I must say there were apprehensions when I was on my way to pick up the all-new Hero Xtreme 160R. I was one of the few journos who had ridden the last Xtreme Sports. While it had a 149cc engine, it made almost similar power numbers as this new model. Unfortunately, the model didn’t click and Hero had to shortly discontinue it. That was the last 150cc Hero we saw in the market and that was few years ago. Since then, the Gixxers, Pulsars and Apaches have been making merry in this segment. How well will this Hero fare in the market and what does it hold for you and me as a probable customer? And well, the fear of COVID-19 was running parallel all throughout. Thankfully enough, the showroom experience was good with everyone wearing masks-gloves, maintaining social distancing and using sanitisers. On to the bike now!
In flesh, the motorcycle looks quite small. There though is a silver lining and I will come to that in a bit. The Hero Xtreme 160R is one of the better-looking bikes in its category. The streetfighter look is amplified when viewed head-on. This motorcycle has got an all-LED headlight, LED winkers, LED tail lights, segment-first hazard lights and a beefy yet shorter exhaust than the 200R. The all-digital instrument cluster is decent to read under harsh sunlight though it could have been a bit brighter. It has two trip meters, side-stand indicator, engine check light, speed display, tachometer, and other tell-tale lights. A useful feature from the safety point of view is the side stand engine inhibitor. If the side stand isn’t properly disengaged, the motorcycle will start but the moment you slot it into gear the engine shuts down.
You will also find a Honda-like integrated engine kill switch – one that also behaves as the electric starter on the handlebar. Quality of switchgear and other parts looks built-to-last. Hero may have changed its parts supplier as the quality definitely is better than what we have experienced before. The seat is well-cushioned and the pillion gets a raised hump. On the side of the pillion seat is where one will find the flush-fitted grab rails.
In my books, out of 10, the Hero Xtreme 160R design ticks the right boxes and I will give it an 8. This styling will definitely appeal to the youngsters, ones who are the target customers of this motorcycle. Finally, very good design from India’s largest bike maker and kudos to the Hero designers for this.
The Xtreme uses an all-new 160cc engine. This motor has got a relaxed compression ratio of 9:5 and puts out 15hp of power and 14Nm. The gearbox is a 5-speed unit. While on the subject of gearbox, it is a smooth unit and we didn’t encounter any false neutrals during the test.
Start the bike and the engine settles very quickly into an idle 1,000rpm. In traffic conditions, the motorcycle is quick off the block and there is decent grunt till 5,000rpm. Hero claims a 0-60kmph time of 4.6 seconds. and it reaches there quickly on the road. Speeds of 60-80kmph is where the bike is the happiest. However, wring the throttle and it takes almost 7,500rpm to reach 100kmph. Progress from 80-100kmph is not as rapid as one will expect. This motor is smooth and with the engine’s torque concentrated lower down the rev range, a higher gear and lower speeds is what one will end up doing most of the time. The clutch action is light and this means, the rider will not be tired after battling the traffic conditions on his/her way to office or college. The motorcycle seats too are nicely cushioned and don’t leave one with a sore bottom. This includes the pillion as well.
If you are looking at maintaining a constant 100kmph, this isn’t the bike for it – the ensuing vibrations and stressed out nature will likely put you off. Though, if you push, the bike touches 115kmph on the speedo. Fuel economy that we got during the test was 48kmpl in city and 53kmpl on the highway. An overall mileage of 50kmpl and a 12 litres fuel tank ensures there is a range of 600km. Decent enough, we say!
The Xtreme is tuned to be on the stiffer side to aid handling but then it soaks up bumps nicely through its 37mm front forks and a 7-step pre-load adjustable rear monoshock. Turn-in through the flat handlebars is also quick and filtering through traffic is easy-peasy. The grip from the MRF tyres too is good enough in the dry as well as wet. This motorcycle will want one to hunt corners and attack them with gusto. Looking to perfect your racetrack skills, the Xtreme 160R should definitely help you out. The riding position isn’t as committed and while the motorcycle feels diminutive in size, someone extraordinarily tall as me doesn’t look out of place on it. Remember the silver lining I was discussing earlier?
Overall, the motorcycle is a quiet performer but post 6,000rpm there are vibrations through the footpegs, under the seat and handlebars. These though tend to become less as and when more kilometres are racked up. Thankfully, the mirrors offer a good vibe-free vision of what’s coming from behind at all speeds.
This variant has got disc brakes at the front and rear. Braking is quite good and the feedback through the levers too is neat. A word of caution. The Continental single-channel ABS system Hero uses, keeps flickering at low speeds. Over time, one will learn to ignore it and shouldn’t be a cause of concern. This is something we even noticed on the Hero XPulse 200T. Perhaps, something Hero can work upon in the next lot of bikes?
The Hero Xtreme 160R seemed the antidote to my worries. I thoroughly enjoyed the three days I had the motorcycle with me. Here is one Hero bike that I will happily recommend to anyone looking to upgrade from a 110-125cc bike. While top-end performance of the Xtreme 160R isn’t its talking point, there are a lot of good bits. For the crowd it is targeted at (youngsters between 18-30), the bike offers decent performance and the braking too is spot-on while the design is also in line with what is accepted in the industry. Must I add, finally a good-looking Hero bike after a long time. It is frugal at the pumps and comes with a five-year warranty.
Price-wise, the Xtreme is available at a Rs 3,000 premium than the popular Bajaj Pulsar 150. We will recommend the double-disc model. This is one Hero that is a complete package and a very competitive one at that.
Hero Xtreme 160R specs
Images by Lijo Mathai and Gagandeep Puri
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