Fun, yet affordable bikes and scooters have become more prevalent in the last few years. While buyers now have a wider variety to choose from, these 10 need to be on your shortlist. Do note that fun to ride doesn’t necessarily mean the fastest, most sophisticated or best handling. Simply put, these are the affordable bikes (and scooters) that we just can’t get enough of – the kind that fuels the very love for riding. So, in order of price (all prices, ex-showroom Delhi), here’s the list of bikes that excite.
1) TVS Ntorq 125 Rs 71,095-81,075
The TVS Ntorq has many segment-leading features including a highly informative digital display, Bluetooth connectivity, GPS navigation and much more. But none of that, even with the competitive price tag, is why the Ntorq makes it to this list. No, that would be entirely down to what a joy this scooter is to ride. TVS has done a great job with its sporty 125cc engine and it also produces a pleasingly deep exhaust note.
But that’s only part of the story and the bigger treat comes in the chassis and suspension setup. The Ntorq offers a plush ride and happily takes on poor surfaces, but it’s also an involving handler and is quite willing to attack any corners that come its way. The ergonomics accommodate tall riders and the disc brake sheds speed confidently.
2) Hero Xpulse 200 Rs 1.18 lakh
The Hero Xpulse 200 is not only made in India, but it’s also made for India. While its predecessor, the Impulse, was heavily based on the Brazil-spec Honda NXR 150, the XPulse is a completely homegrown effort, right from the chassis to the powertrain. To give this bike serious off-road credentials, Hero went with a 21-inch front/18-inch rear wheel set-up, which is identical to what you’ll find on hardcore off-road machines. With suspension travel of 190mm/170mm (front/rear) and 220mm of ground clearance, there’s no pothole too big for the Xpulse.
Commuting on our long term XPulse also revealed the 199.6cc, two-valve, air and oil-cooled engine it uses is surprisingly good in the city. The BS6 model also underwent changes that made it a little more capable at highway speeds. Overall, the Xpulse 200 is a great choice for those taking their first steps in the exciting world of off-road motorcycling.
3) Aprilia SXR 160 Rs 1.27 lakh
Yes, the Aprilia SR is sportier, but the SXR offers a similar experience while being much more comfortable. The SR can get tiring on less than perfect roads. Despite not having the larger 14-inch wheels, it handles rather impressively even on its 12-inch units thanks to the 120/70 section tyres and sporty suspension set-up.
Its air-cooled, three-valve, fuel-injected motor is nearly identical to the one in the Aprilia SR 160, but with slightly different ECU tuning for a smoother and more linear power delivery. Our test figures revealed that, despite its hefty 128kg kerb weight, it’s one of the fastest scooters on sale in India. The Aprilia SXR 160 is also very practical, with a large comfortable seat, loads of storage capacity and a 7-litre fuel tank.
4) TVS Apache RTR 200 4V Rs 1.29-1.34 lakh
The RTR 200 is the second TVS on this list, which only confirms that the Hosur-based manufacturer really does value the fun-to-ride factor on its products. With features like a preload-adjustable fork, ride modes, a four-valve head and a slipper clutch, the RTR 200 4V is very well equipped. The 200 presented a huge leap forward and while it offers a bigger and more premium feel, it still manages to retain the RTR brand’s reputation with a naughty and playful nature.
While the TVS Apache RTR 200 4V lacks the top-end performance of its rival, the Bajaj Pulsar NS 200, it feels engagingly sharp and responsive at urban speeds. This peppy performance is made all the more engaging with the RTR trademark – a deep exhaust note. And thankfully, its agile handling doesn’t come at the cost of ride quality. The suspension soaks up bumps well and all you need to deal with is the somewhat sporty riding position. The RTR 200 isn’t just the most fun bike in the segment, but it’s our overall pick in the naked 200cc category.
5) Yamaha MT-15 Rs 1.41 lakh
While the Yamaha MT-15 might appear similar to the YZF-R15 on paper, it’s a completely different story in the real world. When we first experienced the MT-15 on the racetrack, it didn’t impress us as much as its faired sibling did and that’s because it belongs on the street. Keeping with the MT-15’s streetfighter focus, Yamaha has revised the final-drive ratio by fitting a larger, 52-teeth sprocket at the rear (versus the 48-teeth unit on the R15) resulting in quicker acceleration off the line. It also feels noticeably quicker than the R15 in roll-on acceleration, which the numbers reflect.
The defining aspect of this Yamaha is the way it handles in the city. The sharp steering and tight turning radius result in a bike that’s super-reactivate to input, which in turn makes this one of the most fun city bikes on this list.
6) Ather 450X Rs 1.47 lakh
Not long ago, Ather updated its acclaimed 450. The update brought improved performance and battery management, among other features, along with an ‘X’ to the model name. While it still looks pretty much like its predecessor, the installed battery capacity is 2.9kWh (up from 2.71kWh) and it proves itself with the most range we’ve ever got out of an electric two-wheeler in India.
The re-tuned motor also develops a peak output of 6kW (up from 5.4kW). More importantly, the peak torque has gone up from 20.5Nm to 26Nm. This gives the Ather 450X a quick 0-60kph acceleration time of 7.36sec, making it great fun to use in the city. With a speedo-indicated top speed of around 90kph, it is one of the fastest scooters on sale in India. The 450X also has the most advanced digital dash on this list.
7) Bajaj Pulsar RS 200 Rs 1.52 lakh
The RS 200 is the fastest, best-handling and most richly equipped bike in Bajaj’s 200cc range. The Dominar is faster still, and by a good margin too, but it’s the RS that is more fun to ride. It makes a great statement on paper with a four-valve head, liquid-cooling, a perimeter frame and optional ABS. The RS also manages to balance its identity very well – the riding position is sporty, but far from extreme, and the handling is stable and enjoyable, but without being punishing over poor roads.
On the flip side, the RS 200 is fully faired, but its looks are subjective, to say the least. But then again, this Pulsar makes for fantastic value given the performance on offer.
8) Yamaha YZF-R15 V3.0 Rs 1.52 lakh
The new Yamaha R15’s motor displaces just 155cc, but it’s a high-tech engine with a four-valve head, liquid-cooling, and variable valve actuation, which helps it make an impressive 18.6hp and 14.1Nm. Considering its low kerb weight of just 142kg, you have a recipe for plenty of laughs. The Yamaha YZF-R15 V3.0 is a highly talented handler and as we discovered in our road review, it’s one of the best beginner sport bikes on sale today.
The latest R15 is one of the best-looking small-capacity motorcycles on sale now thanks to its new R1/R6-inspired design. It also has a committed riding position to match.
9) Suzuki Gixxer 250 Rs 1.68 lakh
We first experienced Suzuki’s all-new 250cc platform at the Buddh International Circuit earlier this year and it left us pleasantly satisfied. Peak output figures are 26.5hp produced at 9,000rpm and 22.2Nm of torque that comes in at 7,500rpm. These are decent numbers, but our favourite part is the punchy mid-range that makes city commutes good fun. The Suzuki Gixxer 250’s engine also has enough grunt to enable a cruising speed of around 110kph.
Moving on, the chassis set-up is the same as on the fully faired SF250 and the complete package is one that’s great for our riding conditions.
10) KTM 200 Duke Rs 1.83 lakh
The 200cc KTMs are famed for their frantic performance, which is made even more dramatic by the very short gearing. Another offshoot of the gearing is that the KTM 200 Duke is far more tractable in city conditions than the bigger 390s. KTM has also managed to get the engine to be BS6-compliant without a drop in peak output figures – the 25hp at 10,000rpm and 19.3Nm at 8,000rpm figures are identical to the BS4 unit.
The KTM is easily the most-focused and sporty bike of this lot and you must be willing to live with that nature, and also a good amount of engine heat at city speeds.