-15
The Yamaha MT-15 is the 155 cc naked street motorcycle based on the full-faired Yamaha YZF-R15. With futuristic and muscular looks, with a face that is more Marvel anti-hero than what you would associate beauty with, the Yamaha MT-15 is a very good combination of good performance, butch looks, sharp handling and comfortable ergonomics. The only disappointment is the price. For a naked 155 cc, the Yamaha MT-15 is perceived as a little expensive, and that too, targeted at young riders. Despite it being placed between the Yamaha YZF-R15 and the bigger, 250 cc Yamaha FZ-25, the MT-15 has gone on to establish its own fan following. It's a great product, looks good, rides well, and has few negatives, considering its target audience, and that's why it makes it to our list of winners.
Also Read: 2019 Yamaha MT-15 First Ride Review
Losers of 2019:
1. BMW F 750 GS
BMW Motorrad India launched two middleweight adventure bikes in 2019 - the BMW F 750 GS, and the BMW F 850 GS. Both are built around the new 853 cc, parallel-twin engine, but the F 750 GS is primarily designed for tarmac duties, touring specifically, and for folks upgrading to their first middleweight adventure bike. So, the state of tune on the engine is different than the F 850 GS, and in the looks department too, the BMW F 750 GS looks more 'toned down' than its full-blown mid-size adventure sibling, the F 850 GS. It's definitely a good product, with adequate performance for touring and exploring mild off-road gravel trails. The catch is that the consumer looking for an adventure bike in this segment wants to have a bike which looks the part as well, whether he or she has the skills to really ride off-road is beside the point. While its sibling, the BMW F 850 GS, is considered one of the best adventure bikes in the segment, the F 750 GS, sadly didn't quite make the cut in India, and so makes it to the losers' list.
Also Read: BMW F 750 GS Review
2. Hero Xtreme 200S
The Hero Xtreme 200S is built on the same platform as the Hero XPulse, and is essentially a full-faired variant of the naked Hero Xtreme 200R. The 199 cc, single-cylinder engine has decent performance, and road manners also leave with little complaints. If at all, the design could have been spruced up to make the Xtreme 200S look more premium and aspirational, if Hero wanted to get some numbers and consumer interest directed at the 200S. Sadly, you will hardly get to see many of these bikes on the street, and despite being a frugal, well-made product, the full-faired Xtreme 200S failed to make consumers sit up and notice it, in the premium commuter segment.
Also Read: Hero Xtreme 200S Review
3. Jawa, Jawa Forty-Two
When the JAWA motorcycle made a comeback late last year, it immediately grabbed eyeballs and interest of classic bike lovers. With period-correct looks, matching the 1960s Jawa almost to the 'T', the new Jawa had a lot going for it. In fact, with unprecedented interest in both the Jawa and its variant, the Jawa Forty Two, Mahindra-owned Classic Legends Private Limited had its task cut out to meet consumer demand. Smooth and refined performance, great ride and handling only makes the Jawa that much endearing, coupled with drop-dead gorgeous period design. However, the massive demand has not really translated to deliveries, or as many bikes on the road, when sales started earlier this year. Even some dealers we spoke to are facing flak from customers who have had to wait for months on end to own a Jawa. A great motorcycle no doubt, but without the availability to meet market demand, the Jawa is the case of a "could-have-been" winner which, unfortunately, now makes it to our list of losers this year.
Also Read: Jawa First Ride Review
4. Royal Enfield Bullet Trials Replica
The Royal Enfield Bullet Trials Works Replica, in both 350 cc and 500 cc variants, was a sort of experiment in product strategy (if we could call it that), milking Royal Enfield's storied past in Trials competition in the 1940s and '50s. Built around the same Bullet 350 and Bullet 500 platforms, the Bullet Trials Replica models were more of a cosmetic experiment to extend the Royal Enfield Bullet range. With a solo saddle, and scrambler-ish looks, the Bullet Trials Replica models did not offer anything new in terms of off-road ready or actual Trials-capable hardware, or cycle parts. Priced at a premium over the standard Bullet models, you will have to be very lucky if you manage to spot one of these on the road. And that's from a brand which sells an average of 70,000 motorcycles every month! So, yes, the Bullet Trials Replica makes it to the losers' list this year.
5. Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC
The Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC is a fantastic motorcycle! Period! What the 900 cc Triumph Street Scrambler lacked, the Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC more than made up for it. A punchy motor, tall stance, superb off-road capability and engaging performance makes the Scrambler 1200 XC one of the most entertaining premium bikes to be introduced in 2019. But despite its superlative qualities, the Scrambler 1200 XC failed to elicit the response, adventure-hungry Indians were supposed to lap it up with. And that's why, despite being an all-round great motorcycle, the Scrambler 1200 XC sadly makes it to our list of losers this year.
Also Read: Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC Review