At 9,16,365 units and a year-on-year growth of 5 percent, the motorcycle segment was one of the better-performing ones in the Indian automobile market in the first month of 2021. Some brands and products remain popular buys for their specific attributes and it’s no surprise that commuter motorcycles rule the roost here.
These 10 best selling motorcycles cumulatively (7,62,145) account for 83 percent of total motorcycles in January 2021. And in the first 10 months of FY2021, which saw total industry sales of 81,15,517, these best sellers maintained the same ratio of 83 percent, at 67,56,308 units. Here’s looking at them a little closer:
No. 1 – Hero Splendor
January 2021: 2,25,382 units
April 2020-January 2021: 19,32,736
Hero MotoCorp derives its power of numbers from the Splendor, which is easily the world’s highest-selling motorcycle and two-wheeler. In January 2021, the company clocked 2,25,382 units, taking its 10-month tally in the ongoing FY2021 to 19,32,736 units – just 67,264 short of the two-million mark.
One of India’s first BS6-compliant two-wheelers, the Splendor range comprises three models – the Splendor Plus, Splendor iSmart and the Super Splendor. The Splendor Plus continues to be the most affordable, with a starting price of Rs 59,600. The Super Splendor is the most expensive, starting at Rs 67,300. The Splendor iSmart is priced at Rs 67,100.
The Splendor uses a new engine – a 113.2cc, single-cylinder, fuel-injected unit that develops 9.1hp at 7,500rpm and 9.89Nm of torque at 5,500rpm. India’s best selling bike, which features Hero’s i3s start-stop technology, uses a 240mm front disc and 130mm rear drum brake as standard.
What’s driving demand for the Splendor range is the uptick from rural India, which has seen a good kharif season. The coming months, which will see farmers increase their transport operations, demand for fuel-sipping commuter bikes will only grow.
No. 2 – Hero HF Deluxe
January 2021: 1,34,860 units
April 2020-January 2021: 13,90,458 units
The HF Deluxe has for long been the second best selling motorcycle, and it sold 1,34,860 units last month. Exactly a year ago, Hero MotoCorp launched the BS6 HF Deluxe and priced the base variant at Rs 55,925 and the i3S variant at Rs 57,250 (both prices, ex-showroom, Delhi).
The updated HF Deluxe features a 100cc, single-cylinder fuel-injected engine, which develops 7.94hp and 8.05Nm; Hero claims the new engine is 9 percent more fuel efficient and has better performance, with 6 percent faster acceleration. The new HF Deluxe also features Hero’s i3S (idle start-stop system).
No. 3 – Honda CB Shine
January 2021: 1,16,222 units
April 2020-January 2021: 7,54,288 units
This Honda on two wheels is shining on the sales front. Usually at the fourth rank, it has moved up one spot with sales of 1,16,222 units, going ahead of the Bajaj Pulsar by 18,642 units.
The CB Shine was among India’s first bikes to get the BS6 treatment. The same 124.73cc, single-cylinder air-cooled engine has been upgraded to BS6-spec, which has seen the power figure rise from 10.31hp to 10.88hp. While the hike in power is marginal, the BS6 CB Shine features electronic fuel injection, which translates into crisp and smooth throttle response. The engine is paired to a 5-speed transmission.
No. 4 – Bajaj Pulsar
January 2021: 97,580 units
April 2020-January 2021: 7,78,525 units
The sporty Bajaj Pulsar range rides in at No. 4 position with 97,580 units in January and a cumulative 7,78,525 units in 10 months. It is understood that sales would have been stronger but for an adverse impact on production from the slowed-down supply chain for semiconductors, which has also affected Bajaj Auto.
The sporty Pulsar family is all of nine variants strong – Pulsar 125, Pulsar 150, 150 Neon, 150 Twin Disc, Pulsar 180, Pulsar 220, NS160, NS200, and RS200.
In a bid to give a new charge to Pulsar sales, the company, on February 23, launched the new 2021 Pulsar 180 at Rs 1.08 lakh, thereby expanding the line-up of the most popular entry-level sport motorcycle brand in India. Currently, 20 percent of the sports biking segment is accounted for by the 180-200cc motorcycles, and the new Pulsar 180 will target consumers looking for a sports vehicle offering the best in technology and performance.
No. 5 – Hero Passion
January 2021: 43,162 units
April 2020-January 2021: 4,22,574 units
The Hero MotoCorp motorcycle stable has some longstanding products, like the Passion, that continue to sell in the local market. The Passion, with the updated BS6 113cc engine from the Splendor iSmart, develops 9.15hp and 9.9Nm of torque.
In January 2021, this fuel-sipping commuter motorcycle sold 43,162 units and clocked 4,22,574 units for the first 10 months of the fiscal, compared to 26,905 units and 4,49,530 units a year ago, respectively. Given the COVID-19-induced loss of sales and the dampened economy, this can be called a good show for the Passion, which clearly is not going out of fashion any time soon.
No. 6 – Royal Enfield Classic 350
January 2021: 40,872 units
April 2020-January 2021: 2,93,421 units
Old can often be gold, and the Royal Enfield Classic 350 is proof of that. The classic thumper, with sales of 40,872 units in January, is seeing a return of demand (January 2020: 40,834). And with sales of 2,93,421 units in the first 10 months of FY2021, this machine continues to ride high on heavy metal aficionados’ charts.
In BS6 form, the Classic 350 gets a fuel-injection system that develops 19.8hp and 28Nm of torque. With prices starting at Rs 1,78,000, the new Classic is about Rs 11,000 more expensive than it was in BS4 spec.
The Classic 350 is Royal Enfield’s most popular motorcycle – of the company’s total sales of 4,48,151 motorcycles in the April 2020-January 2021 period, the Classic 350 accounts for 65 percent.
No. 7 – TVS Apache
January 2021: 28,456 units
April 2020-January 2021: 2,60,747 units
TVS Motor Co’s flagship motorcycle and premium bike brand Apache rides in at seventh position. In January, the Apache range the comprises four models – Apache RTR 160, RTR 180, RTR 160 4V and RTR 200 4V – clocked 28,456 units – which is marginally down on numbers from August 2020.
On October 12, total Apache sales rode past the four-million-unit sales milestone globally. This premium brand was launched in 2005, which makes the ride from zero to 40,00,000 units take 15 years. Interestingly, the last million or 10 lakh-unit sales have come in just two years. The TVS Apache crossed the three-million-sales milestone on September 10, 2018.
No. 8 – Bajaj Platina
January 2021: 27,131 units
April 2020-January 2021: 3,36,396 units
The continued charge of Hero commuter motorcycles has impacted demand for the Bajaj Platina, which, with 27,131 units, takes eighth position in the Top 10 rankings. Its 10-month tally is 3,36,396 units, down 64 percent on year-ago figures.
In early July, Bajaj added a new ES (Electric Start) Disc Brake variant to the Platina 100’s line-up, taking the total number of variants to three. Powering the Platina 100 is a BS6-compliant 102cc, single-cylinder engine with peak output figures of 7.9hp and 8.34Nm. This engine is mated to a 4-speed gearbox.
No. 9 – Honda Unicorn
January 2021: 25,799 units
April 2020-January 2021: 1,83,997 units
The second Honda bike in this Top 10 chart is the Unicorn, at 25,799 units, and with 1,83,997 units in 10 months. Exactly a year ago, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India launched the BS6 model. The Unicorn was Honda’s first motorcycle in India, and this new one was styled to look like the outgoing CB Unicorn, which is one of the manufacturer’s most popular models. Powering the bike is the 162.71cc, single-cylinder engine from the Unicorn 160.
No. 10 – Hero Glamour
January 2021: 22,681 units
April 2020-January 2021: 4,03,166 units
Is the Hero Glamour losing its glamour with buyers, or are the lower numbers an aberration? Once a regular at No. 5 or so, it is now at the bottom. In January, the bike sold 22,681 units (January 2020: 40,318) and 4,03,166 units over 10 months (April 2019-January 2020: 5,54,158), which is a sharp 27 percent decline year on year.
The Glamour faces stiff competition in the form of some popular motorcycles like the Honda SP 125 and the Bajaj Pulsar 125 and is clearly feeling the heat. While it displaces an identical 124.7cc, the single-cylinder engine powering the Glamour is new but gets a 5-speed gearbox.
Having felt the heat of the COVID-19-induced loss of sales in the first eight months of the fiscal, manufacturers had begun to see improved numbers in November and December, but January 2021 proved to be a reality check.
Nonetheless, most manufacturers are producing all they can, hoping that the need for social distancing will give a fillip to motorcycle sales. Scooter sales, in comparison, continue to be flat, with a fair portion of urban India still in WFH mode. Nonetheless, with soaring prices of petrol likely to hit the Rs 100 a litre mark in many metros, demand should grow for fuel-sipping commuter motorcycles, which help stretch every litre of expensive fuel to the maximum.