Superman answered 7 years ago
DO SCOOTER owners need more sops than mere comfort to tempt them to switch to a bike? Apparently so! Well, motorcycles do not offer the same load carrying capacity that scooters inherently come with (thanks to the foot rest and floor design) and the more agile handling that bikes need may not be suitable for older users.
But the combo of better comfort and much better fuel efficiency should make the bike’s package beguiling even for the most hard-nosed scooter user. What is better, add a sweetener in the form of pricing that is very close to the average scooter, and we could be talking about the preferred mode of public transport, somewhat like the tag line in the ad for the Hero Honda CD Dawn.
With this kind of a promising prospect, it is a race to stretch the litre and offer a decently built entry-level bike. Coming into the battlefield, where the Hero Honda CD Dawn and to some extent the TVS Max 100 were slugging it out for the preferred entry-level bike slot, is the new Bajaj CT 100.
After the lacklustre performance of the Byk and the muted success of the Boxer series, Bajaj has been under pressure to come up with a more energetic and economical entry-level bike. Of course, thanks to its experience with the Boxer series, the mandate for the CT 100 was clear even before it actually rolled out of Bajaj Auto’s assembly line.
Target the economy and value-for-money conscious young bike buyer, offer new technology features but carefully so as not to raise the on-road price of the two-wheeler, offer build quality and trim levels closer to bikes in the higher price ranges and at the same time price it as close as possible to the price of a traditional metal-bodied scooter.
These would have been quite a daunting mélange parameters to achieve for Bajaj. Until the company’s research and development department discovered a new way to boost the bike’s fuel efficiency without tinkering much with the engine. As a result, the USP that was built into the CT 100 revolves around these mileage-boosting features.
After all, with rising petrol prices, the need to squeeze the most out of every litre of fuel is fast becoming the key determinant for choosing a bike.
`Caliberisation’ of the Boxer
The CT 100’s design clearly takes a cue from the Bajaj Caliber’s original looks. The round headlamp with chrome-lipping, twin-pod instrument cluster, oval turn indicator lamps, the flowing body side panels and the tail-lamp are giveaways. In fact, except for the more rectangular fuel tank construction, the design of the CT 100 is heavily accented towards the original fairingless looks of the Caliber.
The build quality is a big plus that Bajaj has managed to bring in to the bike. This is also a crucial feature that buyers in this segment are beginning to expect despite the obvious restraint of a competitive price. Though the quality of plastic parts and the finish are not on a par with bikes in the higher price range, it is definitely a notch better than the others in the Rs 28,000-32,000 range.
The eye-catching decals on the fuel tank and body side panels and the shapely, wide seating that gradually slopes upward and the chrome grab rail at the rear give the CT 100 the looks of a more expensive bike.
The Boxer series bikes were visually more austere and the seat was less ergonomic, looking like a slab-cast monolith in rubber. Thanks to the new seat and the handle that has been angled right, the riding posture in the new CT 100 is more comfortable.
Chassis and build
The chassis in the new CT 100 is the same tubular-type, with single down tube and the traditional tubular swing arm that the older Caliber bikes used to feature. The wheelbase has been marginally cut to about 1,225mm compared to the Caliber’s wheelbase which is some 20mm longer.
The suspension set up is identical to the Boxer series bikes, telescopic in the front and the hydraulic, double acting, swing arm type in the rear. Overall, the chassis, slightly shorter wheelbase and the saddle position go on to enhance rider comfort and, while it does not allow you to challenge every turn and curbs the urge to speed up, it still gives the ride the right amount of stiffness for a bike in its class.
The improved engine mounts substantially reduce the vibration in the CT 100. Bajaj’s previous attempts at manufacturing bikes in the entry-level have been prone to considerable levels of vibration and harshness in the long run. But the company’s RD department has obviously worked on the CT 100’s engine mounts and chassis to considerably lower the vibration levels.
It is only past the 70 km per hour mark that our test bike showed signs of some vibration setting in.
Engine and performance
The new CT 100 sports the same four-stroke, 99.27cc engine as on the Boxer. Only the configuration of the block is a bit squarer than the older burner. The new construction enables the same engine to better burn the fuel in the combustion chamber, enabling the engine to generate more power and better torque.
This has been achieved by tinkering with the engine block and without employing more expensive technology such as the Bajaj’s digital twin-spark ignition (DTSi) or the four-stage digital ignition maps that TVS employs on its Centra and the new Victor GLX 125 engines.
The CT 100’s engine develops a class leading 8.2bhp of peak power at 7,500 rpm and a maximum torque of 8.05Nm at 5,500 rpm. Though the bike’s peak power kicks in at a high rpm-level, the loads of low-end torque that it comes with enables it come up with the right kind of performance for the rider whose usage is largely restricted to commutes within the city. Compared to the CT 100, the TVS Centra and the Hero Honda CD-Dawn offer peak power of only about 7.5bhp.
The CT 100’s low-end torque enables the rider to get a near knock-free performance at speeds that would have been impossible with the earlier Boxer engine.
This engine’s torque spread gives the bike quite a high level of low-speed tolerance. As a result, frequent shifting into a lower gear is not required. The feel of this performance is clear when the rider can let the bike slow to just 25-30 km per hour even while continuing to be on fourth gear on a flat stretch.
Focus on fuel efficiency
The low-end torque is only one of the features that add to the CT 100’s ability to come up with a high mileage number. Of course, the most important bit of equipment in the CT 100 that aids in improving the bike’s mileage is the Ride Control switch.
The CT100’s unique ride control switch enables the rider to select between the economy and power mode. It effectively gives the rider two options to choose — the economy mode for outstanding mileage or the power mode for pick-up and performance.
According to Bajaj, it is observed that inadvertently motorcycle riders speed up in a lower gear or cruise at lower speeds in higher gear. This causes a lowering of the bike’s performance in terms of drivability and mileage. To achieve the best fuel efficiency, motorcycles need to be driven in a specific range of rpm or speed in each gear.
This is what manufacturers do while testing the bike’s fuel efficiency under standard test conditions.
In the CT 100, unlike other bikes where the rider has to take his eyes off the road to look at the speedometer console for deciding the range of best fuel efficiency or where the bike’s internal selection system kicks in to choose the mode of operation (economy or power, as in the TVS Victor and Centra), the ride control switch acts as a virtual instructor.
Bajaj’s RD, which came up with the blue manual selection switch, has achieved a lowering of fuel consumption by simply reducing the play of the throttle. When the ride control switch is flicked on, the rider feels a small resistance at the throttle whenever a gear change is required. The mild resistance, somewhat like the tightening of a spring-loaded mechanism, reduces the amount of fuel wastage during quick spurts of acceleration and when the bike is slowed down.
The advanced throttle responsive ignition control system (TRICS) technology, which helps in controlling ignition map selection based on load or operating conditions, has also been introduced on the Bajaj CT 100. Thanks to its digital ignition with twin maps that helps in ensuring optimum delivery of fuel economy, the ride control switch, the TRIC system and the low-end torque, the CT 100 manages to come up with a decent mileage performance.
Our test bike managed about 68 km to a litre in city riding conditions with a mix of rides when the ride control switch was either on or off.
Priced at about Rs 31,500 (ex-showroom), the CT 100 is, as yet, Bajaj’s best bet at taking on the strong presence of the Hero Honda CD-Dawn, though the latter is priced a shade lower at Rs 31,000.
The CT 100 also seems to be the right package of good looks, new-age technology (though not in the league of its DTSi) and high mileage, features that should be attractive for the entry-level bike buyer.
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