Four wheels move the body and two wheels move the soul — every motorcycle enthusiast knows this. With the number of performance motorcycles sold in India ranging from Japanese manufacturers to elusive European ones, money can buy some of the best litre-class and above motorcycles in India. Nothing beats the tucked down, wind in your face feeling of riding a powerful motorcycle.
However, experienced motorcycle riders know that the sweet spot to enjoying a motorcycle on the road is a mid-range one, with usable power. This is one of the reasons motorcycles between 500 and 900 cc are popular around the world.
India has not seen many in this segment over the years because of a law that banned motorcycles in this displacement to help Indian manufacturers grow. Individual imports were allowed and companies could bring them in via a CKD route and assemble them here. Either way, the taxes added up and the final price fell within the reach of bigger, litre-class bikes, and at times, over them.
This is the reason that many 600cc sport bikes in India such as the CBR600R, YZF-R6, and the GSX-R600 are rarely spotted in India, and most of them are grey-market bikes. However, enthusiasts will be happy if the following 5 motorcycles make it to India and are priced reasonably.
The Yamaha YZF-R6 or just the R6 needs no introduction. Introduced back in 1999 and in production till 2020, the R6 has won many races around the globe in various formats. Since 2021, the Yamaha R6 is limited to a race-only specification in most global markets, making room for other brands to make a name in motorcycle racing.
When introduced in 1999, the R6 was the first production 600cc motorcycle to make 100 horsepower in stock form. Over the years, the R6 evolved with technology such as fuel injection, and the 2007-2008 model saw the R6 make a massive 127 bhp in stock form. The other reason why the R6 is famous is not the way it revs, but how much it revs to — 14,000 rpm!
Coming back to something with usable power, enthusiasts will be happy if Kawasaki launches the ZX-25R in India. Don’t let the ’25’ fool you as the Kawasaki ZX-25R is the only four-cylinder motorcycle in the quarter-litre category and the engine makes a whopping 43 bhp.
The Kawasaki ZX-25R looks identical to its litre-class counterpart, the ZX-10R, and gets traction control, adjustable Showa USD forks, two power modes, under-belly exhaust, WSBK-derived chassis, and a standard quick-shifter. The sad news is that Kawasaki may never bring the ZX-25R to India because it will be impossible to price it competitively in the segment.
KTM Adventure R series
The adventure motorcycle segment is becoming popular and marquees such as BMW, Honda, and Triumph already have their adventure models on sale in India. The biggest name missing in this lineup is KTM, known for its adventure models, more specifically the Adventure R models such as the 890, 1090, and 1290.
KTM gave India a taste of the superb KTM 790 Duke which were all scooped up, but that was it. The 790 Adventure never made it here and it seems kike KTM have no plans with the 890 either. The bigger displacement motorcycles will compete with the Honda Africa Twin, BMW GS 1250, and the recently-launched Triumph Tiger 1200, but if KTM brings the 890 here, it will be a usable motorcycle.
Honda CRF 300 Rally
On the topic of adventure motorcycles, the Honda CRF 300 Rally strikes the perfect balance for an adventure motorcycle with everyday usability. The CRF 300 Rally draws its design from the tried and tested Dakar Rally motorcycles with a big fairing to deflect wind.
Powering the motorcycle is a single-cylinder liquid-cooled engine that makes 28 bhp and 26 Nm of torque with the help of a 6-speed gearbox. The CRF 300 Rally is a good dual-sport motorcycle with a small capacity engine and long-travel suspension that won’t intimidate riders, but with the go-anywhere capability. It would be a great motorcycle if Honda manages to price it right.
Speak to any experienced rider about the Suzuki SV650 and they have only praise for the motorcycle. The SV650 is sold in select global markets and has the right aspects to make it an everyday commuter and a weekend getaway motorcycle.
It is built on a slim, lightweight chassis, gets a 645cc, 72 bhp V-Twin motor, 6-speed gearbox, ABS, and that’s it! It’s back to basics with the SV650 which makes it a great motorcycle. Oh, and the reliability — it is like the Toyota Corolla in the motorcycle world, just runs without trouble.
Honourable mention: Yamaha Tenere 700
The Yamaha Tenere 700 when it was first showcased as a concept a few years ago, in 2017, it left adventure riders wanting Yamaha to put it into production immediately. Finally, Yamaha did exactly that and the result was a bigger, more powerful Dakar Rally motorcycle that could be used on the road and anywhere else off it.
The Yamaha Tenere 700 or the T7, takes riders back to basics with a usable twin-cylinder with 71 bhp and no computers to aid riders, making it a favourite.