Friday, March 9, 2012

Bike History - Hero Karizma (Timeline 2003-2012)

Is the bike which started the trend in India of desirable bikes slowly losing its desirability?

Losing it’s "Premium" sheen?

Launched in 2003 the Karizma was the first so called made in India “Premium” motorcycle. No surprises that Hero (Hero Honda back then) pasted a decal on the bike which proudly declared “Premium Sports”. With just the Pulsar 180 as competition, the Karizma without any doubt was indeed a made in India “Premium” motorcycle.

In 2012 the list of made in India motorcycles read as: Yamaha YZF-R15 Version 2.0, KTM 200 Duke, Honda CBR250R and the soon to be launched Pulsar 200NS.

There should be little doubt that the Karizma the no longer as “Premium” as it used to be in 2003.

Karizma R (2003 launch, price correction in 2004)

The Karizma was launched in May, 2003 with a tag line of "Jet-Set-Go". Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan was appointed its brand ambassador. The bike impressed everyone back then. But the bike was a bit overpriced for its time. The price was dropped by around Rs. 10,000 in Oct, 2004. It was advertised as a limited period "celebration" offer but the lowered price was eventually persisted with.

Karizma R (2007 & 2009 upgrade)

The first direct competition to the Karizma came in 2007 in the form of the Pulsar 220 DTS-Fi which was launched with a fuel injection system. Karizma immediately received its first major upgrade in the form of the “Karizma R” which was nothing but the same old Karizma with some new stickers and colors. The Karizma R was actually able to fend off the threat of the Pulsar 220 DTS-Fi mainly because the Fi system made the Pulsar dearer and there also were niggling issues with the Pulsar 220 DTS-Fi.
2009 Karizma R
In 2009, the fuel injection on the Pulsar 220 was ditched for a simpler and cost effective carburetor. This move brought the Pulsar 220 bang in the price range of the Karizma R and with the initial issues sorted, the Pulsar 220 has definitely fought back hard. With goodies like an awesome projector headlamps, tubeless tyres, rear disc brake these days I see more new Pulsar 220’s on the road compared to new Karizma R models.

In 2009 the Karizma R received another sticker+color upgrade but that hasn’t made much of an impact.

Karizma ZMR (2009)

Yamaha made a big splash and a dramatic comeback among bike enthusiasts in India with its Super Sports inspired R15 in 2008. Personally I hated the styling because of its disproportionate rear end, but that did not stop bikers from biting into India’s first affordable “mini” Super Sports bike the Yamaha R15.

In 2009 Hero attempted to recreated the “full faired” magic with the Karizma ZMR. If the R15 was inspired by the R1, the Karizma ZMR seems to have taken inspiration from the Suzuki Hayabusa. The way the brazen ZMR branding on the sides of the fairing leaves little to imagination. To me the styling of the ZMR is very awkward and it’s basically the Karizma R clothed with a mass of plastic.
Karizma ZMR & R : Credit - Motoroids.Com

The R15 was more than just a full fairing; it’s got a gem of an engine coupled with an excellent perimeter frame. This made the R15 truly a Super Sports replica. Although The ZMR did get fuel injection, tubeless tyres and a rear disc, but ZMR is still the Karizma R with a full fairing and does not feel too different to ride with its 17.83 Ps performance compared to the 17 Ps Karizma R.

In 2012 there are made in India motorcycles which perform - handle better and are also better looking. Yamaha has redeemed itself with an excellent styling job with the R15 Version 2.0. One also has the option of bikes like Honda CBR250R, KTM 200 Duke and the soon to be launched Pulsar 200NS.

The Karizma is slowly becoming stale and outdated even with its ZMR avatar.

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