The ride quality points, if there were any, would be even. The Centra is the plusher of the two motorcycles, with a soft supple ride. The CD100 SS is a more firm sort of customer, built to handle harsher terrain. But the advantage is annulled by the Centra’s inability to smooth sharp-edged bumps. Whenever either end passes over one, the TVS turns it into a sharp spike that goes right through the rider.
But peg-scraping isn’t the game these guys are supposed to play. What the Centra excels at, and I mean over the entire bunch of Indian motorcycles, is traffic. This is the absolute best traffic-carver I’ve ridden through Mumbai roads yet.
Forget the SS, most other two-wheelers would have trouble matching the way the gearing, the power spread and the Fiero-ish bottom-end energy come together in traffic. Awe-freakin-some, but will this statement stand once the Centra is pitted against the Boxer CT? The Boxer is definitely the more planted of the two and the Centra, like most TVSs, does get a bit lively once the winds rise, or when large vehicles overtake.
Which brings us to the looks. Park ’em together and there is no mistaking the older and the newer machine. The uglier machine, however, is a much harder call. The CD100 SS isn’t pretty, but then, neither is the Centra.
The Centra in fact, while sporting great finish, looks a bit top-heavy, with overly large body panels striking an almost Cartoon Network style contrast to the super-thin rubber. Er. Centra styling isn’t for me.
And the CD100 SS at this price level is just too basic. So we’ll have to call it even. Who wins? Do you even have to ask?
The TVS Centra is the clear winner. But, the Hero Honda CD100 SS isn’t the loser here. It performs admirably for a machine that has received little more than updates over the fifteen years it has spent in showrooms.
But TVS’ oh-so-close design does raise questions. This is their first horizontal engine, with even their usual all-down shift pattern discarded in favour of a Hero Honda-spec all-up pattern. Do huge sales, for one, have to mean the competition must forget their strengths and play to the gallery? And if everyone were to make exactly identical products, I’d be buying the strongest brand, won’t I? Which, in this particular case, would be Hero Honda.
The closer you go to resembling a Hero Honda, the more harm you might do yourself.
It is just pure misfortune that the blameless Centra is caught in the melee. I could find a hundred arguments against what it stands for, but I genuinely like it. Until you push its envelope, it is perfectly happy to deliver whatever you ask.
It is also able to enjoy being ridden for riding’s sake and is an absolute gem in traffic. Hot knife and butter come to mind.
But at Rs 38,800 ex-showroom Mumbai, this is a seriously expensive motorcycle. There is a Scooty Pep sort of logic to it. TVS claims the Centra is an execommuter, but that argument I am not buying. It just doesn’t have that kind of grunt.
Should you buy one? Get a Victor instead, it will give you the same fuel economy and more of everything else. For only about Rs 3,000 more.
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