When Hero announced its split from long-time partner Honda, it created waves in the media. Several questions were raised at the time about whether Hero would be able to stay afloat without the technical expertise of their former partner. Even today, the company continues to pay royalty to their erstwhile partner for the technologies they continue to use in their product portfolio. However, Hero does have a plan to reduce this reliance and its first onslaught begins at a part of the two-wheeler market that has been growing steadily — the scooter segment. Hero recently launched one new scooter in the Maestro Edge and showcased the new Duet too. At the launch, what was emphasised was that both the scooters used a 110.9-cc engine developed in-house. We rode the two new products and here’s what we thought.

Pics/Kunal Khadse

Maestro Edge
First up, we have the Maestro Edge, which was launched at Rs 49,500 for the LX and Rs 50,700 for the VX, both ex-showroom.

Away from the glitzy lights of the launch and out in the bright sunshine, the Maestro Edge shares its looks with the more staid Maestro but the Edge (as its name suggests) is edgier. The styling is definitely sharper and the luminescent blue of our test bike certainly suited Hero’s positioning of this scooter as a two-wheeler for someone who wants a dash of style to his/her commute.

Hero has also introduced a whole bunch of features to make life easy on the go: a USB charging port in the under-seat stowage area, a light as well to help you find your things in a not-so-well-lit parking lot, a side-stand indicator lamp, and a stylish new exhaust. What adds more value to the Maestro Edge is Hero’s addition of Integrated Braking System (IBS), which is not unlike Honda’s Combi-brakes. Basically, when you pull the left lever to engage the rear brake, you end up actuating both the front and the rear brakes. Should you pull on the right lever, however, you only engage the front brake. A maximum of 8.31 PS comes in at 8,000 RPM from the new air-cooled 110.9-cc SOHC engine. Maximum torque is 8.3 Nm available at 6,500 RPM. The engine is fairly refined and has enough grunt for most purposes. Transmission is, of course, a variomatic drive.

The Maestro Edge shares its platform with the Duet, but comprises plastic panels making for a lighter kerb weight of 110 kg. It also gets a 12-inch wheel up front and a 10-inch at the rear. On the go, it becomes quite clear that a fair bit of work has gone into the chassis. The scooter feels stable and confident. Grab a fistful of brakes with your left hand and the IBS of the Maestro Edge works well to bring the scooter to a full stop without fuss. That said, the brake feel on the left lever could be better.

On the styling front the Duet does resemble the Activa quite a bit but there’s just about enough in the design to make it stand out as a distant cousin rather than a sibling to India’s largest-selling scooter. Even though the Duet’s platform is the same as that of the Maestro Edge, the former is a metal body scooter and, therefore, weighs six kilos more. Moreover, unlike the Maestro Edge, the Duet gets 10-inch wheels both at the front and rear.

Aimed at a different audience altogether, the Duet feels less sprightly than the Edge in spite of sharing the same engine. What does differentiate the Duet from the Maestro Edge is handling. The Duet features a slightly sharper steering angle that also affects the scooter’s wheelbase – the Duet’s 1,245-mm wheelbase is 16 mm shorter than the Maestro Edge’s 1,261 mm. Thanks to the shorter wheelbase and the smaller wheel size, the Duet is easier to flick. Brakes are as good as on the Maestro Edge and you can shed speed from fairly high numbers without much drama. Like twhe Maestro Edge, the Duet also comes loaded with an impressive equipment list. Starting at Rs 48,00 (ex-Delhi), it should to help them improve their 13 per cent market share in the scooter segment.