Test riding the Bajaj Avenger 150 Street and 220 Street & Cruise

Jan 10, 2016, 08:45 IST | Jim Gorde

Bajaj's only cruiser has reincarnated as three distinct new offerings, each more focused than before. City-streeter or highway cruiser? Take your pick

It was 16 years ago that India received its first proper cruiser: the Kawasaki Eliminator. Everything from the 175-cc smooth single to the fat 130-section rear tyre had many swooning at its stance. It was more than just eye-candy.

Fast-forward to the twin-spark era and the Avenger was born with a new heart: the 180-cc DTS-i. The 200, then the 220 followed, with oil-cooling and a meatier state of tune low down. The Eliminator was expensive for its time, close to Rs 90,000 when the usual crop of popular bikes cost less than half as much. Today, the Avenger is still the most accessible cruiser, and, with the new launches, Bajaj have made it even more so.

What Bajaj has done now is delivered a three-punch combo to the segment where it's just them. The two Avenger variants — Street and Cruise — and two engine choices for the Street — a brand-new 150 and a 220 as well — will surely stir the pot of desire even more.

Avenger Street 150's blacked out muffler is stylish while the chrome exhaust pipe distinguishes 220 from its smaller sibling. PICS/Sanjay Raikar
Avenger Street 150's blacked out muffler is stylish while the chrome exhaust pipe distinguishes 220 from its smaller sibling. Pics/Sanjay Raikar

150 & 220 Street
A black theme, alloy wheels, long-reach handlebars and a chopped back-rest mark the Avenger 150 Street. The new Avenger logos on the tank show how the company plans to turn it into a new, more pronounced sub-brand. The attention to detail is evident. Everything from the engine and exhaust to the turn indicators feature a matte-black finish. The 150 Street has a 'Midnight Blue'paint scheme, whereas the 220 Street is black. Mechanically, it stays similar, dimensions are identical but the portrayal is all-new. The engine is a 149-cc two-valve twin-spark air-cooled single making 14.5 PS at a heady 9,000 RPM with a fairly decent 12.5 Nm of torque coming in at 6,500 RPM. The digital display in the speedometer displays the odo-reading among other things. The fuel-gauge and instrumentation lights are mounted on the tank as before. There's no tachometer.

Get going and the Avenger 150 Street has a good enough pull low down. It gets off cleanly and pulls steadily. While the forward-set pegs and relaxed seating make for a comfy ride, the more street-smart handlebars had us reaching a bit more forward, while also making it a nimble handler. The power delivery is adequate and it gets up to 70 km/h without a fuss. Soon thereafter, the vibes begin creeping in, so its sweet-spot marks it out as a relaxed rider with an edge for dynamic performance. The suspension is pretty stiff, but that also makes it less bouncy and easier to control. On that note, the handlebars may be shorter, but the rake and fork length are the same, so making a U-turn still takes time. The 240-mm front disc and 130-mm drum deliver adequate stopping power but we'll have to wait for the test figures to see how efficient they are.

The 220 packs more punch with 19 PS and 17.5 Nm, and also affords a higher top speed easier. It can sprint to 60 km/h very quickly and can stay at highway speeds easier ,thanks to the added grunt. The larger 260-mm front disc is welcome equipment on the much quicker 220.

220 Cruise
The Avenger 220's second avatar is going to its roots, and it was surely the one that impressed us the most out of the three. The 220 Cruise is noticeably the proper laid-back cruiser. Loads of chrome sparkling in the morning sun, the big cushy pillion back-rest, but, most importantly, easy-reach raised handlebars that truly mark it out as a comfortable mile-muncher. Get on and the feel is markedly different from the Street's. There's even an optional windscreen. The 220 Cruise has the same 19-PS air-and-oil-cooled 220-cc single as the 220 Street, and, together with that relaxed posture, makes for a fun and engaging ride.

Bajaj says that the suspension has been tweaked to improve ride quality. We did find even the Cruise quite stiff but that's not usually a problem on the open highway. On the road, the engine feels meaty and helps to rapidly pick up speed and get a move on in a hurry. The grip from the wide MRF rubber is good and it gives it a sure, planted feel, helped no doubt by the lower centre of gravity. It isn't too heavy at 155 kg, and the low saddle height also makes this an appreciable package. It feels meaty, wide and cruiser-like but handles itself well. And you don't have to worry about being trapped if it ever falls over. All three have a side-stand as well as a centre stand, in case you were wondering.

The 220 Cruise is the classic Avenger. It is the essential cruiser and delivers the experience. If relaxed motoring is what you seek, few can deliver the experience this one does at the price it comes at.

Speaking of which, the Avenger 150 Street is priced at Rs 72,901 (ex-Pune) while the 220 twins — yes, they have the same price — wear a tag reading Rs 81,727 (ex-Pune). That's a very competitive price structure considering most 150-cc sport-oriented and premium commuter motorcycles are priced around that much, even higher. The Avenger line certainly offers a completely different sort of machine for the price, and if road presence and a comfortable ride are your top priorities, you really can't do better.

Need to know

Engine: 149-cc, single cylinder, two-valve, twin-spark, air-cooled
MAX POWER: 14.54 PS at 9,000 RPM
MAX TORQUE: 12.5 Nm at 6,500 RPM
Price: (Ex-showroom Pune) Rs 72,901

BAJAJ AVENGER 220 Street & Cruise
Engine: 220-cc, single-cylinder, two-valve, twin-spark, air-and-oil-cooled
MAX POWER: 19.03 PS at 8,400 RPM
MAX TORQUE: 17.5 Nm at 7,000 RPM
Price: (Ex-showroom Pune) Rs 81,727

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